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fun for children

make maths fun for children

Incorporate maths into playtime

By Education, fun for children, numeracy skills, play
by Lucy Alexandra Spencer
Tutoring and Alternative Provision Director at Education Boutique,
part of the Eteach Group

When we incorporate maths into play, we create curious problem-solving thinkers who are ready to explore the world.

Incorporating maths into play is a well-evidenced catalyst for developing capable mathematicians, who are comfortable using maths skills in their everyday lives. The National Numeracy Organisation reports that half of the working-age adults in the UK have a numeracy level below the expected abilities for an 11 year old. It’s therefore vital that educators and parents work together to find ways to link maths to enjoyable everyday life events, in order for children to build a positive relationship with the subject and reduce the chance of developing maths-based anxieties and low self-esteem.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework sets the standard for providing early play-based maths experiences. It is supported by a report from the Education Endowment Foundation which found that play-based learning can be particularly effective at raising attainment in learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.

So, drawing on the evidence of the benefits, what can busy parents do to easily incorporate maths into play and everyday life routines?

Empowering every home to have a maths role model
By showing enthusiasm for maths and demonstrating resilience to problem-solving, parents can shape a child’s mindset for life. You don’t need to be ‘good’ at maths to be a positive role model. Even if you have had a rocky road with the subject yourself, now is a great time to draw a line in the sand and embrace the opportunities to form a collaborative partnership with your child. Together, you can help them to have fun and explore the wonderful world of numbers, shapes and statistics.

Don’t label the practise
Being ‘good’ at maths is so much more than buying your child every workbook on the internet or learning times tables. Don’t feel like you have to give maths at home a label, especially with younger children. What sounds more appealing to you – “Let’s do 20 minutes of maths” or “Let’s investigate the different quantities of ingredients needed to make the perfect banana smoothie?”

Learning through doing, will help a child develop many skills that link to a range of subjects, reaching much further than just the maths curriculum.

Utilising time efficiently
When your child has number facts or times tables to memorise, you can buy yourself some neon chalk pens and write the information on the bathroom mirror, for example. This means your child will be looking at and thinking about the content regularly, sometimes without being cognisant of the fact they are absorbing information. It’s an excellent routine to establish.

Additionally, creating a car journey routine where iPad maths apps, such as ‘Hit the Button’, ‘Prodigy Maths’ and others could be incorporated can work well. Don’t worry if your car journeys are device-free zones, play some of these great car journey maths games:
• Number plate maths
Make the largest or smallest number out of the numbers on passing registration plates.
• Guess the number
One player thinks of a number and the others in the car ask numeral questions to guess what it is.
• Number tennis
Choose a rule such as ‘add seven’ and go around the players in the car until someone gets out.
• Rule master
Count from one upwards and every time you get to a multiple of 10, create a new rule such as ‘clap instead of saying 10’.

Here are some of my other top tips for integrating maths into play:
• Cooking
The kitchen is a great place to incorporate numbers. Asking children questions such as: “How can we double this recipe?”, “What can we do if this ingredient is missing?” or “Can we cook it at double the heat for half the time?” are exciting ways for them to engage in maths.
• Shopping lists
Giving your child agency over shopping lists by using online supermarkets is another good way to incorporate maths. For example, you can challenge them to find where they can get items for the best price and ask them to organise the weekly shop while not exceeding a certain budget.
• Games
Gamifying maths is often talked about, but some of these may exist in your house already! Dust off Monopoly, a Lego set or try orienteering and geocaching on a sunny day.
• Collecting data
It can be helpful to consider how you can involve your child in collecting data. Family decisions such as holidays or meals can be a great opportunity to do this and for them to present their results.
• Sports
Dart boards can be an excellent resource to learn how to read the minute hand of the clock. Create a clock dart board and when you throw a dart read the minute hand value. How about quick mental calculations with three darts? The possibilities are endless!
• Music
The rhythm and beat of the music is an exciting way to incorporate counting. Games which involve counting in numbers in time to the beat of the music, for example, can work well, as well as counting how many times a certain word is repeated. Investigating speeding up and slowing down as well as recording audio messages may also capture your child’s interest.

