Category

Education

Make time for teeth

By | baby health, beauty, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized
by Lisa Costigan, Rottingdean Dental Care

Lisa Costigan from Rottingdean Dental Care has practiced locally for 27 years. During this time she has dealt with many dental injuries and is very keen that all parents should know what to do if their child damages a tooth.

What should I do if my child damages a primary (baby) tooth?
You don’t have to do anything yourself to the tooth. However it is important that you visit your dentist as soon as possible. NEVER put back a knocked out primary (baby) tooth as you could damage the permanent tooth below.

Why is important that I visit the dentist straight away?
Your dentist will want to assess the injury and monitor the tooth. If it has become very loose they may want to remove it as there could be an airway risk. If it has been mildly displaced from the socket they may be able to reposition it. Sometimes if the movement is very slight the tooth will reposition spontaneously.

How can I care for the injured tooth at home?
Avoid giving hard food for two to four weeks and if possible avoid use of a pacifier or nursing bottle. Remember to keep brushing the tooth as it is important to keep it clean. Look out for any changes around the injured tooth. Colour change is a common sign of primary (baby) tooth trauma and may range from yellow to grey to black. Always return to your dentist with any concerns.

Can an injury to a primary (baby) tooth damage the unerupted permanent tooth?
During the first years of life the primary (baby) teeth are very closely related to the permanent teeth which are forming inside the bone. When injury occurs in the primary teeth in this period it can affect the appearance of the permanent teeth, which could erupt with white or brown marks or a deformation in the crown. It may also disturb the eruption time of the permanent tooth.

What should I do if a permanent tooth is broken or knocked out?
• Find the tooth. Hold the
tooth by the crown (the white part), not by the root (the yellow part).
• Re-implant immediately if possible.
• If contaminated rinse briefly with cold tap water (do not scrub) and put the tooth back in place. This can be done by the child or an adult.
• Hold the tooth in place. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position and go to the dentist immediately.
• If you cannot put the tooth back in, place in a cup of milk or saline. When milk or saline or not available, place the tooth in the child’s mouth (between the cheeks and gums).
• Seek immediate dental treatment as your dentist will need to take an x-ray and place a splint on the adjacent teeth. Follow up treatment will depend on the stage of root development of the tooth.

Lisa advises that due to the frequency of the tooth injuries all parents should download the Dental Trauma First Aid App which is endorsed by IAPT (International Association of Dental Traumatology).

Rottingdean Dental Care was opened in 1982. It became the first practice in Sussex to hold both national quality standards BDA Good Practice and Investors in People.
Email: info@rottingdeandental.co.uk

Hitting the high notes!

By | dance & Art, Education, fun for children, Music and singing, play

Experienced music teachers Sam Dixon and Carolyn Hextall, who run the music department at Brighton College Nursery, Pre-Prep & Prep School, sing the praises for a subject that is becoming increasingly sidelined in many schools.

music for childrenMusic helps us learn
No one doubts that learning music is fun. Sometimes, however, this concept can belittle the advantages that learning music brings and leads to it being given less emphasis in schools than other subjects. Research has shown that being taught music enhances skills such as concentration, memory and focus as well as offering physical and creative benefits to children. Similarly, an increase in the number of teaching hours dedicated to music and the provision of instrumental lessons for pupils can result in overall school improvement.

Busting the myth
There is a common misconception that those who achieve great results in music are naturally talented or gifted. It is a myth that often discourages children, or parents from families without a musical history, to embrace music as a subject. Music is a discipline just like sport or, let’s face it, any subject where success is achieved by children because they enjoy it and are therefore happy to dedicate time and energy to it. Enjoyment and dedication; these are two essential ingredients.

An early start
It is never too early for children to enjoy music and to start performing. Children as young as three can start to learn written notation presented in a fun, active way. Introducing them to the ‘Musical Family’ of Grandpa Semibreve, Daddy Dotted Minim and Baby Crotchet help to bring the notes alive. They learn the musical value of each note by physically moving in a way that suits the different characters; slow footsteps mark out the four beats of Grandpa Semibreve, whilst Daddy Dotted Minim loves to waltz – the children absolutely love the characters and the information sticks.

