Category

children’s health

How to get your children to sleep on Christmas Eve

By | children's health, Christmas, Health | No Comments

Getting young children into their beds and staying there can challenge parents at the best of times, let alone the night before Christmas; one in three adults have to jump out of bed on Christmas morning between 4am and 7am!
World sleep expert from the University of Oxford and co-founder of digital sleep improvement programme Sleepio, Professor Colin Espie, has given us his top five tips to get your kids off to sleep before Santa arrives.

1. Be active during the day
There is plenty of evidence that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. Take a break from Christmas movies and head to the park to help expend excess energy in good time before bed.

2. Stick to bedtime routines and rituals
A consistent bedtime routine, or a set of specific ‘rituals’ before lights out, will signal that it’s time to sleep. If you’re staying away from home, find ways to recreate parts of the routine, even if they are happening later than usual. Preparing for bed in the same order each night (such as bath, brushing teeth, stories, goodnight hug), will help with readiness for sleep, wherever you are. Even a few days of a consistent schedule should help your child settle in a new location. Bringing familiar bedding, toys and books will help them to relax and feel secure away from home.

3. Act before your child gets overtired
Young children are often reluctant to admit that they’re tired – even more so when the alternative to bed is playing with shiny new toys. Look for signs of sleepiness before your child starts to be overtired, which is often the driver for ‘hyper’ behaviour. Try to start the bedtime routine at a consistent time. If they really don’t feel tired, they can play quietly in their bed or crib with the lights low. If you notice that your child is often overtired at night, experiment by shifting the whole bedtime routine forwards by 15-30 minutes.

4. Give plenty of notice
Give plenty of notice when bedtime is coming up, and then stick to what you’ve said: “In 10 minutes the cartoon will end and it’ll be bath time, and then we’ll have time for two books.” A timer which rings when playtime runs out could be a useful ‘independent’ signal that it’s time for bed. If your child refuses to stay in bed, try to avoid giving extra attention for bad behaviour. Be as neutral and uninteresting as you can as you return your child to bed, even if you have to do this a few times. Consistency is key – even at Christmas – to help the whole family sleep well.

5. And if all else fails…
With a house full of guests, your child may understandably feel as though they are missing out on all the excitement by going up to bed. If you’ve followed the tips above and still have a stubborn and weary young one, hanging onto the bannisters in protest, the suggestion that Father Christmas only leaves presents for children who are asleep might just be enough incentive to encourage lights out.

SATs stress mess

By | children's health, Education | No Comments

A survey of 297 primary school teachers reveals the need for policy makers to listen to teachers, as the majority of school leaders fear that exam pressure is leading to an increase in mental health issues amongst the UK’s youngest students.
A recent survey by primary resource provider PlanBee has found that 91% of UK primary school teachers believe that primary-level SATs results matter most to the government, and least to parents and children.

The question, ‘Who do SATs results matter to more, in your opinion?’ was answered by 297 KS1 primary teachers between 16 May and 21 May, in the midst of 2018 SATs test dates.

It comes after thousands of parents across the country considered a SATs boycott and concerns have been raised by the National Education Union (NEU) over the government’s new literacy and numeracy tests for four year olds, who voted to explore ways of disrupting the pilots this April.

The survey results have shown:
• 91% of teachers believe that primary SATs results matter most to the government.
• Just 8% of teachers feel that primary SATs results matter to schools.
• 0% of 297 teachers believe that primary SATs results matter to children involved.

PlanBee’s survey validates the remarks of Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman, who claimed in 2017 that schools’ focus on testing is damaging to education. She admitted that Ofsted were partly to blame, claiming that testing causes headteachers to “focus on the performance of the school and lose sight of the pupil”.

Former primary school teacher and current Head of Communications at PlanBee, Oli Ryan said, “The results of the survey are striking. Once again, it shows that policy makers need to listen to teachers. Too much pressure is placed on children to achieve during SATs, and it’s clear from this survey that they are the ones who benefit least from them.

“It’s evident that stress and anxiety levels among children is rising, and that pressure to achieve during SATs can contribute to this. A much greater emphasis on promoting pupil well-being in schools is needed.

