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Getting ready for a successful start at school

By | children's health, Education, fun for children, Playing, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Naomi Bartholomew
Headmistress, St Catherine’s Prep School

As you look forward with a mixture of excitement and nerves to your child starting school in September, here are some practical tips to help ensure that your child has a happy and successful start.

Forming links
Most schools now offer settling in days or part days for their youngest pupils. These can be very helpful and a good chance for you to put names to faces. As well as the all-important class teacher, I recommend getting to know the teaching assistant, Head, school secretary, and parents who are a part of the PTA. All of these will be key in helping both you and your child settle into new routines. It can also be handy to work out which other parents live near to you and who might be moving from the same nursery or preschool. Also involve anyone else who might be involved in your weekly routines – grandparents or child-minders so that they too have made some connections ahead of the start of term. I know of one friend who held a name labelling party in order to meet some other friendly looking parents – this is certainly one way to get to know each other and get the dreaded name labels sewn into as many items as you possibly can. Name everything!

Understanding expectations and routines
It seems obvious but make sure you have all of the essential information early on. Some schools have phased starts which begin with mornings only or alternate full days. This is certainly important to plan ahead particularly if your child starting school coincides with you returning to full-time work. Arrangements for drop off and pick up and what to look out for in terms of communication from the school whether that be weekly memos or newsletter or via the school’s website are also key. Getting dates into your diary for parents’ evenings, nativity plays and other things you won’t want to miss is also important.

Encouraging independence and self-help skills over the summer holidays is far more important than trying to teach your child letters and numbers. Can they dress themselves? If not, start to practise that as soon as possible.

Family logistics
Whether this is your first child to start school or a younger sibling, there will be an impact on all of your family. Consider the school run and daily family routines carefully in order to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible.

Extra-curricular activities and playdates
Even for those who have been used to a full day at nursery and a number of extra-curricular activities each week beware of signing up to any additional activities in your child’s first term. They will be learning in a whole new way at school and need time to rest each day when they get home, as will you! Similarly play dates and sleep overs can be very tempting but less is most definitely more in term one.

Younger pupils
Parents with younger aged children, those with summer birthdays in particular, can be anxious about their child being school ready. Trust the school to make the necessary adjustments and remember that age and stage of development can be different for each child.

The first day of term
Stay calm, allow additional time for the school run and cherish the moment – enjoy the photo on the front doorstep marking the occasion and don’t linger too long over the goodbyes. There is a very small window in which to see your child settled and interested in their new surroundings. If you linger and need further reassurance it is likely your child will pick up on that in a split second of doubt and have a wobble. So make a dash for the door as soon as you are able. Many children will have already been used to nursery school and playgroups so remember that you have left them before and all was well. You will have chosen a school you have confidence in and the staff will be able to reassure your child and make sure that the first day is a positive one. If you are the one whose child clings or cries, do not be embarrassed. They will settle once you have gone and the school will contact you to let you know that is the case. Have a plan for what you are then going to do next whether it be return to work or head for a strong coffee with a friend. The day will be one full of excitement for your child.

As your child settles
Remember that day one might feel like Christmas day, full of excitement but that as the weeks go on your child will become tired. The calmer and more prepared you feel as a parent, the more likely your child will also feel ready and willing to skip into school.

Hence, I recommend:
• Talking positively about going to school.
• Helping your child into the routine of managing their own clothing, school book bag and so on.
• Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep.
• Getting into good habits of arriving in good time for the start of school.
• Listening to your child tell you about the school day but avoiding 20 questions.
• Trusting the school and their experience – they will allow your child space to grow and develop and it is important that you support them in that.
• Talking to your child’s teacher if you feel uncertain or unsure – communication with the school is vital and building relationships with school staff (admin, teachers and teaching assistants) is really important.

Good luck!

St Catherine’s Prep School, Bramley extends a warm welcome to parents who would like to visit the school.
Open Mornings: Wednesday 25th September and Thursday 17th October.
Please contact Sally Manhire, Prep School Registrar, on 01483 899665. www.stcatherines.info

Ballet isn’t just pink tutus!

By | dance & Art, Education, Uncategorized
by Tabitha McConnell
Dance Art Studio

Many children dream of becoming a ballerina, wearing the tutu and being right up on their toes. But there is so much more to the ballet curriculum than this. While these aspirations give children something to work towards, dance also provides achievable goals that can be met across a single lesson or across a term, teaching children self-motivation.

So why take your child to dance class when you can just put some music on at home? With the guidance of a qualified teacher, your child is not just learning dance but a variety of cross-curricular skills. Ballet, for example, teaches another language – French. Other subjects covered through the dance curricular include: history, religious studies, music and drama. Our modern-day society and multiple other subjects can be expressed through dance, giving children the opportunity to create their own movements and sequences, also known as choreographing.

There are many long-term benefits of continuing dance; your child is learning discipline through a structured environment, from a different mentor. Student’s uniforms must be smart, they must listen in class and be in time with the music. At competitions, points are deducted if the performer is seen to look untidy or messy in appearance. This teaches students the importance of
good appearance, therefore making them more employable in the future. Many studies
have suggested that a tidy appearance leads to a tidier mind and work ethic.

Encouraging your child to begin dance at a young age will increase their chances of staying physically active throughout life, therefore improving their overall health. Dance develops essential motor patterns that are a key part of many sports.

