Category

Uncategorized

Why recognising the early signs of mental health issues in children is crucial

By | children's health, Health, Mental health, Relationships, Uncategorized

Children and young people’s mental health has never been so high on the public agenda. Figures released recently show that 5% of children aged five to 10 have conduct disorder; this increases to 7% as young people approach secondary school years (Green et al.) and referrals to child mental health units from UK primary schools for pupils aged 11 and under have risen by nearly 50% in three years.
In May this year, former Prime Minister Theresa May announced a funding package to provide teachers and care workers with training on how to spot the signs of mental health issues. The wide-ranging package of measures make sure staff have the confidence and skills they need to identify mental health issues in young people before they become critical.

However, concerns have already been raised about the lack of mental health services available to young people once issues have been identified. Shadow Health Secretary Barbara Keeley said: “Once again we hear warm words from the Prime Minister on mental health, but the reality is that mental health services are stretched to breaking point and people with mental health problems aren’t getting the support they need.”

The most common mental health problem affecting children are conduct disorders (severe and persistent behavioural problems). Severe and persistent behavioural problems starting before secondary school years which go unsupported can have a long-term impact on children’s mental health and life chances.

Early years and education providers have a responsibility to provide staff with the training and support required to recognise early signs of mental health problems at this young age. Equipping staff with the skills to recognise warning signs and behaviours could lead to a child gaining the support they need to maintain mental wellbeing.

It’s a subject very close to the heart of Ann Poolton, Head of CPD Courses at BB Training, and her team. “We are very passionate about this issue. Not only can early identification save children from stressful situations, but it ensures staff are better placed to support young people in their care. We continue to offer best practice advise and training on this subject both internally and externally, as we understand the importance of promoting good mental health for children and staff alike.”

The funding now available should be used by employers to provide the necessary training required to give teachers the confidence and ability to cope with the rise in mental health issues in children.

Ann concluded: “For people working with young children, it is key that they are able to recognise the early signs of mental health problems and understand how to develop strategies to build resilience in children. The environment they grow up in, and their ability to handle the pressures and stresses of growing up, all play an important role in preventing problems from developing.”

Learning through role-play

By | Uncategorized

All children love ‘pretend play’ or ‘role-play’. As parents we can see them do it at home when they copy what they see others doing; whether it is pretending to put the washing in, ‘helping’ with mummy’s or daddy’s work, dressing up and being a firefighter or playing shops.

Children are just having fun when they are pretending to be someone else but effective role-play gives children the opportunity to try out ideas in a safe environment. It allows them to explore boundaries, make sense of the world and develop their own identities. Some play centres are now focussed on role-play where children can act out various roles and jobs from the real world; children can deliver the post, put out a fire or solve a crime. Through pretend play, children are learning to understand the basic principles of society and how it functions, and the important rules and routines of everyday life. Fundamentally, children are given the chance to play out events and situation they have seen in real life, and if necessary, to try and make sense of them.

In schools where children are routinely tested on what they have remembered and understood in class, giving children space where they are free to express themselves and pretend to be someone different for a while allows them to not only learn what they like or dislike but also have empathy with other people. Role-play allows children to experiment with different social situations as well as different emotions. In a play centre where they can act out various roles alongside other children, they learn how to interact, co-operate and collaborate with each other in order to play.

It is easy to see how role-play improves children’s communication skills. When they go to the shops with you, they will listen to how you and the staff communicate and then try to replicate it in their role-play situations (which can be funny to see!). It is very interesting to see what they pick up from us and the world around them. Additionally, role-play is a great way of developing children’s fine motor skills as they dress a doll, use coins or dish up pretend food.

Toddlers will engage in simple pretend play such as talking on the phone or using keys, as they grow a little older and skills are more developed children will love to be fully immersed in familiar role-play scenarios such as going to the shops or the doctors and by the time
they go to school the scenarios will become quite complex and they will want to replicate real life situations with other children where they take on different roles.

When children are imagining they are someone else for a while, one of the most important things they learn is how to have empathy with another person. Even as a preschooler they will have the first inkling of what it is like to be a policeman, a firefighter or a teacher and as their sense of empathy becomes more developed it can help them in many areas of life, and in dealing with different types of people at school and in the outside world.

Albert Einstein put it as well as anyone when he said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Swim-Little-Fishy-Swim-Group-Photo

Sing, play… and learn!

