Category

Health

How to get your children to sleep on Christmas Eve

By | children's health, Christmas, Health

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.

mum's mental health

It’s OK, not to be OK

By | Education, family, Health, Mental health, Relationships, Safety, Uncategorized

Mental health in pregnancy, birth and beyond

Eight months into being a mother, it hit me. Depression, together with its best friend, anxiety, came for an unplanned visit and as I write this months later, things are still very difficult, with the depression and the anxiety coming and going as they please, but I’m OK. I’m OK, not to be OK.

The most beautiful soul I have ever met, graced my husband and I with his presence in May of 2018 and what an amazing first year it has been. The cuddles; the late night/crack of dawn feeds; minimal sleep; bath time; nappy changes; weaning; playtime; teething; nappy changes; learning to crawl, walk and speak – and did I mention nappy changes?

How many blessings to have in one year. I have to pinch myself sometimes to check this isn’t just a wonderful dream. It is in fact reality, my reality, that this little boy is my baby boy and my absolute life’s purpose. How lucky am I? This most magical first year of being a mother, as amazing as it has been, has also brought many mental health challenges my way. I am not only learning to be a mother, but I am now also learning to accept and love the new me.

For seven out of my nine months of pregnancy, I was frankly scared of everything and anything going wrong. I made a decision that for my last two months of pregnancy, to work on just trying to worry less and enjoy this pregnant chapter of my life. This was much easier said than done but I really did have an amazing last two months of pregnancy where instead of fearing for this baby and what ‘could go wrong’, I looked forward to his daily kicks and hiccups and enjoyed this beautiful baby growing inside of me. I didn’t unfortunately wave a magic wand, I had to work very hard on ‘me’. I spoke openly about my fears, hopes and dreams; I attended Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT); I took early maternity leave to focus on me and my baby, as well as attending the mental health midwifery clinic attached to my local hospital. This internal work I was doing, together with the support of my incredible husband, family and friends, all helped me get to where I wanted and where I needed to be, in the preparation for my little man’s arrival.

I am a big believer in therapy and I hope that anyone struggling with poor mental health, gets help. It can be free, you can self-refer, you can choose to do it face-to-face, over the phone or online. So, if you are needing some help or just a nudge in the right direction, or know someone who is struggling, please speak up. You can reach out to your GP for a list of local therapies available or simply go online to see which type of therapy is right for you, whether it be CBT, counselling or other types of therapy. For employers, please check out Mental Health First Aid England, where they are helping drive mental health awareness in the workplace.

After being flagged as ‘high risk’ for mental health during my pregnancy, I thought I was going to experience baby blues (which can come in around day three when there is a hormone shift) but I didn’t, no baby blues. I thought I was going to experience postnatal depression but I didn’t. I don’t think. What did occur was I was back at work in January of 2019 and it happened. Depression. I found myself missing my baby so much whilst at work and felt like I was completely missing out on everything. My husband was daddy day care at the time and what a great job he was doing. This wasn’t a case of my baby not being well looked after, I was experiencing a sort of separation anxiety from my baby boy. But I just had to keep working long days and ‘deal with it’.

Whilst still struggling months later, I finally quit my job in order to enjoy time with my little man but also to work on myself. Self-love, self-care and mental health improvements, including daily meditation, yoga and therapy. Some days are good, others bad, others really bad – but I remain honest with myself and others. It really is OK, not to be OK. You are not a failure or ‘damaged goods’ which is how I would often label myself. You are real, showing your true colours and just going through a difficult time. You are exactly who you are meant to be for now and that is OK. All I know is that we have to truly accept ourselves and support others in whatever way we can. We need to remain an open and honest society, and most importantly please, be kind to one another.

At TheBabyChapter, we are dedicated to improving the quality of antenatal classes, ensuring soon-to-be parents are well supported and know all the information needed to make the right decision for you and your baby, in this new chapter, TheBabyChapter
www.thebabychapter.co.uk

Why imagination is the most valuable type of thinking

By | children's health, Education, Health, Mental health
by Neel Burton
psychiatrist and author of Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking

Einstein held that imagination is more important than knowledge: “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Until very recently, most human societies did not mark a strict divide between imagination and belief, or fiction and reality, with each one informing and enriching the other. In fact, it could be argued that, in many important respects, the fiction primed over the reality – and even that this has been, and no doubt still is, one of the hallmarks of homo sapiens.

