Category

Education

Encouraging play

By | dance & Art, Education, family, fun for children, play, Relationships, Sport, Theatre, Uncategorized
by Claire Russell
founder of PlayHOORAY!

Have you ever thought about how you can better encourage your child to play more effectively? Now, we don’t all live in an ideal world, our homes have to work for many different things, as well as look nice, but there are a few simple tricks we can apply to create a more playful home.

• Turn off the TV and keep distractions to a minimum when your child is playing.

• Keep resources to hand and ensure your child knows where they are, helping them to become independent and not rely on you to find the answers.

• Teach your child how to do an activity first. Don’t assume they know how to take on the role of a shopkeeper despite the numerous times they’ve been to the supermarket with you!

• Go with the flow. If you set up an activity for your little one, but they do something totally different to what you’d intended, that is absolutely fine. Support them and encourage them to follow
their own initiative!

• If they have enjoyed playing with a particular activity try leaving it out for them to access when they want for at least a week. If you don’t like the mess, perhaps you can throw a tea towel over it?

• Praise your child for their play, the way they play and what they are doing, reassuring your child and showing them how much you value their play. After all, it is supporting their development!

• Try not to interrupt your child when they are focusing, if it can wait then let it. Young children can only concentrate for small amounts of time, so you’ll probably only be waiting for a few minutes anyway!

But what exactly should you be doing when your child is playing?
In reality, there are some days when you want your little one to play to occupy themselves so that you can take a breather because, let’s face it, it’s exhausting being a parent and its important to prioritise looking after yourself! And there are those days when you have a list as long as your arm and you just need five minutes to get jobs done or make dinner. And that’s fine too, honestly it is. We all do it! But then there are days when you do have time, you do have a flicker of energy and you have the headspace to support your child as they play – great! When that occurs, there are many things you can do that will support their development:

• Sit by your child, giving them a sense of security, reassuring them that you’re in sight while showing them that you value their play.

• If they invite you to play with them, copy them. Don’t take charge, just do what they do and let them take the lead.They will love it!

• When you feel you can, talk about what you are doing. You might feel a bit silly doing it but you are teaching your child how to play. Use words they may recognise but introduce new vocabulary too. Tell them what you like, dislike, your favourites and give reasons. Your child may offer their opinion or they may not. There’s no pressure!

• As your child plays, as long as you don’t think it will break their concentration, comment on what they’re doing. Suggest a few things you like about their playing, for example: “I like the way you are stacking the bricks to make a tall tower. I like the way you are trying to get that to stick. I can see you are persevering.”

These show your child that you value what they are doing. Your child may choose to tell you about their play and may begin running their own commentary.

These are just a few ideas you can implement to encourage play. You don’t have to do them all, try a few and see if it makes a difference.

Happy playing!

Mum to one and Early Years Specialist, Claire Russell is founder of playHOORAY! and the designer of playPROMPTS activity cards designed to equip parents with realistic, fuss-free play ideas. For further information please visit www.playhooray.co.uk

Tips to soothe your child when they have chickenpox

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, Health, Uncategorized, vaccinations and ailments

The varicella zoster virus (VZV) is more commonly known as chickenpox. It is one of the most common illnesses to affect young children, affecting more than 95% of children and is most prevalent in children under the age of 10.
It is a very common illness and most children make a full recovery without needing medical intervention. However, it can still be uncomfortable and upsetting for little ones and worrying for parents. When the red, fluid-filled spots appear, there are some things you can do to comfort your child and distract them from the itching.

Doctor Stephanie Ooi, a GP from MyHealthcare Clinic, has provided five tips to advise parents on the best ways to soothe a child when they have chickenpox.

Use gentle itching remedies
While traditional remedies such as calamine lotion have long been the go-to home treatment for chickenpox, there are newer mousse products available on the market that can help. These can be easier to use than creams or lotions as they are less messy and don’t require rubbing in to sensitive rash-covered skin.

Another natural remedy to soothe the discomfort and itching is to take an oatmeal bath, which helps to prevent the spread of infection from one to another part of the body. To make your own oatmeal bath at home, you can use regular unflavoured porridge oats, slow cooked oats or instant oats. Use around 100g for a toddler and 300g for an older child. A coffee grinder or food processor can be used to the grind the oats up to a smaller consistency. Test a tablespoon of oats in a glass of warm water – if the water goes a milky colour, your oats are ground-up enough. Draw a warm bath (not too hot), place the oats in and have your child soak for around 20 minutes.