Keep it moving
Methods such as this introduce the body as an instrument and our youngest pupils begin to connect music with movement, the mind with the body. Note recognition becomes physically embodied at a tender age and this helps to combat any trepidation surrounding their learning to ‘read’ music when they are older. Pulse and rhythm can also be embedded as early as possible through the use of dance along videos and regular opportunities to use simple percussion instruments or even the banging of a humble bucket. Singing is fundamental to the development of ear training
and use of the solfege system helps children to improve their vocal control and develop a strong understanding of the musical scale.

The show must go on
The fundamental principle of performance underpins music teaching at all levels and learning an instrument or singing gives children the opportunity to become involved in musical ensembles, performing with one other, and to explore a wide range of repertoire. Participation in ensembles as varied as orchestras, jazz and swing bands, percussion groups, pop groups, guitar, classical and piano ensembles are a brilliant ways for children to develop the important skills of listening, responding and analyzing. They allow children to work on the art of preparation and offer them vital performance opportunities on all scales.

Technology in music
When composition is introduced at a very young age, through call and response and simple improvisation children respond quickly to the introduction of songwriting, writing music to accompany films or music from particular genres. In a world where so much music is produced by technology, an understanding of notation and composition software such as Cubase and Sibelius is important and should be encouraged.

Making connections
Listening to a wide range of music and putting it into a historical and cultural context helps children to appreciate the links between music and other subjects being learnt at school.
So, when we listen to Baroque music and introduce pupils to the towering genius J.S. Bach, we consider what else was happening at that time. Who was on the throne in England and what was happening in Bach’s hometown? Was he a practical joker like Mozart or, like Handel, did he have a legendary temper? Researching contemporary pieces which use similar techniques, for example Goldfinger’s ‘Superman’ which uses a Baroque ground bass, makes their learning feel more relevant and accessible.

Onwards and upwards
Learning music is a three way process between parent, pupil and teacher. Each one relies on the other for their commitment, participation and development. Parents are key in providing a regular, realistic practice time for children who learn an instrument and ensuring it takes place in an appropriate environment. They can also help by exposing their children to a smorgasbord of different musical styles; it could be as easy as exploring the different channels on the radio, attending concerts or joining local choirs and community music groups. Music is such a wonderful thing to explore with children and parents really do not have to be the expert. If there is something you enjoy, share it with your children. An enthusiastic response to their practice efforts or dancing along to your favorite tunes is all it takes to get started.

Sam Dixon and Carolyn Hextall run the music department at Brighton College Nursery, Pre-Prep & Prep School educating over 500 pupils between the ages of three and 13 in curriculum music. Their provision is supported by a body of over 30 visiting instrumental music teachers who deliver individual and group lessons to the children.
www.brightoncollege.org.uk

shoreham college girl

Challenging the very young

By | Education, Mental health
by Richard Taylor-West
Headmaster, Shoreham College

Being challenged as individuals, in terms of learning, is immensely important for children. Gone are the days of Victorian desks, row on row, with pupils passively learning everything by rote to be regurgitated later. We no longer, in spite of Mr Gove’s recent reforms, shout “Fact, fact, fact!” at the pupils and expect a response, as Mr Gradgrind does in Dickens’ novel Hard Times.

There is a place, of course, for learning the facts; in some cases it’s absolutely necessary. We cannot shy away from that. There are types of mathematics that need to be memorised; there are scientific formula to learn and getting on in Spanish is not possible if the vocabulary is not captured and stored in the long-term memory.

There are though other ways to learn and it’s important that these are explored in schools. Learning should be like a mixed diet of fruit, carbs and vegetables. The antidote to the grind of memorisation is independent learning and good educational institutions have been doing this for some time.

I am particularly pleased to say that our pupils in our primary section, the Junior School, are adept independent learners and the staff are always setting them some quite tricky tasks to complete. We call these ‘challenges’ and we mean what we say on the tin. They are meant to be quite difficult to tackle.

