Category

play

Encouraging play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy playing!

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

Hitting the high notes!

By | dance & Art, Education, fun for children, Music and singing, play

Experienced music teachers Sam Dixon and Carolyn Hextall, who run the music department at Brighton College Nursery, Pre-Prep & Prep School, sing the praises for a subject that is becoming increasingly sidelined in many schools.

music for childrenMusic helps us learn
No one doubts that learning music is fun. Sometimes, however, this concept can belittle the advantages that learning music brings and leads to it being given less emphasis in schools than other subjects. Research has shown that being taught music enhances skills such as concentration, memory and focus as well as offering physical and creative benefits to children. Similarly, an increase in the number of teaching hours dedicated to music and the provision of instrumental lessons for pupils can result in overall school improvement.

Busting the myth
There is a common misconception that those who achieve great results in music are naturally talented or gifted. It is a myth that often discourages children, or parents from families without a musical history, to embrace music as a subject. Music is a discipline just like sport or, let’s face it, any subject where success is achieved by children because they enjoy it and are therefore happy to dedicate time and energy to it. Enjoyment and dedication; these are two essential ingredients.

An early start
It is never too early for children to enjoy music and to start performing. Children as young as three can start to learn written notation presented in a fun, active way. Introducing them to the ‘Musical Family’ of Grandpa Semibreve, Daddy Dotted Minim and Baby Crotchet help to bring the notes alive. They learn the musical value of each note by physically moving in a way that suits the different characters; slow footsteps mark out the four beats of Grandpa Semibreve, whilst Daddy Dotted Minim loves to waltz – the children absolutely love the characters and the information sticks.

Keep it moving
Methods such as this introduce the body as an instrument and our youngest pupils begin to connect music with movement, the mind with the body. Note recognition becomes physically embodied at a tender age and this helps to combat any trepidation surrounding their learning to ‘read’ music when they are older. Pulse and rhythm can also be embedded as early as possible through the use of dance along videos and regular opportunities to use simple percussion instruments or even the banging of a humble bucket. Singing is fundamental to the development of ear training
and use of the solfege system helps children to improve their vocal control and develop a strong understanding of the musical scale.

The show must go on
The fundamental principle of performance underpins music teaching at all levels and learning an instrument or singing gives children the opportunity to become involved in musical ensembles, performing with one other, and to explore a wide range of repertoire. Participation in ensembles as varied as orchestras, jazz and swing bands, percussion groups, pop groups, guitar, classical and piano ensembles are a brilliant ways for children to develop the important skills of listening, responding and analyzing. They allow children to work on the art of preparation and offer them vital performance opportunities on all scales.

Technology in music
When composition is introduced at a very young age, through call and response and simple improvisation children respond quickly to the introduction of songwriting, writing music to accompany films or music from particular genres. In a world where so much music is produced by technology, an understanding of notation and composition software such as Cubase and Sibelius is important and should be encouraged.

Making connections
Listening to a wide range of music and putting it into a historical and cultural context helps children to appreciate the links between music and other subjects being learnt at school.
So, when we listen to Baroque music and introduce pupils to the towering genius J.S. Bach, we consider what else was happening at that time. Who was on the throne in England and what was happening in Bach’s hometown? Was he a practical joker like Mozart or, like Handel, did he have a legendary temper? Researching contemporary pieces which use similar techniques, for example Goldfinger’s ‘Superman’ which uses a Baroque ground bass, makes their learning feel more relevant and accessible.

Onwards and upwards
Learning music is a three way process between parent, pupil and teacher. Each one relies on the other for their commitment, participation and development. Parents are key in providing a regular, realistic practice time for children who learn an instrument and ensuring it takes place in an appropriate environment. They can also help by exposing their children to a smorgasbord of different musical styles; it could be as easy as exploring the different channels on the radio, attending concerts or joining local choirs and community music groups. Music is such a wonderful thing to explore with children and parents really do not have to be the expert. If there is something you enjoy, share it with your children. An enthusiastic response to their practice efforts or dancing along to your favorite tunes is all it takes to get started.

Sam Dixon and Carolyn Hextall run the music department at Brighton College Nursery, Pre-Prep & Prep School educating over 500 pupils between the ages of three and 13 in curriculum music. Their provision is supported by a body of over 30 visiting instrumental music teachers who deliver individual and group lessons to the children.
www.brightoncollege.org.uk

Top tips for sleepovers

By | dance & Art, family, Food & Eating, fun for children, Music and singing, parties, play
by Kitty Jones
The Dreamy Den Company

Sleepovers are a childhood staple but can be a daunting time for parents. Have no fear, we’ve put together some helpful tips and advice for a smooth sleepover experience.