“Teachers can’t affect this fundamental change on their own. A unified strategy for prioritising children’s well-being in schools needs to come from the DfE, the Standards & Testing Agency and Ofsted, too. As the House of Commons Education and Health Committees recently reported, the government needs to do more. A greater emphasis on giving children life skills for their own well-being will help them achieve academically, too.”

Research by YouGov for campaign group More Than A Score looked at the impact of SATs on the well-being of children and their education.
It polled 596 parents of children aged seven to 14 to understand the pressures children face as a result of SATs. 63% of those surveyed said that their children face too much exam pressure, and only 13% agreed with SATs in their current form.

In an exclusive statement, More Than A Score spokesperson, Madeleine Holt said: “Our polling confirms what parents have been telling us for years: SATs are damaging and pointless. Now we see even six and seven-year-olds worrying about tests. Surely learning is about more than getting a perfect score? Children need a broad and rich curriculum that encourages them to be excited about learning, not terrified of failing at such a young age.”

“With the status of a school and teachers’ pay so closely linked to SATs results, it’s no wonder so many are teaching to the test. The SATs regime is inhibiting children’s learning as SATs revision begins to dominate the timetable. Our primary school children in England are already some of the most tested in the world. This results in stress and anxiety in children, narrows the curriculum and distracts teachers from doing their job: teaching.

“That’s why we are calling for the government to scrap SATs, and commission an independent and expert review to produce recommendations for primary school assessments that are fit or purpose.”

Mindfulness matters

By | children's health, Education, Health, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments
by Claudine Lacroix
The Mindful Me Club

How can mindfulness help you and your family deal with the increasing pressures of modern living.

Time
The clock is ticking, the children aren’t dressed and you find yourself shouting as you are feeling the pressure that you are going to be late for work. How many hours in our day do we run around being driven by the clock? Often it is not until we are on a holiday, perhaps looking at a beautiful sunset or a stunning view that we may allow our minds to stop for a moment of calm, then it may only be a matter of moments before we revert back to being consumed by uncontrollable thoughts and worries of the
past or future. A mind consumed with things we need to do, have done already or think we could have done better, is all too common.

Our children
For our children, it is not uncommon to be stressed as a result of trying to deal with such difficulties as: parents fighting, divorcing or separating, themselves being bullied, undergoing school stress, money worries, a new sibling or fear of the future. For both parent and child, living in this way can cause a lifetime of chronic stress and anxiety that can often lead to many ailments such as insomnia, depression and suppressed immunity.

The body and mind connection
The understanding that stress can induce illness and the impact that our mind has on our health, are certainly not new ideas. It has been recognised for many years in such fields as behavioural medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, hypnotherapy and Chinese medicine that the way that we think and feel, has a significant effect on our physical health. Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American professor of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and recognised for his extensive work using mindfulness with patients to relieve stress, pain, anxiety and illness. His book, ‘The Full Catastrophe’ provides an in-depth background to mindfulness and it’s benefits on the body.

So, you might be asking what is mindfulness and how can it help my family and I?
Mindfulness is an effective, yet simple practice that involves the repetition of basic techniques including conscious breathing, movement and listening. It is done in a self-directed training programme and results in developing greater acceptance and awareness of the present moment. As a result of repeated practice, a sense of calm, self-acceptance and a change of perspective can occur benefiting both mind and body. One learns to step back from worried thoughts and stresses, responding rather than reacting to life’s challenges. Children too, can learn techniques to help them to deal with difficult emotions and negative thought patterns. Through teaching some simple facts about the brain and its connection to these thought patterns the children can feel more in control, develop resilience, self-acceptance and emotional awareness. Children learn that they don’t need to hide or suppress their feelings but can manage and understand them instead. Parents and children can do some of the techniques and mindful activities together, making it part of the family day. The techniques not only include the conscious breathing, listening and moving, mentioned earlier, but also sharing feelings and experiences and talking about them together.

As long as you can breathe and you have the willingness and discipline to practice then that’s all you need. The practice may, at the very least, create a space in your day to relax but it’s also possible, with regular practice, to experience a more constant state of calm that filtrates into all areas of your life and has some noticeable beneficial effects on your health and lifestyle choices. At the very best, you will awaken to the truth and beauty that is available to you in each moment and that could change your life.

