Positivity in the family

By | family, Health, Mental health, play, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Sara Dimerman

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.


Learning life lessons from rugby

By | children's health, Education, family, fun for children, Sport, Uncategorized
by Rebecca and Esther
Rugbytots Brighton & Worthing

We read it every day – the negative effects that too much screen time and television time are having on our children. In fact, only last month Brighton & Hove Independent published results of a survey1 stating that 80% of our children are failing to hit the Chief Medical Officer’s target of at least an hour of physical activity every day.
With technological advancements come social issues including mental health problems as we become a 24 hour society that can’t switch off. This means that children are being bombarded with information whilst becoming more socially disconnected – preferring instead to communicate via messaging apps and social media channels.

However, we are also living in an age where children have never had so many opportunities to try new things, have experiences, travel and learn life skills through their hobbies and interests. Although technology can be a distraction for parents and children, it is also the gateway to finding out what’s going on in your area such as sports, dance, arts and crafts classes. Parents can take advantage of taster classes and children can then decide which classes they want to take.

Sports such as rugby are built on teamwork and respect. Played from an early age it develops more than just strength and fitness. When you think of rugby it might conjure up images of burly men with cauliflower ears covered in mud – but there are so many fun variations and games for children, including tag rugby, which doesn’t have any tackling.

In a team sport everyone participates, and nobody is left out. Sports such as rugby also teach skills like kicking, passing and catching which are transferable life skills, valuable in all sports.

A skill that you wouldn’t normally expect to hear associated with rugby is creativity; this is something that we focus on at our rugby sessions and the strategic elements of the game mean children are introduced to problem solving from an early age. During games they have to constantly think about situation awareness and make quick decisions which, in turn, help increase mental agility and self-confidence.

Let’s look at the positive effects playing rugby can have on children:

Children learn how to enjoy sport, fitness and healthy competition with girls and boys from all backgrounds coming together to have fun.

Rugby enables positive emotions, promotes bonding and builds friendships which in turn boost self-esteem and confidence.

Children are taught to respect teammates, coaches, opponents, referees and learn how to deal with healthy conflict.

Teamwork and sportsmanship
Children learn to make decisions that will benefit their peers plus gain essential social skills like team spirit, cooperation and sportsmanship.

By learning the strategic elements of the game children’s concentration, memory and analytical skills are enhanced.

Rugby develops hand/eye co-ordination, works on fine and gross motor skill development, improves balance and promotes good listening skills.

Rugby promotes a sense of healthy competition and teaches children about winning and losing and the skills needed to cope with both.

Character building
Team sports increase confidence, self-respect and teach children how to conduct themselves in game situations, making them more self-aware.

Rebecca and Esther took over Rugbytots, Brighton & Worthing, which is aimed
at 2 to 7 year olds, in November 2018.
They are friends who were looking for
a new challenge since having children.
They have a real passion for working
with kids and getting them to be more
active whilst having lots of fun.
The Rugbytots franchise ticked all the boxes and they plan to further build on its success
by adding more weekend sessions and
taking Rugbytots into school curriculums,
after- school clubs and nurseries.
Click on to find out more.

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.

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.

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
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!

How women can empower themselves with good health

By | beauty, Education, family, Food & Eating, Health, Relationships, sleep, Uncategorized
by Dr Mathi Woodhouse
GP at Your Doctor –

1 Being proactive about your health is vital both in terms of strengthening your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms and preventing future illness and disease. Planning, testing, check-ups and addressing all kinds of areas of mental to sexual health matters all take time. People often do not prioritise their own health. Be proactive now.

2 Have you ever wondered what your biological age is? Telomere testing can reveal your biological age through a simple blood test. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Lifestyle can influence the rate which your telomeres shorten faster that simple tests can reveal. Eat well, exercise often, sleep well, and address stress levels. These can all reduce the inflammatory process and therefore slow the rate of telomere shortening.

3 Don’t miss your vaginal smear. In 2013 60% of all new HIV diagnoses were to young adolescent women and girls. HPV (human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted infection, it accounts for around 70% of all cervical cancers. Sexual health in women is of the utmost importance and more importantly is totally preventable. Take measures for safe sex, and ensure all available screening is seized. A cervical smear should be available at least once every three years until the age of 65. Oral contraceptive pills protect against pregnancy but offer no protection against infection. Ensure you take measures to keep yourself clear of pelvic disease. Use condoms and get yourself tested for STDs if you’re worried. Do not wait.