1 Food
Hungry children are no fun so make sure you have plenty of food and snacks to keep them fuelled and happy. Self-serve stations are great fun and easy to prepare, try a burger bar, taco bar or a noodle/pasta bar with a selection of toppings and sides. Grab some recyclable ‘take-out’ boxes to minimise washing up.

2 Setting up camp
Living rooms are a good option due to size and TV access for movies but make sure pets can be relocated and the TV usage is monitored so they don’t stumble across any late night horrors by accident. And don’t forget to move any precious ornaments!

3 Midnight feast
This definitely doesn’t have to be at midnight – as hopefully everyone will be asleep by then! Consider having a break in the movie and doing a fruit fondue or a popcorn bar with a selection of toppings and sauces. Try some sugar alternatives to keep the sugar rush under control.

4 Entertainment
Garden games are great for summer and for burning off energy. For rainy days you can try DIY pamper packs or craft packs. Alternatively hire an external entertainer to come in and give you a few hours peace. Movies are great for later on and you can always have a pre-selected list to minimise arguments.

5 Nervous children
Be open and discuss action plans with parents beforehand, especially if a child has never been to a sleepover before. Make sure you know where each child’s parent will be and always get two contact numbers from parents.

6 The morning after
Choose your collection time as mid-morning giving the children a chance to have breakfast and, most importantly, don’t plan too much for the next day, you may all need a few impromptu naps to recover!

Keep on cooking

By | children's health, Education, Food & Eating, play
by Naomi Marks, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

I have yet to come across the small child who doesn’t love to roll up their sleeves and get busy with biscuit dough and cutters. It’s all the tactile pleasure and creative fun of playdough with the bonus of a teatime treat at the end.

But once children get beyond infant school age, cooking can all too often play second fiddle to the lure of the screen as an indoor activity.

That’s such a shame when we all know how important eating good, home-cooked food is for children’s physical and mental health. Keeping the cooking habit going as children grow older will benefit their bodies and their brains – and arm them with a set of skills that will serve them well throughout life.

Besides, cooking is fun!potatoes pan

Here are some ideas to keep your school-age child engaged in the kitchen. You never know, you may end up with a future MasterChef in the family. At the very least, you can expect some tasty outputs from your young ones.

Your children’s learning in the kitchen will be incremental. Younger children love to construct so let them start out this way and only slowly build up to more advanced cookery techniques. For example, primary school-aged children have great fun building their own pizzas. Set some passata and mozzarella or grated cheddar on the side and fill bowls with a range of toppings, such as cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, ham slices, olives, red pepper, chorizo and spinach. Then let them get creative on a pizza base of their own.

Older kids, however, will also enjoy making their own pizza sauce: an easy one sees a tin of tomatoes, a teaspoon of mixed herbs, a clove of garlic and some salt and pepper whizzed up together, with enough tomato puree then added to make a good, thick sauce.

A real sense of achievement will come when children feel confident enough to tackle the dough. Find an easy recipe for pizza bases at www.bhfood.org.uk/recipes/basic-bread/

Top tip: pizza-making is a great children’s party activity.

Alternatively, the same approach can be brought to shop-bought falafels and hummus. Set alongside bowls of fillings such as tomatoes, avocados, spring onions and pickles for children to lay out on flat bread and roll into delicious and healthy Mediterranean wraps.

While younger children will be content with this, older children will be amazed at how easy it is to make their own tasty hummus: just whiz up chick peas, tahini (sesame seed paste, which is widely available), lemon juice and olive oil with some cumin and paprika to taste.

And your more ambitious child will enjoy actually making the falafels – though do be on hand for this as it involves hot oil. Check out the recipe at www.bhfood.org.uk/recipes/falafel/

If you’re stuck for cooking ideas, take inspiration from cuisines around the world. There’s a host of fun to be had home-rolling sushi with your child. Most supermarkets sell the rolling mats and special rice required – and few fridges and larders fail to yield enough to supply sushi fillings. A carrot, a chunk of cucumber, some cream cheese, a one-egg omelette and some leftover tinned tuna will go a long way.

avocado childOr use festivals as your excuse for experimentation. Make a simple curry with your children for Diwali or a chili for the Day of the Dead.

Finally, the lure of a cake is one sure way to bring children racing into the kitchen. But, why not up the stakes and appeal to their more competitive side?