Lucy supports children with emotional-based school non-attendance and helps families access LA funding, offering tutoring for children with additional needs.

family christmas

Giving children the best Christmas

By Christmas, family, Legal, Relationships, Toys

For a lot of people, Christmas is about spending time with family, but what happens when children have more than one? If not handled carefully, talk of Christmas can descend into conflict and arguments about where children spend the festive season.

In this article, Family Law Specialist, Rachael House, from Dutton Gregory Solicitors in Woking gives her tips on how to establish a Happy Christmas for all.

Top tips for child arrangements over Christmas:
1. Plan ahead
Discussions should be had as soon as possible. That way, if there is disagreement, there is time to resolve it.
2. Child first
A good way for parents to try and reach an agreement and overcome the desire to spend as much time as possible with their children, is to focus on what the child needs or wants.
3. Compromise
It is always best if parents, who know their children and what is best for them, can find a solution between themselves.
4. No point-scoring
Parents shouldn’t try and outdo each other, either in terms of time or presents.
5. Keep records
Arrangements are best confirmed in writing, (an email conversation will suffice) so there is a clear record of what has been agreed.

If you need help
If they cannot agree, a lot of parents find benefits in using mediation. This is where an independent, neutral third party assists in discussing and negotiating through a situation.

The process is voluntary, and a mediator cannot make a binding decision, but if parties can reach a solution, a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ can be drawn up to record what parties have agreed to. In certain circumstances this be drawn up in to a Court Order, but only if it is deemed of benefit to the child.

There are alternatives to mediation. Collaborative Law is where parties sit around a table (or in different rooms if they don’t want to meet face-to-face) and engage in negotiations with the support of their solicitors providing legal advice. This too is a voluntary process and any decision is not legally binding.

A couple can also choose to undertake Arbitration where the decision of the arbitrator is legally binding on both parties. The parties jointly agree an arbitrator (a professionally trained and qualified expert who effectively performs the role of the Judge), prepares paper evidence and the arbitrator then hears from each party before making a decision. Arbitration is often a very effective way of resolving a dispute where the issues are limited or narrow, such as arrangements for Christmas.

If you want advice about Christmas, or any child contact, then contact Rachael House on 01483 755609 or

early years play

The importance of early years play

By children's health, Education, fun for children, numeracy skills, Playing, reading, Relationships
by Jasmine Holbrook
Imogen Ruby

Playing underpins all aspects of a child’s development and keeps infants active and happy. Through play, children develop their language, emotional, social and motor skills, as well as their creativity, problem solving abilities and imagination. Alongside the benefits for your little one, playing together with your child can strengthen your bond and allow you to join their world. Play develops through a series of commonly observed stages and by altering your play style and the toys offered throughout these stages, you can continue to support and encourage this development.

Play can begin right from birth. Those early movements of a baby’s arms and legs that seemingly have no purpose are actually helping them to learn to move and you can join in by gently encouraging movement. This could be through baby massage, swimming or laying your baby on your chest, tummy to tummy, a great opportunity for eye contact and kisses.

Babies love interaction with another human face, allowing your little one to study your facial expressions. Talking and singing can make this fun for both of you. Tummy time will strengthen their arms and necks and help prepare them for crawling. Using high contrast flash cards and toys, as well as baby safe mirrors, will continue to develop these skills, as well as their visual and brain development and encourage them to continue learning about the world around them.

As a baby begins to move and explore their world further, they are able to engage with toys in a different way and will start to play alone, showing not much interest in other children’s play but developing an increasing focus on what they themselves are doing. Warm interactions from the adults around them, playing alongside whilst still allowing space to enjoy some independence will enhance their understanding and enjoyment. Board books, rattles and sensory toys such as ribbon rings and musical shakers are all great choices for this stage of development.

Commonly, around two years of age children become more curious about what other children are doing, observing without joining in. As your child begins to observe other children playing, you may feel that you want to encourage them to join in but there is no need. This stage is important for children to learn about social cues and to understand the behaviour and rules within social play. Their vocabulary continues to develop rapidly, with discussions about what they are seeing.

Children at this stage will benefit from opportunities to be around other children, but will very much enjoy activities with you such as singing, story telling, early role-play toys and of course, outdoor and indoor physical play.