The uses of imagination are many, more than I can enumerate. Most children begin to develop pretend play at around fifteen months of age. What are children doing when they pretend play? And why are they so absorbed in works of imagination? When I was seven years old, I would devour book after book and plead with my parents for those not already in the bookcase. By playing out scenarios and extending themselves beyond their limited experience, children seek to make sense of the world and find

their place within it. This meaning-making is full of emotion – joy, excitement, awe – which finds an echo in every subsequent act of creation.

Whenever we look at an object such as the Mona Lisa, we see much more than just the frame and the brushstrokes. In fact, we barely see the brushstrokes at all. In imagination as in our dreams, we ascribe form, pattern, and significance to things, and then reflect them back onto those things. Without this work of interpreting and assimilating, the world would be no more than an endless stream of sense impressions, as it might sometimes seem to those who lack imagination, with no hope of escape or reprieve. More than that, by imagination we are able to complete the world, or our world, by conjuring up the missing parts, and even to inhabit entirely other worlds such as Middle-earth or the Seven Kingdoms.

If imagination lets us feel at home in the world, it also enables us to get things done in the world. Science advances by hypothesis, which is a function of imagination, and philosophy makes frequent use of thought experiments such as the brain in the vat, the trolley problem, and Plato’s Republic. More than that, imagination enables us to form associations and connections, and thereby to apply our knowledge to real life situations. It opens up alternatives and possibilities and guides our decision-making by playing them out in our mind. So many of our failures are in fact failures of the imagination.

Imagination is the highest form of thought, and almost divine in its reach. With enough imagination, we could identify and solve all of our problems. With enough imagination, we would never have to work again – or, at least, not for money. With enough imagination, we could win over, or defeat, anyone we wanted to. But our imagination is so poor that we haven’t even imagined what it would be like to have that much imagination.

I’m lucky to have received a decent education, but one thing it certainly didn’t do for me is cultivate my imagination. In fact, medical school in particular did everything it could to destroy it. In recent years, I’ve been trying to recover the bright and vivid imagination that I left behind in primary school. For that, I’ve been doing just three things, all of them very simple – or, at least, very simple to explain:
• Being more aware of the importance of imagination.
• Making time for sleep and idleness.
• Taking inspiration from the natural world.

Our schools and universities privilege knowing over thinking, and equate thinking with reasoning, and reasoning with logic. This has done, and continues to do, untold harm. Instead of digging ourselves in deeper, we need to make more time and space for thinking. And we need to rehabilitate alternative forms of cognition, such as emotion and imagination, that can support, supplement, or supplant reason and return
us to wholeness.

Neel Burton is a leading psychiatrist and author of Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond Thinking priced £12.99.
To find out more visit www.neelburton.com

A guide to your baby’s visual development

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

Once a baby is born they face a number of milestones, for example smiling for the first time and rolling over. We are told when their first tooth will appear and when they will have health visitor appointments but little is said about how their eyes develop and what their vision is like. At birth babies do not see as well as older children or adults. Their eyes and visual system aren’t fully developed, significant improvement occurs during the first few months of life.

There are some milestones to watch out for in your child’s visual development. It is important to remember that not every child is the same and some may reach certain milestones at different ages. Babies born prematurely or with low birth weights are more likely to have vision problems. This is because their eyes miss out on the final stages of development towards the end of pregnancy.

Birth – 3 months:
Their vision is just starting to develop.
What to expect:
• Anything more than 20-30cm away from their face will just be a blur.
• Their world is black and white with shades of grey, as colour vision has not yet developed.
• They will only see large shapes, high contrast (big differences between light and dark) objects, bright lights and movement.
• They may only hold their gaze for a couple of seconds and will not be able to fixate with both eyes. It will be normal for their eyes to ‘wander’ at this age.

Things you can do:
• Develop that visual bond with them by trying to stay within 20-30cm when interacting with them – by
2 weeks they may start to recognise you. (Help them with this by not changing your appearance)
• Alternate sides when feeding to encourage equal visual development of both eyes.
• Use movements and bright contrasting colours (black, white and primary colours – reds, blues and yellows) in their room and with their toys to help stimulate their vision

3 – 6 months:
Depth and colour perception start to develop.
What to expect:
• They should start to watch and study their own hands as well as toys.
• They should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and start to reach for things around them.
• Eye movement control and eye/body co-ordination skills steadily continue to improve – soon they can move their eyes without turning their head.

