Category

Education

Building emotional intelligence from an early age

By | Education, numeracy skills, Playing, reading
by Sarah Trybus
Focus Games

Emotions have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. It is not always easy to express how we feel, and it is even harder to know how to deal with all these emotions. Developing emotional intelligence enables us to understand and manage our feelings effectively.

Teaching emotional intelligence, at an early age, will help your children develop self-awareness and empathy. Research also shows that children who have higher emotional intelligence tend to pay more attention in class, be more engaged at school, develop healthy social skills, and have more positive relationships.

Children do not always know how to express how they feel. They may be experiencing difficulties at school, anxiety, bullying, and cannot always say or show why they feel this way. Building emotional intelligence, and giving your children the tools to express how they feel, will make it easier for them to express themselves and find ways to help them manage the situation.

Emotions and feelings can be complex. According to the American psychologist, Robert Plutchick, there are seven basic emotions: anger, fear, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, and confidence. The other emotions are more complex and come from two or more basic emotions.

However, when expressing our emotions, we tend to use limited vocabulary which might not express the complexity of the emotions we feel. Therefore, when teaching emotional intelligence to your children, it is very important to give them the framework, and the words to help them understand and express their feelings.

There are five key steps to help your children express their emotions:

1. Recognise and name the emotion
How are your children feeling? For example, have they become quieter and more withdrawn lately? Identifying these kinds of signs will help them recognise and name the emotion.

2. Understand and put the emotion into context
Once your children have recognised the emotion they are feeling, they need to understand why they felt this way. Did something specific happen that caused them to feel like this?

Understanding what caused the emotion also means that if a similar situation happens again you and your children will be more prepared to deal with it.

3. Express the emotion
Encourage your children to communicate their feelings using words, and not their hands. They can also draw or write down how they feel. There are plenty of ways your children can express their emotions in a calm and rational manner.

4. Normalise the emotion
Explain to your children that it is okay to feel various emotions, and that everyone experiences different feelings.

5. Find ways to manage the emotion
Help your children find techniques to manage their emotions and encourage positive behaviour. It may be a short-term technique to manage the emotion at the time, for example by taking deep breaths. It can also be longer term strategies that will help your children cope with their emotions over time. For example, routine exercise often helps reduce anxiety.

Parents and teachers can use fun and colourful resources to engage the children in this activity. The Canadian charity, Jasmin Roy Foundation, created The Emotion Game to help children develop their emotional intelligence, and build healthy social skills.

The game gives your children a framework that follows the five keys steps to emotional literacy. The pictorial cards provide children with information about the different emotions and how to recognise them. Once they have identified how they feel they place the ‘I’m feeling’ cards on a board to name the emotion. Children then explain why they feel this way. The Emotion Game also includes ‘I’d like’ cards that give different techniques, which children can use to manage their feelings in class and at home.

Going through the five steps of emotional literacy does not take long and can easily be integrated into a family routine or part of a lesson at school. Taking the time to discuss and learn about emotions will enable your children to develop their emotional intelligence, to be more engaged in class and to express positive behaviours.

To learn more about The Emotion Game you can visit: www.EmotionsGame.com Pictures courtesy of motherhoodtherealdeal.com

A preschool is where a child’s educational journey begins, where key skills are developed and a love of learning is cultivated

By | Education, family, fun for children, numeracy skills, Playing, reading, Relationships
by Susan Clarke
Head of Rowan Preparatory School, Claygate, Surrey

Do you recall your first day of school? If not, your parents will have done, just like you now considering the educational path your child is on. When choosing the right environment, there are many factors to consider yet there is an abundance of choice regarding nurseries, preschools, and schools; so how do you choose?

Primarily we want our children to be safe, happy and enjoy the opportunities provided for them. However, look behind the scenes and there are huge differences in what’s on offer. Below are a few handy tips on what to watch out for.

Children will benefit from a setting that has that perfect home-away-from-home feel, with warm, inviting spaces for them to grow, learn and discover. Take the time to explore nursery and preschool settings with small classes, specialist teaching provision, adventures to the woods and outdoor play areas and you are well on your way to instilling a love of learning in your child.

Experts in the Early Years
Do you know about the importance of cross-lateral movements, singing songs and practising making silly noises together? Not to worry if you do not, experts in the Early Years will be leading you and your child all the way. Finding the right experts for your child is essential, as building supportive and reassuring relationships at this age are vital for successful early development. At some settings, children will be fortunate enough to learn from passionate, specialist teaching staff, who bring out the best in every child. They will discover their interests and develop their inquisitiveness through exploration, investigation, and play. Staff will give you feedback through portfolios so that you feel involved in your child’s learning journey. Sharing milestones, success and moments of discovery are precious and to be treasured.

