Category

Education

Swim-Little-Fishy-Swim-Group-Photo

Sing, play… and learn!

By | Education, fun for children, Music and singing, parties, Uncategorized
by Al Start
www.gokidmusic.com

When our children are babies and preschoolers their lives are full of music – songs, nursery rhymes and bedtime lullabies. But when they start school, they seek songs that aren’t ‘babyish’. From the age of five to 10 children still need great songs to inspire them until they are old enough to find their own style.

Does your child struggle to learn in a conventional way? Even if they don’t, music and singing can play a huge part in supporting and even improving learning in subjects such as maths and literacy. Engaging in creative music activities positively affects self-confidence and aspirations. It gives children more motivation and subsequent attainment at school. It even lightens mood, reduces anger and improves behaviour. Handy!

Sadly, we are now seeing more children with mental health issues – even in Key Stage 1. Singing, playing musical instruments, and regularly listening to music are all proven to give significant wellbeing benefits. So music really should be a big part of your family’s daily routine.

As parents, carers and music-lovers, what can we do to help our children continue to develop their love of music?

Talk to your child’s teacher – how much music and singing is your child able to participate in each day? Could they do more? You may be pleasantly surprised.

Play music in your car (rather than give children tablets and gadgets to fiddle with). Singing together is a positive, bonding experience for adults and children alike.

Choose wisely – pick your favourite songs, or listen to the radio – but be aware of what the song is about. What do the words mean to a child? Can they relate? Are they even appropriate? Children listen to words and song lyrics way more that us adults – believe me, it’s all going in – good and bad!

Play soft music in the back-ground at home instead of having the TV on. Chat to your kids about who the song is by, what instruments can they hear?

Spotify is a great source of finding appropriate music for families to listen to together. In the USA they even have a genre known as ‘Kindie Music’ – Kids Indie – independent artists like me making music that is child-friendly and adult-friendly too!

Learn an instrument – another chance to spend a little more quality time with your child is to learn together. My favourite is the (affordable) ukulele. It’s easy for little fingers (I’d suggest from Year 2 upwards) and with just four strings you can play simple songs quickly. Its great fun for adults too!

Music lessons and classes – look in your local area for music projects. You will find basic instrument lessons but also think outside the box, and look up band projects for kids – groups that teach electric guitar, drums, rock/pop singing and so on – very cool and great socially too.

Get singing yourself! We concentrate on our children so much we may have lost touch with music ourselves. Did you used to play an instrument or love singing when you were at school? Get back into it, dude!

The Internet offers us access to amazing online tools to learn instruments, brush-up on old skills and try new things. Search for your favourite music activity and just see what’s out there. If you are inspired, you can inspire your children too!

Al Start is a children’s singer-songwriter and music specialist with 20 year’s experience.She set up her award-winning children’s music company Go Kid Music in 2015 to provide more children, schools and families with great music. Find them online for unique music for your family. Live shows, CDs, downloads, songs for learning/teaching, online music clubs and ukulele lessons. www.gokidmusic.com

 

money and kids

Playful ways to introduce money

By | Education, family, Finance, numeracy skills
Source: F&C Investment Trust

Children are seeing less actual ‘money’ nowadays with many adults using cards or apps to pay, so they can grow up far less aware of how to use actual notes and coins. Here are some ways to ensure that children still learn about ‘real money’.

1 Make a pretend shop with a pot of coins and sticky note price tags to encourage little ones to play with money.

2 Next time you’re at the shops, point out some of the prices on the items and talk about what the symbols mean.

3 Write a shopping list for making fruit smoothies and take it with you to the shops to buy your ingredients.

4 Turn an old cardboard box into a cash machine with buttons and pretend screen for lots of pretend play with money.

5 Place coins under paper and rub with a crayon on its side, what numbers can your child see?

6 Encourage older children to explore ways to make the value of five or 10 using small coins in lots of different ways.

7 Bury coins in sand or mud for little ones to discover and play with, perhaps matching numbers or values.

8 Set up a pretend bank with money, till and paper slips. Why not visit a bank to show your little one where money comes from?

9 Press coins into lumps of play dough to see the impressions and numbers.

10 Turn an old box or tube into a money box for your child’s savings.

 

feet bed family

Beat ‘burnout’ by working flexibly – enjoy your work and your life!