4 Feel those boobs. Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths amongst women. Early detection can result in great long-term outcomes. A simple examination once a month after your period is the best time to check. Pay particular attention to dimples in the skin and inversion of the nipple. If you are unsure have a doctor give you a quick tutorial. It’s simple, easy and a potential lifesaver. If you are above 50 you should be able to have routine mammography to screen for breast cancer; ensure this happens.

5 Hot flushes… if you feel perimenopausal there are many non-hormonal ways to assist. Soya, red clover and black cohosh are all approved herbal remedies to fight your fluctuating hormones. If these symptoms are really bothersome and you want to avoid HRT, your doctor may be able to offer some alternatives.

6 Women are more likely to have greater emotional intelligence and empathy. They typically have a larger limbic system which supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory. Use it!

7 Eating well goes without saying. A large proportion of women are anaemic without knowing. Tiredness, poor skin and hair loss, and pallor are all signs of this. Eat foods rich in iron such as dark green vegetables, small servings of red meat, and legumes. Keeping your folate and calcium levels up also will help in preserving good health prior/during pregnancy and your bones will be strong beyond the menopause.

8 Eat to energise yourself. Stick to a diet low in saturated fats, salt and processed sugars. Increase your intake of omega 3 through nuts, avocados, or oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna. Eat enough fibre by increasing your portions of fruit and vegetables. Experts believe that 30g of fibre a day can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

9 Sleep is crucial in maintaining your physical and mental health, it supports many facets of healthy brain function. Good quality, deep sleep is important for all of us, especially multi-tasking women. To really train your body to sleep well, allow a period of de-stressing before bedtime, get into bed at a decent hour and keep the room dark. Avoid browsing the Internet on your phone or laptop in bed and limit caffeine and alcohol.

10 Stress management is one of the key pillars to good health. Much of our stress is caused by too many responsibilities. Start saying ‘no’ to requests that are asking too much of you. Meditation, practicing some mindfulness and deep breathing are all worth investing in a few minutes per day. Find a quiet moment to sit down and focus on yourself. Positive thoughts and self-worth can make leaps and bounds to self-esteem and mood.

11 Drink less alcohol. Women should stick to no more than 14 units per week allowing at least three alcohol free days per week. High alcohol intake can lead to a heart disease, diabetes and liver damage. Binge drinking can cause serious injury, collapse, and irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Alcohol also contains a lot of calories and sugar which can have a big impact on weight management and the risk of diabetes.

12 Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of cancer each year in the UK yet some 9.4 million people in the UK smoke every day. Set a date and time to stop smoking. Slowly cutting down on cigarettes can have a psychological effect that makes the cigarettes seem far more precious than they actually are. Put the money aside that you would have otherwise spent on cigarettes and watch your money grow!

Emotional resilience

By | Uncategorized
by Chloe Webster and Bridgit Brown
Pebbles Childcare

As practitioners, we know only too well how important supporting children’s personal, social and emotional development is, particularly in today’s society where children’s mental health (and mental health in general) is so prevalent. There are staggering statistics from the Mental Health Foundation that say at least one in 10 children (aged five to 16 years) experience some form of mental illness (including anxiety and depression) as a direct response of things they have experienced, yet as many as 70% of these children will not have received sufficient interventions within their early years. (

So what can we do as practitioners to reduce these staggering statistics and equip our children’s emotional arsenal adequately enough to deal with the trials and tribulations the modern world puts upon them as they grow up?

As settings, we should place the children’s emotional development, resilience and intelligence at the forefront of everything we do, because how can we expect children to learn literacy, maths and problem solving skills when they aren’t emotionally ready to learn? As practitioners we need to support the emotional well-being of the children we care for. We must ensure that they are aware of their emotions, what they mean, how to manage them before developing their understanding of the emotional needs of others and how we can be mindful and supportive of each other in order to develop friendships and relationships.

Encouraging children to be emotionally intelligent and resilient doesn’t have to be difficult; the earlier we introduce children to becoming aware of and feeling their emotions, the more likely they will be to grow into emotionally balanced and intelligent young people.