Things you can do:
• Help develop their eye tracking by talking to them as you walk around the room.
• Encourage visual development by frequently adding or changing and moving objects around their cot and room.
• Start to develop their visual memory by playing ‘peek-a-boo’ and similar games.
• Book their first eye examination at 6 months.

6 – 9 months:
What to expect:
• Their ability to hold attention increases.
• They should start to show interest in pictures, and recognise partially hidden objects.

Things you can do:
• Now is the time to start showing and reading simple books to them.
• Encourage the crawling phase – it helps develop better eye/hand co-ordination.
• Further develop their visual memory by playing ‘hide and seek’ with toys under a blanket then revealing them to them.

9-12 months:
What to expect:
• By 10 months of age, babies should be able to grasp objects with thumb and forefinger.
• They should be able to judge distances fairly well and throw things with some precision.

Things you can do:
• Play simple games like building blocks and rolling a ball back and forth. These help develop their grasp and also improves eye movement co-ordination and hand/eye co-ordination.

2 years onwards:
What to expect:
• Their eye/hand co-ordination and depth perception should be well-developed and their vision almost at adult levels.

Things you can do:
• We recommend that children should have their eyes examined annually.

NHS sight tests are FREE for children under 16

At all ages:
If you notice any of the following you should take your child to see a health professional as an evaluation is warranted as soon as possible.

• An opaque, white glow or white reflection in the pupil of an eye (the dark area in the centre of the eye.)
• A missing or altered ‘red eye’ reflection in photographs.
• Instances where the eyes do not appear to look in the same direction (a squint.)
• Watering, red,
sore or swollen eyes for no obvious reason.
• Drooping eyelids.
• A change in the colour of the iris (the coloured part of the eye) especially if only one area.
• Increasing sensitivity to light.
• You suspect that may be a deterioration in sight.

Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions. A PDF version of this is available upon request that can be added to your child’s
red book.

Barnard Associates is an established independent, Optometric providing clinical eye care, contact lenses and spectacle dispensing for over 30 years.
We recommend eye examinations for
all children from 6 months of age
or sooner if you have any concerns.
Our Optometrists specialise in
paediatric eye care ad 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 77238
Email: reception@barnard-associates.co.uk

 

NHS sight tests are FREE for children under 16

The gender clutter gap

By | Education, Health, Mental health

In a recent survey to understand the effects of clutter on mental health, it was found that women are more affected by clutter in the home with four in five (79%) admitting that clutter makes them feel stressed, compared to just 59% of men.
It’s no surprise that we are feeling the effects of clutter building up at home with almost three-quarters (74%) wishing they had more storage space at home. Furthermore, over two-thirds (69%) of respondents agreed they could spend less time tidying their homes if they had a declutter – considering the 20% differentiation between stress levels, some might say that cleaning and tidying is still seen, by many, as ‘women’s work’.

However, we are taking action with our clutter, but only usually brought on by significant changes in life, with the main reasons people would choose to have a declutter being moving house (60%), decorating (54%) and downsizing (44%). Around a third said they would consider a declutter to relieve stress (37%) and improve their mental health (31%).

Though the KonMari Method of decluttering, created by Marie Kondo, has increased in popularity, Caboodle’s survey shows that people are still reluctant to declutter – ironically because of what they might throw away.

Though we know that clutter often causes us stress, more than half are not willing to declutter as they worry they might throw away something that they would need again (50%) or that they’d get rid of something that they have an emotional attachment to (55%).

Commenting on the emotional decluttering effects of a clear-out, Leone Ashby from Cluttercation, one of Caboodle’s decluttering experts, said: “Decluttering is a cathartic experience and brings peace and zen into your home. The initial fantastic feeling when you see your treasured room, wardrobe or pantry transformed is euphoric.
However, there is an art to decluttering that ensures this feeling prolongs without any regret for items you could have used in the future or you had great attachment to but may not have a need for today”.

Introducing the ‘Caboodle’ Method
– keep, save, throw
Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering encourages us to “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy”.

The Caboodle Method is all about how and, if so, when items bring a benefit to you and your life.

There are three key steps:
Keep items that you need and use now, consider if you have an emotional attachment to them, do they inspire you or do they bring a benefit to your life right now?

Save items that you cherish, inspire you and bring a benefit to your life but you don’t need right now by storing in a safe and organised place outside the home making more space!

