Category

Education

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!”

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

trombone playing boy

Talent spotting in schools

By | Education, fun for children, Music and singing, Playing

Talent spotting in schools
The difference between scholarships and bursaries

More attention than ever before is being devoted to the significant levels of financial support provided by independent schools, to assist aspirational families on lower incomes. According to the Independent Schools Council’s 2019 census, 34% of pupils educated at independent schools currently receive help with their fees, at a cost of £1bn. The majority of this is provided directly from the schools themselves.

Fee assistance comes in many different shapes and sizes and, as a result, the world of scholarships and bursaries can seem like a minefield to those embarking on the journey for the first time. What can make things even trickier, is that different schools give different names to their individual types of fee assistance. One school might offer a ‘scholarship’ worth 10%, whereas at its neighbour down the road, it might be 50%. It is therefore important to know how to navigate the world of scholarships and bursaries and to establish the difference between them.

At the majority of schools, scholarships will refer to a portion of money off school fees and they will be awarded on merit – the result of a child being an excellent academic all-rounder or brilliant at, for example, art, drama, music, sport, or design technology. They usually (although not always) come with some form of percentage discount on the cost of a child’s overall fees.

Bursaries, on the other hand, are usually hosted by charitable foundations within independent schools and tend to be means-tested places that are offered to an outstanding pupil from a family on a very low income who would never be able to consider providing their child with a private education without the support of a bursary. In most cases, this level of assistance gives life-changing access to talented students who would otherwise never benefit from an independent school education and all that it offers. Being independent, these schools have been able to keep the torch alight for vital areas of the wider curriculum – such as music, the arts, competitive team sports, modern and classical languages – that have so often had to be marginalised in their state counterparts.

The landscape has changed significantly in recent years and it is now more usual for scholarships and awards to attract a very modest reduction in school fees, with larger fee remissions being offered through means-tested bursaries. In the very early stages it is important to establish the detail of the criteria for entry, the maximum scholarship or bursary that a school is prepared to award, and the process that you and your child will need to go through to secure either a scholarship or bursary.

A typical scholarship process could look like this:
• Initial enquiry received by School Registrar who discusses scholarship criteria, any specific examination requirements, for example.
• Families interested in pursuing an application are sent appropriate forms for completion.
• Parents submit completed forms, with child’s most recent school report and reference from current school.
• Application considered and, if successful, child invited for interview.
• Child puts together a portfolio demonstrating their abilities and wider interest in the area for which they are applying for a scholarship.
• Child visits the school with portfolio, is interviewed by the Head, attends interview with the Head of Department and demonstrates their talents, undergoes academic tests, as appropriate.
• Once all applicants are interviewed, candidates are considered by the Head and Heads of Department.
• Scholarships offered according to merit and number available.

While the process for securing a bursary might look like this:
• Initial enquiry received by the School’s Registrar, who discusses the application process and criteria applied.
• Families interested in pursuing their application are sent an ‘Application and Means-Testing Financial’ form for completion.
• The family completes and returns the form with the child’s most recent school report.
• The child’s potential is assessed ‘on paper’ by the Head.
• The family’s financial circumstances are then assessed by the School’s Bursar or an independent financial assessment company.
• If successful, the child’s parents or guardians are interviewed by the Head.
• If successful, the child attends an ‘experience day’ at the school, is interviewed by the Head, is academically assessed and is given the opportunity to demonstrate their particular talents to relevant Heads of Department (maybe art, drama, DT, music or sport).
• If successful, the family might be visited at home.
• If successful, the Head might put forward short-listed candidates with recommendations for consideration by, and confirmation from, Charity Board.
• Foundation Scholarship places offered, as appropriate.

Probably the most important thing for any parent or guardian interested in applying for a scholarship or bursary for their child or charge to remember, is that they should not worry about approaching their school of choice and openly discussing the opportunities available. There is no such thing as ‘saying the wrong thing’ and it may well be that their child is exactly the kind of student that a school is looking for. The important thing to realise is that the schools are as keen to support talented children with bursaries and scholarships – provided
they match their criteria – as parents or guardians are to secure them.

Christian Heinrich is Headmaster at Cumnor House Sussex in Danehill. He set up The Cumnor Foundation which offers 2 means-tested bursaries each year that cover the entire cost of a talented child’s education for ten years from the age of 8 to 18, in collaboration with sixteen independent senior school partners. www.cumnor.co.uk/cumnor-community/the-cumnor-foundation/
For further information please contact Cecilia Desmond, Registrar at Cumnor House Sussex on 01825 792006 or email registrar@cumnor.co.uk. www.cumnor.co.uk

family love

How children communicate

By | Education, Uncategorized
by Justine van de Weg
The Arts College, Worthing

Do you find you become irritated at times when your child will not listen to you? Some days you may feel like ripping your hair out in frustration! When you understand how children think, it can sometimes give you a clearer perspective.