The secret to an effective task is, of course, how it is set up in the first place. The theme or topic chosen should be exciting, leave room for discovery, within an age appropriate way, but have a clear set of criteria that the pupils understand are able to work towards. They may, in that case, tackle the tasks in their own way, but can achieve a great deal and have a sense of a destination point.

In our Junior School, we ask our pupils to be resourceful, mature thinkers who practise something often known as growth mind set. They are given key starting points, a set of pointers in terms of resources and then they are expected to go on a journey of learning. Will it be easy? No, of course not. We then expect them to grapple with ideas, to tackle tricky topics and to reflect on their learning journey along the way. We expect them to challenge themselves and say, “I can do this, even if it’s hard.”

We have had many challenges in our junior school; there’s usually one per term. We have seen them tackle ‘S for Seeds’ when they looked scientifically at the life-cycle of seeds, but how was largely up to them. We have asked them to choose a country, for ‘All Around the World’, and put together work that explores culture, language, culinary traditions and more. One of the key instructions in the project was: “You need to choose one country to research that you have not already covered at school.”

This outlines one of the key functions of this kind of work: the pupils are taken way beyond the dryness of SATS, which we do not do, and they are allowed the space to take ownership of their work and the direction they wish to take their work in. This is all about widening our pupils’ frames of reference and engaging them in the wider world which is key to our ethos as a College.

Organising and marking this kind of work is, of course, tough for the staff too. It’s not straightforward but it is most certainly worth it. These kinds of independent learning challenges, with elements of self-reflection and growth mindset at their core, are a little more complex than the old school project that I did in 1976. For a start, no one actually told me why I was doing it. There wasn’t anything like the same ownership of ideas. I did it because a teacher said so. Hmmmm. Only now, many years later, do I have sense of why. We are more explicit about this now and the pupils appreciate this.

One of my favourite junior challenges was set for our pupils this term: “Mindfulness and Happiness”. One suggested task was: “Write a set of instructions or recipe for happiness”. This might challenge many adults, in terms of planning and thinking. I, however, was treated by a Year 5 pupil to an expertly made film – an edited montage of powerful images of family, experiences, places and loved ones. The level of thought that had gone into the piece truly amazed me. It was also my hope, of course, given that one in 10 young people these days struggle with mental illness, that the young man in question will have learned a great deal about himself and achieved a degree of mindfulness that might not have been possible without the task he was set.

Challenge tasks such as these are much more than just about facts, or numbers. They are an opportunity for pupils to be enriched – and I must admit this was a word that used to make me cringe a little back in the 90s. Less so now. Living in an age of 20 second sound bites and Snapchat moments, there is a great deal to be said for being immersed in a task that takes one or two weeks to complete and being mindful in that moment too. More of the snail than a hare – but that’s another project I could write about, if I had the space.

Please call 01273 592681 to find out more about what Shoreham College can offer you, or to arrange a personal visit at any time of the school year.
www.shorehamcollege.co.uk

Inspiring our girls

By | children's health, Education, Relationships

In 2013, Miriam Gonzalez, the wife of Nick Clegg former Deputy PM, set up a charity called inspiring girls.com. The aim of the organisation was simple, to make young women aware of the range of opportunities that are potentially available to them and to support that by gathering potential mentors to help them find and follow these pathways. Gonzalez’s organisation operates globally and in the UK has strong links with inspiring women.co.uk which has already established itself as an organisation that uses role models, motivational speakers and events to showcase equality in the workplace, on the sports field and beyond.

The subjects of defining the role of women, equality, gender pay gaps and harassment of women have rarely been out of the headlines in 2018. For young women of the next generation it potentially feels like a step forward towards greater equality. Making sure it is meaningful and sustained is the next challenge.

Change in societies’ outlook does have implications on education and many would argue that development of positive attitudes and values are one of the key elements of the education system. Extensive research suggests that girls from an early age have distinct attitudes to equality. A project in 2017 in the US looked at children as young as five and six and how they absorbed gender stereotypes. Andrei Cimpian, one of the co-authors at New York University, found that girls as young as six believed that ‘brilliance’ was a male trait and that unlike boys, girls did not believe that achieving good grades was related to innate abilities. Some of the outcomes from this research link with other work that found that parents and teachers attribute good grades in maths to hard work for girls, but to natural ability for boys.