By | Education, fun for children, Music and singing, parties, Uncategorized
by Al Start
www.gokidmusic.com

When our children are babies and preschoolers their lives are full of music – songs, nursery rhymes and bedtime lullabies. But when they start school, they seek songs that aren’t ‘babyish’. From the age of five to 10 children still need great songs to inspire them until they are old enough to find their own style.

Does your child struggle to learn in a conventional way? Even if they don’t, music and singing can play a huge part in supporting and even improving learning in subjects such as maths and literacy. Engaging in creative music activities positively affects self-confidence and aspirations. It gives children more motivation and subsequent attainment at school. It even lightens mood, reduces anger and improves behaviour. Handy!

Sadly, we are now seeing more children with mental health issues – even in Key Stage 1. Singing, playing musical instruments, and regularly listening to music are all proven to give significant wellbeing benefits. So music really should be a big part of your family’s daily routine.

As parents, carers and music-lovers, what can we do to help our children continue to develop their love of music?

Talk to your child’s teacher – how much music and singing is your child able to participate in each day? Could they do more? You may be pleasantly surprised.

Play music in your car (rather than give children tablets and gadgets to fiddle with). Singing together is a positive, bonding experience for adults and children alike.

Choose wisely – pick your favourite songs, or listen to the radio – but be aware of what the song is about. What do the words mean to a child? Can they relate? Are they even appropriate? Children listen to words and song lyrics way more that us adults – believe me, it’s all going in – good and bad!

Play soft music in the back-ground at home instead of having the TV on. Chat to your kids about who the song is by, what instruments can they hear?

Spotify is a great source of finding appropriate music for families to listen to together. In the USA they even have a genre known as ‘Kindie Music’ – Kids Indie – independent artists like me making music that is child-friendly and adult-friendly too!

Learn an instrument – another chance to spend a little more quality time with your child is to learn together. My favourite is the (affordable) ukulele. It’s easy for little fingers (I’d suggest from Year 2 upwards) and with just four strings you can play simple songs quickly. Its great fun for adults too!

Music lessons and classes – look in your local area for music projects. You will find basic instrument lessons but also think outside the box, and look up band projects for kids – groups that teach electric guitar, drums, rock/pop singing and so on – very cool and great socially too.

Get singing yourself! We concentrate on our children so much we may have lost touch with music ourselves. Did you used to play an instrument or love singing when you were at school? Get back into it, dude!

The Internet offers us access to amazing online tools to learn instruments, brush-up on old skills and try new things. Search for your favourite music activity and just see what’s out there. If you are inspired, you can inspire your children too!

Al Start is a children’s singer-songwriter and music specialist with 20 year’s experience.She set up her award-winning children’s music company Go Kid Music in 2015 to provide more children, schools and families with great music. Find them online for unique music for your family. Live shows, CDs, downloads, songs for learning/teaching, online music clubs and ukulele lessons. www.gokidmusic.com

 

couple

Marriage, civil partnership or living together?

By | family, Legal, Uncategorized

Here Rachael House, Senior Associate Solicitor in Family Law at Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in Woking answers questions to explain the different options so you can work out what’s best for your own relationship.

Can couples of the opposite sex enter into a civil partnership?
Yes. Since the end of 2019, couples of the opposite sex have been able to enter into a civil partnership to cement their relationship in law. This is something that was previously only allowed for same sex couples.

Why not just get married?
People have their own personal reasons for not wanting to get married but they may still want to have the same legal rights afforded to them as married couples. Allowing opposite sex couples to enter into a civil partnership enables them to benefit from the same legal rights as though they were married. This applies to money matters such as tax benefits, pensions and inheritance.

I am happy living with my partner, why bother with either?
Bear in mind that there is no such thing as a ‘common law’ husband or wife. This means that just because you have lived together for a number of years, you do not have the same legal rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership. This can create financial hardship in the event of death or separation if careful planning is not taken at the outset or during the relationship. There are important matters to consider to protect your legal rights for example, if you own your own home or are going to invest unequal amounts into a property. With legal advice, a co-habitation agreement can be prepared setting out how money will be treated in the event of the relationship ending but it can also include provision about the day-to-day running of the household during the relationship. However, as the law currently stands, you will not have the same automatic benefits as married couples or those in a civil partnership.

What do I need to consider before getting married or entering into a civil partnership?
Whether you are getting married or entering into a civil partnership, it is sensible to consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, particularly if this is a second marriage or partnership for you – as you may have assets from a previous relationship you wish to protect should this current relationship break down.