Some children also find baking soda soothing. You can add roughly a mug of the baking soda to a lukewarm bath and soak for 20 minutes. When you help the child out of the bath, use a clean towel to pat, rather than rub the skin dry.

Keep your child hydrated
Try to encourage your child to drink as much water as possible. When chickenpox spots appear in a child’s mouth it can make eating or drinking slightly distressing and uncomfortable. Try to give soft and bland foods and avoid salty snacks that can aggravate a sore mouth. A very common symptom of chickenpox is a loss of appetite – whilst this is worrying for parents, hydration is more important than food here.

One way to encourage children to consume more liquids is to create soothing ice pops. Simply fill a lolly tray with water or coconut water, or flavour with some squash. It’s best to avoid orange flavouring as the acidic content of this may irritate the mouth. If your child does feel up to eating, natural yoghurt with honey, stewed apples or pears or a chicken bone broth are good options. Dairy and chicken contain the amino acid lysine which is said to aid healing.

Be aware of signs of dehydration – dark urine, infrequent need to use the bathroom or dry nappies, fast breathing, having few or no tears left when crying, dry lips or blotchy, cold hands and feet. If your child has any of these symptoms, please seek urgent medical advice.

Seek medical advice for some cases
In most cases you won’t need to take your child to the GP for chickenpox as it will get better on its own. This usually takes about a week. However, there are some instances when medical advice should be sought. If you notice that skin around the spots has become red, hot and painful, consult your doctor as this can be a sign of skin infection. Also seek medical advice if your child has had a fever for more than four days, if there are signs of dehydration as mentioned above or their condition seems to be worsening. Ultimately you know them best so if something doesn’t seem right then seek medical advice.

Soothe the pain and fever with approved painkillers
Aside from the uncomfortable rash, chickenpox can also often cause cold and flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature (38+ degrees), muscular aches and pains, as well as headaches. These can make children feel pretty miserable and unwell. You can use paracetamol at home to soothe the pain and fever. It’s best to avoid giving aspirin to any child in any illness as this can leave your child at risk of developing Reye’s syndrome (a rare disorder that causes swelling in the liver and brain).

Provide distractions
Due to the highly contagious nature of chickenpox, it’s advised to keep your child away from school, nursery or social situations with other children until the spots have fully crusted over. This can take as long as 10 days. Many children will just want to rest and a day in front of the television is completely understandable! However, lots of parents know that after a few days of isolation, children can feel restless and need a distraction from the itching and misery of being house-bound.

Activities such as colouring, sticker books, reading and puzzles can be good distractions. Try making an indoor assault course with cushions, chairs and blankets. If you have a garden and the weather is nice, try having a picnic together, planting some seeds, or using outdoor chalks to create pictures.

Are you work ready? A guide to stepping back in

By | Education, family, Work employment
by Emma Cleary
Flexibility Matters

This summer you may be preparing to send your little ones off to school in September, making way for some time when its finally about you again. It may be time for you to step back into your existing career or a completely new one and if you’ve been out of the workplace for a while it can seem daunting diving back in.

No-one understands these challenges more than flexible recruitment experts Flexibility Matters who, since 2007, have been working with employers and talented mums filling roles outside of the traditional 9-5 working hours. Dedicated to flexible recruiting, best practice in flexible working, events and training, here they share their step by step guide to getting work ready after a career break.

Regain your confidence by understanding your skills
The very first step is to regain a handle on who you are in the workplace and what you really want from it, acknowledging the practical elements such as pay, commute and environment. Identify your talents (what you are good at naturally) and do a soft and hard skills audit categorising your strengths. This exercise alone will show you the unique offerings you have, affirming your value.

Identify, as well, your transferable skills and experience drawn from your entire career and from any career breaks. Doing this will reveal that you have even more to offer than you may have initially considered – widening your options.

If you feel out of touch with the latest technology and market trends of your target industry, don’t just worry about it – do something about it. Do some research and find out what you need to be back on top.

Perfect your CV
Now you have a handle on your potential and direction, you’re able to present yourself with confidence in your CV, keeping in mind that it will work best for you if you tailor it to the individual roles you apply for.