Claudine Lacroix is a mother, aromatherapist, English teacher and Mindfulness practitioner having recently studied humanistic counselling at the Gestalt Centre, London. Claudine provides mindfulness classes in local primary schools, private classes outside of school hours and provides one to one sessions with adults, teenagers and children.
Claudine Lacroix runs The Mindful Me Club – to find out more or book a class in Brighton call 07341 565 445 or email themindfulmeclub@gmail.com or visit Facebook page: The Mindful Me Club.

The importance of a broad and balanced education

By | children's health, Education, Sport | No Comments
by Mr Adrian Perks, Headmaster
St. Andrew’s School, Woking

In a world which seems increasingly to be driven by social media with its limiting and somewhat populist and opinionated messages, I have been concerned for some time that our children are increasingly isolated from a reality which still requires a broad and holistic view of the world to provide balance and clarity. There remains therefore, in our opinion, a significant need for our young children to be exposed to educational experiences which allow them to explore and investigate areas of learning. This will provide them with the tools to make better informed judgements in the course of their young lives.

This journey of broad discovery essentially starts at primary and indeed pre-primary level and provides all children with the opportunity to seek out and explore areas of interest and to develop talent which provide many with a lifelong love of learning. Over the years I have spoken to many parents whose main requirement, when considering the options for their children, is to ensure their children are happy. Happiness and thus mental health are of key importance in a world of increased pressure and expectations. Children supported and nurtured and indeed loved within their school will automatically have a head start and hopefully will develop a hunger for knowledge. Of course the breadth of study and the balance of the curriculum is also key and provides the option for all to explore their individual burgeoning interests. All children develop academically at a different pace. On many occasions I have had to reassure anxious parents that their child is not a failure because they are struggling with their spellings or their fractions. These are just moments in time in the life of a young person and should not be the basis of perceived success nor failure.

Confidence is key together with a large dose of resilience. So your child isn’t going to win a Spelling Bee! But watch them play their musical instrument with pride and courage or hear them sing in front of an admiring audience. Look at their artwork and wonder at their developing sensitivity. Stand back in awe at their prowess on the hockey field and feel proud at their selfless teamwork and support for others. Marvel at their enthusiasm for their castle project in history or their ability to recite verse in French or Spanish. And admire them on the stage in the school production as a child you barely recognise as the one who you take home every day from school!

The impact of a broad and balanced curriculum is felt in so many areas and over the years as a Headmaster I have noticed a massive positive change in our children as a result of our focus on providing a broad curriculum. It is simple – not every child will be a star in maths or English but opportunity and encouragement in other equally important areas inevitably lights a flame. A flame which hopefully will burn brightly as the years pass by. The important aspect being the interest nurtured by allowing children to shine in areas other than the core boosts confidence. This is the key to learning and results in commendable achievement across the academic spectrum. Many schools have redoubled their efforts in these areas and have reaped the rewards for their pupils. Over the years our children have achieved significant recognition through scholarship or otherwise in many areas. Indeed this year we were fortunate enough to receive a record number of scholarships in art, drama, music and sport together with academic awards. I strongly believe that in a non-selective environment children are the beneficiaries of a structure which sets high expectations but more importantly provides a broad base for knowledge and ultimately confidence. A healthy antidote perhaps, to a judgmental world.

St. Andrew’s School is a respected and thriving co-educational Nursery, Pre-Prep and Prep school for girls and boys aged 3-13. St. Andrew’s seeks to create a nurturing and happy environment of trust and support in which all pupils are encouraged and enabled to develop their skills, talents, interests and potential to the full.
Next open mornings:
Saturday 3rd November 2018
and Friday 15th March 2019.
www.st-andrews.woking.sch.uk

The importance of sleep for children and parents

By | baby health, children's health, Relationships | No Comments

Did you know that you can live longer without food than you can without sleep? As parents, our children and their behaviours can be a constant source of worry, yet parents are much more likely to seek professional help if their child won’t feed or eat, than if they don’t sleep well.

by Becky Goman
Child Sleep Expert

When you have a baby, you expect to have sleepless nights. It’s just part of the course of being a parent. But at what point does poor sleeping start to become problematic? As a mother with a son who thought ‘snoozing was losing’, I know first-hand what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. For me it involved a lot of crying, time off work and ready meals! Sleep deprivation is quite simply awful. Historically it has been used as a form of torture and has been thought to be responsible for some of the world’s worst disasters.
Research suggests that between 20-30 % of all infants and toddlers will have some sleep issues and of those, 84% will continue to have sleep problems until the age of five unless something is done to help. That’s a lot of sleepless nights!