Social skills continue to develop as children begin to learn to share toys and copy activities, whilst still playing alongside each other without much involvement. Age appropriate toys that can easily be shared and interacted with are important, for example wooden animals, vehicles, chunky puzzles and building blocks.

Children will become more interested in playing with others, in talking and engaging and this develops their problem solving skills as well as their co-operation as they begin to navigate a shared space. During this stage, play is not very organised or focused but they are learning teamwork and communication skills as well as beginning to recognise other children’s boundaries. The best way to encourage this type of play is by creating shared spaces with similar toys, such as several dolls in a shared dolls house, a variety of vehicles on a play road map, or a mixture of animals or dinosaurs within a woodland themed playzone.

Co-operative play is the last stage of play and is vital for social and group interaction. This usually begins around the age of four and continues throughout childhood, bringing together all the skills already learned. This is where imaginative play becomes a key focus of a child’s play as they take on different roles within their imagination. You can encourage and enhance this stage of play in so many ways; for example, playing shops with a shopkeeper and a customer, playing kitchens and tea parties, directing ‘traffic’ in the garden, dressing up, the possibilities are endless.

Playing with your little one can create deeper connections and stronger emotional bonds as well as foster trust and open communication between you. It provides valuable insight into your child’s development and interests, and allows you to better understand their world. Through shared play, you can create treasured moments, enhance your own stress relief and boost your overall wellbeing – there are benefits of play for all of us!

Imogen Ruby has sustainability at its heart; through our organic clothing choices, environmentally conscious toys and passion for reusable cloth nappies.

Milestone moments

By Education, Forest School, fun for children, girls school, Girls school, Playing, Relationships
by Naomi Bartholomew
Headmistress, St Catherine’s Prep School, Bramley, Surrey

Life at Prep School is full of firsts. The first time we do anything requires courage and determination which is why I so admire young children and so enjoy watching their early journey through school.

Before joining school, children will have already had many milestone moments – moving from cot to bed, their first steps, their first tooth and many more. The first day of school arrives all too quickly and from there a series of challenges and wonderful opportunities await.

Ahead of starting school encourage your child to engage in creative play. Allow them to solve some of their own problems – when they put their shoes on the wrong feet, pause and see if they can figure that out for themselves. Provide simple choices but limit them to two or three options – I often refer to this as the ‘carrot or peas’ approach. Rather than, “What would you like to eat?” which is a crazy question to ask a pre-school child, offer two alternatives. Give your child opportunities for play games which involve taking turns and sharing as well as dressing up and role-play. Encourage the use of full sentences when talking to your child. Avoid comments like, “Mummy wants you to come over and help” and start to use, “Please can you come and help me” and “Thank you”.

The first day of school is a major event but don’t overplay this. You will have spent considerable time and effort choosing the right school, trust your instincts and remain calm and positive. Allow plenty of time for the school run on the first morning and leave as quickly as you can once your child is in the classroom and starting to settle. Your child will spend the day learning names of the other children in the class, being shown their immediate environment and they will most likely come home exhausted but happy.

During the first term, establish a good rapport with your child’s teacher and encourage their early reading and writing at home as advised by the school. Ask what happens in the book that they are reading and help with extending their vocabulary to include words such as ‘first, second, finally.’ Don’t be scared to use the correct vocabulary – if your child can recite Hickory Dickory Dock they can learn the correct vocabulary and should be moving away from pet names for things.

You will hear about the first falling out between friends. If you have watched ‘The Secret Life of Four Year Olds,’ you will see these happen frequently and are as quickly resolved. There will be moments where your child’s effort and success is recognised and other moments when they feel overlooked or left out. They are still in egocentric infant mode and it is important to remember that you are hearing a four year old version of events.

The first nativity with lines to deliver, songs to sing and the chance to ‘perform’ in front of an audience. They are likely to be apprehensive especially post pandemic but also excited to show their newfound confidence. Your child will want to please you, please their teacher and be starting to want to please their peers by this stage. Frantic waving and trying to get their attention from your seat in the audience is adding pressure to an already fairly daunting experience for some. By all means wave on arrival and reassure your child that you are there but try to keep it discrete.