Keep it to two pages and don’t be afraid to explain any career break, highlighting all the new transferable skills and personal strengths you’ve gained during it. Start with a succinct and authentic personal profile that you can adapt to individual roles to instantly convince the hiring manager of your qualifications and experience that match the job requirements.

Create an adaptable cover letter too and, to demonstrate you have done your homework and are up to date, cite challenges and recent trends in the sector relevant to the role you are applying for.

Create a dazzling LinkedIn profile
A LinkedIn profile is an absolute must for any job seeker but particularly important when you have had a career break. It’s the perfect way to get in contact with old colleagues and clients as well as educating yourself with up to date industry trends and news.

Your opening headline and summary are key – use the headline space to showcase your specialism or area of focus and the summary to concisely convey your professional history, qualifications and personality.

Fit in some interview practice
You may be nervous about the prospect of a job interview, so get some practice in using friends and family – perfecting a confident hand-shake with lots of eye contact.

Make sure you know your CV inside out as it generally structures the process. Be clear on what your project examples are in response to competency-based questions.

If you’ve been out of an office for a long while, you may want to get yourself back into a workplace zone and think about the image you want to present based on the roles you are seeking. A wardrobe review may be in order or it could be a great excuse to visit the High Street for a confidence boosting revamp.

Get yourself out there!

At Flexibility Matters, we are not only matching flexible working talent to their ideal job roles in businesses around Sussex, but we also offer free events, such as networking and interview workshops to help all our members, whatevertheir backgrounds, get there.

Register on www.flexibilitymatters.co.uk or get in touch with us directly on email: emma@flexmatters.co.uk, Tel: 07810 541 599.

No fault divorce

By | Education, family, Finance, Legal, Relationships
by Carrie Crown
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors

Under the current law, if you and your spouse have separated within the last two (or sometimes even five) years you must provide evidence that your spouse has either committed adultery or otherwise behaved in a way that you cannot tolerate to live with before the Court will grant permission for you to get a divorce.

These ‘fault-based’ divorces were thrust into the public eye last year when the case of Owens vs Owens, came before the Supreme Court to consider whether Mrs Owens could divorce her husband on the basis of his unreasonable behaviour towards her. Mr Owens defended the divorce.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court reluctantly agreed with Mr Owens that his behaviour during the marriage had not been unreasonable and therefore Mrs Owens is forced, for the time being, to remain married to him.

As a result, neither Mr or Mrs Owens can ask the Court to make a decision regarding the division of the assets of the marriage, as a financial application in divorce can usually only be dealt with once the Court has declared that the divorce can proceed and decree nisi, often called the ‘first stage’ of the divorce has taken place.

Although Mr and Mrs Owens had no dependent children, the law as it currently stands can be particularly onerous for parents of young children who find themselves unable to divorce and therefore unable to sort out the matrimonial finances for several years after separation has taken place. This can result in significant delay in being able to provide a stable home for children and suitable arrangements for their ongoing care. All of this will inevitably impact upon the emotional wellbeing of the children.

People are often therefore forced to petition for divorce for one of the ‘fault-based’ reasons, submitting evidence to the Court as to why the behaviour of their spouse has led to the breakdown of the marriage. This often results in hurt feelings, anger and increased tensions between the parties.

Over the years, the Government have been reluctant to reform the UK’s divorce law, believing that making it easier for couples to divorce would somehow undermine the sanctity of marriage and increase the rates of divorce.

In 2017, a national survey carried out by the Nuffield Foundation found that 62% of petitioners and 78% of respondents in a divorce said that using fault had made the process more bitter, 21% of fault-respondents said fault had made it harder to sort out arrangements for children, and 31% of fault-respondents thought fault made sorting out finances harder.

In 2018, Resolution, an organisation which consists of 6,500 family lawyers (myself included), declared that there was a ‘divorce crisis’ in the UK and in November launched it’s ‘Good Divorce week’ seeking to highlight the impact upon children in particular of a system of divorce which attaches blame to one party.

Finally, following a 12 week public consultation, on 9th April 2019, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that divorce law in the UK would be reformed and that, in future, the only ground for divorce would be that the marriage had ‘irretrievably broken down’ commenting that ‘hostility and conflict between parents leave their mark on children and can damage their life chances.’