The behaviours children display are an outwards response of the emotions they are feeling and trying to process, and it is our job to not only support them with processing these emotions but also to allow them to truly ‘feel’ their emotions before understanding why they are feeling them and how to deal with them and process them adequately. Children need the opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions in order to develop the appropriate skills to recognise, identify and manage each emotion; if we try to ‘protect’ children from ‘negative’ feelings (anger, sadness, fear) then how will they ever possess the emotional tools to process these emotions constructively.

For children, understanding and ‘owning’ their emotions is supported by their developing language and their understanding of the words and phrases we, as practitioners, use in relation to their emotions.

The words we use to identify, recognise, discuss and process emotions and behaviours have a significant impact on how children will react, respond and understand the varying emotions they feel. For example; instead of saying “Don’t be scared” when a child is feeling fearful, we could ask them “What are you scared of?”, “Why are you feeling scared?”, “What scares you about this?” This way, the child begins to mentally process the emotion and feelings they are experiencing, and dissect it to begin to understand ‘why’ they feel this type of emotion and how to overcome it with the support of a familiar adult. Similarly, simply telling a child “Stop crying”, “You don’t need to cry”, doesn’t support their emotional intelligence and enable them to investigate why they are crying or what it is that is causing them to feel upset.

It is our job as childcare providers to support the children in our care in understanding and dealing with their emotions, in addition to supporting them in understanding and being empathic towards the feelings and emotions of other children in the setting too.

As adults, we know that emotionally we all have different triggers, different ways of dealing with the emotions we experience; children are exactly the same and will all process and react a range of emotions in varying levels of behaviour, it is our duty as their key people to determine, understand and support each child’s individual emotional range, find tools to support them in processing and understanding each emotion, before encouraging them to identify and support the emotions of their peers.

In order to meet children’s emotional needs, they will need a number of things. Firstly, an emotionally rich environment supported by emotionally intelligent adults, in addition to resources that provide children with the opportunity to explore different emotions of different people, opportunities to practice and identify various emotions as well as the opportunity to practice how to support and process the emotions of others.

Providing children with various resources to support them in exploring these things through their play and in their own time, is fundamental to cementing their learning and understanding of emotions.

We need to provide children with a wide variety of stories and books that discuss and explore different real-life scenarios that can unleash different emotions (parental separation, moving house, the transition to school or to a new setting, a new baby, to name but a few) and explore how these are addressed and managed through stories as well as a vast array of imaginative play experiences to practice and develop the skills needed to identify and support the emotions of others.

Where developmentally appropriate, introducing simple mindfulness activities and techniques to provide the children with the time and space to think about, feel and process their feelings in a constructive and calm way is conducive to the resilience of the children’s emotional well-being as well as their emotional intelligence.

Yoga is a wonderful activity for focusing on movements that enable children to breathe, take control of their body and mind and focus on each movement and breath they are taking which instils a feeling of calm amongst the children.
For our older children, making their own ‘worry jars’ is a great activity and resource to have within your setting; a small jar that the children can create freely with, combining coloured water and glitter/sequins/buttons. The message behind these jars is that when the child feels angry/sad/anxious they can physically express these feelings by shaking the jar vigorously and calm themselves by focusing on watching the glitter/sequins/buttons settle; therefore allowing the child time to mindfully focus on their feelings and the process of watching the materials settle provides the child’s feelings to settle and calm too. These jars not only support the child in managing their emotions productively but also provide the child with ownership of their own emotions and behaviour management.

We all have a role to play as professionals and parents to ensure that we know how to adequately support the mental health of our young children in order to support them in growing into emotionally balanced young adults.

Maternity leave – how is it spent?

By | Education, Finance, Uncategorized, Work employment

Research has revealed the top things that pregnant women plan to do during their maternity leave, with 15% stating that they plan to start their own business and become a ‘mumpreneur’. According to the poll, a third of new mums go back to work earlier than they are required to, with the majority citing ‘financial reasons’ behind their decision to return early.
The days of maternity leave being used to rest and relax, have tea breaks and bond with other new mums are long gone, according to new research that has found British women have far more ambitious plans to keep busy during their leave. Taking up a new hobbies, setting up businesses and learning a new language are among the top things that expectant mums plan to do while away from work.