Stage a mini Bake Off, inviting other family members or your children’s friends to join in the fun. Points can be awarded for artistic flair as well as taste – and maybe cleaning up skills too.

Just remember: keep it friendly, keep it fun!

Brighton & Hove Community Kitchen is running two World of Food Easter holiday cookery courses for children aged 7-11 and 12-16. Find out more at www.bhfood.org.uk/events/world-of-food-ii-school-holiday-cooking-with-jethro-for-young-cooks-aged-12-to-16/

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

Positivity in the family

By | family, Health, Mental health, play, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Sara Dimerman
www.helpmesara.com

Do you want to create a more positive home environment in which your family can connect and continue to grow?

Here are Sara’s five tips:

1. Collaboration is key.
Introduce monthly family meetings. These are most successful when not used to come down on your children for what they’re not doing well enough. Rather, they’re an opportunity to address problem areas that need resolution. So, instead of saying something like “I’d like you to get off your phone so that you can help me more” say something like “I feel like I’m the last man standing in the kitchen after dinner. I’d like to explore a solution to this so that I don’t feel so alone.” When presented in this way, your children will often come up with creative solutions – many that you may not have thought of. The idea is not to impose unilateral rules on the kids but to have them problem-solve with you. It doesn’t mean that they are calling the shots. It means that their voices are being heard, that they are encouraged to speak up and they are more inclined to follow what’s been decided on when they’ve played a role in planning for it.

2. Don’t fan the flames.
If, for example, you’ve recently had an argument with your child about whether or not he can stay out past midnight, try not to have this argument cloud other conversations. After feelings have been validated and you’ve put the argument to rest, put it behind you.

3. Create opportunities to come together as a family with as few distractions as possible.
Sometimes going outside of the house is best, especially if you have a long list of to dos inside. Board game cafes, bowling, ice skating, throwing a ball or frisbee in the park are some ways to connect. Often, as kids get older. they will decline your invitation but if you let them know how much it means to be spending time with them, and if you make the outings as positive as possible, they will likely get into the right frame of mind once they are engaged in the activity with you.

4. Hold onto that thought a little longer.
I know it’s tempting to remind your children to do something like put their dish in the dishwasher after supper (even though you know that it often triggers a negative reaction from them). However, I have found that often, when I say nothing but wait instead to see what they do, they will do exactly what I would have requested. Then make sure to comment on the behaviour you’d love to see
more of – “Thanks for putting your dish in the dishwasher.
It makes my job easier.”

5. Help them see their parents in a positive light.
Whether living together or apart, the way we treat our children’s other parent, and the things we say to or about him or her, sets the tone for how our children will treat and view them too. Even if you’re angry or upset at one another, try not to expose your children to this- no matter their age.

The importance of role-play in Early Years

By | Education, play, Relationships
by Antonia Burton
Head of Lower School, Chinthurst School

Children love role-play! Acting out stories, playful manipulation of ideas and emotions, and interacting with each other in imaginary ways are essential for a child’s cognitive and social development. Over the last 75 years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the value of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child.

Between the ages of one and a half and six, studies have consistently demonstrated that pretend play increases language usage and children’s awareness that their thoughts may be different from their friends. Role-play allows children to express positive and negative feelings and fosters divergent thinking, the ability to come up with many different ideas, story themes and symbols.

So how are these benefits harnessed in an Early Years setting?
Plenty of free unstructured play is essential. Children should have the space and time to initiate play spontaneously. It should arise from their own imagination without the direction of an adult and it encourages risk taking and creativity and helps the children to practise collaboration and decision making.

However, structured play, in the form of a themed play corner is invaluable in stimulating make believe games. An ‘airport’ or ‘doctor’s surgery’ enable children to choose and assign roles and work through any problems that arise. As pretend play progresses, children need to socialise and cooperate with peers and this helps them to learn to control impulses and respect the decisions of others.

Children’s communication and language skills also benefit hugely as they must collaborate and listen to each other as they role-play. Children will draw upon pictures built up in their minds from past experiences and recreate these scenes, helping them to solve problems and draw their own conclusions – so developing essential cognitive skills.

Taking on the roles of different characters encourages children to empathise with each other. They gain an understanding of different perspectives which develops their ability to relate to each other. Pretend play offers a safe place to act out real life situations. Children cope with worries by acting them out so role-play gives them a setting to work things through and help them to address their fears.

