Category

Education

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

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

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.

Developing thinking skills from birth upwards

By | Education, environment, numeracy skills, Playing, reading, Relationships
by Sam Selkirk
Head of Reigate St Mary’s Lower School

In the words of Einstein “Education is not the learning of facts, it’s rather the training of the mind to think.” 

When do young children start to think? What do we know and how can we best support children from birth upwards?

I love the analogy of a child’s development in the context of a building, you start with the foundations and the quality of those foundations determines how stable and solid the building will eventually be. Thinking skills need to be part of those foundations; all too often the emphasis has been on developing thinking skills when children enter Key Stage 2, but one could argue that this is leaving it too late.

So, when do children start to think?
During the second half of the 20th Century there was an increase in research on brain development and the findings were summarised by Dryden and Vos in ‘The Learning Revolution’ that “Neural connections that don’t develop in the first five years of life may never develop at all.” We have a responsibility to provide opportunities to guarantee every child establishes ‘strong’ neural pathways, the direction we take should follow the research “We learn 10% of what we read, 15% of what we hear, but 80% of what we experience”.

Let’s further explore the significant elements through the research of two key players in the field of child development, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky.

Piaget states that children learn by constructing schemas – patterns of repeatable behaviour which can be noticed when they play; by recognising these schemas and providing opportunities for them, we extend patterns of behaviour and thinking.

Furthermore, he suggests young children (birth to seven years – there are another two age ranges after this) move through two stages of cognitive development:
1. Sensorimotor: birth to 18-24 months when children focus on what they see and do, and physical interactions with their immediate environment. They are constantly experimenting and learning about the world through trial and error. During this period, their increased physical development leads to increased cognitive development. Then there is that important milestone – early language development.
2. Preoperational: 18-24 months to age 7 during which, children begin to represent objects with words and images, further develop language skills and imagination. Their thinking is based on intuition and still not completely logical.

Also we have Vygotsky whose theory of cognitive development focused on the role of culture and social interactions with speech being a major tool in the development of thinking.

To develop young children’s minds we must acknowledge:
• Every child is unique and goes through stages of development.
• We need to provide children with a rich and stimulating environment both inside and out where they are active participants in their learning and involved in a range of sensory experiences.
• The role of the adult is essential in developing positive relationships and to stimulate, support and encourage children.

As Carol Dweck states: “Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn, infants stretch their skills daily. Not just ordinary skills, but the most difficult tasks of a lifetime, like learning to walk and talk. Babies don’t worry about making mistakes nor humiliating themselves. They never decide it’s too hard or not worth the effort. They walk, they fall, they get up. They just barge forward.”

Through the Characteristics of Effective Learning (EYFS Framework) we can facilitate this; however, these are not an add on, they must infiltrate all aspects of a child’s life – be our ‘way of being’. Let’s explore these further…

Play and explore:
• Find out and explore – show curiosity using senses and interests.
• Play with what they know – representing their experiences in play, showing flexibility in their thoughts.
• Being willing to ‘have a go’ – taking risk, using trial and error – not fearful of making mistakes.

Be active learners:
• Being involved and concentrating – showing high levels of fascination.
• Keeping on trying – and then bouncing back after difficulties.
• Enjoying achieving what
they set out to do – intrinsically motivated to accomplish something.

Create and think critically:
• Having their own ideas – solving problems.
• Making links in their ideas – noticing patterns, making predictions, cause and effect, developing schemas.
• Choosing ways to do things – planning, checking how things are going, changing strategy if necessary, reviewing how well the activity went.
• Solve problems without adults suggesting what to do, or even worse, doing it for them!

And what else?
• Provide opportunities for play and develop the ‘stop, look, listen’ approach – we mustn’t interfere, just observe until the child invites us in.
• Ask open ended questions such as “What ideas do you have?” “What do you think is happening?” “Tell me why you think this?” “How would you solve this problem?” “What other ways can we try this?” “What other answers may there be and why?” Give them time to think before they answer – count to 10, at least, it feels like forever, but it is essential to allow the child to process their thoughts.
• Value and encourage children’s questions.
• Give children time to talk with each other but model that talk through open ended questions, reasoning and changing our minds.
• Talk more about the process rather than the end result using the language of learning, by modelling, scaffolding, making connections and embrace making mistakes – this will mean they will be more willing to take risks.
• Give children the independence to select activities and the opportunity to repeat.
• Give them the opportunity to plan, do and review, talking about what has worked well and what they would change.

And the environment?
• Accessible to the children, so they can self-select.
• Calm and uncluttered with a variety of toys related to the children’s interests: construction and small world toys, games, role-play areas from vets to restaurants, mark making materials, items to count, shapes, jigsaws, paint, items such as guttering, plastic tubing, boxes, natural resources, leaves and twigs.

And finally give children time to play inside and out, many a time I have observed children do something outside that they had yet to achieve inside, that sense of space for many young children is key.

And to conclude, heed the words of William Yeats “Education is not filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”

Reigate St Mary’s is a junior school of Reigate Grammar, situated within a beautiful 15 acre site close to the town centre. The school has been shortlisted for Independent Prep School of the Year 2020 in recognition of its all-round excellence and holistic approach to education. A growth mind-set celebrates hard work and effort not innate talent. In focusing on the journey and in embracing mistakes and failure as part of improving, children build the resilience and risk taking required to succeed. www.reigatestmarys.org

The winter staycation

By | Education, environment, family, Family Farms, fun for children, Party, Playing

If it’s not possible to escape the colder months here in the UK and jet off to sunnier climes this year, then we might all just need to be a bit more creative in order to make sure we can still enjoy the great outdoors.