In the Primary and Prep sector we have a huge responsibility
to try and open up opportunities to redress some of the stereotyping and possibly to work with parents to help them not to reinforce these attitudes at home. Most of us would be shocked and disappointed to think that our young girls don’t see themselves equally capable and yet it is evident that sometimes it is our attitudes that are compounding the problem.

The challenge then is to create a culture whether at home or at school, where girls feel that all subjects can potentially play to their strengths and that they can become natural risk takers and not fall into the ‘slipstream’ of boys who will often take this role with confidence. We all recognise that the work place of the future will be about people’s response to change, innovation and problem solving. If girls are to become more risk takers, we need to firstly create a culture of security from which they can take risks with confidence. Schools talk about creating resilience but this actively requires schools to allow children to manage disappointment, respond to unfamiliar situations and initiate problem solving and not rely on adults.

Role models play a particularly strong role in inspiring all of us and schools are recognising the importance of opening up opportunities for pupils to see the breadth of career options as well as examples of determination, resilience, performance and overcoming adversity. Inspiration is a rather overused word but there is no doubt that there are so many examples of ‘a spark being lit’ that inspires people to achieve more than they could imagine. Even at Primary and Prep level we are using parents and people in the community to give pupils an insight into their motivation, how they developed their skill set and the rewards their tenacity and hard work have given them.

In our experience, girls in particular respond to personal journeys and insights. Many of these women, rather like the suffragettes of the past, have been trailblazers, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations. Many have been real inspirations to others and while examples of people like Cressida Dick, Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police or the UK Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sally Davies are exceptional examples we also need to consolidate that with more women at all levels. The workplace can be challenging enough so it really should be everyone’s responsibility to ensure that people at least join on an ‘even playing field’.

Girls’ natural strengths in negotiation, collaboration and empathy enable them to be great team players, inclusive and keen to work alongside others. Research shows that girls also respond well to establishing strong relationships with mentors, therefore projects that enable girls to access the full range of courses, training, apprenticeships and employment through mentors have to be encouraged and possibly funded. It is clear that stronger collaboration between education and the workplace will be of benefit in developing the right skills and qualities in all candidates, which employers often suggest is lacking.

We believe that if more young girls can link with or be exposed to mentors and role models, either in person or through social media, it could become the inspiration that they need to pursue their dreams.

Sian Cattaneo is the Head of Brighton and Hove Prep, the only girls Prep in the heart of Brighton & Hove.
For any enquiries please contact 01273 280200
www.bhhs.gdst.net
prepenquiries@bhhs.gdst.net

Keep on cooking

By | children's health, Education, Food & Eating, play
by Naomi Marks, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

I have yet to come across the small child who doesn’t love to roll up their sleeves and get busy with biscuit dough and cutters. It’s all the tactile pleasure and creative fun of playdough with the bonus of a teatime treat at the end.

But once children get beyond infant school age, cooking can all too often play second fiddle to the lure of the screen as an indoor activity.

That’s such a shame when we all know how important eating good, home-cooked food is for children’s physical and mental health. Keeping the cooking habit going as children grow older will benefit their bodies and their brains – and arm them with a set of skills that will serve them well throughout life.

Besides, cooking is fun!potatoes pan

Here are some ideas to keep your school-age child engaged in the kitchen. You never know, you may end up with a future MasterChef in the family. At the very least, you can expect some tasty outputs from your young ones.

Your children’s learning in the kitchen will be incremental. Younger children love to construct so let them start out this way and only slowly build up to more advanced cookery techniques. For example, primary school-aged children have great fun building their own pizzas. Set some passata and mozzarella or grated cheddar on the side and fill bowls with a range of toppings, such as cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, ham slices, olives, red pepper, chorizo and spinach. Then let them get creative on a pizza base of their own.

Older kids, however, will also enjoy making their own pizza sauce: an easy one sees a tin of tomatoes, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, a clove of garlic and some salt and pepper whizzed up together, with enough tomato puree then added to make a good, thick sauce.