By | Education, Work employment

With 87% of all full-time employees either working flexibly already or wanting to and 40% stating they would choose flexible working over a pay-rise*, having a flexible approach to work is certainly in demand, especially with working parents. But Emma Cleary from Flexibility Matters asks, are businesses meeting this demand?

It appears that at least 25 companies around Sussex and Surrey are, and they have carved out a blueprint for more businesses to follow suit and successfully implement flexible working within their cultures. Over a series of roundtable collaborations, senior members of organisations including Leaders, Brandwatch and Thales shared some of their challenges, but most importantly their tried and tested solutions to realising flexible success.

In terms of undeniable business benefits, it’s becoming more and more clear that a flexible workforce improves productivity and decreases absenteeism and companies committing to this way of working are attracting and retaining the best talent. “If you want to hold on to talent, you have to be an organisation that works for your employees” says fully flexible worker, Jess Hornsby from Thales who contributed to the collaborations.

Alison Prangnell, a Marketing Manager and Stress Management Consultant from Hassocks, reveals that, since becoming a full-time flexible worker, she not only enjoys her work, but also her life!

Alison worked in senior management roles for technology and cyber security businesses around the South East for several years. Yet following a period of burnout, caused by excessive and prolonged stress, she decided to change the shape of her work completely. She now works 25 hours per week remotely as Head of Marketing for Workhorse and the rest of her time as a freelance Stress Management Consultant at her own business, Anderida Coaching. Spending her time flexibly, switching between streams of work that both interest her and provide value, means that she now enjoys both her work and her life.

Alison says “At Workhorse, I’m contracted on results. I also have another job – to help employees understand how to manage stress effectively for their health, happiness and work/life balance, so that they don’t find themselves at burnout. This is my passion job. My flexible working arrangement at Workhorse means I am also able to pursue this long held dream”.

For working parents, getting the balance of childcare and work responsibilities just right can be challenging, so, what can you do to ensure you’re making flexible working a reality for yourself?

Getting your CV up to scratch is key. Keep it to two pages, don’t be afraid to explain any career breaks, highlight all transferable skills and include a succinct personal profile that you can adapt per application. An accompanying cover letter that cites recent trends in the sector relevant to the role you are applying for will help you stand out. And lastly, focusing on your LinkedIn profile is a great way to get in contact with old colleagues and clients as well as educating yourself about up to date industry trends.

At Flexibility Matters, we’re not only matching flexible working talent to their ideal job roles in businesses around Sussex, Surrey and South London, but we’ve also got some super helpful tools on our website. These include a series of top tips from nailing interviews to writing personal profiles and a CV Builder, designed to get your most important skills and experience noticed.

*Source: Timewise Flexible Job Index

Register on www.flexibilitymatters.co.uk or get in touch directly on email: emma@flexmatters.co.uk, Tel: 0781 0541 599. For the blueprint on implementing flexible working, go to our website contact page and message: ‘please can you send me the full 10-point best practice guide’.

happy child

Protecting your precious little one’s palate

By | baby health, Education, family, Food & Eating, fun for children, Playing

How getting early feeding right can benefit your child’s future health and wellbeing.

Emily Day is Head of Food Development at Organix Brands Ltd, a purpose driven children’s food brand, founded in 1992, with a clear mission to ensure healthy nutritious food is a real choice for everyone. Emily recognises the importance and challenges of providing the appropriate early foods which will set babies on the right path for a lifetime of healthy eating.

“Eat your greens!” is a parental mantra that has persisted through countless generations of vegetable shy youngsters – with Popeye style threats if you don’t!

Start as you mean to go on! Introducing what is an essential part of all our diets, vital for the health of our bodies, should start from those first wonderful weaning moments. Like anything new or unfamiliar, this may not always elicit a thumbs up or gurgle from our little ones. So be patient – persist, because if you crack it early, you’ll avoid mentioning our favourite cartoon sailor.

How can you future proof your tiny tots’ precious palates, and help them be appreciative of the flavours, textures, shapes and tastes of fruits and vegetables so they have a lifelong loving relationship?

For starters, did you know that children learn about their likes and dislikes by being in direct contact with foods; through tasting smelling, touching, holding and also observing others and the way they eat. In fact, even before they start on solids, your baby’s taste buds will be responding to what they’re being fed on, even from inside the womb and if breastfed through the milk.