Can I convert my civil partnership into a marriage in the future?
Currently only same sex couples can convert their civil partnership into a marriage. Conversion for opposite sex civil partnerships is not yet available, but it is likely to become law in the future.

What if my marriage or civil partnership breaks down?
You must have been separated for a year or more before commencing divorce or (in the case of a civil partnership) dissolution proceedings. Upon the ending of a civil partnership, you are entitled to the same financial provisions as those available in a divorce. The provisions deal with selling or transferring property, payment of a lump sum of money from one party to the other, ongoing payments to support one party to help them live day-to-day, and entitlement to receive a share of the other party’s pension. These may sound like simple matters but the practicality of applying them to the assets is often complicated, and so legal advice is beneficial. Taking early legal advice can often avoid costly court proceedings.

What if I do not want to go to court?
There are different routes to achieve financial settlement without attending court. Many couples go through mediation (legal aid is still available in some circumstances to cover the cost). Another option is the collaborative route where parties meet in the same room with their respective legal teams and pledge not to go to court. Arbitration can be entered into where couples require a court-like decision without actually going to court. It is also possible to arrange private court-like meetings to obtain the expert view of a person acting as a judge. The ‘judgement’ is then used to guide the parties towards reaching agreement swiftly. Your legal advisor can discuss which route is most appropriate for you.

Rachael House is a specialist family solicitor at Mackrell Turner Garrett, an established firm of experienced Solicitors based in Woking. www.mtgsurrey.co.uk

Outdoor learning and Forest School – a breath of fresh air!

By | Education, environment, fun for children, Gardening, Playing, Uncategorized
by Kirsty Keep
Head Mistress, Lancing College Preparatory School at Hove

Schools and nurseries are increasingly taking learning outside, whether by using their own outdoor space as an open-air classroom or by tackling traditional ‘woodland activities’ in natural areas or ones specifically designed for the purpose. But where do the origins of Forest School lie and how do our schools and nurseries embrace that philosophy in 2020?

The longstanding Scandinavian passion for nature is known as friluftsliv which translates as ‘open-air living’. As far back as the mid-nineteenth century, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen described friluftsliv as the value to spiritual and physical wellbeing achieved by spending time outside in remote locations. So-called ‘nature schools’ began to appear in Denmark as early as the 1950s and grew in number in the 1970s when the demand for childcare rose dramatically to meet the needs of mothers returning to work while their children were very young. These early schools developed a kindergarten system that provided children with the opportunities to learn and develop in natural environments and outdoor settings. They were modelled on the work of Friedrich Fröbel, a 19th century German pedagogue and a student of Pestalozzi. Fröbel recognised that each child has unique needs and capabilities and it is no surprise that this has laid the foundation for modern early years education offered today.

These days, for our youngest children, outdoor locations tend, generally speaking, not to be particularly remote but they offer experiences that are a world away from lessons within the walls of a classroom or learning through play indoors.

School trips and visits have always given children a taste of the world beyond school but outdoor learning at school is a way of using natural resources to learn about nature. It also offers some welcome respite from the plethora of electronic resources for recreation and learning that immerse today’s children, who are born ‘digital natives’ unlike their parents, grandparents and teachers who have had to acquire digital awareness or in some cases had digital awareness thrust upon them!

Many schools and nurseries have their own garden areas where children can literally get ‘hands-on’ experience, planting seeds, watering and weeding and seeing the fruits of their endeavours grow as the seasons change. Ponds and science gardens give a myriad of opportunities for children of all ages to try their hand at pond-dipping, recording the diversity of insects and bugs visiting the gardens and operating weather stations.

However, whatever fabulous facilities a school or nursery may have on site, the possibilities for taking learning outdoors at school are endless, only limited by imagination! They can range from outdoor maths, for example counting the right angles around the school buildings and campus, creating art from nature, using twigs and leaves to make temporary pieces of art that are not only cost-free but also recyclable. Young children studying history, for example, can see for themselves just how rapidly the Great Fire of London spread by creating their own model Tudor houses from cardboard boxes, packing them into a fire pit and watching them burn. Carefully supervised by staff armed with fire extinguishers, this activity can also act as a Health & Safety lesson as to what to do in the event of a fire!