The proposals will also dispense with the requirement to provide evidence of the ‘fact’ of adultery or unreasonable behaviour and substitute it for a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown.’ The current two-stage process, Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute, will remain and a minimum timeframe of six months will be set from the date of the petition to decree absolute. The option will also be made available for parties to issue a joint-divorce petition.

Currently there is no set timetable for the legislative reforms to take place. Let’s face it, the Government have been somewhat busy of late! David Gauke has said, however, that
he intends the reforms to take place as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The changes do not, in my professional opinion, make the process of divorce any ‘easier’ and certainly no quicker than the current system. It will, however, make the process far less adversarial and emotionally damaging for all those involved.

Carrie Crown, Family Associate Solicitor at Mackrell Turner Garrett, Surrey, is a resolution-accredited specialist and is therefore committed to resolving family disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive manner wherever possible.

Email: Carrie.Crown@mtg.uk.net
Telephone: 01483 755609
www.mackrellsurrey.com

How to help your child remember things

By | Education, Mental health
by The Arts College, Worthing

We help parents who want to help their child remember information for their tests. We teach parents how to engage their child in their education by showing them a fun way to study. This gives children the confidence to find their own way of learning.

We see many parents who do not understand how stressful going to school can be for a child. Children hear their parents say, “Being a kid and going to school is great! You have no responsibilities – like paying bills.”

The mistakes that most people make are:
1. Assuming school is easy.
2. Thinking that school is not stressful.
3. Thinking that children must “just get on with it.”

Later on in this article, we’re going to show you the three tips and secrets to help you support your child as they build their school learning process. These tips will help them grow in confidence and self-esteem.

This excerpt is a report from The Guardian: “Meanwhile, the Social Market Foundation has published a report arguing that the government should fund after-school family literacy classes in primary schools, to tackle inequality by helping parents take a more active role in their children’s education.”

The report discussed the percentage of each race struggling to focus in school. With art classes being squeezed out, it is no surprise that the decrease of focus is due to ‘creative and active lessons’ dropping considerably. It doesn’t matter the race, colour, or language of the student. We have worked with many children from different ethnic races and backgrounds and have concluded that the cause is that there are not enough tools to support parents or teachers to change their approach to learning creatively.

School is a stressful part of life, in the same way as applying for your first job or renting a home is, even though there isn’t finance involved. The processes that we use to work through solutions, learn, and grow are built in school. We have worked with many children and adults who want to better remember information so that they can perform better in school and in life.

Here are three tips that we recommend:
1 Look at the times that they are learning the best.
We find that children attend school the whole day, come home, eat, and go back to doing their homework. They need at least a full hour of rest from learning to give their brains time to recharge. The activities need to be about play, creativity, and fun, without direction or control.

2 Have an area of study that is attractive.
A desk is very important. Not only does it improve physical health, but it sets a very clear difference between when it is time to focus and when it is time to play. This will help minimise distractions. Have a board in front of them with colourful notes and images – the more attractive it looks to your children, the more they will want to make the effort to learn.

3 Study with images and creativity.
We have had many students come to me saying that they are struggling to remember parts of their lessons. There are creative ways to teach these lessons that will help them remember the information more easily. For example: if they are learning about the body, draw it on a piece of paper stuck to the wall. Colour code it – use colours, stickers, or markers and have fun. The more you use images to learn – whilst writing alongside the images – the quicker the information will be retained in their memory. Every time they walk past the image, their brain takes a ‘photo’ of the image, which naturally pops up with ease when writing their tests/exams.

Bonus tip: Attend art classes or other creative classes.
This helps your child to learn differently because they are solving, exploring, and building with their creativity. This teaches their brain to learn and remember the information the same way.

Art Psychology is a new area of study – a tool for parents to learn how their children’s brain grows as well as develops emotionally and socially in their home.
The Arts College in Worthing. Call 01903 529 633
www.kidsartsussex.com

Fit for royalty!

By | children's health, Education, footwear and feet

Dear Kate and Wills,

I see that Princess Charlotte’s just turned four. How time flies!

So I’m guessing that she’ll be starting school in September and will be really excited to meet new friends and start getting an education.

I’m sure she’ll also be very excited about getting her new school uniform and her very first pair of school shoes.

As an experienced and fully qualified shoe fitter can I offer you some valuable advice about the school shoes? I’ve got some useful tips and hints to make shopping for school shoes less stressful for you (or for
the nanny!)