And don’t forget it’s not just about taste, meal time is also a key development time for children, so should be fun and engaging. To support parents, at what we know can often be a tricky time, we’ve put together some top tips to help:
• After six months of nothing but breast milk or formula, it’s understandable that new tastes come as a surprise to babies, especially when more challenging flavours such as vegetables are introduced. And after all, it’s natural for them to be somewhat suspicious, after only being accustomed to the sweet taste of milk. Our bodies, especially in childhood, do not need or want added salt, sugar or additives, which is why Organix only develop foods with our ‘No Junk Promise’, so parents can trust what they are giving to their children.

• Exposing babies to vegetables in the early weaning stage is a known means of gaining their early acceptance – but not for all! The taste and smell can lead to food refusal. But don’t give up! It might take up to 15 attempts on a regular basis to introduce a baby to a new taste, but research shows that repeated and frequent exposure to them is the most successful route to familiarity and their ultimate acceptance.

• Familiarising babies and toddlers with fruit and vegetables through listening, seeing, touching and smelling them can be a very effective way to win over little taste buds. Try the wonderful aromas of a banana or strawberry, or create a fun to make visual feast by making a fun food plate together.

• Don’t forget fruit and vegetables make wonderful baby finger foods or toddler snacks. Once your baby is past the 12 months stage, two to three snacks are recommended daily. This makes for an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a little extra, so why not choose a fruit or vegetable that is in season for two? Then if required for a third, give yourself a break and why not try Organix Melty Veggie Sticks made with organic corn and pea and flavoured with vegetables? These are baked into a chunky shape, making them easy to hold.

Organix weaning and finger foods help babies discover new shapes, tastes and textures, and our wide range of toddler snacks provide parents with healthier snacking options to fuel happy days.You can find heaps of further information in the Organix Baby & Toddler Cookbook which has over 70 quick and easy recipes from weaning purees to dinner time faves for the whole family to enjoy!

kids in a line

The importance of problem solving and taking risk in the early years

By | Education, environment, Safety, Sport, Sprintime
by Hannah Simpson, Footsteps Day Nurseries

Problem solving is an integral part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and is embedded throughout the environment. The children are encouraged to engage in activities that involve them extending and developing their knowledge and understanding.

Children start to problem solve from birth through learning to communicate and learning to move. They use trial and error to explore new concepts and develop their knowledge of existing ones. For example, learning how to crawl they may move backwards at first but this learning informs them on what to do next time. The continual process helps the children explore and be able to achieve their goal. As children grow they problem solve a wide range of things, at our nursery we encourage all children to problem solve by encouraging activities which allow children to develop and explore different ideas. For example, setting out drain pipes for the children to work together to create a course for water to flow through. During this activity the children have to problem solve how to make the water flow to the end. It is interesting to see how the children decide on different strategies to try and whether they can or can’t work. They strategically work through their ideas, successfully finding a way of making the water flow. The activity has many benefits for the children; they develop their teamwork skills, find a solution to a problem and learn through trial and error.

During activities that the children engage in within the nursery environment there is an element of risk. It is important for children to be able to take risk but the risks have to be managed to ensure the children are not put in serious harm. Children taking a risk and having a bump or bruise is part of the growing process and how they learn to manage in different situations and learn what they are able and unable to do. It allows children to recognise their own abilities and be able to develop and learn new strategies to tackle risk. For example, encouraging the children to use a climbing frame in different ways allows them to try and explore it in different ways. They may not be able to climb efficiently the first time they try but continuing to try and develop different strategies will enhance their learning, enabling them to achieve what they wanted to do. Encouraging children to take risk will enhance their confidence that they are able to try and find new ways to complete tasks. The confidence will also allow them to tackle challenges and overcome fears, learning what their body is able and unable to do. This provides them with essential knowledge about their own abilities as they grow. The children learn about their own ability to learn and how they can manage risk to develop and extend their existing abilities. It is important for adults around the children to support this process of allowing the children to manage their own risk and allowing them to challenge their own ability and prior learning.

At our nursery we recognise the importance of encouraging children to problem solve and take risk and this is integrated into everyday activities that the children explore. It creates confident and happy children who have a willingness to learn.

Footsteps now have three day nurseries across the city offering flexible hours and funding for two, three and four year olds. Go to www.footstepsdaynursery.com to find out more.