A real sense of achievement will come when children feel confident enough to tackle the dough. Find an easy recipe for pizza bases at www.bhfood.org.uk/recipes/basic-bread/

Top tip: pizza-making is a great children’s party activity.

Alternatively, the same approach can be brought to shop-bought falafels and hummus. Set alongside bowls of fillings such as tomatoes, avocados, spring onions and pickles for children to lay out on flat bread and roll into delicious and healthy Mediterranean wraps.

While younger children will be content with this, older children will be amazed at how easy it is to make their own tasty hummus: just whiz up chick peas, tahini (sesame seed paste, which is widely available), lemon juice and olive oil with some cumin and paprika to taste.

And your more ambitious child will enjoy actually making the falafels – though do be on hand for this as it involves hot oil. Check out the recipe at www.bhfood.org.uk/recipes/falafel/

If you’re stuck for cooking ideas, take inspiration from cuisines around the world. There’s a host of fun to be had home-rolling sushi with your child. Most supermarkets sell the rolling mats and special rice required – and few fridges and larders fail to yield enough to supply sushi fillings. A carrot, a chunk of cucumber, some cream cheese, a one-egg omelette and some leftover tinned tuna will go a long way.

avocado childOr use festivals as your excuse for experimentation. Make a simple curry with your children for Diwali or a chili for the Day of the Dead.

Finally, the lure of a cake is one sure way to bring children racing into the kitchen. But, why not up the stakes and appeal to their more competitive side?

Stage a mini Bake Off, inviting other family members or your children’s friends to join in the fun. Points can be awarded for artistic flair as well as taste – and maybe cleaning up skills too.

Just remember: keep it friendly, keep it fun!

Brighton & Hove Community Kitchen is running two World of Food Easter holiday cookery courses for children aged 7-11 and 12-16. Find out more at www.bhfood.org.uk/events/world-of-food-ii-school-holiday-cooking-with-jethro-for-young-cooks-aged-12-to-16/

Local non-profit organisation, the Food Partnership has just launched a new ‘Community Kitchen’ on Queens Road in central Brighton – a cookery school where classes with chefs and food experts help subsidise low-cost, accessible community cookery activities.
www.bhfood.org.uk/the-community-kitchen

Choosing the perfect dance class for your child

By | children's health, dance & Art, Education, family, fun for children, Uncategorized
by Rianna Parchment
Kicks Dance

Children love music and they love to dance! But with so many dance classes run locally, how do you choose the right one?

Have a read below of my top tips when choosing the perfect dance class for your child:

Are you looking for a school that is technique driven, or just good fun?
Whilst dance schools are united in their passion for dance, their mission and ethos can differ. Some schools focus on preparing children for exams and competitions, whilst others prefer to focus on the fun and enjoyment of dance. Is your child interested in taking exams and competing, or would they prefer a more ‘stress-free’ class?

Top tip: Speak to other parents who have children taking different types of classes to see which atmosphere and environment might best suit your child.

What do others say about the school?
Once you’ve narrowed down the local options in your chosen ‘type’ of school, have a look at their website and social media pages to find out a bit more about them. Are the staff qualified and experienced? Do they come highly recommended by other parents?

Top tip: Asking in local Facebook groups is a great way to get the best recommendations from other local parents.

What is the commitment?
Of course, as an extracurricular activity, dance classes are intended to take up free time. However, it’s a good idea to know whether your child’s class will change day as they get older and progress, or whether there will be extra rehearsals or costs involved during the year for shows, exams, competitions or uniform.

Top tip: Many schools have a Parent Handbook or similar with this information in one place.

Time to talk
A huge part of getting a feel for a dance school is speaking with the owner or principal about their school. This is an opportunity for you to find out the answers to any questions you may have, but also to get a first impression of their customer service and ethos
in practice.

Top tip: Many dance school owners teach during ‘after-school’ hours. If you can, try calling during the school day, but if this is not practical for you, don’t forget to leave a message for them to call
you back.

Finally – give the class a try!
Sign up for a trial class (some schools even offer this for free!) It’s not unusual for some children to feel anxious for the first time in a new class, so see how the teacher responds
to this.