Throw away (or donate to charity) items that you haven’t used or considered for six months and have no emotional attachment to.

Why save?
It avoids that feeling of regret and is a more sustainable option. Saving these items outside the home will save on space but the items are at your fingertips whenever you need them again.

Examples of items include:
• Winter wardrobe in the summer and vice versa.
• Children’s toys and clothing – for your next child/a friend.
• Holiday items you only use once a year.

Top tips for decluttering:
1. Start decluttering one room at a time, starting in one corner so to not overwhelm you, take items and sort them into the three categories keep, save and throw. Bonus tip: Always leave the room and take a short
break before you finally make your decisions.
2. Always use big crates or bin bags to sort items into piles – it makes the clean up so much easier.
3. Have cleaning products to hand as you declutter so you can clean as you go.
4. Never feel regret. If you can’t disassociate yourself from treasured possessions that you just can’t use at the moment then ‘save’ them by using a storage solution that will keep everything organised.
5. Always check with other members of your family on the key items you are ‘throwing’, to make sure everyone is happy and no one else wants the items.

Caboodle storage is all arranged online at and they will deliver free boxes, then collect and protect your belongings from as little as £1.40 per week.

Is your child falling behind at school?

By | children's health, Education, fun for children, play, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Polly Warren
Centre Manager at First Class Learning – Brighton

Could tutoring be the answer?

With children facing tougher exams and tests such as the new style GCSEs and the more challenging SATS tests for seven and 11 years olds, the tutoring industry is continuing to boom for children across the board, with a quarter of all school children receiving some form of tuition in 2018.

However, concerned parents are hiring tutors for their children not only for exam preparation, but for a whole number of reasons from helping give their children’s self-confidence a boost to giving them an extra challenge in their strongest areas. Some use tutors to help catch up with school work after absence, others to help their children grasp key concepts in maths or English if they’ve been struggling.

Whatever the reasons, tutoring has been shown to improve school performance, confidence and self-esteem, as well as help children develop independent study skills and learn at their own pace.

Maths is the most popular subject for tuition (77%), followed by English (55%) and then science (30%).

How to choose the right tuition for your child
In the past, choosing a tutor was largely based on personal recommendation, but nowadays the industry is far more professional and there are many different tutoring services to choose from.

One-to-one tutoring at home
These lessons usually take place in the student’s or tutor’s home and involve just the pupil and tutor. One-to-one attention may be required if a child is really struggling in a subject or if they have a complicated learning style, but this traditional option is by far the most expensive. One-to-one tutors charge on average between £25 and £40 per hour, working out between £100 and £160 per month.

One-to-one and small group tutoring at a study centre
During these sessions, an expert tutor will be responsible for no more than six children at a time. The tutor not only works with each child on their own individualised learning programme by providing expert support and guidance, but they also encourage independent learning.

When children study alongside other children in this sort of small, focused group, the pressure of sole one-on-one attention is taken off individual children, whilst allowing for one-to-one help from the tutor when needed.

This type of tutoring is typically cheaper than private one-to-one tutoring but can still be highly effective. Many children prefer it as it is not as intense as one-to-one home tuition and helps keep learning fun. Study centres charge between £60-£70 a month.

Parents of Evie, who attended Brighton’s First Class Learning’ study centre say:“We were really impressed with how much the support helped Evie. She has a much more positive attitude to learning and we can see a huge improvement in her confidence, ability and approach to her
maths work.”

Online tutoring
Online tuition is tutoring that takes place over the Internet using a communications programme such as Skype or Google+. Private online tutors are often more affordable (£20-£30 per hour) as they will not be required to travel and may choose to tutor more than one student at once, but many parents feel uneasy that tutors will not be in direct contact with the student.

It really makes a difference!
Extra tuition really can make a huge difference, and it’s more affordable and accessible than ever. Once a child starts understanding the material, the frustration, anxiety and apprehension they felt about schoolwork will disappear, and they will carry this new found confidence with them back to the classroom, allowing them to blossom and genuinely start to enjoy learning again.

Polly Warren is a teacher with many
years of experience across a range of educational settings, and Centre Manager of First Class Learning’s (FCL)
study centre in Brighton.
Please contact Polly on 01273 730873
www.firstclasslearning.co.uk/
brighton-withdean
brighton@firstclasslearning.co.uk

Hothouse or greenhouse? Surviving or thriving?