Emotional resilience

By | Education, family, Mental health
by Chloe Webster and Bridgit Brown
Pebbles Childcare

As practitioners, we know only too well how important supporting children’s personal, social and emotional development is, particularly in today’s society where children’s mental health (and mental health in general) is so prevalent. There are staggering statistics from the Mental Health Foundation that say at least one in 10 children (aged five to16 years) experience some form of mental illness (including anxiety and depression) as a direct response of things they have experienced, yet as many as 70% of these children will not have received sufficient interventions within their early years. (www.mentalhealth.org.uk)
So what can we do as practitioners to reduce these staggering statistics and equip our children’s emotional arsenal adequately enough to deal with the trials and tribulations the modern world puts upon them as they grow up?

sad little girlAs settings, we should place the children’s emotional development, resilience and intelligence at the forefront of everything we do, because how can we expect children to learn literacy, maths and problem solving skills when they aren’t emotionally ready to learn? As practitioners we need to support the emotional wellbeing of the children we care for, ensuring that they are aware of their emotions, what they mean and how to manage them. Then children can develop their understanding of the emotional needs of others and how we can be mindful and supportive of each other in order to develop friendships and relationships.

Encouraging children to be emotionally intelligent and resilient doesn’t have to be difficult; the earlier we introduce children to becoming aware of and feeling their emotions, the more likely they will be to grow into emotionally balanced and intelligent young people.

The behaviours children display is an outwards response of the emotions they are feeling and trying to process, and it is our job to not only support them with processing these emotions but also to allow them to truly ‘feel’ their emotions before understanding why they are feeling them and how to deal with them and process them adequately. Children need the opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions in order to develop the appropriate skills to recognise, identify and manage each emotion; if we try to ‘protect’ children from ‘negative’ feelings (anger, sadness, fear) then how will they ever possess the emotional tools to process these emotions constructively.

For children, understanding and ‘owning’ their emotions is supported by their developing language and their understanding of the words and phrases we, as practitioners, use in relation to their emotions.

The words we use to identify, recognise, discuss and process emotions and behaviours has a significant impact on how children will react, respond and understand the varying emotions they feel. For example; instead of saying “Don’t be scared” when a child is feeling fearful, we could ask them “What are you scared of?”, “Why are you feeling scared?”, “What scares you about this?” This way, the child begins to mentally process the emotion and feelings they are experiencing, and dissect it to begin to understand ‘why’ they feel this type of emotion and how to overcome it with the support of a familiar adult. Similarly, simply telling a child “Stop crying”, “You don’t need to cry”, doesn’t support their emotional intelligence and enable them to investigate why they are crying or what it is that is causing them to feel upset.

It is our job as childcare providers to support the children in our care in understanding and dealing with their emotions, in addition to supporting them in understanding and being empathic towards the feelings and emotions of other children in the setting too.

As adults, we know that emotionally we all have different triggers, different ways of dealing with the emotions we experience; children are exactly the same and will all process and react to a range of emotions with varying levels of behaviour. It is our duty as their key people to determine, understand and support each child’s individual emotional range, find tools to support them in processing and understanding each emotion, before encouraging them to identify and support the emotions of their peers.

In order to meet children’s emotional needs, they will need a number of things. Firstly, an emotionally rich environment supported by emotionally intelligent adults, in addition to resources that provide children with the opportunity to explore different emotions of different people, opportunities to practise and identify various emotions as well as the opportunity to practice how to support and process the emotions of others.

Providing children with various resources to support them in exploring these things through their play and in their own time, is fundamental to cementing their learning and understanding of emotions.

We need to provide children with a wide variety of stories and books that discuss and explore different real-life scenarios that can unleash different emotions (parental separation, moving house, the transition to school or to a new setting, a new baby, to name but a few) and explore how these are addressed and managed through stories as well as a vast array of imaginative play experiences to practise and develop the skills needed to identify and support the emotions of others.

Where developmentally appropriate, introducing simple mindfulness activities and techniques to provide the children with the time and space to think about, feel and process their feelings in a constructive and calm way is conducive to the resilience of the children’s emotional wellbeing as well as their emotional intelligence.

Yoga is a wonderful activity for focusing on movements that enable children to breathe, take control of their body and mind and focus on each movement and breath they are taking which instils a feeling of calm amongst the children. For our older children, making their own ‘Worry jars’ is a great activity and resource to have within your setting; a small jar that the children can create freely by combining coloured water and glitter/sequins/buttons. The message behind these jars is that when the child feels angry/sad/anxious they can physically express these feelings by shaking the jar vigorously and calm themselves by focusing on watching the glitter/sequins/buttons settle; therefore allowing the child time to mindfully focus on their feelings and the process of watching the materials settle allows the child’s feelings to settle and calm too. These jars not only support the child in managing their emotions productively but also provide the child with ownership of their own emotions and behaviour management.