The team at conducted the research as part of an ongoing study into the financial situations that Britons find themselves in. 2,319
British women aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they had given birth in the past five years, were quizzed about their maternity leave and how they spent their time.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘How did you plan to spend your maternity leave?’ to which the most common responses were ‘taking up a new hobby’ (18%), ‘setting up a business’ (15%), ‘learning a new language’ (12%) and ‘travelling’ (9%). All respondents were then asked if they had spent their leave doing what they had planned to do, with the results revealing that half of those who wanted to set up a business did indeed become ‘mumpreneurs’ (50%) and 41% of those who wanted to learn a new language realised their dreams, though just 11% of pregnant women who planned to travel ended up venturing abroad.

All respondents were then asked ‘Did you return to work before your full maternity entitlement was up?’ to which 55% of respondents stated that they used their full entitlement, whilst the remaining respondents either made the decision to return to work early (33%) or chose not to return to work at all (11%).

Those who returned to work early, without using their full maternity entitlement, were asked to share the reasons why they had done so. When provided with a list of possible reasons and told to select all
that applied, the top five responses were as follows:

1. Financial reasons – 81%
2. Needed more adult company in the day – 70%
3. Worried about long-term job security – 52%
4. My child was in day-care, and it gave me something to do – 46%
5. I felt the company needed me back – 39%

All respondents who had returned to work were then asked ‘Did your return to work go as you had planned?’ to which 74% admitted that it hadn’t. When asked to elaborate, 44% of those who planned to return to work full-time ended up returning part-time, compared to 13% who planned to return to work
part-time and ended up working full-time.

George Charles, spokesperson for, made the following comments: “It’s fantastic to see that so many women are using their maternity leave to do something positive. Obviously they’re already doing something incredible, by raising a child, but it’s important that they take the time to do something for themselves at the same time. Taking up a hobby, meeting new people and studying something new, these are great ways to pass the time, keep occupied and also get your child engaging with others too. They’ll also leave you in a better position when it comes to returning to the working world – assuming that’s something you wish to do.”

Protecting your child’s education

By | Education, Finance, Uncategorized

An insurance guide for parents of children at independent schools

by Clare Cave
Director at SFS Group

Choosing the right school for your child is a huge decision – taking many hours of careful thought and research. You want to make sure you consider every option and look at every possible angle to find the perfect choice. After all, this is something that will affect the rest of their lives.

Once you’ve secured that all important place, the next step is to secure your finances. Many parents are aware that there are products that can help spread the cost across a period of time, to help with budgeting and make fees more affordable. These payment plans can be extremely helpful and can be the difference between deciding to opt for an independent education or not.

However, what many parents aren’t aware of is that there are a number of insurance products available that can secure those payments, no matter what the future may hold.

Here are details of those policies, providing the full picture about what protection
is available:

School Fees Insurance
After the mortgage, school fees are probably the next largest financial commitment for families with children at independent schools. Many will have taken steps to protect their homes but may never have known they could do the same with their children’s fees. If one parent dies or suffers a serious illness, it could be extremely difficult to find the money required to keep your child at the school you’ve chosen.

What does it cover?
This product covers your school fees until your child turns 18 should you become terminally ill or die. Benefit payments are made directly to the school, therefore avoiding any tax or probate issues that may be encountered through traditional life insurance policies. No medical underwriting is required to take out the insurance. Critical illness cover can be added to the policy too, at an additional cost. A choice of different levels of cover are available.

School Fees Refund Insurance
Most of the time, when children are ill they’ll only be off school for a day or two. However, if they contract something more serious, such as glandular fever, they could be off school for two or three weeks, or even longer. Similarly, if they suffer a broken arm or leg, they may need to spend time at home to recuperate. All this time, parents will be required to continue to pay fees despite their children not being in school.

What does this cover?
This product provides a refund of your school fees if your child misses school due to accident or illness. Each policy will have a defined deferred period – a time the child needs to be off school before a claim can be made. Typically, this length of time will be between five and 10 days. There is a choice of different levels of cover available. Some policies will also cover weekends for children who are at boarding school.