By | Education, environment, family, fun for children, Mental health, play, Relationships, Safety
by Tamara Pearson
Senior Teacher (Curriculum), Our Lady of Sion Junior School

One cannot foresee the pressure you put on yourself as a parent when the midwife first hands your newborn to you. Which nappies are best? Will this car seat save my child’s life? What does my pram say about us as parents? These soon turn to comparisons over when children learn to crawl, walk and talk. Once at school age, we cannot help but wonder “where is my child in the class?”, “are they happy?”, “does the school of our choice match the needs of our child(ren)?”

We all want the best for our children. So what do we go for? The ‘hothouse’ or the ‘greenhouse’? Are our children just ‘surviving’ or truly ‘thriving’?

To even begin to answer these questions, we must consider what the true purpose of education and the role of schools is. What are our children learning and why? How are they learning? How is failure perceived? How are children assessed and how is that communicated? Is learning/attainment ‘fixed’ or is there genuine room for growth and development of the mind?

Research shows that childhood anxiety is the highest it has ever been. Circumstances, finances, relationships, expectations, social media, diet and exercise all play their part. What are schools doing to address these challenges? Fostering an authentic mindset in students is crucial; the jobs they will have in the future may not yet exist today.

Much has been made of Growth Mindset in the world of work and education, but, in reality, this is not enough. In order to prepare children for life’s challenges, they need a full toolbox of skills. Having a proactive/positive approach needs to be underpinned by social, emotional, and academic tools in order to fully educate the whole child. It is not about just working hard, it is about working smart.

As professional educators, it is our responsibility to prepare children in moving beyond being passive consumers of information and toward becoming active innovators. We must actively inspire and provide genuine opportunities to develop children’s passions.

At our school, our children are driven by our ethos ‘Consideration Always’. As role models to the school community and beyond, we entrust them to develop and demonstrate the best version of themselves. Children develop when they are given the opportunity to do so. Mary Myatt’s philosophy of ‘high challenge, low threat’ leadsthe way.

Expecting consistent productivity and positivity is not realistic, attainable, or even desirable; we may flit between fixed and growth mindsets. This is okay. The clincher is to remember that whatever setbacks we face, we can reflect/process our thoughts, then jump back in the saddle and continue the ride to our intended destination.

Equipped with a well-developed toolkit of social, emotional, and academic skills, every child can take on inevitable setbacks (and pressures of success) with integrity, resolve and good humour.

Tamara Pearson is a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Our Lady of Sion Junior School in Worthing.
She is also mother to a six year old who attends Sion and is passionate about helping the Juniors embrace every enrichment opportunity available.
She is a UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador and in the last three years has seen Sion Juniors rewrite its Curriculum, assessment approach, create an Intergenerational Project, achieve Beach School status, Eco Schools Silver Award and make meaningful links with the community.
www.sionschool.org.uk

Parenting attitudes

By | children's health, family, Mental health, Relationships

Parents in the South East give the most praise, opt for reasoning over shouting and believe kindness is the most important attribute for their children to have, according to the results of an international parenting study.

As many as 94% of parents in the region agree that they regularly praise their youngsters – the highest of anywhere in the UK. Hugs and love are also a favoured method of rewarding good behaviour, with 53% of parents in the region siting affection as their chosen reward.

When it comes to discipline, parents in the South East value reasoning with children more than parents elsewhere in the UK. However, they are also the most likely to resort to using the silent treatment. 15% of those surveyed admitted to using this punishment – almost three times more than the UK average.
Kindness is the attribute that parents in the region believe is the most important for children to have, according to the research. They also value their youngsters being fun more than parents elsewhere in the country.

Insights into the region’s parenting style have been released following international parenting research conducted by My Nametags (www.mynametags.com), a global provider of name tags for children. The company compared the attitudes of thousands of European parents with children aged 16 and under and found that British parents are the strictest in Europe.

When it comes to discipline amongst British parents, over a third admit to being firm with their children – more than other EU countries.

Parents in the UK are also more likely to resort to star charts and bribery to encourage good behaviour. In fact, while a quarter of Brits use star charts as a form of discipline, this is less common overseas. Only 5% of parents in Italy and Portugal use the same approach.

At mealtimes, 48% of British parents expect children to eat ‘grown up’ foods and have good table manners. Over half uphold rigorous bedtime routines, while nearly 60% admit to regularly saying ‘no’ to things to teach their children patience. It seems the British parenting style is most different from those in Italy, where parents are the least strict. In fact, one-third of Italian parents admit to not being firm at all with their youngsters.