Sleep allows our bodies to repair and our brains to consolidate learning. Poor sleep is linked to weakened immune systems, so it’s no surprise that tired families feel like they pick up every bug going.

If a child is sleep deprived, they may become irritable and more likely to have tantrums. Maybe it is not such a coincidence that the ‘terrible twos’ is the age when a child usually stops napping in the day? Children who do not get enough sleep may also be more likely to suffer emotional and behavioural difficulties and there can also be a significant impact on a child’s development.

Sleep studies show that without the right amount of sleep, children are less likely to be able to retain information or learn new skills, due to lack of concentration.

Signs that your child may be sleep deprived include; excessive yawning, ‘bad’ behaviour, poor appetite and catching more colds or bugs than usual. Whilst in some cases there are genuine medical reasons for the above or indeed for poor sleeping, for the majority of children, poor sleeping is habitual. Things that ‘worked’ to get your child sleeping as an infant, can suddenly stop working, leaving you trying a multitude of new ways to try and get your child to sleep. It is often at this point, when the parents feel they have tried everything, that they give up trying to make positive changes, accepting that their child is only young for a short time and that they will laugh about this when they are trying to drag their teenager out of bed for school!

The good news is that there are simple and effective ways to ensure your child is getting enough sleep and is developing healthy sleep habits. A good simple bedtime routine and a consistent approach can make the world of difference in just a few weeks, or sometimes less. If you can get your child sleeping well, this will be life-changing not just for you but for your child as well. It will improve so many other aspects of your life – work, relationships and health – and make a difference to your child’s health and development too. Parents I have worked with have said: “The change is amazing, I never thought our baby could be one of those magic babies that sleeps through the night.”

“Becky’s wonderful advice and support soon had our son in a clockwork routine which not only meant we had our nights back, our son became more alert and happy.”

“Teaching our son to sleep properly was one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

Becky Goman is a fully certified Child Sleep Consultant and founder of The Independent Child Sleep Expert, who has helped families all  over the UK get more sleep.
For a FREE initial 15 minute consultation call 07770 591159 or email becky@theindependentchildsleepexpert.com.
Or for more information visit the website www.theindependentchildsleepexpert.com

Marvellous Marvellous massage

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments

Parent experience and research show there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage – emotional, physical and social. Here I will focus on three key benefits to learning how to massage your baby.

Bonding and attachment
The ancient art of baby massage incorporates touch, eye contact, verbal communication and the expression of love and respect. This, combined with focused one-to-one time promotes the bond between a parent and their baby.

Baby massage can also help promote sibling bonding in the same way that it promotes the parent/baby bond – through eye contact, nurturing touch and communicating love.

Baby massage is a great way for families experiencing periods of separation to reconnect with their baby. For example, baby massage offers parents working away, or working long hours, the opportunity to reassure their baby of their loving affection and give them time to refocus on home life and relax in their baby’s company.

Relieve and promote
By stimulating their baby’s bodily systems (including circulatory, digestive, lymphatic and respiratory), through baby massage parents can help to ease their baby’s colic, wind, constipation and digestion.

Using touch, parents can also soothe teething pains and growing pains and relieve psychological and muscular tension in their baby.

Babies who are massaged are reported to have improved balance and coordination, plus improved muscle development and tone. This can support movement as they grow.

Baby massage also promotes improved sleep patterns and deeper sleep for your baby, which brings me to the benefits of baby massage for you.

For you The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) classes are for babies from birth to one. Classes are baby-led, which means that it doesn’t matter if class time coincides with nap or meal times. Parents are encouraged to follow their baby’s cues and comfort their baby as needed. All babies are welcome with all of their emotions and ways of expressing them.

It can be nerve wracking leaving the house with a baby; an IAIM baby massage class offers a safe space where everyone is welcome and accepted. It is also a great opportunity for you to get out of the house and meet with other like-minded parents and drink a nice hot cup of tea.