Moreover, the use of costumes and props in a theatrical way can help to improve a child’s gross and fine motor skills. From dressing themselves in a character’s costume to putting the props away when the game has finished, role-play builds hand/eye co-ordination as well as developing visual discrimination.

Children often interact with literacy and numeracy skills during pretend play. They may have to count things out as part of their character or ‘write’ on a notepad. Acting out a favourite story book can be an invaluable aid to comprehension skills too.

The introduction of drama teaching at the age of three and four can really boost the effectiveness of imaginative play and help children to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence. Drama gives children further opportunities to rehearse roles, characters and a broad spectrum of life situations helping them to explore ideas and feelings. Drama promotes self-esteem and gives children the confidence to present themselves in front of an ‘audience’, all whilst having great fun.

At home, a dressing up box, even if it is just hats and masks, can stimulate a child’s imagination and initiate fantastic role-play scenarios. It is important to let your children define objects for use and to allow them to be whatever they would like to be. The benefits really are amazing!

Chinthurst School is a leading co-educational school for pupils agedthree to 11 and is part of the Reigate Grammar School (RGS) family.

Kindergarten children benefit from a bright and spacious environment where their confidence and self-esteemare developed through role play and specialist drama teaching.

At 11, children proceed to a range of top independent and state schools and can take advantage of an early offer entrance arrangement to RGS in Year 5, should this be their chosen path.

The benefits of ‘bouncing’!

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Health, Mental health, Party, play, Uncategorized

by Springfit Gymnastics and Trampoline Clubs

There are many benefits to participating in trampolining and gymnastics. They are great sports for all ages and fitness levels, and for people who enjoy both individual sports and teamwork. They provide a chance to set your own goals and work at your own pace.

Here are just a few of the reasons to get involved with gymnastics and trampolining in 2019.

Health and fitness
The moves taught are designed on a progressive scale to allow further development to make them harder and more intricate. With each level achieved through suitably planned training, participants are able to improve their joint health, maintain muscular development and improve cardiovascular fitness, making you feel healthier and more alert. Unlike running, trampolining has comparatively low joint impact for an intense exercise routine. It has been proven that trampolining improves your metabolic rate, helping you stay fit and healthy!

Mental health
Both gymnastics and trampolining are extremely beneficial for improving concentration and mental focus. These activities are great for a child’s cognitive development – encouraging them to use their imagination and gain a better understanding of their body and capabilities. The physical activities you perform will also make you feel happier, more positive, and even more self-confident. Endorphins, the positive mood-enhancing natural chemicals released by all exercise are triggered, and in trampolining especially, the sheer fun factor of jumping up and down will make you smile, make you laugh and make you feel really happy. It’s hard to feel blue when you’re bouncing!

Co-ordination and motor skills
Flexibility is a big factor in gymnastics and trampolining. In order to achieve the various positions needed to perform moves, teaching suppleness is of vital importance. Increasing flexibility can also be an effective aid to the reduction
of injury.

Co-ordination can also be improved. David Beckham, NASA trainee astronauts and many other professionals use gymnastics and trampolining to and develop the skills that allow you to undertake a number of items requiring concentration at the same time: bouncing, balancing, maintaining the body’s position, and anticipating the next action in order to learn to perform skilful activities.

Education
Gymnastics provides a unique and valuable social education and experience. It provides an ideal opportunity to learn about teamwork; sportsmanship; fair play and dedication. The time required to master the fundamental skills requires a great amount of patience, dedication, perseverance and planning. Regular gymnastics, therefore, helps people learn to work hard for objectives that can take years to achieve.

One of the most interesting elements of the activities is that the gymnast can experience a variety of effects in practice rather than just in theory. For example, physicists discuss the principle of conservation of angular momentum; the gymnast experiences it.

Conclusion
If you’re still not convinced, I have saved possibly the most persuasive benefit until last. It’s really good fun! Learning how to jump, tumble, flip, swing, and come as close to self-powered flight as is possible is anything but boring. There is always another step to learn; it is possible to learn something new every single class you attend. A regular workout releases endorphins (the happiness chemicals that improve mood) and trampolining could even be an answer to those who want to keep up their fitness but have struggled with joint difficulties.

There are so many diverse and wide-reaching disciplines involved within the sport that make it accessible to all ages and abilities, with benefits at every stage. So what are you waiting for? Join in!

For supporting studies relating to the benefits evidenced here please see www.springfit.org.
Springfit host many classes in the local area which provide the benefits listed above.
If you are keen to get your kids involved in something new, or perhaps try a new sport yourself then get in touch!
We have classes for all ages and abilities!