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Health

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.

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

 

Future-proofing body and mind – playing the long game

By | children's health, Education, family, Mental health
by Clare Eddison
The Dharma Primary School

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
Krishnamurti

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
Krishnamurti

Children spend most of their childhood at school, (from nursery, primary, through to secondary and beyond) and all the time they are growing up. As parents and carers, we can ask ourselves: “What skills will our children need for this journey and what will help them become successful and happy in their lives?” In these times, we also ask how we can ensure our children are healthy and protected from risks and threats that we perceive and read about, for instance with regard to the internet and screens. Many well-researched articles focus on the declining mental and physical health of our children – it is part of the zeitgeist. How will our children fare when they are older?

It is also true that all children and young people experience powerful anxiety, confusion, distress and rage at points.
Living in a family, making relationships with peers and making mental connections in order to learn are emotional matters. Experiences of disappointment and frustration, at ordinary levels, are as important as achievement and satisfaction.

We want to keep distressing feelings at manageable levels for our children and for most of the time. At the extreme end, it is thought that, in response to prolonged exposure to deprivation or threat, the neurological development of a child’s brain becomes distorted such that the ‘survival’ mechanisms of the brain and body are more dominant than the ‘learning’ mechanisms. This results in wide-ranging impairments in arousal, cognitive, emotional and social functioning.

Whilst this is not the norm, an awareness of the neurological plasticity can help us as parents and educators. There are many things that we can do to ‘future-proof’ our children and build resilience in the journey of growing up. I use the word ‘future-proof’ in this context to talk about the strategies, habits and dispositions we can nurture so that our children can continue to be successful in their future when, as it will, their situation changes.

Our approach at the school, which is universally applicable, is the systematic, consistent and gentle development of a relationship with one’s own mind and body. What follows are just some ideas: as an example, ‘future-proofing’ the body involves a wide awareness of ‘we are what we eat’. This leads to regular contemplations about how our food got to our plate, how our body uses food and a consideration of how much waste we generate. In turn, children’s awareness of their own agency in the world is expanded and deepened.

Here at school our bodies are future-proofed through dance classes, games, and mindful movements. The body-mind link is fostered by regular consideration of movement and stillness, silence and talking. We can include an attitude of care (‘what happens when my body is injured or hurts?’) and, powerfully, we can model the healthy care of our adult bodies through exemplification (for example, staff cycling in to work).

Future-proofing the minds of children is important to all of us. Again, mealtimes can be used as a fertile arena for the whole area of mindfulness. Put simply, mindfulness of eating is ‘just eating’, rather than thinking about other things or talking or watching TV whilst eating. Mindfulness is becoming interested in what is happening in the present moment, with an attitude of kind curiosity. We can use our senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell to ground us in what is happening right now. Similarly, mindful walking is just walking and mindful breathing is just breathing. Children do develop the habit of switching into a more mindful state and are able to use it in times of stress or worry, to zoom out of the sense of tightness that these emotions create.

Why not try it now? See how it feels.

Future-proofing the mind, inclining it to happiness and kindness is something to be practised and there are beautiful, ancient techniques (for instance, ‘loving kindness’ meditation) that can be adjusted to be age-appropriate for all. As another example, recent research reports that gratitude is key to well-being. Gently but consistently making a sense of gratitude part of our everyday conversation will have long-term benefits.

Finally, I would like emphasise play as a sure-fire method of future-proofing. Yes, play! Even older children need to play much more than we realise. Play is one way children explore, try to make sense of and communicate their emotional life. The ability to play also affects neurological development, improving imagination, digital protection, resilience and wellbeing.

The Dharma Primary School, in Brighton, is a non-selective independent school with a philosophy rooted in Buddhist principles.
This year they celebrate their 25th anniversary. Through the practice of mindfulness, the school aims to cultivate wisdom, reflection and compassion in children and to help them unlock their full potential. The Dharma Primary School is a winner of the Independent Schools Association (ISA) AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE & INNOVATION IN PUPILS’ MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING.
For more information please go to:
www.dharmaschool.co.uk.