Top tip: Remember that depending on the age of your child, many dance schools will not permit you to watch the class due to safeguarding reasons. My advice is to get to the class a few minutes early to have a look around, meet the class teacher and get a feel for the class environment.

Whether your child is interested in classes just for fun, or to pursue a future career, it’s so important that they feel welcome, safe and inspired in their first dance class. Do your research, follow your gut feeling and find your child’s perfect dance class!

Kicks Dance provides fun, friendly and stress-free dance classes for children aged 18 months – 11 years in your local area. Every child is a star – give yours the chance to sparkle!
www.kicksdance.co.uk

Preparing your child for school

By | Education, fun for children, Safety

Starting school marks a major milestone in a child’s development and it can also represent a time of mixed emotion – and we are not just talking about the child here! We asked Sally Livingston, Reception class teacher at Barrow Hills School on top tips for parents to help prepare their child for this momentous step in their learning journey.

• If your child hasn’t attended nursery or kindergarten, it is a good idea to get them used to being in a social setting outside of the family home. Young children need to learn how to interact with their peers and in particular, they need to get to grips with the concept of playing together harmoniously – and that all-important life lesson, learning to share!

• Schedule your child time to play independently so that they begin to appreciate that they don’t always need to be entertained but rather can be occupied by becoming fully engrossed in an activity, for example, building a model from building blocks.

• Build a good rapport with the Reception staff. If your child shows any signs of becoming distressed at the time of drop off, you need to be secure in the knowledge that the staff are going to step in to comfort your child. Don’t be tempted to loiter, this will make it more difficult for your little one, be upbeat and reassuring and leave. Chances are they will settle within minutes of you leaving and will be easily distracted by all the new toys and friends that await them! Equally, if all is going well at school but you are experiencing some shifts in behaviour at home, always talk to the teacher so that you can work together to demonstrate a consistent approach in encouraging the child to respect any clear boundaries that have been set. We are here to work alongside parents, to help children develop in a safe, protected and most importantly happy setting and no problem is too small to discuss.

• Help your child with their learning by putting into practice outside of the classroom some of the lessons that they are being taught – and make it fun! For example, when you are in the supermarket, get your child to help out by using their numbers and colours to select items; encourage them to identify shapes in their home/outdoor environment; ask them to help look out for letters on road signs.

• Being at school is incredibly tiring for a young child and represents a major transition even if they attended nursery, so make a point of getting into a good bedtime routine and ensuring that your little one gets their required quota of sleep. We all know the negative effects of a lack of sleep on us as adults, so for children who are expending so much energy on simply growing and running around, it is even more important. A common error that parents make is to stop the traditional bedtime reading routine, replacing this instead with ‘school related’ reading which may have been set as homework. Remember, now more than ever your child
needs to go to sleep settled and secure, so the familiar and comforting bedtime read should not be dropped!

• By Reception most children have mastered toilet training but don’t be surprised when accidents happen. Instead advise them to always ask the teacher if they feel the need to use the bathroom and if they do get caught short, to tell an adult rather than be left in discomfort. Make a point of speaking to the teacher if you know that this can be a bit of a problem so that your child is actively encouraged to use the toilet and feels supported.

• Encourage your child to be independent: learning to put on their coat unaided, having a go at doing up buttons and zips, putting on their shoes – all of these small changes will help them cope in the reception environment although, of course, there is always plenty of reassurance and help at hand!

• Begin laying the foundations for good manners whilst eating away from home. Try and make time to eat together as a family and actively support your child so that they learn how to use tricky knives and forks, rather than rely solely on their hands! Persuade them to try and use the knife to cut food rather than simply waiting for help to arrive!

• Start early with helping your child to adopt healthy eating habits, steering them towards the right food options – but of course still allowing the appropriate treats. Try to explain the importance of eating healthier food and how it will help them in the future, using words that your child is able to understand, rather than simply laying down the law!

www.barrowhills.org
Next open mornings 26 and 29 April

The first 1,000 days shape a child’s life

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Mental health

Children’s experiences during the first 1,000 days lay the foundations for their whole future, a new report has found.