By the end of the first year your child will be very attached to their first teacher and the school will prepare them for moving on to a new class, possibly with new pupils arriving too which can change the dynamic amongst the class. Over the first long summer break encourage more constructive play which requires your child to build things, take things apart and put them back together. Go on walks, build dens in the garden, start to ride a bike. Check table manners and correct use of cutlery and ‘please and thank you’s.’ Use the days of the week more and continue with reading and basic writing.

Then come swimming lessons, possibly picking up an instrument for the first time, presenting in assembly and taking on minor roles of responsibility within the class (taking a message to the office or assisting with classroom chores). You will increasingly feel that you are not there for every milestone moment. This is important as your child will be forming a self-esteem based on their sense of their own achievements and by six we hope finding intrinsic motivation. They will be working out that effort impacts outcomes and they will be turning to peers to share their achievements. Winning the sack race, learning their times tables, holding the door open for a visitor, sharing their snack at break are all equally important.

Each of these little steps are in fact giant leaps. Here at St Catherine’s we aim to capture the magic as it happens and share it with you when we can. We ask the children to give everything a try and to step out of their comfort zone with as much confidence as possible. Learning at this age must be fun and curiosity must be fostered. Enjoy the milestone moments – they are to be cherished.

St Catherine’s is situated in the village of Bramley, four miles south of Guildford, which has fast train connections to London. Prep School girls benefit immeasurably from the world-class facilities of the Senior School, including the extensive grounds, 25m indoor pool, sports hall, dance studio, magnificent auditorium and 19th century chapel. Girls from age four engage in a full and varied curriculum which includes music, IT, ballet and sport delivered by dedicated specialist teachers. Our Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, said on a recent visit, “You are all extremely lucky to be at such a wonderful school.”

foster family

Fostering as a family

By Childcare and Nannying, Fostering and adoption, fun for children, Mental health, Special support needs

The sons and daughters of foster carers play a vital role in fostering; they contribute hugely towards the success of fostering placements and make a valuable difference to fostered siblings as they settle into their new home. Fostering is a life changing decision and should be considered and thought about as a family.

Sometimes, the perceived impact of fostering on birth children prevents families from finding out more as they feel they need to wait until their children are older. However, for many of the families who foster for Brighton & Hove City Council, the experience has been positive and rewarding.

We asked foster carer Felicia to tell us about the role her children play in their fostering family. “Becoming a fostering family was a big step for the whole family, but becoming foster siblings was particularly special for our birth children.

At the start of our journey, I knew I wanted to foster children, but it was something that we had never approached as a family. It was important for us to ensure that we involved our birth children from the very start, to ensure they were happy with the changes and the roles they would take on. Our children were keen from the start. We love a busy house and the joy that many children bring to it. The more the merrier! We ensured that the children were also aware of the difficulties that they may face such as sharing their parents with more children and the sense of loss that they may feel when foster children moved on to their forever homes. It was important for them to have a transparent view of fostering, as well as to understand the joy and the challenges that may lie ahead. The children were involved throughout the assessment process, speaking with assessing social workers and meeting other birth children. They continued to express that they were keen to start fostering.

Five years on as a fostering family and I am truly proud of the difference that our birth children make to the foster children who come into our care. They welcome the children when they first come to our home and help to find toys to play with and make the children feel part of our family. Our children have demonstrated kindness, calmness and understanding towards children who have needed our support. As a fostering family of babies and toddlers, our birth children have been involved in helping our foster children meet many milestones.They have helped children learn to crawl, to walk, to talk and encouraged them with love and praise when they learn new things.The immediate instinct they show to comfort children when they are upset or unsettled is wonderful to see, as well as extending this kindness to other people around them.

We take regular opportunities to check that our children are happy to continue our fostering journey and every time we get a resounding yes!

Our birth children love to keep in touch with the children we foster when they move into their forever homes, where this is appropriate. It’s an honour and a privilege to continue in these children’s lives and see the bond between the children as they grow.”

We also asked foster carer Stella about the impact fostering has had on her children. “Our children have turned out to be very empathetic and sympathetic young people because they know that not all children and young people have a happy upbringing. This includes basic needs like having a clean, well-equipped house and a happy family home where they feel safe and wanted.