Getting ready for a successful start at school

By | children's health, Education, fun for children, Playing, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Naomi Bartholomew
Headmistress, St Catherine’s Prep School

As you look forward with a mixture of excitement and nerves to your child starting school in September, here are some practical tips to help ensure that your child has a happy and successful start.

Forming links
Most schools now offer settling in days or part days for their youngest pupils. These can be very helpful and a good chance for you to put names to faces. As well as the all-important class teacher, I recommend getting to know the teaching assistant, Head, school secretary, and parents who are a part of the PTA. All of these will be key in helping both you and your child settle into new routines. It can also be handy to work out which other parents live near to you and who might be moving from the same nursery or preschool. Also involve anyone else who might be involved in your weekly routines – grandparents or child-minders so that they too have made some connections ahead of the start of term. I know of one friend who held a name labelling party in order to meet some other friendly looking parents – this is certainly one way to get to know each other and get the dreaded name labels sewn into as many items as you possibly can. Name everything!

Understanding expectations and routines
It seems obvious but make sure you have all of the essential information early on. Some schools have phased starts which begin with mornings only or alternate full days. This is certainly important to plan ahead particularly if your child starting school coincides with you returning to full-time work. Arrangements for drop off and pick up and what to look out for in terms of communication from the school whether that be weekly memos or newsletter or via the school’s website are also key. Getting dates into your diary for parents’ evenings, nativity plays and other things you won’t want to miss is also important.

Encouraging independence and self-help skills over the summer holidays is far more important than trying to teach your child letters and numbers. Can they dress themselves? If not, start to practise that as soon as possible.

Family logistics
Whether this is your first child to start school or a younger sibling, there will be an impact on all of your family. Consider the school run and daily family routines carefully in order to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible.

Extra-curricular activities and playdates
Even for those who have been used to a full day at nursery and a number of extra-curricular activities each week beware of signing up to any additional activities in your child’s first term. They will be learning in a whole new way at school and need time to rest each day when they get home, as will you! Similarly play dates and sleep overs can be very tempting but less is most definitely more in term one.

Younger pupils
Parents with younger aged children, those with summer birthdays in particular, can be anxious about their child being school ready. Trust the school to make the necessary adjustments and remember that age and stage of development can be different for each child.

The first day of term
Stay calm, allow additional time for the school run and cherish the moment – enjoy the photo on the front doorstep marking the occasion and don’t linger too long over the goodbyes. There is a very small window in which to see your child settled and interested in their new surroundings. If you linger and need further reassurance it is likely your child will pick up on that in a split second of doubt and have a wobble. So make a dash for the door as soon as you are able. Many children will have already been used to nursery school and playgroups so remember that you have left them before and all was well. You will have chosen a school you have confidence in and the staff will be able to reassure your child and make sure that the first day is a positive one. If you are the one whose child clings or cries, do not be embarrassed. They will settle once you have gone and the school will contact you to let you know that is the case. Have a plan for what you are then going to do next whether it be return to work or head for a strong coffee with a friend. The day will be one full of excitement for your child.

As your child settles
Remember that day one might feel like Christmas day, full of excitement but that as the weeks go on your child will become tired. The calmer and more prepared you feel as a parent, the more likely your child will also feel ready and willing to skip into school.

Hence, I recommend:
• Talking positively about going to school.
• Helping your child into the routine of managing their own clothing, school book bag and so on.
• Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
• Getting into good habits of arriving in good time for the start of school.
• Listening to your child tell you about the school day but avoiding 20 questions.
• Trusting the school and their experience – they will allow your child space to grow and develop and it is important that you support them in that.
• Talking to your child’s teacher if you feel uncertain or unsure – communication with the school is vital and building relationships with school staff (admin, teachers and teaching assistants) is really important.

Good luck!