From preconception to age two, every aspect of a child’s world – including their parents’ and carers’ income, housing, neighbourhoods, social relationships, age and ethnic group – is already shaping their adult life.

In her latest report, Croydon’s Director for Public Health Rachel Flowers puts a spotlight on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to demonstrate the effect early experiences can have. She focuses on how Adverse Childhood Experiences can negatively impact on children as they grow up. Stressful and disruptive childhoods are significantly more likely to lead to health-harming and anti-social behaviours, performing poorly in school or being involved in crime. However, Ms Flowers emphasises that a trusted adult and other factors can help give children the resilience to thrive despite these challenging experiences.

Each of the 6,000 babies born in Croydon each year therefore represents past, present and future health, which is a key reason for a focus on health before pregnancy and the first 1,000 days. A baby’s development in the womb is dependent not just on the mother’s diet during pregnancy, but also on the stored nutrients and fats throughout her lifetime.

In 2015, almost one-fifth of Croydon’s children lived in poverty. This means more than a 1,000 babies born each year in Croydon may be touched by the effects of poverty during their early years. Girls born in more affluent areas of Croydon are expected to live six years more than their peers in other areas and for boys, the difference is over nine years.

Brain development starts just after conception and continues at a rapid pace through the first years of life when our brains grow the fastest. Talking, playing and singing are all simple activities that help make vital connections between brain cells. Stimulating environments and positive relationships with carers are critical in these first two years.

Rachel Flowers said: “These first 1,000 days for a child are fundamentally important because they lay the foundations for the rest of their lives. By prioritising health before pregnancy and increasing our understanding about what being healthy for pregnancy means, we can ensure that parents and communities are in the best possible position to bring Croydon’s children into the world.

A healthy start in life gives each child an equal chance to thrive and grow into an adult who makes a positive contribution to the community. It is well documented that inequalities result in poor health, social, educational and economic outcomes across the whole of the life course and across generations. We all have a role to play in improving their transition from childhood to adolescence and into adult life and breaking cycles of inequalities where they exist.”

The importance of role-play in Early Years

By | Education, play, Relationships
by Antonia Burton
Head of Lower School, Chinthurst School

Children love role-play! Acting out stories, playful manipulation of ideas and emotions, and interacting with each other in imaginary ways are essential for a child’s cognitive and social development. Over the last 75 years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the value of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child.

Between the ages of one and a half and six, studies have consistently demonstrated that pretend play increases language usage and children’s awareness that their thoughts may be different from their friends. Role-play allows children to express positive and negative feelings and fosters divergent thinking, the ability to come up with many different ideas, story themes and symbols.

So how are these benefits harnessed in an Early Years setting?
Plenty of free unstructured play is essential. Children should have the space and time to initiate play spontaneously. It should arise from their own imagination without the direction of an adult and it encourages risk taking and creativity and helps the children to practise collaboration and decision making.

However, structured play, in the form of a themed play corner is invaluable in stimulating make believe games. An ‘airport’ or ‘doctor’s surgery’ enable children to choose and assign roles and work through any problems that arise. As pretend play progresses, children need to socialise and cooperate with peers and this helps them to learn to control impulses and respect the decisions of others.

Children’s communication and language skills also benefit hugely as they must collaborate and listen to each other as they role-play. Children will draw upon pictures built up in their minds from past experiences and recreate these scenes, helping them to solve problems and draw their own conclusions – so developing essential cognitive skills.

Taking on the roles of different characters encourages children to empathise with each other. They gain an understanding of different perspectives which develops their ability to relate to each other. Pretend play offers a safe place to act out real life situations. Children cope with worries by acting them out so role-play gives them a setting to work things through and help them to address their fears.

Moreover, the use of costumes and props in a theatrical way can help to improve a child’s gross and fine motor skills. From dressing themselves in a character’s costume to putting the props away when the game has finished, role-play builds hand/eye co-ordination as well as developing visual discrimination.

Children often interact with literacy and numeracy skills during pretend play. They may have to count things out as part of their character or ‘write’ on a notepad. Acting out a favourite story book can be an invaluable aid to comprehension skills too.