Summer staycations have been pretty popular this year, and no doubt some people were probably found moaning about it being too hot, but soon enough we will be longing for warm weather and sunshine again.

“There’s no need to wait for a warm, or even dry day to plan a family trip out” says Nicola Henderson, who is a mother of three and runs family farm, Godstone Farm, in Surrey.

Here are her top tips for day trips to help get you outdoors whatever the weather:
Book online
With reduced capacities to ensure social distancing most venues will ask you to book in advance, and why risk not getting in with excited children in the back seat? Many attractions may offer their best price if you book in advance via their website and often more savings can be made the further ahead you book. That all important booking confirmation is also a valuable chance for the attraction you are visiting to communicate important information to you; in uncertain times its best to get the low-down before you arrive.

Use the website for all important information
Most venues will now have information on their site about their ‘Covid Secure’ measures and any information you need to know. But, let’s not forget the fun stuff – the website will give you all the details of what’s open and what’s on, plus check out the blog and any latest posts on social media. This day out might be a special treat, so show the children pictures and read content to them, even play a quiz in the car about what they think they might see and do. You might not be going on holiday, but you can still escape for a bit!

Arrive early
Let’s face it, the children aren’t likely to give you a lie in on your staycation so make the most of the day. Arriving early means getting the car parking space closer to the entrance (important in bad weather!) and also being first in line for things that might get busier during the day. Whether it’s the front of the queue for a ride, or the first to cuddle a cute bunny it’s always good to beat the crowds, especially on weekends and holidays. Check out opening times before you visit – some attractions have started opening earlier than usual – this seems a popular idea, especially when toddlers get tired and need an afternoon snooze.

Leave the picnic at home
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, hear the cries of parents up and down the land who are plain bored of making a picnic. All those lockdown walks where daily exercise meant packing up a hamper, going to the green space close by and trying to entertain the children while keeping in line with government guidance. Nicola adds “Certainly with my family, when lots of places were still closed there was an endless snack-packing exercise to go out to the local park.” Secondly, if you are able to support your local business, or small attraction in the area by making a purchase when you are there, then do. Of course, picnics are still fine if that’s what you prefer.

We love wellies!
It’s a fact! Remember that blistering heatwave? Yep, there were still those children that want to wear wellies, and hey, you’re only a child once so why not. If it is raining however, why not make extra fun on your day and do a bit of puddle jumping? If the children are dressed for it, then it makes bad weather into a real positive and provides endless fun. There’s puddle jumping competitions wherever you go in the rain, because you just make them yourself, or even try the puddle jumping Olympics! The only rule is that parents must join in too.

Wherever you go, whether it’s a staycation away from home or day trips out nothing beats the outdoors and the benefits we all know it can bring.

Godstone Farm will continue to provide fun whatever the weather, but it’s always worth checking the website for up to date opening days and times. They have some exciting plans for 2021 including a Day Nursery and Pre-School planned to open in early 2021. www.godstonefarm.co.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

By | Education, environment, family, fun for children, Health, Safety, Sport, Uncategorized

The theme for UK Road Safety Week 2020 has been announced as ‘No need to speed’, following findings that just a quarter of people think vehicles travel at a safe speed on the street where they live. A free Road Safety Week action pack is available to download at www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk for people wanting to take part.

Taking place between 16th-22nd November and co-ordinated by road safety charity Brake, Road Safety Week 2020 will encourage everyone to learn the what, the why, and the where of speed and will highlight that whether someone is walking to school, cycling into town or driving for work, the speed of traffic matters to their safety.

‘No need to speed’ has been chosen as the theme for Road Safety Week 2020 following the findings of the ‘How safe are the streets where you live?’ survey, conducted online by Brake over the past year. The survey of over 1,700 members of the UK public, found that just a quarter believe that vehicles travel at a safe speed on the street where they live. Brake also found that six in 10 people feel that the speed of traffic on their street negatively affects their wellbeing and two-thirds identify motorised traffic as the biggest threat to their health and safety on their street.

The week long Road Safety Week campaign is supported by funding from the Department for Transport and headline sponsors DHL and Specsavers and will use the collective voice of members of the public, schools, communities, organisations and the emergency services to make clear that there is ‘No Need to Speed’ on the road.

To participate in Road Safety Week, people are invited to register for a free action pack at www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk

Everyone, no matter what you do, can take part in Road Safety Week:
• Individuals can learn what a safe speed is, speak with families and friends who may travel too fast and choose technologies,
or modes, which help keep people safe.
• Schools can help young people learn how the streets around their homes and schools can have safer speeds and shout out for change.
• Organisations can step up their policies and procedures to ensure that their employees travel at safe speeds and understand why this is so important.
• Emergency service professionals can enforce speed limits and share their experiences of the impact of travelling too fast.
• Decision-makers can consider what changes can be made to our road environment to encourage safe speeds and healthy streets.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Road Safety Week provides a unique opportunity, every year, to focus attention on how the safety of our roads impacts all our daily lives. Speed plays a part in every crash and just 1mph can mean the difference between life and death on the roads. This Road Safety Week we want to help everyone understand why speed matters
and to join together to say there is ‘No need to speed’ on our roads.”

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths, serious injuries and pollution occurring on our roads every day.
We work to make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake’s vision is a world where there are zero road deaths and injuries, and people can get around in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. We do this by pushing for legislative change through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK’s flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

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’.