We all have a role to play as professionals and parents to ensure that we know how to adequately support the mental health and emotional intelligence of our young children, in order to support and help them in growing into emotionally balanced and strong young adults.

Outdoor learning and Forest School – a breath of fresh air!

By | Education, environment, fun for children, Gardening, Playing, Uncategorized
by Kirsty Keep
Head Mistress, Lancing College Preparatory School at Hove

Schools and nurseries are increasingly taking learning outside, whether by using their own outdoor space as an open-air classroom or by tackling traditional ‘woodland activities’ in natural areas or ones specifically designed for the purpose. But where do the origins of Forest School lie and how do our schools and nurseries embrace that philosophy in 2020?

The longstanding Scandinavian passion for nature is known as friluftsliv which translates as ‘open-air living’. As far back as the mid-nineteenth century, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen described friluftsliv as the value to spiritual and physical wellbeing achieved by spending time outside in remote locations. So-called ‘nature schools’ began to appear in Denmark as early as the 1950s and grew in number in the 1970s when the demand for childcare rose dramatically to meet the needs of mothers returning to work while their children were very young. These early schools developed a kindergarten system that provided children with the opportunities to learn and develop in natural environments and outdoor settings. They were modelled on the work of Friedrich Fröbel, a 19th century German pedagogue and a student of Pestalozzi. Fröbel recognised that each child has unique needs and capabilities and it is no surprise that this has laid the foundation for modern early years education offered today.

These days, for our youngest children, outdoor locations tend, generally speaking, not to be particularly remote but they offer experiences that are a world away from lessons within the walls of a classroom or learning through play indoors.

School trips and visits have always given children a taste of the world beyond school but outdoor learning at school is a way of using natural resources to learn about nature. It also offers some welcome respite from the plethora of electronic resources for recreation and learning that immerse today’s children, who are born ‘digital natives’ unlike their parents, grandparents and teachers who have had to acquire digital awareness or in some cases had digital awareness thrust upon them!

Many schools and nurseries have their own garden areas where children can literally get ‘hands-on’ experience, planting seeds, watering and weeding and seeing the fruits of their endeavours grow as the seasons change. Ponds and science gardens give a myriad of opportunities for children of all ages to try their hand at pond-dipping, recording the diversity of insects and bugs visiting the gardens and operating weather stations.

However, whatever fabulous facilities a school or nursery may have on site, the possibilities for taking learning outdoors at school are endless, only limited by imagination! They can range from outdoor maths, for example counting the right angles around the school buildings and campus, creating art from nature, using twigs and leaves to make temporary pieces of art that are not only cost-free but also recyclable. Young children studying history, for example, can see for themselves just how rapidly the Great Fire of London spread by creating their own model Tudor houses from cardboard boxes, packing them into a fire pit and watching them burn. Carefully supervised by staff armed with fire extinguishers, this activity can also act as a Health & Safety lesson as to what to do in the event of a fire!

Forest School is a more sustained, long-term process which aims through positive outdoor experiences to encourage and inspire children to love the world around them. For preschool children, Forest School nurtures their sense of wonder and their curiosity about the world outside, closely entwined with the ideals of free-flow play and learning from play that underpin the child-centred learning ethos and areas that lie at the heart of the Early Years Foundation Stage which runs from birth to five years of age. Away from their school or nursery, they have adventures in natural habitats such as woods, rivers and streams, ponds and beaches. Supervised with the lightest of touches by staff, the children have the freedom to discover what fascinates them in nature and to respond spontaneously to the environment they are exploring.

Forest School is for young children of all ages; it helps babies to expand their sensory awareness, for example by feeling plants and mosses in woodland or digging up shells and pebbles on a beach. Toddlers try their hands at making camps out of logs and branches and have their first go at climbing trees or making a tyre swing. Three year olds build on their problem-solving skills by arranging logs to form a bridge to get over a stream.

For older children, there is a huge range of practical activities including bushcraft, fire-lighting, knifecraft, such as whittling and carving, how to tie knots and build shelters. Naturalist skills such as identifying plants, animal tracks and signs are eagerly embraced and children enjoy learning how to forage safely and sustainably and how to prepare and cook wild food. Who would have thought under eights would get excited by the prospect of nettle tea?