Forest School is a more sustained, long-term process which aims through positive outdoor experiences to encourage and inspire children to love the world around them. For preschool children, Forest School nurtures their sense of wonder and their curiosity about the world outside, closely entwined with the ideals of free-flow play and learning from play that underpin the child-centred learning ethos and areas that lie at the heart of the Early Years Foundation Stage which runs from birth to five years of age. Away from their school or nursery, they have adventures in natural habitats such as woods, rivers and streams, ponds and beaches. Supervised with the lightest of touches by staff, the children have the freedom to discover what fascinates them in nature and to respond spontaneously to the environment they are exploring.

Forest School is for young children of all ages; it helps babies to expand their sensory awareness, for example by feeling plants and mosses in woodland or digging up shells and pebbles on a beach. Toddlers try their hands at making camps out of logs and branches and have their first go at climbing trees or making a tyre swing. Three year olds build on their problem-solving skills by arranging logs to form a bridge to get over a stream.

For older children, there is a huge range of practical activities including bushcraft, fire-lighting, knifecraft, such as whittling and carving, how to tie knots and build shelters. Naturalist skills such as identifying plants, animal tracks and signs are eagerly embraced and children enjoy learning how to forage safely and sustainably and how to prepare and cook wild food. Who would have thought under eights would get excited by the prospect of nettle tea?

Outdoor explorers learn soft skills too that nurture critical thinking skills and teamwork. They develop empathy and sympathy with their peers and learn how to work as a team to solve problems, honing their communication and negotiation skills. The children learn to recognise and assess risks for themselves and to make choices to ensure their group’s safety. They grow in confidence and self-esteem through these hands-on experiences.

It is also an excellent way to introduce conservation activities and the ‘leave no trace’ philosophy that we should preserve wild places and leave nature as unchanged by our presence as possible, so that future generations can enjoy it too.

Above all, it’s fun – children can get messy, get wet, climb higher and develop a love of outdoor life. They explore the natural world around them using magnifying glasses, saws, spades and buckets. This brings their learning to life and helps to create an understanding of the balance of nature and resources.

The Lancing College family includes its two Prep Schools located in Hove and Worthing, and located on the edge of the College’s 550 acre estate, a Day Nursery which opened in September 2019 and offers day care all-year round for children aged two months and over. All three provide wonderful opportunities for children to take their learning outdoors and are prime examples of nursery school pioneer Margaret McMillan’s assertion made in the mid-1920s “The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky!”

Spending time with your children

By | environment, family, fun for children, Playing, Relationships, Sprintime, Uncategorized

According to a study from children’s brand, Stokke, one in four (23%) parents say that their child complains ‘all of the time’ that they can’t spend enough time together. Overall, nearly two-thirds (60%) of children wish they could spend more time with their parents – with the main culprits being work, chores and lack of money to do things.
The most popular quality time activities that parents said their children enjoyed doing the most as a family were:
1. Eating out (41%)
2. Going to the park (41%)
3. Going for walks (40%)
4. Going to the movies (37%)
5. Visiting family and friends (31%)
6. Playing board games (30%)
7. Reading (27%)
8. Swimming (27%)
9. Cooking (26%)
10. Playing games consoles (25%)

Stine Brogaard from Stokke’s offers five top tips on becoming closer to your child and ensuring you spend quality time together.

1.Don’t take time for granted
Instead of booking playdates for your child when you have the day off, make it quality mother/daughter or father/son time, doing something together that you both want to do.

2. Ask your child questions
Find out what their favourite things to do are. A child’s taste changes so much over time so it’s important to keep on track and do things that reflect this.

3. Share passions
Find something that you are passionate about and encourage your child to get into it too. Even better if it’s something you can do together, whether that’s reading, walking, or playing a sport such as football or tennis. This will make it much easier to find time for each other that you’ll enjoy. Though read the signs if they don’t enjoy it, you can’t force these things!

4. Cook together
Eating is something we do every day, so cooking together is a fantastic way to have fun together, give your child responsibility and educate them about food. Give them set tasks, let them choose what they’d like to cook and encourage them. Seeing the family appreciate the food you’ve created together will be something very special to them and give them confidence.

5. Make the most of the shorter windows of time
We all have very busy lives, always going from A to B whether that’s school, work, extra-curricular classes or friends’ houses. If you’re travelling together, make sure you pay your child your full attention and make an effort to understand what’s gone on in their day and share snapshots of your own. The most important thing is to laugh together, and find ways to have fun, wherever you are – no matter how little time you have.

Research has revealed, 87% of parents wished they could spend more time with their children while parents say that less than half (45%) of the time they spend with their child is quality time.