They have both grown up to be young people who are kind, just to be kind, not because they think they will get something in return.

They continue to constantly and consistently show the children we care for unconditional love and go out of their way to make the children feel that they belong in our family.

They have never complained about having to share their home, their holidays, their parents, their possessions, and their experiences with other children. People around us always tell us how kind, polite, empathetic, gentle and loving our children are, and we feel that as well as their happy upbringing, fostering has enhanced these qualities.

They have a great appreciation of having been part of a close, happy, secure, positive and encouraging family and we feel that this will continue when they themselves become parents.

We feel that they have learned skills and become people who will go on to become lovely parents themselves.”

Every day the children of foster carers welcome other children into their homes and their lives. They strive to make young people in care feel safe, happy and loved, and ensure that they can thrive. Fostering involves the whole family and the contribution of sons and daughters is vital.

If you have room in your heart and home to foster, the Brighton & Hove Fostering Team are keen to hear from you. They need foster carers from all walks of life, those with children of their own, and those without.

Visit for more information or e-mail to find out about upcoming online information sessions.

kids playing and learning

The ‘Power of Play’

By Education, fun for children, Mental health, play, Playing

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) has launched a new, digital learning and entertainment hub to showcase the ‘Power of Play’ and how it helps children cope with life’s challenges, big or small.

The hub is packed full of free inspiring ideas, spectacular stories and fun activities to bring the incredible power of play to children of all ages and families.

New stories on the Power of Play hub show play helping household names like Beano’s Dennis and Gnasher overcome difficult situations. Play features in re-imagined classics including the first new Peter Pan story from GOSH Charity in 15 years. Alice, with Tweedledee and Tweedledum star in a brand-new poem, narrated by Matt Lucas, and the campaign to inspire the nation’s families to explore play is supported with a TV advert voiced by Olivia Colman. A brand-new Horrid Henry animation, and an audio book from CBeebies’ JoJo & Gran Gran.

The free animations, audio-books and activities will help parents and children deal with themes including loss, loneliness, sadness, illness and isolation, which many children have experienced during the pandemic. Life’s everyday challenges like making new friends or moving to a new environment such as a new school are also addressed through the lens of play.

GOSH’s dedicated hospital Play team, the largest in Europe, use their skills every day to support seriously ill children from across the UK to understand and cope with their treatment and recovery. This expertise has shaped each story, activity and idea on the Power of Play hub.

Research released earlier in the year by GOSH Charity revealed 66% of parents polled said they were concerned that the Covid pandemic’s impact on how children play will have long-term impacts on their child’s wellbeing. 74% of parents said that play has “helped their child cope” as the world around them has changed beyond recognition – the new Power of Play hub shows how play can be a brilliant outlet for children to express themselves and their emotions.

Laura Walsh, Head of Play at Great Ormond Street Hospital says: “Play is a superpower at the fingertips of all children, and it’s especially important at times of change or worry, when building our children’s resilience can help them to cope with life’s challenges. While the last 18 months have seen children adapt to circumstances none of us could have imagined, this September they’ll also have the ordinary childhood experiences likes starting school and making new friends. Using our years of experience as play specialists at GOSH, we have teamed up with GOSH Charity and some much-loved children’s characters to create our Power of Play hub and bring to life the transformative power of play. We’re really proud to offer parents free, trustworthy, practical tips and resources to help their children embrace play to overcome their worries and discover all that life has to offer them.”

A great learning and entertainment platform packed full of original stories, ideas and advice. Explore


Finding the joy in numbers

By Education, fun for children, numeracy skills
by Junaid Mubeen
mathematician turned educator

The prospect of helping children with maths is daunting for some parents. Many may have struggled with the subject at school and, with a fifth of adults in the UK afflicted with ‘maths anxiety’, it’s not always obvious how to provide encouragement and support for our little ones.

Recent research commissioned by non-profit, Teach Your Monster, found that 72% identify maths as the most important subject for their child. In contrast to Rishi Sunak’s quest to make children continue to study maths until they are 18, 67% of parents believe the focus should be on helping younger learners to get to grips with the subject. As both a mathematician and parent, I wholeheartedly agree. If we can embed core maths skills – and a love of the subject – from a young age, then we will set them up for success in the subject for the rest of their lives.