Along with her first walkers, Charlotte’s school shoes are probably the most important item of footwear that she’ll put on her feet in her childhood years. They really need to be selected and fitted with great
care and attention, especially for reception-aged children.

Let’s face it, school shoes are worn (on average) for five days a week and for at least seven hours a day, and that’s not to mention all the walking to and from school and all the running around in the playground at lunch and break times, and at after-school clubs.

It’s never too early in the summer holidays to start thinking about buying your school shoes and getting ready for the new academic year. Plus it avoids all that last minute panic when everything has been picked over or your child’s size has sold out.

Buying early is great for choice – we have our school shoes delivered to our shops in July so this is when the collection will be strongest. If your child is very specific about wanting a patent shoe with a flower on it – you’re more likely to find it early. Possibly more importantly, if your child has very specific requirements such as very narrow feet, very wide feet, hypermobility, or orthotic inserts then shop early.

But what if your child grows over the summer holidays? This is the myth that if you leave your school shoe buying to the last minute it will be the most cost-effective course of action. Wrong! Children very rarely grow so much over the school holidays that they need to swap the shoes they have purchased early in the summer break. Besides, if a school shoe is fitted correctly there should be approximately a good three months worth of growing room factored in by the fitter (before the shoe becomes ‘too big’ and slips off the foot).

Parents who get their school shoes sorted out early tend to ask for a bit of extra growing room anyway. Then if there are any concerns about sizing, we can advise these customers to come back a couple of days before school begins for a double-check of the fit.

In addition to that, shoes that have been bought early will give you time for Charlotte to try on her new shoes and wear them at home in order to ‘break them in’. Wearing new (clean) shoes around the palace, with the correct socks or tights for a short period of time over a couple of days should do the trick. If she does this then her new shoes won’t feel too stiff or give her any blisters on her first day; so if there are any problems at this stage you or William still have time to sort them out.

Most school children of primary school age have feet that grow in rapid, erratic bursts throughout the year, yet on average you only need two pairs of school shoes per academic year. That said, if your child is a climber, a footballer or rides a scooter while wearing their school shoes then you may need to replace their school shoes more frequently.

As Charlotte is going to be starting in Reception then it may be worth considering a style with a toe bumper or scuff guard, as more often
than not she will find herself spending a lot of time kneeling on the classroom carpet.

When you come along to shop for shoes in the summer you can help us by being prepared – bring the correct school socks with you for fitting Charlotte’s shoes. Some people turn up with their child in sandals or flip-flops and they’ve forgotten to bring their socks, or even the relevant orthotic inserts! We can lend you some ‘trying on’ socks, of course, but if your child is already wearing socks and is ready to be measured this can speed up the process at a very busy time when there is often a queue.

Wills and Kate – please remember that school shoes are not indestructible. Some children will always find a way to destroy them – in spite of what their parents might think!

School shoes should be sturdy, durable, comfortable and preferably breathable. As this is your child’s main item of footwear for the week then it is often a false economy and inadvisable for your child’s long-term foot health to choose a cheap, ill-fitting version.

To get the best value from your new school shoe purchase, clean and polish the leather regularly to maintain looks and longevity. You wouldn’t buy a new dress, wear it every day, and never bother to wash it! Look after your investment, and the shoes will look after your child’s feet.

Most suppliers will guarantee a child’s shoe or boot for approximately three months for ‘normal’ wear and tear, and then you will need to have a re-measure to check for any growth spurts. The retailer is not responsible for excessive wear and tear such as ‘scooter toe’. If your child scoots to school and insists on using their shoes as a brake, then encourage them to wear an old pair of trainers for this. An expensive leather school shoe is designed to be tough and robust, but it is not designed to be dragged along the pavement upside down.

Remember to look out for the Society of Shoe Fitters logo or the Children’s Foot Health Register logo when you go shopping – then you will know that you are putting your child’s feet in the best-qualified hands. Charlotte will only get one pair of feet in her lifetime so it’s up
to you to make sure they get the best care.