Attending classes with your baby is known to break feelings of isolation that many parents feel when they have a baby. The IAIM baby massage program specifically has been shown to promote recovery from post-natal depression.

When parents massage their baby the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) reduces and the levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) increases in both the parent and the baby. This reaction reduces stress and helps to promote bonding.

The interaction encouraged by baby massage can also help parents better understand their baby’s non-verbal language and feel more confident in responding to their baby’s unique needs.

In learning baby massage, you learn a new skill. A skill you can use long after your course has finished – to soothe growing pains, for example. You will also be shown how to adapt the IAIM massage strokes to suit your growing child.

Longer term, research has shown that infants who receive nurturing touch through baby massage grow up to be healthier, more empathic and happier adults.

As you can see there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

If you would like further information about the benefits of baby massage, or how to find your nearest classes, please contact your local Certified Infant Massage Instructor through the IAIM website.
We are always happy to help!

Cheryl Titherly Certified Infant Massage Instructor with IAIM
Cai Baby Massage caibaby.co.uk @caibabysussex cheryl@caibaby.co.uk

Don’t just Google it!

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Health, prenancy | No Comments

Search engines like Google and Bing are more likely than any other source of information to provoke anxiety during pregnancy, according to research.

A survey of 300 mums who have given birth in the past five years published in the UK Maternity Report by the UK’s leading private midwifery services provider, Private Midwives, revealed that search engines were more likely than any other source to provide information which causes further worry and anxiety.

The news comes following midwife, lecturer and advisor to BBC’s Call the Midwife, Terri Coates, revealed that the Internet was stopping women from turning to their professional midwife for advice.

As many as 41% reported this was the case, while almost the same number (38%) said they had read information about pregnancy in online forums such as groups and chat boards which had caused them concern.

Despite this, 89% admitted that they had consulted the Internet for non-emergency health advice or information about their pregnancy, and outside of midwife appointments, mums-to-be are more likely (53%) to turn to the Internet for non-emergency advice or information than anyone or anything else.

Many will do this regularly throughout their pregnancy – more than one in 10 (13%) searched for advice online on
a daily basis, while more than one in four (27%) did so every few days.

Linda Bryceland, head of midwifery at Private Midwives, said: “Traditionally during pregnancy, women often found themselves receiving huge amounts of conflicting information – everything from well-meaning loved ones, to media and even strangers in the supermarket. But the Internet has opened up a whole range of new sources of information, which in many cases may not be medically qualified and given without context or taking into consideration women’s individual circumstances and medical backgrounds. What’s more, this is available at the touch of the button, on a whim – so it is not surprising that women are finding themselves logging off and feeling more worried than they were to begin with.

“If women have concerns or questions about their pregnancy, the best thing to do is to resist the temptation to quickly search for more information or the answer online, and instead speak to a medical – whether that’s their midwife, the non-emergency NHS 111 phone line or their GP, who can provide professional, clinical information and guidance, which takes into account their medical history and individual circumstances.”

According to the survey, as many as 90% of UK women who gave birth in the past five years experienced anxiety and worry during their pregnancy.

The top five sources of information which provided information which worried mums-to-be during their pregnancy:
1. Search engines – 41%
2. Online forums/groups – 38%
3. People who aren’t medical professionals who I know – 32%
4. Blogs – 27%
5. Strangers – 16%

Private Midwives is a Care Quality Commission registered and regulated service which connects expectant parents with expert midwives who provide antenatal care, birth care and support, and postnatal care at times and locations that work best for parents-to-be.

Herbs to soothe your child’s chickenpox

By | baby health, children's health, Food & Eating, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Henriette Kress
author of Practical Herbs 1 & 2

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella virus. It’s belongs to the herpesviruses. You can remedy all problems caused by this group the same way, including cold sores (herpes simplex) and shingles (herpes zoster).

The most important thing to know about chickenpox is that it can get a lot worse if you use aspirin or ibuprofen. Leave them in your medicine cupboard whenever somebody has chickenpox or herpes.

The second important thing to know is that you have the virus for life. You can get rid of the symptoms, but you can’t get rid of the virus itself. Chickenpox is fairly mild if you get it in childhood. It’s a lot worse if you first get it as an adult, and it’s very contagious. It’s dangerous to the fetus if caught by a pregnant woman.