The survey also revealed that 40% of parents find maths intimidating. Sadly, our own attitudes can filter down – when we say things like “I can’t do maths” (which we do not say for any other subject), children readily adopt the same beliefs about themselves. But there is a flipside: by adopting a more positive approach towards maths, we can ensure that children develop a love of the subject.

The good news is that our relationship with maths is never beyond repair. There is nothing to fear when it comes to numbers. Memorising times tables and performing calculations at speed – these elements of the subject, which fill so many people with dread and anxiety – are only a tiny part of what maths has to offer. At its core, maths is about playing with ideas, exploring the patterns inherent in them, and making new discoveries. It promises the same thrill that comes from solving a jigsaw and seeing how all the ‘pieces’ fit together.

A numerical exploration
Take 24 counters (or M&Ms, if you can resist the urge of eating them) and arrange them into a rectangle. Here is one way – how many more can you come up with?

What you’re actually doing here is working out the factors of 24 – the numbers that divide into it (the rectangle above is 4 by 6, so these are both factors are 24). But you’ve done so in a tactile way that strengthens your ‘feel’ for numbers. You may also have confronted some interesting questions along the way – for instance, is the following rectangle the same or different to the one above (it’s debatable!)?

We can keep exploring: what happens when we remove a counter (or succumb to eating an M&M)? We have 23 left, and it seems we can’t make any rectangles except the longest ones, 23×1 and 1×23.

This is an example of a prime number, and you now have a good visual sense of the indivisibility that makes these numbers so intriguing. Notice how play is at the heart of this type of learning. We are connecting several different ideas – numbers as shapes, for instance – that deepen our understanding of these concepts.

There are lots of ways to explore concepts in this playful way from a young age. With the right resources, maths can be made far more creative and fun than parents may have experienced in school.

Free online games like Teach Your Monster Number Skills, which is a major hit with my four year old daughter Leena, are designed to help young children master core number skills in a way that is fun. It teaches essential concepts like number bonds and addition/subtraction using compelling visuals and game-based activities. Each number is brought to life through a range of representations – I can see Leena developing an intimate relationship with numbers as she learns to recognise them in different contexts.

As a mathematician I see the learning shine through; the game provides a secure foundation in maths that will have a lasting impact. And as a parent I can see how much fun my child is having – she can’t get enough of the game!

Crucially, Teach Your Monster Number Skills is designed with parents in mind – parents can play along too and discover that maths can be fun (they can also take a step back – everything is flexible). Instead of the fear and dread that often surrounds maths, parents can look forward to playing the game with their child, and seeing how, when taught the right way, maths is for everyone.

It’s never too late to develop healthy attitudes towards maths. When we say we can do maths and that we are maths people, we send a profound message to children that they too can develop mastery of the subject.

Junaid Mubeen is a mathematician turned educator, series winner of Countdown, author of Mathematical Intelligence (, and expert advisor to to non-profit children’s online game, Teach Your Monster Number Skills

More than physical – Five added benefits of getting your children into sport

By environment, fun for children, Health, Sport

Many of our children already partake in some form of sports, with over 90% of children between five and 16 years old consistently being involved with sport, whether this be participating in the annual school sports day or an after-school activity. But did you know there are many other added benefits to your children doing sport?

Alongside improving fitness among the young, sport can also be beneficial for the mental wellbeing and growth of your children. Here, Suso explore five ways your child can benefit from taking part in sporting activities.

Sport helps to improve mental health
The physical benefits of sport are undisputed, but did you know that sport can actually help your children improve and manage their mental health better? Children who are active tend to have a better outlook on life. They are also better at managing mental health issues including anxiety and depression. This is due to the release of endorphins during exercise.

Team sport is recognised as being the best for your child’s mental wellbeing. While children with attention difficulties might find that individual sports are more helpful, on average, team sport is the best for improving your child’s mental health.

Children will become more resilient
Making sure your children are prepared for whatever they might face in the future is a large part of your role as a parent. Encouraging them to partake in sport can actually help build resilience within your children from a young age. Children who participate in sport are better equipped to handle obstacles in the future, with sport being identified as a key factor in young children’s resilience.