Yours faithfully

Kim Jackson M.S.S.F.
Klodhoppers (Hove & Haywards Heath)

Head lice horrors

By | children's health, Education, Head lice, Health, Safety
by Eileen Hutchinson
Owner of NitNOT Head lice clinic
and the developer of NitNOT head lice serum

It’s a proud moment enjoyed by all the family, the home snapped photos of your child standing with new bag in hand, crisp uniform and shiny shoes, prepared for their first year at school. That initial school experience can be scary but also an exciting milestone. We are reminded to prepare for this change as parents, to create good bedtime routines, read to them, and equip them with the necessary skills to help with the transition. What they don’t prepare you for, however, is that the start of the school term is also peak season for blood-sucking parasites, namely head lice!

Head lice are the unspoken misery of our schools, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Across Europe, head lice are seen as a normal part of growing up, just as usual as catching a cold. In the UK head lice, infestations are stigmatised, but in reality, head lice don’t discriminate. Children are the main spreaders of head lice due to them spending lots of time in close contact with one another. Research by the Institute of mums revealed two-thirds of children can expect to catch head lice at least once during childhood, with an average of 2.2 infestations per child. I can assure you as someone who is totally focused on eliminating these critters that they don’t care about whether your hair is clean, dirty, curly or straight, or even sprayed with repellent.

A female louse is programmed to lean out of the host’s hair with back claws clasping a hair follicle, and front claws stretched out to grab any passing new hosts hair. When a new hair passes by, they cling on, and it’s as simple as that.

How to prevent head lice is a question often asked, with regular mentions of tea tree oil, however, there is not enough evidence to prove its efficacy, and it’s important to realise natural treatments can cause severe allergic reactions. I recommend that you stick to using a CE certified brand of head lice serum, meaning you can be sure it has been rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness. The following simple steps can help your family avoid an infestation:

1 Check for lice and nits before the start of the school term, conducting weekly head checks throughout the year. The best way to check is to use a nit comb on your child’s wet hair, wiping on a tissue after each stroke to check for eggs, nits and lice.

2 Reduce risk by putting longer hair in braids, buns or ponytails. The longer the hair, the higher the risk of contracting lice.

3 Use a separate brush for every member of the family. Head lice won’t fall out onto hats, jackets, or furniture, but a louse that gets stuck in the bristles of your brush can stay alive for up to three days.

4 Make sure to do a thorough check before a trip to the hairdressers, if lice are found mid cut most hairdressers will stop. As you can imagine, this can lead to tears and trauma.

Lastly, it’s crucial to think about how we come across to our children when discussing lice. Be conscious, remain calm, and treat others with kindness. I’ve had many discussions with distraught parents, and also teens who feel too embarrassed to tell anyone. Many subsequently seek to treat themselves without informing their parents. If we work to make this less of a taboo subject, we can work towards fostering honest and open relationships with others.

For more information go to www.nitnot.com

Encourage learning at home talk to your child!

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Claire Russell
Early Years Specialist

Research released by the Department of Education suggests that 100,000 under fives are not learning at home but according to Early Years Specialist and mum to one, Claire Russell, who is a huge advocate of learning via play, it’s all about talking to your child and spotting opportunities for them to learn as you go about your everyday routine.

Claire told us: “Talking and singing to your child is the best thing you could do. From day one provide a running commentary telling them about what you’re doing. Even though they may not be responding or talking back, the words will be going in. It will provide children with a wide range of vocabulary! And don’t be scared to use big words either!”

She continues: “Learning doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down with a pen on paper, particularly when it comes to pre-schoolers. It can be counting steps as you climb, spotting letters in road signs or taking turns in a game.”

In particular, the survey found that over half of parents do not spend time teaching children their alphabet but Claire believes learning through play is important in so many other ways.

“Learning is not just the ABCs and 123s, it’s about so much more. We need to teach our children life skills such as social skills, kindness and empathy, how to share, take turns how to look after ourselves and our bodies, how to think of others and the world around us. And who better to teach them? Us! Their parents and carers are their first teachers. We all know children watch, observe and copy. So it’s important we model the skills and characteristics we hope to see in our children.”

Here Claire provides her tips for encouraging play at home:
• Turn off the TV and keep distractions to a minimum when your child is playing.

• Keep resources to hand and ensure your child knows where they are, helping them to become independent and not rely on you to find the answers.

• Teach your child how to do an activity first. Don’t assume they know how to take on the role of a shopkeeper despite the numerous times they’ve been to the supermarket with you!