Herbs for chickenpox
I like three herbs for chickenpox:
1. Lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa) has been shown to be effective against various herpes-family viruses. It’s a mild herb and can be given freely as a tea. Here’s how:

Lemon balm tea
1-2 teaspoons dried lemon balm
or 3-4 teaspoons fresh crushed leaves of lemon balm
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as he likes.

2. Coneflower
Coneflowers (Echinacea-species) are wonderful herbs that help strengthen the immune system. They’re also effective against different viruses in the herpes family. Purple coneflower is widely available as a tincture. To use, dilute the tincture in water and give it to your child:

Diluted coneflower tincture
15 drops coneflower tincture
100 ml water
Mix and let your child sip this throughout the day. Generally, coneflowers work better in acute problems if they’re taken as small doses often rather than as larger doses three times a day.

If you find dried coneflower herb, you can make that into a tea instead. The recipe is:
Coneflower tea
1-2 teaspoons dried coneflower
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as she likes.

3. St. John’s wort
An infused oil of St. John’s wort works wonders for the itch of chickenpox. It’s also great for the pain from shingles. You can make your own, but you can also buy it in well-stocked health food stores. If you can’t get an oil or salve of St. John’s wort, you can use a calendula salve instead.

Infused oil of St. John’s wort
• Fresh flowering tops of St. John’s wort
• Extra virgin olive oil

Fill a jar with the chopped-up flowering tops, then cover the herb with olive oil. Leave the jar in your oven on 50 ºC for two hours and strain the liquid into a wide-mouth jar. Let the water settle out until the oil is clear instead of murky, for about 5 days. Bottle your oil and add a label: ‘St. John’s wort oil’ plus the date. Store in the fridge.

It’s an excellent oil for bruises, sprains, strains and similar and is very effective for chickenpox and shingles.

4. An oat bath
An oat bath is extremely soothing to the itch from chickenpox. To make it, you’ll need a small or large bathtub and rolled oats:

Anti-itch bath
A handful of finely rolled oats
warm (not hot) water
Draw a bath with warm water and adjust the temperature to suit your child. Lower your child into the water and very gently rub a handful of finely rolled oats over his skin. Older children can to this for themselves, too.

5. Chickweed
Chickweed is among our best herbs for various itches. It’s an abundant weed in lush garden soil. Use scissors to take the top off the chickweed and crush it in a little water. Strain and use the resulting green-tinted liquid as a gentle wash on your child’s itchy spots. Chickweed can also be made into an infused oil (see under St. John’s wort); it’s soothing in that form, too.

Those who have had chickenpox can get another outbreak of the same virus decades later. This time it’s shingles, though. Shingles is usually brought on by stress or by an immune system that’s laid low by some other disease. You can use the same herbs for shingles as you used for chickenpox.

Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress, are available now, published by AEON Books, priced £19.99 each. For more information see: www.aeonbooks.co.uk

The benefits of yoga for children

By | children's health, fun for children, Health, Mental health, Sport, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Charlie Nash
YogaFrogs

We potentially think of yoga as something for adults, yet yoga has so much to offer everyone beyond the adult learners. It’s no wonder then that a growing number of children and families are opting to participate in yoga classes tailored for children. With many yoga teachers now offering yoga for both children and their families, there’s plenty of opportunity around Sussex to experience this, whether it might be in your local community hall, yoga studio, festival, after-school club or a 1:1 session in the comfort of your own home.

Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for well-being on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. In the West we often focus on the physical aspect of yoga. The other elements, which go hand-in-hand with the physical, are starting to be recognised and shared with students both young and old alike.

These benefits are being recognised by educational authorities across the country with more primary and secondary schools acknowledging the benefits yoga has on their students’ mental and physical health, particularly around SATS and other public exams.

In an age where technology has taken over our lives, the benefits of yoga couldn’t be in greater need. Whether we like it or not, children and adults are bombarded with information overload from television, the Internet and smartphones. It’s said that in the course of a day, the average person in a western city is exposed to as much data as someone in the 15th century would encounter in their entire lifetime.