Learning through play
Like most early learning environments, the Foundation Stage curriculum is considered to be at the heart of all experiences. Skilled Early Years practitioners will deliver carefully curated topics, based on children’s interests and the curriculum, bringing them to life through song, play and observation. This approach will creatively develop the senses, sounds and imagination of their young charges. Within this world of fantasy, imagination and fun are opportunities for learning sounds, numbers and about the world around them. Look out for settings that nurture their knowledge, understanding and confidence.

Going above and beyond
While communication, personal and social education and mathematics are core to any Early Years curriculum, your choice of nursery can offer much more. What else is on offer? Is sport, dance or yoga offered to complement physical development? Is musical theatre, singing and drama provided to help build confidence and a natural ability to express themselves to a range of audiences? Are the children exposed to learning an additional language, having fun with songs, food and their newly expanded vocabulary? It is a joy to celebrate language and culture and these opportunities are all part of developing a sense of self and belonging in this world.

Woodland wanderers
When I think about my two children when they were two and four, I could barely get them out of a puddle or discourage them from climbing a tree, and who would want to at that age! Using the outdoors to develop knowledge, their language and awareness provides opportunity for real-life discovery. Problem solving skills are developed alongside the ability to communicate, these are essential building blocks in their educational journey. Many nurseries and preschools have access to woodland areas and Forest Schools, which children visit weekly and in all weathers. They will don waders, snow suits or sunhats to explore the woods, returning to school with tales of mini-beasts, den building, witling and wandering. How I yearn to be three again!

Parents as partners
You are an essential part of your child’s development; you know their interests, likes and dislikes. Getting to know whether your child likes dinosaurs, or peas rather than broccoli, will help them settle confidently into their setting. An open-door policy is vital in enabling you to work in partnership with staff and allowing you to discuss any concerns you may have. Look for an environment that holds regular ‘Show and Share’ sessions, where children delight in welcoming their parents into the classroom, proud of the learning space in which they feel comfortable and can excitedly share their prized creations and the skills they have learned.

Ready for ‘big’ school
As your little one nears the end of their time in nursery or preschool, they will be more than ready to embrace the experiences of Reception. Thinking about their transition will be key and if you are able to offer them continuity and familiarly through the same whole school setting or through friendship groups this will help ease their way. If your nursery is in a school setting, I know that Reception teachers love nothing more than coming into the Early Year’s rooms and getting to know them for that next big step. Once you have chosen your school for Reception there will be information and activity afternoons, so everyone feels confident and assured about the next stage. Children will radiate confidence from their time in preschool, so much so that Reception in the same environment seems natural and reassuring.

Susan Clarke is the Headmistress at Rowan Preparatory School in Claygate, Surrey, an outstanding prep school and preschool for girls aged 2-11.
The school motto Hic Feliciter Laboramus – Here We Work Happily – is a sentiment embodied throughout the school, where an engaging and inspiring approach to education creates a lifelong love of learning. To discover more visit www.rowanprepschool.co.uk or contact admissions@rowanprepschool.co.uk to arrange a visit.

Bump to bum shuffler – a vegan parent’s journey

By | children's health, Education, Food & Eating
by Siobhan Dolan
PR Manager, Viva!

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I had no doubt I’d raise my child vegan. Good nutrition is the key to a healthy life and I knew that by feeding my baby a balanced healthy vegan diet they would thrive.

At that time I’d already been vegan for seven years, I worked for the vegan campaigning charity Viva! and had a good knowledge of vegan nutrition. Despite all of this, I was still confronted with questions from others about my decision. How will your baby get their protein? Is it right to force veganism on a child? Won’t they feel left out?

One of the first challenging situations I encountered was during my first appointment with a midwife. I explained I was vegan and was told straight away that I would be low in iron – before she had even taken a blood sample! It was time to put the record straight – I explained how it is a misconception that all vegans are low in iron and there are countless iron rich vegan foods including leafy greens, pulses, seeds and nuts. If a healthy balanced diet is followed vegans can even have higher levels of iron than meat-eaters! The EPIC-Oxford study, the largest single study of Western vegetarians and vegans to date, found vegans had the highest intake of iron, followed by vegetarians then fish-eaters with meat-eaters coming last.

In the same appointment I was given a long list of animal-based foods that were off limits during pregnancy such as mould-ripened cheeses (like brie and camembert), soft blue cheeses, raw eggs, pâté, undercooked and cold cured meats, liver and mercury-containing fish such as shark, swordfish or marlin. None of the foods were vegan, so I could still safely (and smugly) eat everything I enjoyed with the peace of mind that it was safe for my baby.