Children are developing their brains, fine motor muscles in their hands, co-ordination, speech and walking on a daily basis. It can be easy to assume that when a child can put a sentence together they know or understand how situations, conversations or emotions work. As an adult, this is second nature. However, think about when you, as an adult, start a job for the first time. Could you fully operate the office, know where all the paper work is, how to answer the phone, who to speak to, where to find materials or resources? Think back to the time you learnt how to drive. You had to learn how the gears, accelerator, steering wheel and rear view mirror work together as a team.

The communication processes that are constantly developing within a child are the sensory senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. When children are trying to communicate they will communicate through senses and exploring. Putting it simply – children use less words. When you grow up and become an adult, your senses are second nature and not much thought is given to the development of your senses. As an adult, you rely more on logical thinking, words, actions and, of course, assumptions based on what you have learnt from the adults who surrounded you when you were growing up. Putting it simply – adults use more words.

When adults and children become frustrated with one another, it’s because one is communicating with too many words, and the other (mostly the child) is trying to understand the words, but cannot because they don’t relate to their senses and understanding. Their processing is through senses. When you ask children how they feel, although they can speak, they cannot always say how they feel, or why they feel irritable or angry. This is because they need support and guidance from the adult to communicate through their senses.

Tips to help:
1 Communicate through pictures. Instead of asking children how they feel, ask them to point to a face that has an expression. You can draw various faces ranging from smiling to angry. Number the faces up to 10 so that you know the extent of irritation or anger.

2 Have activities around that can help children release anger – for example: a punching bag, trampoline, swinging tennis ball or a ‘screaming pillow’.

Giving a child an activity with the expectation of them just doing it will not always work. They are still learning and the only way they learn is by watching their parents and the adults surrounding them.

When your child is working through the activity, it is important to ask them if they want you near them or they want you to leave them alone. With some activities they may just want you to stand there whilst they hit the ball, or jump on the trampoline.

3 Sensory activity suggestions include breathing exercises, chopping up strips of hard food like carrots and getting children chewing on them or having relaxing and calming oil smells in the house.

4 EFT – this is an emotional freedom technique. Tapping on certain acupressure points on the body stimulates the effect as if attending an acupuncture session, only without the needles. Great EFT points which I always use with children are the point on the chest, just below the collar bone closest to the shoulder, and the side of the hand .When parents are willing to do this activity with their children, the children will follow their lead.

Achieving – what’s it really about?

By | Education

Saturday, 16th November 2019. There were two articles in newspapers about one of the world’s top cricketers, Ben Stokes. One was in The Times newspaper. The other was in The Guardian. It’s interesting that each focused on different aspects of what makes him successful. I’ll take each article in turn.

Intelligence matters
Michael Atherton (a former England captain) commented in the Times: “Observers often confuse academic intelligence – GCSEs, A-levels, university degrees, and the like – with cricketing intelligence, but the two are distinct. You can have both, of course, but one does not automatically confer the other. Stokes told me he has one GCSE (in PE), but he is among the most intelligent cricketers I have come across”.

Atherton makes a perceptive point – and given his wide experience in cricket it’s significant. In common with many people who are successful, they often come with a poor academic record, which is not correlated with the kind of intelligence they need to achieve in their chosen area of work. It’s common amongst sportspeople that many have had quite poor school records, yet show a great intelligence in their own sport. I can also say, in my experience of almost 50 years in consulting with entrepreneurs, that the majority have had poor school records, but show a great deal of intelligence in their own area of work. They are smart, savvy people whose success has no relation to educational performance.

We know that crude notions of one kind of intelligence that somehow sums up the person are faulty. A number of writers have shown that it makes more sense to think of different kinds of intelligence. For instance, to take one example, our President, Professor Rose Luckin, has commented, in relation to Artificial Intelligence (a field in which she is a world-renowned expert) that there are a wide range of other intelligences that humans possess which Artificial Intelligence does not, and cannot, replace. One key example is that of the notion of social intelligence and of working with others in achieving results.

Emotional maturity matters
The second article from The Guardian newspaper by Donald McRae is subtitled ‘Fear is natural – just embrace it’ (a comment from Ben Stokes). This article was much more focused on emotional and feeling issues and how crucial they are in being successful in a whole range of activities, but especially sport. Stokes commented that he’d been to see the team psychologist and opened up about feeling nervous before a crucial England match. The psychologist suggested he share the fears with the squad. McRae comments: “Rather than adopt the line about being ready for battle he told his teammates: “I am nervous, I am anxious, I am worrying about what happens if we don’t win. Believe me, I am worried.” In showing his apprehension Stokes was able to normalise these emotions. For everyone else.”

Later in the interview Stokes comments on sharing worries with a fellow batsman and says that the latter’s success after that conversation was, as he put it, “no coincidence that it followed, letting out those emotions to someone”. He goes on to comment about embracing the fact that fear is natural and how he has dealt with that.