Research of 2,000 parents of children aged under 14 also revealed that when it comes to making key decisions in the household, it appears that the child has more control over what happens today than years gone by. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of people said their child had more control in their home than when they were young, and one in four (27%) admit that their child completely rules the roost! In fact, over half (53%) of British parents said that their child is the bossiest person in the household.

starting back to school

Top tips for preparing your child for school

By | Education, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Claire Russell
Early Years Specialist

Probably one of the biggest milestones of being a parent is that of your child starting school. Before their little one takes this massive next step, mums and dads everywhere will be wondering nervously how they can help prepare them!
It can be an anxious time for parents (and children) but first and foremost, it’s important not to worry (easier said than done, I know). Schools are very good at helping to support children as they transition and will always ensure their needs are met. However, there are a few things parents can do and some good habits they can encourage to help their child feel a little more ready. And I’m not talking about them being able to write their name, or count to 10. It’s a common misconception that the best way to support your child is via academic things but actually preparing them for starting school isn’t about putting pressure on them to learn lots in a short space of time, it’s more about preparing them socially and emotionally.

1. Is your child able to dress themselves? Can they pull their jumper over their head or pop socks on their feet? Can they do the buttons up on their shirt? Can they put their shoes on? Try having a practice. No doubt they’re excited about wearing them and it’s handy for them to get used to dressing themselves because they’ll have to attempt it at school during PE class or when they need the toilet.

2. Try to get your child into the habit of eating independently. Teachers will not be expecting miracles and your child will of course still be supported, no one is going to let them starve, but it won’t be the same as their main carer being there to spoon feed them or gee them along! If they don’t already, encourage them to have a go at using cutlery. Invite them to take their plate to the kitchen afterwards too as they may well be expected to clear their lunch trays at school.

3. Practice independent toileting. Can they wipe their own bum? Can they flush the toilet and wash their hands? Why not create a poster to stick up in the bathroom reminding them of the correct routine – draw around their hands and label each finger: rinse, soap, rub, rinse, dry.

4. Encourage your child to keep warm. Young children often don’t link cold weather to putting their coat on or taking a layer off when it’s hot. Keep prompting them so they get into the habit. Likewise, when it comes to drinking! It’s important to stay hydrated.

5. Focus on sharing. They are going to be in an environment with lots of other children. Now if they’ve been to nursery or preschool previously, they may be used to this but if not, play some games with them, focusing upon sharing and taking turns, following instructions and routines.

6. Try working on and developing fine motor skills. Encourage them to do little fiddly things which strengthen the muscles used in the pincer grip which will be required to hold a pencil or use tools such a scissors. Practise threading beads onto a string, making small items from playdough, or shredding scraps of paper.

7. If a child is a little anxious try to notice if they keep asking the same question. It may be that it’s a certain something that is causing them to worry. Even the smallest of things can appear a big deal to them so sit down together, talk through and unpick the matter. Draw a timetable of the school day including pictures as a visual aid, for example, drop off, sit on carpet, have a snack, play and lunch.

8. Teach your child to recognise their written name. Now while it might not be about learning to write their name, starting to recognise it can be very helpful because they’re going to be seeing it on their pegs, book bags, PE kit. If you don’t already have one, put a sign on their bedroom door – you could make it and decorate it yourselves! Just recognising the first letter of their name can be a big help. Why not make it fun by writing it in shaving foam, paint, chalks, playdough and magnetic fridge letters.

9. If they’re showing an interest in numbers try singing lots of numerical songs. For example, Five Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day; One, Two, Three, Four Five, Once I caught a Fish Alive, as well as counting when you’re out and about. Point out bus numbers, house numbers, numbers around the home – on the oven, on clocks. Count when you climb the stairs and when brushing their teeth. Most importantly, keep it fun. No pressure though! Number recognition is handy but not essential. If they don’t know them then it’s absolutely fine because that is what school is for!

10. Finally, make a habit of reading together regularly. School will be sending home books so encouraging their love of reading now will pay dividends.

Claire Russell is an Early Years Specialist and founder of playHOORAY!. Find out more about Claire at www.playhooray.co.uk or follow her on social media at www.instagram.com/play.hooray and Facebook at www.facebook.com/playhooray.uk for live play demos every week day at 10am.