The introduction of drama teaching at the age of three and four can really boost the effectiveness of imaginative play and help children to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence. Drama gives children further opportunities to rehearse roles, characters and a broad spectrum of life situations helping them to explore ideas and feelings. Drama promotes self-esteem and gives children the confidence to present themselves in front of an ‘audience’, all whilst having great fun.

At home, a dressing up box, even if it is just hats and masks, can stimulate a child’s imagination and initiate fantastic role-play scenarios. It is important to let your children define objects for use and to allow them to be whatever they would like to be. The benefits really are amazing!

Chinthurst School is a leading co-educational school for pupils agedthree to 11 and is part of the Reigate Grammar School (RGS) family.

Kindergarten children benefit from a bright and spacious environment where their confidence and self-esteemare developed through role play and specialist drama teaching.

At 11, children proceed to a range of top independent and state schools and can take advantage of an early offer entrance arrangement to RGS in Year 5, should this be their chosen path.

rugbytots

Learning life lessons from rugby

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Sport, Uncategorized
by Rebecca and Esther
Rugbytots Brighton & Worthing

We read it every day – the negative effects that too much screen time and television time are having on our children. In fact, only last month Brighton & Hove Independent published results of a survey1 stating that 80% of our children are failing to hit the Chief Medical Officer’s target of at least an hour of physical activity every day.
With technological advancements come social issues including mental health problems as we become a 24 hour society that can’t switch off. This means that children are being bombarded with information whilst becoming more socially disconnected – preferring instead to communicate via messaging apps and social media channels.

However, we are also living in an age where children have never had so many opportunities to try new things, have experiences, travel and learn life skills through their hobbies and interests. Although technology can be a distraction for parents and children, it is also the gateway to finding out what’s going on in your area such as sports, dance, arts and crafts classes. Parents can take advantage of taster classes and children can then decide which classes they want to take.

Sports such as rugby are built on teamwork and respect. Played from an early age it develops more than just strength and fitness. When you think of rugby it might conjure up images of burly men with cauliflower ears covered in mud – but there are so many fun variations and games for children, including tag rugby, which doesn’t have any tackling.

In a team sport everyone participates, and nobody is left out. Sports such as rugby also teach skills like kicking, passing and catching which are transferable life skills, valuable in all sports.

A skill that you wouldn’t normally expect to hear associated with rugby is creativity; this is something that we focus on at our rugby sessions and the strategic elements of the game mean children are introduced to problem solving from an early age. During games they have to constantly think about situation awareness and make quick decisions which, in turn, help increase mental agility and self-confidence.

Let’s look at the positive effects playing rugby can have on children:

Fun
Children learn how to enjoy sport, fitness and healthy competition with girls and boys from all backgrounds coming together to have fun.

Social
Rugby enables positive emotions, promotes bonding and builds friendships which in turn boost self-esteem and confidence.

Respect
Children are taught to respect teammates, coaches, opponents, referees and learn how to deal with healthy conflict.

Teamwork and sportsmanship
Children learn to make decisions that will benefit their peers plus gain essential social skills like team spirit, cooperation and sportsmanship.

Concentration
By learning the strategic elements of the game children’s concentration, memory and analytical skills are enhanced.

Physical
Rugby develops hand/eye co-ordination, works on fine and gross motor skill development, improves balance and promotes good listening skills.

Competition
Rugby promotes a sense of healthy competition and teaches children about winning and losing and the skills needed to cope with both.

Character building
Team sports increase confidence, self-respect and teach children how to conduct themselves in game situations, making them more self-aware.

Rebecca and Esther took over Rugbytots, Brighton & Worthing, which is aimed
at 2 to 7 year olds, in November 2018.
They are friends who were looking for
a new challenge since having children.
They have a real passion for working
with kids and getting them to be more
active whilst having lots of fun.
The Rugbytots franchise ticked all the boxes and they plan to further build on its success
by adding more weekend sessions and
taking Rugbytots into school curriculums,
after- school clubs and nurseries.
Click on www.rugbytots.co.uk to find out more.