St Catherine’s Prep School, Bramley extends a warm welcome to parents who would like to visit the school.
Open Mornings: Wednesday 25th September and Thursday 17th October.
Please contact Sally Manhire, Prep School Registrar, on 01483 899665. www.stcatherines.info

Sun creams – the confusion

By | Education, environment, Health, Safety, Summer, sun safety
by Green People, ethical organic skin care and beauty product experts

We all know the importance of using sun protection, but a recent survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society shows that there is huge confusion around labelling on sun creams, with a significant percentage of the public unaware how much protection their sun creams offer.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults found that one in five was unaware that the SPF rating of a sun cream does not offer protection against all sun damage.

Only 8% of people surveyed knew that the SPF rating of a sun cream only refers to the protection from UVB radiation (the rays that burn), meaning that 92% of people had no idea that SPF ratings offer no indication of UVA protection.

What are UVA rays?
UVA rays cause long-term cell damage in the deeper layers of the skin and are the main cause of premature skin ageing and wrinkles.

UVA rays can still cause damage even if your skin hasn’t gone red and burned; this means that whilst you may believe you are getting good protection from your sun cream, your skin may still be experiencing damage.

To maintain high protection from both UVA and UVB rays it is more important to apply regularly and liberally than to choose a very high SPF sun cream.

Cancer Research recommends that two tablespoons of sun cream is applied every 2 hours; it is also advised that people avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 11:00 and 15:00 when the sun’s harmful rays are strongest.

Recent media coverage about UVA protection advised the public to check the ‘star’ rating of their sun cream, however the star system is not the only way to tell if a product offers protection against UVA rays.

The European Cosmetics Association COLIPA has designed a symbol to indicate whether products offer UVA protection in line with the recommendations of the European Commission. This symbol, which consists of the letters UVA inside a circle, is used to confirm that products offer UVA protection in line with these recommendations.

How high is high enough?
There can be a tendency for people who use very high factor sun creams of SPF50 and above to reapply less frequently and stay in the sun longer than when they use lower factor sun lotions. This can dramatically increase your risk of sun damage because in order to get good UVA defence, you must regularly top up your protection no matter what the SPF factor.

All Green People sun lotions offer broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and are suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to prickly heat.

Far-reaching benefits of drama

By | dance & Art, Education, fun for children, Mental health

As the new school year beckons, many parents will be thinking about after-school clubs that their children will enjoy,and that will benefit them.

The reason for doing sport are well documented and shouldn’t be forgotten, but remember drama also provides many benefits that go far beyond the stage.

In a good drama class, children will do much more than remember lines and act. Children will learn about voice projection, improvisation and movement. Improvisation will help children to think quickly without panicking, and to use their imagination to think about what will happen next and how their character would react.

We often moan about teenagers who are monosyllabic and can’t look you in the eye. Children who attend drama classes, even if it is just for fun, will learn how to look confidently at their audience and project their voice clearly. Speaking clearly, without mumbling, will become instinctive and when they go into the work environment, they will be far more comfortable in interviews and public speaking.

Drama also encourages teamwork and confidence. A good teacher will instil an understanding that every part in a play is important and a play will only be as good as the whole team. Confident children go to drama classes as their parents feel they will be comfortable on a stage, but introverted children will also benefit. The confident children who tend to ‘takeover’ will learn the important skills of co-operation and how to listen, and everyone will be encouraged to contribute and take part. Gradually, the children who were less confident will find their voice and be happy to be heard in a safe environment.

Any class outside school increases a child’s social circle and allows them to meet new friends and build new relationships. Children who have been labelled ‘loud’ or ‘quiet and shy’ at school can start afresh without any pre-conceptions about them. This is important for all types of children and you may be surprised about how much your child flourishes in a new environment.

The benefits of drama are far-reaching and will help a child in so many areas of school life and adulthood. Children will learn not only how to project their voice and to feel comfortable when speaking in public, but the equally important skills of empathy and understanding, which are so important in today’s world.