How to raise earth-friendly children

By | Education, environment, Uncategorized

Children are increasingly aware of the need to help the planet. Westbourne House School’s Head of Nursery and Pre-Prep Caroline Oglethorpe thinks that to raise earth-friendly children we need to show we care and respect the environment both at school and at home.

“You wouldn’t think a 15 year old could change the world and she literally has”, Honor (aged 11) told me when she heard the news that Greta Thunberg had won Time’s Person of the Year.

Honor is a keen environmentalist in Year 7 at Westbourne House School, Chichester, and she sits on the Environment Committee, an initiative involving Years 1 to 8. She is supported by the school to take positive action, which helps her and her fellow committee feel positive and empowered. And as we’ve witnessed, children’s enthusiasm, passion and understanding can have a huge impact and help change attitudes and behaviour.

I believe that when we practice what we preach, when we show we care too – either as a school or as parents at home – the impact on young minds is stronger and our children learn better how to make a difference to the environment. As Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Nothing could be truer when it comes to educating and as a school we are working to create many opportunities for children to be involved. Recently our children from Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and 2 – and their parents – enthusiastically planted 100 trees to create a new wildlife woodland. With the children, we discussed the carbon cycle and the importance of trees and how trees make homes for wildlife. The children in Year 2 wrote a letter to the trees thanking them for the air that we breathe and for absorbing CO2, helping our planet to breathe too.

Speaking at the tree planting event, Sarah Cunliffe, wildlife filmmaker at Sussex-based Big Wave Productions, said: “I am so proud of all the children. What is happening is a fantastic example of how we can all make change and reduce our carbon footprint. We all need to do more.”

“We all need to do more” this is the reason to empower children and help them to realise that they can make a positive impact if they choose. The Environmental Committee members at our school are tasked with looking around the school, deciding where they can make a difference and driving changes. It is about getting back to basics as well – gardening and growing vegetables, thinking about eating seasonally, reducing food waste, being outside, appreciating what we have and mindfulness.

The school of course will continue to encourage green behaviour with visits from outside organisations such as Solar Education, who visited Years 3 and 4 recently and helped them work out their carbon footprints. Plus visits from inspirational people such as author and passionate conservationist Laurent St John, who reminded the children during her visit that they can be their parents’ conscience. In the spring, pupils will be planting wild flowers adjacent to the new woodland site as part of a pan-European pollination project, which aims to create even more opportunities for wildlife to flourish.

I’ve collected together a few ideas that you might want to do with your child/ren to help develop their environmental awareness and to remind us all that every little action helps:

1 It is always good to remind ourselves how incredible our planet is. If you haven’t watched Seven Worlds One Planet on BBC1 with your children, you can catch it on iPlayer.

2 If you want to learn together, there are sites that explain climate change in a factual way for children such as National Geographic Kids.

3 Create a challenge to catch each other when not making sustainable choices. For example, a child might not think about the impact of leaving the lid off a glue stick, which means that the whole stick, including plastic casing, has to be thrown away. You might forget to turn off your engine at the level crossing. Your child might struggle to resist the ice cream with the biggest plastic packaging.

4 There are so many fun initiatives you can join in with as a family for example:
• No Mow May: Plantlife, a British conservation charity, urges you not to mow your lawn (or part of it) in May. By the end, your garden will be buzzing with happy pollinators and your family can join in the flower count.
• Your family could join up to Hedgehog Street (www.hedgehogstreet.org). Aimed at gardens with fences, you can ensure that there is a hedgehog highway and put yourself down as a Hedgehog Champion in your street and encourage others to do the same.

Westbourne House School: for boys and girls aged 2½ – 13. www.westbournehouse.org

family love

How children communicate

By | Education, Uncategorized
by Justine van de Weg
The Arts College, Worthing

Do you find you become irritated at times when your child will not listen to you? Some days you may feel like ripping your hair out in frustration! When you understand how children think, it can sometimes give you a clearer perspective.

Children are developing their brains, fine motor muscles in their hands, co-ordination, speech and walking on a daily basis. It can be easy to assume that when a child can put a sentence together they know or understand how situations, conversations or emotions work. As an adult, this is second nature. However, think about when you, as an adult, start a job for the first time. Could you fully operate the office, know where all the paper work is, how to answer the phone, who to speak to, where to find materials or resources? Think back to the time you learnt how to drive. You had to learn how the gears, accelerator, steering wheel and rear view mirror work together as a team.