Pupils’ Personal Possessions Insurance
Technology has become an everyday part of education. Pupils are often required to complete their work on a computer and may need to take it into school to use in their lessons. Mobile phones have become almost universal among children at senior schools and over a third of those aged eight to 11 own one. These are expensive items that can be difficult to live without and can be easily damaged in a hectic day at school.

What does this cover?
There are a range of different policies available for pupils’ possessions, offering different levels of cover. The most useful attributes to look out for are a low excess and cover for accidental damage. While it is possible to include your children’s possessions on your household contents insurance, having a separate policy will often work out more cost effective and will protect any no-claims bonus that you may have.

Income Protection Insurance
Cover is also available to protect against long-term health conditions that aren’t classed as a critical, serious or terminal illness. The most common cause for a prolonged sickness absence for employees in the UK is mental illness, which could be covered by
this protection.

What does this cover?
This provides insurance cover to pay for school fees should you become ill or have an accident and be unable to work for a set number of weeks. A range of different cover levels are available, and payments are made directly to the school in monthly instalments. Payments will continue until you return to work, your child reaches 18 or for five years, whichever happens first.

Securing the best possible education for your child is one of the best gifts you can ever give. It opens up so many possibilities for their future.
It makes sense to spend just a little time on your financial planning to ensure you have the right protections in place, so they can follow whatever path they choose.

Clare Cave is Director at SFS Group who has, for over 25 years, been providing parents of children at independent schools with innovative insurance products that give peace of mind for whatever the future may hold.

Sport for all

By | Uncategorized
by Antonia Beary
Headmistress, Mayfield School

Teachers from my own schooldays might be rather sceptical at my writing an article on the benefits of sport, and rightly so, as any recollections of my youthful endeavours to avoid cross country or the 1500 metres (I think I was the only person in my year not to do it) would elicit, at best, amusement. However, even the most recalcitrant child can surprise themselves and others.

Sport teaches us all, not just our children, skills and helps discover abilities which can prove invaluable as life skills. Playing as a team requires not only working together, but thinking about other people and understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

Good team players will be able to see themselves contributing to something bigger, as they have to look beyond their own individual goals to the shared, common good. Representing our school, or county or country, requires stepping up to the mark and working towards an altruistic goal, espousing what may seem old-fashioned values, which are increasingly at odds with those of the self-centred society in which we seem to live. Most of us can’t avoid having to work with others, so acquiring the tools to do it well, and sooner rather than later, is key. For teenagers to appreciate both that it is not just ‘all about them’ but also that they have something valuable to contribute, promotes a balanced sense of self-esteem.

Practice, as we know, makes perfect. In a world where there is a disproportionate focus on individuals plucked out of obscurity allegedly to fame and fortune, sport offers an excellent lesson: while natural ability may be an advantage, it is nothing without consistent effort and application – rain or shine. With our increasing dependence on mobile phones allowing the best laid plans to be changed at the last minute, understanding the concept of commitment to a match or practice is important. It doesn’t matter if you have a better offer – you have a responsibility to your team. In making sacrifices, so character is built. Captaining a team can lead on to more significant leadership roles and the responsibility being a role model entails.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about resilience: learning how to win and, more importantly, how to lose graciously are skills which should not be underrated. At a time when, increasingly, pressure is put on our children with an expectation they will always get things right, sport provides an arena where it is almost impossible not to make mistakes. Playing sport offers opportunities to learn how to cope when,

inevitably, things do not go to plan. Learning to roll with the punches – literal and metaphorical – is a vital skill. At the same time, having to conform to a set of rules is no bad thing for a child who is used to always getting what he – or she – wants. Fair play and respect for the umpire’s decision needs to be learnt and can’t necessarily be assumed: while cheats may well prosper in the world we live in, it doesn’t mean we should encourage or condone flouting of the rules. Sport should help instil in our young people the fundamental value of integrity.

There’s a reason why the Romans believed ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’. Computer games may offer a certain type of stimulation but there is nothing to beat fresh air and physical activity for real well-being. There is no escaping the fact that an increase in the availability of junk foods or, at the very least, overly processed foods, and less curriculum time devoted to sport is contributing to obesity in today’s young people. Not only does eating healthily help you perform better, but regular physical activity also means that you can get away with spoiling yourself every now and then. Moving to work in a boys’ school, I learnt the value of rugby: one harsh winter I taught classes unable to play sport due to frozen pitches. The windows regularly steamed up with pent-up energy, bordering on aggression. Expending energy on the playing field whether you are a boy or a girl, in my experience, means that you can focus effectively on your academic study. Furthermore, the skills of concentration, focus and determination are easily transferrable and success in a match can boost confidence and instil a self-belief which in turn allows you to approach a challenging maths problem or a philosophical conundrum with more conviction.