As the pregnancy progressed I felt healthy and strong. I continued to cycle to work and regularly practiced yoga. I took care to ensure my iron levels didn’t drop during pregnancy (they often do because the body produces more blood for the developing baby). To combat this I ate a variety of iron rich foods including dark leafy greens and a daily natural organic iron supplement. In addition to this I took vitamin B12, vitamin D, folic acid and omega-3 supplements. Viva!’s Mother and Baby guide was my go-to for nutritional information as it provides practical tips for pregnancy and beyond.

My baby was born a healthy 8.9lb and was full of beans! I breastfed him from birth and began to wean him at six months. Initially, I introduced soft nutrient-dense foods such a banana, avocado and sweet potato. Once he mastered the act of chewing I introduced high-protein foods such as lentils and tofu combined with vegetables and carbohydrates (rice, pasta and wholemeal bread). Nutrient-dense foods rich in healthy polyunsaturated fats are recommended for young children as the energy found in them is essential for growth and development. Nut butters, ground chia seeds, hummus, avocado and vegetable oils are all excellent sourced of healthy vegan fat.

For reference I use a set of Viva! wallcharts on my fridge which outline iron, calcium and protein rich foods. I find them really useful and they help me to plan nutritionally balanced meals for my family.

Before I knew it, my maternity leave was coming to an end and it was time to find a nursery place for my son. As a vegan, finding a nursery that offered good vegan food was a priority. Sadly, several nurseries I approached didn’t cater for vegans. Fortunately, I found a fabulous nursery with an in-house chef who was happy to accommodate us. My son is their first vegan child and we’ve been welcomed with positivity and a dash of intrigue!

I’ve provided the nursery with a few vegan cookbooks and suggested how their meat options could be made vegan by using pulses rather than expensive processed substitutes, which would result in cheaper and healthier food. They have provided us with oat milk for cereal and are in the process of sourcing soya yoghurt so my son can have the same dessert as the other children. Luckily the nursery doesn’t offer cake or chocolate so we haven’t had to find alternatives.

In summary, being a vegan parent can have its challenges. Sometimes outsiders can be quick to judge the vegan lifestyle. However, if you are prepared to be patient, explain veganism to others and encourage inclusivity, you may find a more welcoming reception from sceptics. Veganism is undoubtedly the most compassionate lifestyle choice for children and offers countless health benefits too, setting your baby up for a long and healthy life!

Useful links:
www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vegetarian-vegan-children/
www.vivashop.org.uk/collections/materials/products/nutritional-poster-trio-deal
www.vivashop.org.uk/products/vegetarian-and-vegan-mother-and-baby-guide

Viva! is the UK’s leading vegan charity www.viva.org.uk

Outdoor play vs Covid-19

By | children's health, Education, family, Health, Mental health
by Sally-Ann Barker
Potter’s House Preschool

While the country is in a state of limbo and we’re all trying to find the new normal or taking tentative baby steps to the old one, I’ve found myself overwhelmed with awe and wonder at the world that surrounds us. Amongst all the doom and gloom in the press, the media has, on occasion, provided us with heart-warming articles detailing how this unprecedented global crisis has affected nature in a rather more positive way.

Throughout lockdown, nitrogen dioxide levels dropped by more than 50% in some areas across the UK. Road traffic in the UK fell by more than 70% meaning there was a significantly lower toll for road kill and councils delayed the cutting of grass on roadside verges crucially providing more pollen for our bees. Further afield, wild boar became braver in Barcelona, peacocks have been wandering around Llandudno and dolphins have been spotted frolicking in Venice. Closer to my home in Sussex, swans have apparently returned to Storrington duck pond for the first time in 15 years. This was however according to my father-in-law and on closer inspection they turned out to be plastic decoy ones used to deter Canada Geese. Perhaps he should take a drive to Barnard’s Castle to check his eyesight!

I have always had a passion for Early Years education and have spent my career observing the impacts that differing environments have on children’s development. In my experience, I believe that access to outdoor play is hands down the most enriching thing we can give our children and indeed ourselves. As a result of my personal observations and experiences, I try to make sure that my preschool is predominantly outdoor based with access to indoor play and absolutely not the other way around.