• Go with the flow. If you set up an activity for your little one, but they do something totally different to what you’d intended, that is absolutely
fine. Support them and encourage them to follow their own initiative!

• If they have enjoyed playing with a particular activity try leaving it out for them to access when they want for at least a week. If you don’t like the mess, perhaps you can throw a tea towel over it?

• Praise your child for their play, the way they play and what they are doing, reassuring your child and showing them how much you value their play, after all, it is supporting their development!

• Try not to interrupt your child when they are focusing, if it can wait then let it. Young children can only concentrate for small amounts of time, so you’ll probably only be waiting for a few minutes anyway!

• Sit by your child, giving them a sense of security, reassuring them that you’re in sight while showing them that you value their play.

• If they invite you to play with them, copy them. Don’t take charge, just do what they do and let them take the lead. They will love it!

• When you feel you can, talk about what you are doing. You might feel a bit silly doing it but you are teaching your child how to play. Use words they may recognise but introduce new vocabulary too. Tell them what you like, dislike, your favourites and give reasons. Your child may offer their opinion or they may not. There’s no pressure!

• As your child plays, as long as you don’t think it will break their concentration, comment on what they’re doing. Suggest
a few things you like about their playing, for example, “I like the way you are stacking the bricks to make a tall tower.” ” I like the way you are trying to get that to stick.” or “I can see you are persevering.” These show your child that you value what they are doing. Your child may choose to tell you about their play and may begin running their own commentary.

Claire Russsell is currently working with the Department of Education on their Chat, Play and Read campaign. Claire is founder of playHOORAY! and designer of the playPROMPT activity cards providing realistic play ideas for preschoolers.

For further information about playHOORAY! and to download the please visit www.playhooray.co.uk.

Looking after your child’s eyes

By | children's health, Education, Health, Safety, Vision

 

Francesca Andersson is an Optometrist at Barnard Optometrists in Hove. She has a two year old son and is passionate about children’s eye health and sharing information about good eye care. Currently one in five school age children have undiagnosed vision problems which could be interfering with their learning. Francesca would like to make sure parents have the correct information to protect their children’s eyes.

When should I take my child to the opticians?
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) recommend that all children should have a sight test around the age of three, but I recommend that children should have their first sight test at six months of age, or even as a newborn and especially if there are any concerns or family history of any eye conditions. This would enable us to pick up any eye conditions which can be treated earlier, particularly before they start school.

What happens during a sight test?
A sight test should be a good experience for a child; during the test we establish how well your child can see, if their two eyes co-ordinate well together and that there are no concerns with the health of their eyes.

Does my child need to know their letters?
No, we have a range of vision tests we can use depending on the age of the child and how confident they are during the test. Some vision tests do not even require the child to talk at all, we just look at eye movements to determine whether or not they have seen the picture.

How much is a sight test?
Sight tests are free for children under 16 years of age and for anyone in full-time education under the age of 19.

How would I know if my child has a vision problem?
You may not! Sometimes there may not be any signs or symptoms that your child may be struggling with their vision as they themselves may not know that what they are experiencing isn’t normal. This is one of the major reasons that it is so important for them to have a sight test regularly. Some children will show signs of a problem.
For example:
• An eye turning in or out.
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Headaches.
• Sitting too close to the television.
• Frequent eye rubbing.

Why is it important for eye conditions to be picked up early?
Children’s vision continues to develop until they are around eight years old. This means we have until this age to correct their sight and any muscle weakness to allow the vision to develop normally. If left untreated it can lead to them having a lazy eye.

What should I look for when buying my child’s glasses?
• A frame they like and are happy wearing.
• A good fitting frame that allows for growth.
• Soft plastic frames are advised for young children.
• A strap can be useful for active toddlers.

What can I do to protect my child’s eyes?
• Attend regular sight tests.
• Provide a healthy diet and plenty of water.
• Protect their eyes from the sun with a hat, suntan lotion on eyelids, good-quality sunglasses with UV protection and stop them looking in to the sun.
• Spend plenty of time outdoors – research shows playing outside for two hours is ideal for healthy eyes.

Can digital screens harm my child’s eyes?
Research shows that prolonged screen time can increase the progression of myopia (short-sightedness) so screen time must be balanced with time outdoors. There is no scientific evidence to show that blue light from screens can damage eyes but it can lead to poorer sleep if used before bed. Make sure digital devices are turned off at least an hour before bed.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact us and we will be pleased to advise you.