Whether it is finding a tactic when the other team has an advantage, or improving play when another player gets injured, the obstacles which can occur in team sports means that children can learn and better understand flexible ways of thinking. This will also give children the chance to handle disappointment better as they develop a good sportsmanship way of thinking.

Your children will develop their skills
In fact, there are a host of skills which your child can learn through taking part in sports activities. Not only will they be resilient, but their communication skills can also be developed through team sport. Sport encourages your children to speak on many levels – not only to their peers and teammates, but also to coaches and the opposition.

Other skills your child can develop through sport include:
• Leadership
• Responsibility
• Problem solving
• Teamwork
• Co-ordination

Improvements in behaviour
The benefits don’t just apply on the playing field – you might see an improvement in your child’s behaviour both at home and in the classroom too. By participating in sport, your child will likely learn respect for others, authority figures and their peers. It has also been shown that PE can help your child learn key skills such as self-discipline and concentration which can help in the classroom significantly.

There is a boost in confidence
Finally, your children can benefit from a boost in confidence due to being active in sport programmes. Physical activity can bring about a mindfulness in your children that allows them to be ‘in the zone’. This concentration means that intrusive thoughts, such as self-doubt, are forgotten – leading your child to be more confident in their decisions.

Children who have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem tend to do better in school, at home and with friends. Whereas a child with low self-esteem might repeatedly be unsure of themselves and doubt their abilities – halting progression.

The physical benefits of sport aren’t the only advantages your child can have from partaking in football, cross country, and other physical activities. In fact, UNICEF claims that children who participate in sport and play tend to do better academically as their development and learning are enhanced. The hidden benefits of physical activity can set your child up for success in the future as they develop key skills, have confidence in themselves, and learn to regulate emotions such as disappointment and joy.

For further information please visit

outdoor learning

Empowering our children to become change makers of the future

By Education, environment, fun for children, Mental health, Relationships
by Marcus Culverwell
Headmaster of Reigate St Mary’s School

The world is changing at a phenomenal rate and the education sector needs to respond effectively to this to make sure children are being properly prepared for their future. We need to equip young people with the right skills and knowledge to help them navigate a life where sustainability and protection of the planet are fundamental to the wellbeing of society as a whole. Schools must ask themselves – what will our children be doing in five years’ time? In 10 years’ time? Midway through their career – or, more likely, careers? How will they be changing the world for the better?

So, what can we do now to prepare them for the significant challenges ahead? It is important that children are encouraged to think ‘beyond the bubble’ of traditional schooling and we can help them do this by providing an education that includes:
• Giving back to society and the planet, more than they take – we live on a finite planet and we share our planet too.
• Taking sustainability seriously – practical application now and as future leaders in society.
• Recognising the personal value and economic importance of the natural environment – how eco-systems really work.
• Understanding how STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) can be applied, creatively, to tackle real world problems.
• Philosophy for children – to dig deep into why humanity has got into the ecological predicament we are in, and how we change the story.

At our school we have an Education for Social Responsibility programme (ESR) that encompasses all of the above and helps children to think about the core values that will lead to happy and fulfilled lives, within stable and caring communities while protecting the planet for the future. At the heart of it is a focus on the wellbeing of each of them individually, the wellbeing of teams they will work within and the wellbeing of the planet.

A community outreach programme provides children with opportunities to be part of helping and sharing with the wider community, whether locally or globally. We have a designated member of staff who oversees this and pupils run teatime concerts for the elderly, take part in a Make a Difference challenge in Year 5 and there is a whole-school sponsored walk to raise money to build water tanks in Southern Uganda as well as a dedicated charity day.

It is important that sustainability is taken seriously with issues such as climate change and caring for the planet being woven into all areas of learning. Becoming an Eco school is a good start to this and having dedicated pupil Green Leaders to discuss and implement ways to reduce the school’s carbon footprint is an excellent way to stimulate debate. We also use water butts for left over drinking water, we are careful about use of paper, recycle old pens, encourage walking to school and discourage motorists from leaving car engines idling. Children even build and code model systems such as solar panels which track the sun across the sky.