The Covid-19 pandemic has inevitably provoked discussion amongst my staff and I regarding how nurseries and preschools should be operating under these new conditions. We’ve been forced to reassess our procedures, draw up reams of fresh risk assessments and develop totally new routines. We’ve been made to think about how we are going to try to keep these precious little people, and our staff, as safe as we can in these difficult times. We recognise that we must maintain the highest levels of care, whilst also ensuring everyone’s mental health remains positive. I began researching a substance called Phytoncides, which are emitted by trees and plants and are widely used in holistic, veterinary and aromatherapy medicines in Russia and Japan. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities that assist plants in fighting disease. When we breathe in these chemicals, our bodies increase the activity of white blood cells, which in turn kills off virus infected cells and boosts our immune system. So, given all of that, surely the safest place for us all is outside. Science says so!

As a rule, as the winter approaches, we inevitably spend far less time outside and are drawn to the warmer areas inside to keep cosy. When I was a child, we had no option but to stay inside at playtime if it was wet or windy which I feel conditioned us to regard wet weather as ‘bad weather’. But really, providing we are properly equipped then there is no such thing. The children in our setting come to preschool all wrapped up in snow suits and boots and hats and gloves and they still choose to be outside making potions in the mud kitchen – using every single one of their senses to explore and learn organically. It sometimes takes some convincing for parents to understand why we are still outside in the depths of the wet British winter, but I know that even the most dubious will come back to tell us that their children went home happy, that they ate well and they slept well – which is the bare minimum we want as parents.

In Sweden, outdoor nurseries are called ‘I Ur och Skur’ meaning ‘rain or shine’ and their children thrive. They are among the happiest and healthiest children as well as achieving academically later on in life. At our preschool we have adopted this pedagogical approach in developing our children – teaching them to be resilient and brave, encouraging them to manage risk and emotion. Ultimately, we want them to explore and respect the nature that surrounds them with their eyes wide and their minds curious.

So, come rain or shine we are always outside and as a result, the children are happy, healthy and developing beautifully. We will continue this practice (with added health and safety precautions because of the pandemic) and we will watch, wrapped up warm, as our children fight off all the nasty winter bugs.

For more information please contact Sally-Ann at sallyann@pottershousepreschool.co.uk or call 07375 379148 www.pottershousepreschool.co.uk

Reading – a gift to treasure

By | Education, reading
by Sarah Kruschandl
Head of English, Burgess Hill Girls

The benefits of reading have long been extolled, but during the COVID-19 lockdown novels became even more treasured; their ability to transport us to another world was a tonic to the stress and uncertainty of life during the pandemic. Our school has holistic aims: to achieve both academic excellence and positive wellbeing. In March 2020 we introduced a ‘Book of the Week’ campaign to support the pupils and wider school community during the unprecedented times.

The pupil who reads at home will have obvious advantages in English lessons. The more a child reads for pleasure, the better their reading will be at school. Additionally, readers are also better writers. Reading improves a pupil’s grammar, composition and gives pupils a greater breadth of vocabulary. The benefits of reading spread further than the English classroom, however. Reading a book is akin to taking your brain to the gym: it improves your intelligence. The brain lights up like a firework display when observed reading under an ECG, which might explain why an enthusiastic reader will gain higher exam results than their peers, even in subjects such as maths. Proven to be more influential than having well-educated parents, reading leads to achievements. This success is not limited to schools, for reading books is the only extra-curricular activity that has a positive correlation with obtaining a managerial or professional job.

Reading literature not only makes us smarter, it also makes us more philanthropic, for the art of the novel is to transport us into someone else’s story. The reader cannot be rigid and insular; they are forced to expand their perspective and to empathise. As Harper Lee explains in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” As we read, we climb into a character’s skin and walk around through their story. We are immersed in a new view of the world and thus, through reading a novel, we have an insight into other minds, which helps us to be more liberal, inclusive and to approach life with more creativity.

Literature is our way of reflecting our experience of the world, but while novels encourage diverse and ever expansive understanding, they also nurture and comfort us. Dr Samuel Johnson, who suffered from severe bouts of depression, said in the 18th century, “the only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life or better to endure it.” Novels can help us understand and cope with times of deep emotional strain. Coronavirus aside, the epidemic which has a grip on the modern world is the rising tide of mental health problems. Reading is restorative. While various studies have highlighted the curative benefits of reading on our wellbeing, the reasons for this recuperative influence are complex. Reading releases endorphins, our happy chemical. In addition, reading is a therapeutic escape from the trivialities which can consume us. We all face emotional challenges; relationships can be complex and life deals us a mixture of fortunes, some good and some bad. The realisation that this is a collective experience is both reassuring and healing. Thus novels unite us and define our humanity.

In an age when reading is in competition with so many other forms of communicational and technological stimulation, we aspire that pupils leave our school equipped and keen to read. Our library, called the Learning Resource Centre (LRC), is at the heart of our school, both physically and as a part of the girls’ routine; it buzzes with pupils at break, lunch and after school. The English Department works alongside the LRC manager delivering dedicated reading lessons, reading rewards, clubs and events.