While British parents may be the strictest, they allow children to be far more independent from an early age compared to other countries, according to the research. Only 70% offer children help with everyday tasks – 10% less than the rest of Europe.  This might explain why UK residents are among the least likely to still live with their parents after the age of 18.

free flu jab

Free flu jab?

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

This year all primary school aged children will be offered the nasal spray flu vaccination via the school-based programme. Schools will be sending forms home for parents to complete and return. Clinics are available for children who miss the vaccination in school.

All 2-3 year olds (on 31st August 2019, i.e. those born between 1/9/2015 to 31/8/2017) are also being offered the nasal spray flu vaccine at their GP surgery.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is quick, painless and effective. The vaccine will benefit the child directly by protecting them against the flu, but also helps protect those they come into contact with who may be more vulnerable, for example, young siblings and elderly relatives.

In addition, the flu vaccine will be offered to those more vulnerable to a serious infection including those aged 65 and over, pregnant women, all adults and children over 6 months with an underlying health condition (including chest complaints or breathing difficulties, heart problems, liver or kidney disease, diabetes and anyone who has had a TIA or a stroke), everyone living in a residential or nursing home and anyone who cares for an older or disabled person.

Vaccination is the most effective protection we have against the virus and the best way to protect yourself. It is best to have the flu vaccine as early as possible. The flu vaccine needs to be given each year to be effective.

If you are eligible for your free flu jab, speak to your GP practice or participating pharmacy to get more information. If you are unsure if you are eligible, please visit the NHS flu website where there are full details of everyone who is eligible. If you are not eligible many pharmacies will offer the flu vaccine at a small cost.

For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/flujab or www.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk/fight-flu

dangerous bike

Have you been seen?

By | children's health, Education, Safety, Sport, Uncategorized

by Keith Baldock
Brighton & Hove Road Safety Officer

Winter’s short days and long nights mean visibility on the roads can often be challenging. Added to this, inclement weather including fog, rain, mist and snow, along with wind, can make life more difficult. With children we do the best to ensure they are protected, aware that they haven’t the experience to manage risks on the roads. However, as adults our brains have developed to make assumptions in order to cope with our complex lives.

Much of the world our eyes see but our brain doesn’t actually process. It looks for changes and differences in areas it’s learnt to expect, for the situation we are in. If we attempt to multi-task then the brain has to raise the threshold at which it operates. In some environments this is a relatively safe, rational decision. However, within more complex, risky environments such as on the road this may be irrational, and this can put ourselves and others in danger.

Most road collisions happen within 10 miles of home – partly due to the fact that our brains have become expert at what to expect, so almost appear to be on autopilot. This means that if something unexpected happens, we may not be ready to react. If, when driving, we choose to use a phone – for a call, text or social media update – we take away more of the brain’s ability to react to the unexpected. Our reaction times increase.

The law signals that this is unacceptable and hand-held mobile phone sanctions now include six points on a licence and a £200 fine. Sussex University research shows that ‘hands free’ phone use is as distracting for drivers as hand-held devices; both reduce the brain’s ability to focus on the road environment to a significant extent. This kind of distraction from a prime task is called ‘inattention blindness’ by researchers. The Open University activity ‘Are you a focused driver?’ challenges you to demonstrate how effective you are.

However, we all use the road, we’ve all got a responsibility to each other to share the roads safely. Highway code rules define what we should expect on the roads so that we can do this. Ensuring we look out for each other is really important but we can all make sure we are visible to others as well. Check all your lights work regularly, clean the lenses if needed. Ensure your windscreen wipers work effectively. If you are riding, walking or running at night be aware that although you might be able to see cars clearly under streetlights, the drivers may not see you. Consider what kind of clothing you wear and how visible you are. If it is raining and you’ve got your hood up, take the time to check traffic before crossing. Even if you are using a pedestrian crossing, take time.

Roads remain the riskiest places most of us encounter each day. Let’s keep bringing down the numbers of people who get hurt on them each year – make sure you can be seen and be aware.

Brake Road Safety charity is running the National Road Safety Week – ‘Step Up for Safe Streets’ from 18th -24th November 2019 – see www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk to see how you, your school or organisation can be involved.

Locally visit facebook page: Share the Roads, Brighton & Hove
or Open University link: www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/psychology/are-you-focused-driver