Outdoor explorers learn soft skills too that nurture critical thinking skills and teamwork. They develop empathy and sympathy with their peers and learn how to work as a team to solve problems, honing their communication and negotiation skills. The children learn to recognise and assess risks for themselves and to make choices to ensure their group’s safety. They grow in confidence and self-esteem through these hands-on experiences.

It is also an excellent way to introduce conservation activities and the ‘leave no trace’ philosophy that we should preserve wild places and leave nature as unchanged by our presence as possible, so that future generations can enjoy it too.

Above all, it’s fun – children can get messy, get wet, climb higher and develop a love of outdoor life. They explore the natural world around them using magnifying glasses, saws, spades and buckets. This brings their learning to life and helps to create an understanding of the balance of nature and resources.

The Lancing College family includes its two Prep Schools located in Hove and Worthing, and located on the edge of the College’s 550 acre estate, a Day Nursery which opened in September 2019 and offers day care all-year round for children aged two months and over. All three provide wonderful opportunities for children to take their learning outdoors and are prime examples of nursery school pioneer Margaret McMillan’s assertion made in the mid-1920s “The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky!”

starting back to school

Top tips for preparing your child for school

By | Education, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Claire Russell
Early Years Specialist

Probably one of the biggest milestones of being a parent is that of your child starting school. Before their little one takes this massive next step, mums and dads everywhere will be wondering nervously how they can help prepare them!
It can be an anxious time for parents (and children) but first and foremost, it’s important not to worry (easier said than done, I know). Schools are very good at helping to support children as they transition and will always ensure their needs are met. However, there are a few things parents can do and some good habits they can encourage to help their child feel a little more ready. And I’m not talking about them being able to write their name, or count to 10. It’s a common misconception that the best way to support your child is via academic things but actually preparing them for starting school isn’t about putting pressure on them to learn lots in a short space of time, it’s more about preparing them socially and emotionally.

1. Is your child able to dress themselves? Can they pull their jumper over their head or pop socks on their feet? Can they do the buttons up on their shirt? Can they put their shoes on? Try having a practice. No doubt they’re excited about wearing them and it’s handy for them to get used to dressing themselves because they’ll have to attempt it at school during PE class or when they need the toilet.

2. Try to get your child into the habit of eating independently. Teachers will not be expecting miracles and your child will of course still be supported, no one is going to let them starve, but it won’t be the same as their main carer being there to spoon feed them or gee them along! If they don’t already, encourage them to have a go at using cutlery. Invite them to take their plate to the kitchen afterwards too as they may well be expected to clear their lunch trays at school.

3. Practice independent toileting. Can they wipe their own bum? Can they flush the toilet and wash their hands? Why not create a poster to stick up in the bathroom reminding them of the correct routine – draw around their hands and label each finger: rinse, soap, rub, rinse, dry.

4. Encourage your child to keep warm. Young children often don’t link cold weather to putting their coat on or taking a layer off when it’s hot. Keep prompting them so they get into the habit. Likewise, when it comes to drinking! It’s important to stay hydrated.

5. Focus on sharing. They are going to be in an environment with lots of other children. Now if they’ve been to nursery or preschool previously, they may be used to this but if not, play some games with them, focusing upon sharing and taking turns, following instructions and routines.

6. Try working on and developing fine motor skills. Encourage them to do little fiddly things which strengthen the muscles used in the pincer grip which will be required to hold a pencil or use tools such a scissors. Practise threading beads onto a string, making small items from playdough, or shredding scraps of paper.

7. If a child is a little anxious try to notice if they keep asking the same question. It may be that it’s a certain something that is causing them to worry. Even the smallest of things can appear a big deal to them so sit down together, talk through and unpick the matter. Draw a timetable of the school day including pictures as a visual aid, for example, drop off, sit on carpet, have a snack, play and lunch.

8. Teach your child to recognise their written name. Now while it might not be about learning to write their name, starting to recognise it can be very helpful because they’re going to be seeing it on their pegs, book bags, PE kit. If you don’t already have one, put a sign on their bedroom door – you could make it and decorate it yourselves! Just recognising the first letter of their name can be a big help. Why not make it fun by writing it in shaving foam, paint, chalks, playdough and magnetic fridge letters.