The communication processes that are constantly developing within a child are the sensory senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. When children are trying to communicate they will communicate through senses and exploring. Putting it simply – children use less words. When you grow up and become an adult, your senses are second nature and not much thought is given to the development of your senses. As an adult, you rely more on logical thinking, words, actions and, of course, assumptions based on what you have learnt from the adults who surrounded you when you were growing up. Putting it simply – adults use more words.

When adults and children become frustrated with one another, it’s because one is communicating with too many words, and the other (mostly the child) is trying to understand the words, but cannot because they don’t relate to their senses and understanding. Their processing is through senses. When you ask children how they feel, although they can speak, they cannot always say how they feel, or why they feel irritable or angry. This is because they need support and guidance from the adult to communicate through their senses.

Tips to help:
1 Communicate through pictures. Instead of asking children how they feel, ask them to point to a face that has an expression. You can draw various faces ranging from smiling to angry. Number the faces up to 10 so that you know the extent of irritation or anger.

2 Have activities around that can help children release anger – for example: a punching bag, trampoline, swinging tennis ball or a ‘screaming pillow’.

Giving a child an activity with the expectation of them just doing it will not always work. They are still learning and the only way they learn is by watching their parents and the adults surrounding them.

When your child is working through the activity, it is important to ask them if they want you near them or they want you to leave them alone. With some activities they may just want you to stand there whilst they hit the ball, or jump on the trampoline.

3 Sensory activity suggestions include breathing exercises, chopping up strips of hard food like carrots and getting children chewing on them or having relaxing and calming oil smells in the house.

4 EFT – this is an emotional freedom technique. Tapping on certain acupressure points on the body stimulates the effect as if attending an acupuncture session, only without the needles. Great EFT points which I always use with children are the point on the chest, just below the collar bone closest to the shoulder, and the side of the hand .When parents are willing to do this activity with their children, the children will follow their lead.

theatre boy popcorn

Enjoy the show!

By | dance & Art, family, Music and singing, parties, Playing, Theatre, Uncategorized

We are lucky enough to have some fantastic theatres in the county and it is important to support local theatres if we want to keep them around. Some of our theatres have some wonderful shows on for children over the next few months so it’s a great time to visit them.

Seeing a live show is an escape from daily life for a couple of hours – whatever your age. Children can fully immerse themselves in what they are seeing on stage. Apart from the pure enjoyment of seeing a show there are many other benefits of taking your children to see a show.

Seeing a live performance encourages children to be more empathetic and to put themselves in the shoes of others. They can imagine how it will feel to have the family of the boy on stage, or what it feels like to be a soldier, or even to live as a refugee. Theatres encourage you to step into the shoes of a character – building empathy, understanding and inclusivity.

Many of today’s theatre shows stem from books. For children who have read the books, there’s nothing quite like watching their favourite characters come to life. It’s also a great way to expose children who haven’t read the books to some fantastic and imaginative literature.

Lots of new shows that are aimed at children tackle issues that children many find hard to talk about such as mental health, friendship, sense of belonging, bullying and family breakdowns. You will be amazed at some of the conversations that seeing a show can prompt. Taking children to the theatre can give parents a way to explore difficult themes together and a way to begin those vital conversations.

For little ones, theatre is simply a lot of fun. There’s so much to watch, sing along to and laugh along with. Even if children are too young to understand verbal dialogue they will still be stimulated by the visual side of the show and shows that are aimed at toddlers will be deliberately short and more interactive with lots to keep young children stimulated.

Some parents find taking their children to the theatre a daunting experience; will they be able to sit still long enough? Will they be quiet and what happens if they need the toilet during the show? When theatres put on shows for children, they realise that you can’t predict
how your child will behave and are far more accepting of the odd interruption from a child who needs the toilet or who can’t manage to sit down for that long.

Shows for children usually have age recommendations. These aren’t set in stone and act as a guide for how old audience members should be. These recommendations act much like certificates for films, but also give you a sense of whether your child will understand the plot of the show.

Get children excited about going to the show in advance and talk to them about the kind of behaviour that is expected. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time for the inevitable toilet queues and to get settled comfortably in your seats.

Many theatres now offer relaxed performances for children with autism who may find a show too overwhelming. During these performances, the house lights often stay up, loud noises are made quieter and there’s sometimes a chill out area to sit in if children find it too much to take in.

A trip to the theatre should be accessible to all, and theatres are working hard to make theatres welcoming and enticing for children. A theatre show provides an escape for all ages and you get to sit back while someone else is in charge of the entertainment!