There is a reason why we ‘play’ sport – sport has to be about having fun. For some, that pleasure will come from being intensely competitive, for others simply in being part of something bigger than themselves and spending time with their friends, not so much in the pursuit of excellence, but to cement relationships and support networks, to let
off steam and relax after a stressful day.

And the joy of sport is that there is something for everyone. For the record: the girl who, aged 13, tried to arrange her music lessons in PE, in a few short years found herself representing Cambridge University in the Boat Race. Who says miracles don’t happen?

Antonia Beary is Headmistress of Mayfield School, a leading Catholic independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18 located in Sussex. Described by the Independent Schools Inspectorate as ‘outstanding’ and by Country Life as
“one of the finest schools in the land”,
a Mayfield education combines academic excellence, breadth of opportunity and exceptional pastoral care in a nurturing environment, which welcomes all.
For more information visit the school website at

YOGA for bedtime

By | Uncategorized
by Charlie Nash

Yoga offers so many wonderful benefits for the mind, body and soul which can help so many aspects of our daily lives. Sleep is a key part of our health and well-being, as it allows our body to rest and restore. Incorporating a short bedtime yoga sequence into your child’s bedtime routine can calm the mind and relieve tension in the body which can help to induce better sleep.

Gently guide your child through this easy to follow mini routine, you don’t even need a yoga mat and can easily practice this on the bed before settling down for sleep.

Make sure the room is cool to encourage a restorative sleep, turn off the TV, computers and phones, dim the lights or use a bedside lamp to give the room a soft light and as a visual cue to the brain to start winding down, ready for sleep.

1. Easy pose

To begin, sit in easy pose, to promote inner calm. Imagine a balloon gently pulling your head up to sit a little taller, take in three deep breaths, counting to three on each breath in and three on each breath out. For the first few times you practice this with your child count aloud; that way they can then fully concentrate on their breathing. Focusing on the breath will help the mind begin to unwind and relax.

2. Cat/cow pose

Start on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Cow – inhale and gently drop the belly towards the floor, lift the head and tailbone up towards the ceiling.

Cat – reverse the movement, exhaling deeply and round the spine, tucking the chin in towards the chest. If your child feels happy to do so, ask them to close their eyes as they do this.

3. Butterfly pose

Sit with your feet and heels touching. You can introduce some very gentle movement with the breath by lifting the knees up and down. You can, if you feel it is right for your child, encourage them to close their eyes and imagine they are a beautiful butterfly fluttering round their favourite park or place in nature.

4. Lazy forward bend

This is extremely self-soothing and helps to promote digestion, relieves stress and helps to calm the mind.

Feet should be together and knees bent. The idea isn’t to reach the toes but just to allow the arms to rest where they are comfortable. It’s also nice particularly for bedtime to place some pillows on top of the legs and allow the head to nuzzle into the pillows. Let go of counting the breath and allow your child to fully relax.

They can imagine they are on a boat traveling down a lazy river.

5. Knees to chest

This is another self-soothing posture. It increases circulation to the head and releases tension in the neck and back. Allow for the knees to come to the chest and clasp arms around the shin area of the leg. Gently rock side to side which gives a gentle bedtime massage to the spine.


6. Shavasana

Our resting pose, lay in a comfortable position with a favourite toy to cuddle and begin to relax the whole body. Guide your child through
relaxation by naming each body part, for example “Relax your feet, relax your legs” and so on. You could play some sounds from nature, soothing music or use this time as an opportunity to read a short bedtime story.

If your child is still a little restless you can try making a simple lavender and chamomile pillow sack, two tablespoons of dried lavender and one tablespoon of dried chamomile in a little fabric sack tucked under the pillow will provide a soothing scent to send them off to dreamland.

Sweet dreams.

YogaFrogs – bringing weekly yoga, mindfulness, meditation and creativity to children, teens and families across East and West Sussex,