9. If they’re showing an interest in numbers try singing lots of numerical songs. For example, Five Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day; One, Two, Three, Four Five, Once I caught a Fish Alive, as well as counting when you’re out and about. Point out bus numbers, house numbers, numbers around the home – on the oven, on clocks. Count when you climb the stairs and when brushing their teeth. Most importantly, keep it fun. No pressure though! Number recognition is handy but not essential. If they don’t know them then it’s absolutely fine because that is what school is for!

10. Finally, make a habit of reading together regularly. School will be sending home books so encouraging their love of reading now will pay dividends.

Claire Russell is an Early Years Specialist and founder of playHOORAY!. Find out more about Claire at www.playhooray.co.uk or follow her on social media at www.instagram.com/play.hooray and Facebook at www.facebook.com/playhooray.uk for live play demos every week day at 10am.

How to raise earth-friendly children

By | Education, environment, Uncategorized

Children are increasingly aware of the need to help the planet. Westbourne House School’s Head of Nursery and Pre-Prep Caroline Oglethorpe thinks that to raise earth-friendly children we need to show we care and respect the environment both at school and at home.

“You wouldn’t think a 15 year old could change the world and she literally has”, Honor (aged 11) told me when she heard the news that Greta Thunberg had won Time’s Person of the Year.

Honor is a keen environmentalist in Year 7 at Westbourne House School, Chichester, and she sits on the Environment Committee, an initiative involving Years 1 to 8. She is supported by the school to take positive action, which helps her and her fellow committee feel positive and empowered. And as we’ve witnessed, children’s enthusiasm, passion and understanding can have a huge impact and help change attitudes and behaviour.

I believe that when we practice what we preach, when we show we care too – either as a school or as parents at home – the impact on young minds is stronger and our children learn better how to make a difference to the environment. As Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Nothing could be truer when it comes to educating and as a school we are working to create many opportunities for children to be involved. Recently our children from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and 2 – and their parents – enthusiastically planted 100 trees to create a new wildlife woodland. With the children, we discussed the carbon cycle and the importance of trees and how trees make homes for wildlife. The children in Year 2 wrote a letter to the trees thanking them for the air that we breathe and for absorbing CO2, helping our planet to breathe too.

Speaking at the tree planting event, Sarah Cunliffe, wildlife filmmaker at Sussex-based Big Wave Productions, said: “I am so proud of all the children. What is happening is a fantastic example of how we can all make change and reduce our carbon footprint. We all need to do more.”

“We all need to do more” this is the reason to empower children and help them to realise that they can make a positive impact if they choose. The Environmental Committee members at our school are tasked with looking around the school, deciding where they can make a difference and driving changes. It is about getting back to basics as well – gardening and growing vegetables, thinking about eating seasonally, reducing food waste, being outside, appreciating what we have and mindfulness.

The school of course will continue to encourage green behaviour with visits from outside organisations such as Solar Education, who visited Years 3 and 4 recently and helped them work out their carbon footprints. Plus visits from inspirational people such as author and passionate conservationist Laurent St John, who reminded the children during her visit that they can be their parents’ conscience. In the spring, pupils will be planting wild flowers adjacent to the new woodland site as part of a pan-European pollination project, which aims to create even more opportunities for wildlife to flourish.

I’ve collected together a few ideas that you might want to do with your child/ren to help develop their environmental awareness and to remind us all that every little action helps:

1 It is always good to remind ourselves how incredible our planet is. If you haven’t watched Seven Worlds One Planet on BBC1 with your children, you can catch it on iPlayer.

2 If you want to learn together, there are sites that explain climate change in a factual way for children such as National Geographic Kids.

3 Create a challenge to catch each other when not making sustainable choices. For example, a child might not think about the impact of leaving the lid off a glue stick, which means that the whole stick, including plastic casing, has to be thrown away. You might forget to turn off your engine at the level crossing. Your child might struggle to resist the ice cream with the biggest plastic packaging.

4 There are so many fun initiatives you can join in with as a family for example:
• No Mow May: Plantlife, a British conservation charity, urges you not to mow your lawn (or part of it) in May. By the end, your garden will be buzzing with happy pollinators and your family can join in the flower count.
• Your family could join up to Hedgehog Street (www.hedgehogstreet.org). Aimed at gardens with fences, you can ensure that there is a hedgehog highway and put yourself down as a Hedgehog Champion in your street and encourage others to do the same.

Westbourne House School: for boys and girls aged 2½ – 13. www.westbournehouse.org