Yoga allows children to take time out from all of the above. With continued practice there’s a wealth of benefits that can enrich their entire lives all the way through to adulthood. Yoga is not only fun, it encourages children to think freely and let their imaginations go wild, as they explore the many asanas (postures) that link to nature and animals. Children thoroughly enjoy the connections with their bodies, with movement helping to promote self-awareness of their limbs, joints and muscles from a young age. Yoga subtly teaches us about the interconnectedness of our bodies. From toes and jaws, to heart and lungs. This allows us to keep every part of our body alive and supple, no matter how small.

With regular practice children can find deeper concentration, which may have positive effects in both school and family life. This is achieved through the opportunity and encouragement to clear the mind and to focus single-handedly on each asana at a time. Beyond the physical, yoga teaches children to quiet the mind through different relaxation and breathing techniques. This can help with anxiety and stress, being a skill the children can practise anytime and anywhere.

Children learn to be non-competitive and non-judgemental of themselves and others. They learn to share and take turns with other children in the class, promoting kindness and gratitude from a young age. They learn, through yoga, that they are OK just the way they are and don’t need to compare themselves to others. This allows them to become more accepting and understanding of not only themselves, but also everybody else around them.

The Dalai Lama said “If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation”. With a rapidly expanding and growing world, this quote could not be more relevant. Allowing children to be grounded and centred in their thoughts is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Making sure their true nature is made up of compassion, love, and wisdom, which can then be shared with the world.

YogaFrogs – bringing weekly yoga, mindfulness, meditation and creativity to children, teens and families across East and West Sussex,
www.yogafrogs.co.uk

Quick and healthy family meals for busy parents

By | children's health, Food & Eating, fun for children, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

by Jess Crocker
Manager, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

We’ve all been there – after a long day, staring into the fridge willing a decent meal to appear as a tired child moans in our ear. We want to serve up healthy meals our children love, but this ideal can seem far away at times. At the Food Partnership we’ve been teaching adults and families about cookery and nutrition for over 10 years so we’ve seen these same issues again and again. So many of our strongest happy memories are connected to food, so we want to see more families finding simple ways to have positive experiences together in the kitchen and at the dining table.

Here’s our top time-saving tips to make healthy meals easier:
• Hidden veg tomato sauce Lots of parents blend or chop vegetables into pasta sauce to up their children’s veg intake, but we love to find new ways to make this go even further – freeze a large batch of the sauce so you can use it on pita-bread pizzas (see below), in stews, shepherd’s pie and or even as a base for a minestrone soup.

• Do it together
Getting children involved in cooking is a great way to get them trying new foods. Many parents involve even young children in activities like baking but the time, sugar and mess means this isn’t really an everyday option. We often find family meals that give children choice and control help to improve eating habits – and this can be quick too. One of our favourites is pita bread pizzas – all you need are store-bought breads, tomato paste or a basic sauce, grated cheese and some toppings (think frozen sweetcorn, peppers, chopped fresh tomato). Even toddlers can assemble the pizza themselves and wait excitedly to try their creation.

• Don’t fear frozen
Frozen veg often retains more nutrients than fresh food which has been left to languish in the fridge, plus you can portion out exactly what you need and cook it quickly. Keep a range of veg (and fruit) in the freezer to ensure your children get a good variety of foods without spending a fortune. Toddlers who are teething may even enjoy eating frozen peas or sweetcorn, and a little bit of frozen spinach can disperse through a dish as a very gentle introduction to more bitter flavours. It can take up to fifteen times for children to accept a new food, so don’t worry if it takes a while, if you’re eating it yourself they should eventually follow suit.

• Protein power
People often focus on vegetable intake in children – don’t forget protein. Children need two portions per day, roughly the size of their own fist or a handful. As well as meat, eggs and fish, we find that red lentils cook quickly and can easily disappear into a tasty carrot soup or casserole to add extra nutrition easily.

Check out our website for lots of quick and easy family recipes. If you have a top tip or recipe that helps your family eat quickly and well, we’d love to hear from you.

Local non-profit organisation, the Food Partnership has just launched a new ‘Community Kitchen’ on Queens Road in central Brighton – a cookery school where classes with chefs and food experts help subsidise low-cost, accessible community cookery activities.
www.bhfood.org.uk/the-community-kitchen