Dealing with emotions is not just something that sportspeople have to attend to. Many senior business leaders that I have worked with have had to deal with strong feelings and the extent to which they have shown maturity in this has linked to their effectiveness in fulfilling their role.

In school, in general, the ability to develop emotional maturity is neglected and not even seen as relevant in the context of a curriculum based on fact learning and exam passing. We know that emotional wellbeing developed during teenage years, especially, but also in early adulthood, is a better predictor of future life satisfaction than, for instance, exam grades. Research on this is impeccable and conclusive from a number of studies – yet such factors are neglected in British schools.

Our students in SML College do take exams and get similar grades to their school colleagues. What is most reassuring, for instance, when visitors come round, is their delight at the emotional maturity and social ability shown by our students. Independent research has shown that ex-students value these qualities as they pursue their differing careers.

Dr Ian Cunningham is Chair of Governors, SML College www.smlcollege.org.uk 01273 987629 ian@smlcollege.org.uk

Brighton-Festival

Art saves lives

By | dance & Art, Education, family, fun for children, Mental health, Music and singing, Playing, reading, Relationships, Theatre
by Eleanor Costello
Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival

Young people face new challenges every day. From navigating the complexities of an ever-changing Internet culture to fighting for their future in an era of climate crisis. Art provides opportunities for everyone to make sense of the world, to test our boundaries and let our imagination thrive. Children benefit from having the opportunity to read books, go to theatre shows and to make their own art.

The acclaimed poet and Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director, Lemn Sissay said; “Art saves lives, it literally saves lives. Art is how we translate the human spirit. That’s why you have art and religions. That’s why people sing. That’s why we read poems at funerals and weddings, we need some bridge between the spiritual, the physical, the past, the present, the future.”

Through events like Brighton Festival, young people can explore, discover and participate in the arts. For 30 years the Children’s Parade has officially marked the start of Brighton Festival, with over 5,000 participants, including 3,473 school children, stepping into show stopping costumes they have designed and made themselves. Around 10,000 people come along to see the parade and be part of the largest annual children’s event in the UK. The parade is a unique event produced by community arts organisation, Same Sky, which offers thousands of young people the chance to come together in creations they’ve designed around a central theme, giving them a sense of belonging. In 2020, the Children’s Parade theme is Nature’s Marvels, offering a platform for participants to think more about the world and environment around them.

Stories fire the imagination, invite us to empathise with and understand others, give children the creativity needed to face the world and even the tools to change it. Young City Reads is an annual Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC reading project. A book is selected for primary school children in Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond to read and discuss, culminating in a final event with the book’s author at the Festival in May. In 2019, over 3,000 pupils took part in free weekly activities. For 2020, the chosen book is Malamander by Thomas Taylor, featuring a daring duo Herbert Lemon and Violet Parma who team up to solve the mystery of a legendary sea-monster. This is a chance for schools across the county to foster a love of reading in young people and give support to teaching staff to think outside the box with their curriculum.

Hilary Cooke, Brighton Festival Children’s Literature Producer says; “Children’s book events are an opportunity to turn the private activity of reading into a shared experience. Being in a room with a new (or favourite) author and a group of young readers is quite magical, with laughter, imagination and surprise. Illustrators drawing live on stage create another layer of creativity that is beautiful to watch (and possibly my favourite thing).” Due East, Hangleton and Knoll Project and the community steering committees enable local residents to make their vision come to life in Our Place, a Brighton Festival event that has been running for three years. Pop up performances take place across Hangleton and East Brighton with a community event in each area. Seeing arts and culture being celebrated and given a platform in their own neighbourhood opens the door for young people to think differently about the places they live in.

Brighton Festival offers opportunities for young people in Brighton and beyond to experience groundbreaking, original and spectacular performances by international artists. Australian company, Gravity & Other Myths bring a new jaw-dropping circus show bound to blow the minds of aspiring acrobats, Drag Queen Story Time gives children the opportunity to be who they want to be with a LGBTQ friendly storytelling, and hilarious theatre show Slime allows two to five year olds to squish and squelch their way through a tale about a slug and caterpillar.

May is a time of spectacular celebration across the county, with Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape, Artist Open Studios and Charleston Festival in addition to Brighton Festival’s jam-packed programme.

Supporting the next generation of art-goers is integral to Brighton Festival’s spirit and this year’s programme aims to bring a variety of events for children and young people – from infants to Instagrammers. Children of all ages can discover, create and participate in the arts, giving them unexpected and enriching experiences that can be shared with their friends or family. Many events are free, others starting as low as £5 and there are often family offers so the whole clan can come along.

Head to www.brightonfestival.org today to find out what’s happening at Brighton Festival from 2nd to 24th May 2020.

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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

 

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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’.