 

Barnard Associates is an established independent, Optometric practice providing clinical eye care, contact lenses and spectacle dispensing
for over 30 years.
Our Optometrists specialise in paediatric eye care and have additional qualifications to provide visual assessments associated with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and learning difficulties – we welcome any questions you may have regarding your eye health.
Phone: 01273 772 318
Email: reception@barnardassociates.co.uk

 

Why do children love to play so much?

By | Education, environment, fun for children, Green, Playing, Summer, Toys
by Tanya Petherick
Class Of Their Own

Children love to play. We know that, but just what is it about play that children love? At this point in an article, you might expect to see a definition of play. As people who study play are fond of saying; play is easy to see, but hard to define. The desire to play is innate. Innate is a word we can define. It means natural, in built, instinctive – in other words, no one needs to, or indeed, can, tell a child how to play. Play can be facilitated by adults, yet it is essentially child-led; children doing what they want with the resources they have available. Think about all the times a young child has been more interested in the cardboard box than the gift inside. Yet, play is not just for toddlers. Children of all ages learn through play. This might be something pragmatic, such as young children playing shops and counting out one apple and two pears, through to older primary-aged children playing card games using more advanced numerical skills.

Children receive a natural satisfaction from play. In academic circles, this is termed intrinsic motivation; a behaviour which is driven by an internal reward – put simply, play is something children want to do. A lot of the time, play is fun. Playing with friends, playing outside, getting wet, staying dry, playing in pairs, playing in groups, playing alone, imagining, making, cutting, sticking, creating, cooking, discovering, exploring – they all sound like great fun. Undoubtedly, one reason children might love play is it can be enormous fun – but it isn’t always. Sometimes play is sad, unfair or physically painful; think about children role-playing sad events, not being included in a group game and that childhood staple of grazed knees.

These three examples alone show how play can prepare children for life as an adult, sad things do happen and developing skills to process these emotions help us makes sense of life, understanding unfairness helps us to process information, and those grazed knees? Well, they teach us to tie up our shoelaces or the need to take more care on the scooter.

Can you remember being bored as a child? Getting part way through the long school holiday and declaring the dreaded “I’m bored” phrase? Being bored, or more importantly, being allowed to be bored, is an important part of a child’s development. It is when children are bored that they make creative use of the resources around them. I can remember ‘ruining,’ in my mum’s words, and ‘making more fun’ in mine, a game of Connect 4 by painting the inside of all the red and yellow circles with different coloured paint and using my new pieces to create a more complex version of the game. Had I not been bored with the original version of the game, I would never have developed my own, more engaging version of the game (I have to confess that this happened years ago, and I am still waiting for Connect 4 to pick up my great idea!). It is the necessity of creativity that results from being bored that can create fantastic fun.

Children have an innate desire to play, are intrinsically motivated to do so, and are creative about it, but does that answer our question about why children love to play? In a way it does. But let’s look at the question from a different angle. Maybe it is less about a child’s desire to play, and more about the associated benefits of play that have kept play at the evolutionary forefront of a child’s development. It is through play that children develop confidence, self-esteem, independence, emotional resilience, physical skills, concentration and creative thinking. Or, put another way, the skills that follow children into adulthood. At a time when children face criticism for being too attached to electronic devices, not doing enough exercise and being ‘over-scheduled’ the benefits of play may seem an overly simplistic response, yet as we have seen, it is through play that children find out who they are, and how the world around them works.

It can be easy to overlook the benefits of your child ‘just’ playing when planning the summer holidays. Allowing a child to follow their individual interests reduces guilt when planning holiday childcare, however, do not feel the need to overschedule children. As a parent or carer in today’s busy world, giving children the time and space to play is one of the best things a parent can do to help their child develop the skills they will need growing up and into adulthood. So, turn off the tablet and let children play in the way you did: on their own, with friends, at a holiday club and don’t forget, you can join in too! Let yourself be led by your child and don’t worry if you can’t remember how to play. It is what children do, so give them 30 minutes of your time and encourage them to choose what you do together – it is invaluable time together, and your child (and you!) will love it, but, also allow them to get bored and get creative – you never know where it will take them!

Class Of Their Own offer high quality, affordable and secure out of school clubs for primary school children aged 4-11. www.classoftheirown.com