There is huge personal wellbeing value within the natural environment. To harness this, children should have the chance to take their learning outside as often as possible. Concepts can be taught in relevant and practical ways and often children can solve problems and grasp concepts outside that they have had difficulty with when in the classroom. Connecting with nature is important for wellbeing. Any outside space can be used as a nature reserve for the children to learn Forest School skills, build bug hotels, and generally feel the benefit of being closer to the natural world.

Philosophy for Children (P4C) offers a way to open up learning through enquiry and the exploration of ideas. Children learn that their ideas have value, and that the ideas of other children have value too. They realise that they don’t always have to be right, but they gain the confidence to ask questions and learn through discussion. Each lesson promotes dialogue whereby participants ask questions, sift statements and explore alternatives. Above all, children will generate a greater understanding of each other and appreciate that not everyone believes the same thing, or thinks in the same way – and that is alright. Philosophy calls on imagination and reasoning and puts these capacities to work exploring values, assumptions and vital concepts like justice, truth, and knowledge.

Ultimately, all educators need to support young people to be good citizens, with the confidence to make the right decisions and the skills needed to lead happy and successful lives – lives which are significant in a positive way. We want them to be ideas generators, good listeners, open-minded, considerate colleagues, positive influences, go-getters, self-starters, good neighbours, game changers and change makers of the future.

Reigate St Mary’s is a junior school of Reigate Grammar School (RGS), rated ‘excellent in all areas’ in an ISI Inspection in March 2023. Children enjoy busy days filled with imaginative teaching and exciting adventures focusing on teamwork, creativity, digital learning and communication.

relationships matter

It’s good to talk

By Education, fun for children, play, Playing, Relationships
by Marsha Dann
Lead Teacher, Play B C Preschool

Why conversations matter in the early years

Building brains
A child is born already equipped to process language and able to distinguish between different speech sounds. Hearing words helps to build a rich vocabulary in the child’s brain long before they actually start speaking. The brain develops rapidly in the first three years and forms the neural connections that are used for all sorts of functions. During this critical period a child’s brain is flexible and particularly receptive to language input. It is literally shaped by the experiences encountered, reorganising itself as more language is heard, creating and strengthening more neural pathways.

Building relationships
Attachment theory tells us that we are born wired to seek relationships with others. When these relationships and attachments are positive and secure, children feel safe enough to explore the world and interact with others. This paves the way for learning and deepens understanding. Conversations with very young children help them to develop social skills. They learn that adults care about them and that they are valued and respected. Through meaningful discussion, children learn to identify and articulate their feelings and those of others. This fosters emotional intelligence and the development of self-awareness. They learn they have to take turns to speak and have to actively listen to what the other person says. This develops empathy, understanding and respect for others’ opinions.

Building knowledge
Language is used for communication but is also linked to memory, attention, problem solving and self-regulation. Good language skills support cognitive growth in general and literacy skills in particular. Conversations expose children to a wide range of information about family life, occupations, nature, animals and a host of other topics. They help them to learn, explore, and make sense of the world around them. They encourage questions, fuel curiosity and spark a love of learning.

Research suggests educational outcomes are significantly impacted by the quantity and quality of adult-child interactions.

Building vocabulary
A typically developing child will:
• At one, respond to their own name.
• At two, understand between 200 and 500 words.
• At three, use up to 300 words.
• At four, talk in sentences of four to six words.
• At five, have acquired almost all the grammar they will ever need for their first language.

The quality and quantity of children’s vocabulary at age five is a strong predictor of how well they are going to do in the future. Research suggests children with larger vocabularies have better brain connectivity and stronger links between the areas of the brain which process language. They are likely to do better at school and therefore have better life outcomes. This is why conversation is so very important. It is vital for the overall development of very young children in areas of language, cognitive, social, and emotional growth. When you talk to your child you show them how to express thoughts, feelings and ideas. They learn new words, grammar and concepts and begin to reason and make connections between things.

Talk to your child about any and everything because creating an environment that promotes rich language experiences can literally change their lives.

Play B C Preschools offer teacher led provision. We prioritise relationships, sensitive interaction, and fun but challenging learning through developmentally appropriate activities for our wonderfully diverse cohort. More than just a place, at Play B C every day is a learning adventure. Contact to arrange a visit.