Our ‘Book of the Week’ campaign during the lockdown aimed to foster reading at home, by recommending books which were both entertaining and stretching. From two-year olds to adults, we recommended novels for all age groups. We supported the Black Lives Matter campaign with a week of recommendations celebrating black authors and our summer holiday list transported readers around the world, for most, the only way to experience new foreign cultures during the summer holiday. These lists are still available on our website, where we have also included a small synopsis and a link to buy the books.

Reading helps us academically, but also psychologically, spiritually and collectively. Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, “Books are the engines of change, windows on the world, a lighthouse erected on the sea of time.” Create a culture of reading in your home; it is a gift that your child will treasure forever.

How to encourage reading
• Bring books into your home. Consider how bookshops entice us to buy books and choose books to face forward on the bookshelf. Rotate your book displays, every few weeks.
• Establishing reading routines, such as 20 minutes before bed, will help develop good reading habits for life.
• Ask your child about the book they are reading. Ask your child to recall and summarise the story, about the characters and issues that the book explores; what they enjoyed about the book and ask them to read their favourite section.
• Reading with your child, no matter the child’s age, helps to build a lifelong love of reading and can become a cherished time together.
• Visit your local library or bookstore on a regular basis.
• Become a reading role model. Let your child see you reading and demonstrate the pleasure of reading.
• Allow your child to read for pleasure. While we might desire our children to become widely read, developing a love of reading is the priority. Praise their reading and gently, over time encourage them to expand their horizons.
• Don’t tidy books away; leave them lying around in different rooms, purposefully placing books where your child might pick them up.
• Read about reading. Become familiar with what’s current, winning prizes and in vogue.
• Read the same book your child has chosen and let the discussions commence. Teenage fiction is actually very enjoyable.
• Don’t give up. Children will understand the joy of reading when they find a book that they love. Some won’t find this book until they are older.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” Walt Disney.

To find out more about Burgess Hill Girls visit www.burgesshillgirls.com

Could you be a school governor?

By | Education, family, Relationships
by Sharon MacKenzie
School and Governance Development Manager
Brighton & Hove City Council

Who are school governors and what do they do?
School governors are one of the largest volunteer groups in the country. They make a real difference to the lives of children, by working with head teachers and leadership teams to improve schools. Governing bodies work as a team to make decisions.

What kind of person can be a governor?
Governing bodies usually have around 12 governors and they need a range of skills and experience. Whilst it’s important to have governors with leadership skills and experience of monitoring budgets, governing bodies also need to understand the needs of the pupils. People from the local community are therefore crucial, as are those who may have experience of working with children and families. If you have time to commit, work well in a team and are keen to learn, then this can be a very rewarding voluntary role.

What’s in it for me?
You will meet new people, develop skills and learn more about how schools work. Above all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a real difference to the development of children, young people, their school and the community.

Do I need to have a child at a school?
Not necessarily. There are different types of governor and being a parent governor is only one of them. If you are interested in being a parent governor, you should contact the school to find out about vacancies. Alternatively, you could be appointed onto a governing body as a co-opted governor, depending on the skills and experience they need. The Governor Support Team keeps a list of vacancies and can help to match you to a school – see contact details below.

What is expected of me?
Governing bodies usually meet together once or twice a term. Meetings are being carried out on online platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, until it is safe to meet together again in schools. Most also hold regular committee meetings that focus on certain areas (for example, curriculum or finance) and have governors who focus on certain areas of work (for example, Special Educational Needs). You will also be expected to carry out school visits, although this type of monitoring is being approached differently at the moment. The amount of hours varies from week to week, but you should expect to spend around 10 days per year on regular duties, which is an average of half a day per fortnight during term-time.

Is training and support provided?
Brighton & Hove’s Governor Support Team provides advice and guidance to governors and clerks, as well as induction and further training – all this is free of charge to the individual. There are also regular briefings to update you on national and local developments. All this is currently being carried out online, using e-learning and virtual discussions.

We are keen to ensure that our governing bodies reflect the diversity of the pupils in our schools. Therefore, we welcome applications from under-represented groups, particularly from black or minority ethnic backgrounds.

For more information: Email: governor.support@brighton-hove.gov.uk Web: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/governors Twitter: @BHSchoolGovs

Swim-Little-Fishy-Swim-Group-Photo

Sing, play… and learn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

money and kids

Playful ways to introduce money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

feet bed family

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

By | Education, Work employment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Source: Timewise Flexible Job Index

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

happy child

Protecting your precious little one’s palate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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