A shocking 80% of four year olds are showing a significant delay in their motor development. Through dance children gain the vital motor skills needed for everyday life. Simple skills like balancing, jumping and the transference of weight are learnt. These skills assist with everyday life with movements such as reaching for something on the top shelf and increase flexibility. Dance is also a suitable complementary activity to many other sports such as netball, as it assists with footwork, or javelin as it assists with balance. Dance skills are particularly beneficial when playing football, as they increases children’s mobility and therefore angles at which they can kick the ball. Dance is for both girls and boys, with many schemes in place to encourage boys to dance. Starting boys dancing at a young age is teaching all children that stereotypes can be defied and that they should do what they really enjoy.

Is dance really physically challenging my child? You may perceive ballet as a softer dance form and ask if it really challenges a child’s physique. Dance can be classified as vigorous exercise as student’s heart rates are elevated by more than 60% for over half of the lesson. This does not mean dance isn’t suitable for those looking for a more relaxing, less strenuous exercise form; with so many genres available under the dance bracket there is something for all. Dance is so versatile and inclusive that it caters for all capabilities. Ballet has also been shown to increase lung capacity and efficiency with only two hourly sessions a week. Dance is one of few sports to work nearly all the muscle groups counteracting the effects of repetitive strain injuries. Core strength is also developed, which permits good posture and facilitates ease of breathing.

Not only does dance positively influence a child’s physical development but also their cognitive development as they are learning both time-management and self-discipline. These skills are transferable to other parts of life, such as school work. Dance students are also asked to learn and recall patterns of movement, further challenging both their memories and mental capabilities. This challenge has been shown to reduce the effects of many cognitive diseases at an older age. Let’s not forget, dance classes are also where children make friends for life as they develop team skills through group work in a friendly environment.

Ballet offers so much more than just pointed toes; it offers children the opportunity to express themselves freely, whether that be using their butterfly wings to fly away, or joining the marching band and playing their favourite instrument. This is something very few other physical activity schemes offer. This creativity is so important to a child as it enables them to explore their inner selves in addition to the physical world, creating emotional experiences and memories that will remain with them for life. I would highly advise all children are given the opportunity to dance, whether this be something they wish to pursue as a career, perform as a hobby or just use as a regular class for fitness purposes. The positive effects on their social, cognitive and physical development are numerous.

Dance Art Studio is located in the Fiveways and Preston Park area of Brighton offering under 5s and graded ballet, tap and modern. Boys tap and jazz, teen jazz, adult tap and jazzfit.
We also hold summer workshops.
www.danceartstudio.co.uk

The joys of sports-based summer clubs

By | Uncategorized

When summer comes around and children are free from school for many weeks, it’s important to make sure that they keep active, but for busy working families, this may be easier said than done.

However, there are a number of ways in which you can keep children fit and healthy over the summer, including sports-based summer holiday clubs. Here are just four reasons why sport is beneficial when it comes to child development:

1 Physical development
Sport involves many types of exercise, including running, jumping and swimming. Not only does this help to keep children fit, it also develops strong and healthy muscles, joints and bones.

2 Motor skills
Through sports, children enhance valuable motor skills, including balance, hand-eye co-ordination and spatial awareness. These are all important skills that are put to use in day-to-day situations, not just in sports. Sport also requires concentration and discipline, leading to a positive attitude towards learning.

3 Social skills
Playing team sports encourages friendships and promotes teamwork. Interacting with different people requires compassion and a supportive nature is hugely beneficial. A child’s communication skills will improve through interaction with a team and this will help in any situation that requires meeting new people and making friends throughout their lives.

4 Self-esteem
It’s long been believed that sport can promote self-esteem and confidence in children. Being surrounded by supportive teams and coaches can offer encouragement and make children know that they are valued. Learning to humbly celebrate achievements and graciously accept defeats is really important for a strong, confident personality.

In sport, children will also push themselves to the best of their abilities to meet goals and targets, will be actively encouraged to improve, and can celebrate when they do. By continuously learning and improving skills, children
will see a huge boost to their self-esteem.
Taken from www.summerschooldirectory.co.uk

How to help your child manage failure

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

Does your child fear ‘failure’? It’s a frightening word isn’t it and one that puts a sinking feeling in our stomachs.

Today’s young people have to navigate their way through a long list of potential failures: What if I fail my GCSEs? What if I don’t pass my next swimming level? What if I come last in a race? What if I don’t pass my piano grade?

We can’t protect our children from the risk of failure and we shouldn’t try to. As parents, all we can do is help them to cope with and learn from all these situations.

Children’s charity, ChildLine, reports that one of the things children worry about the most when it comes to failing is disappointing their parents. So, reassuring them that you don’t expect them to excel at everything can go a long way.

It’s worth just taking time to think about whether you are passing on some of your own anxieties or expectations onto them. You can talk to them about possible solutions/courses of action if things don’t go as well as they would have liked.

Children’s health and well-being practitioner, osteopath Sheree McGregor, says the word ‘failure’ comes from seeing learning as a two-dimensional scale with success (good) at one end and failure (bad) at the other. A much more positive approach is to look at learning as more multi-dimensional.

Sheree believes we can help our children a great deal by teaching them to look at their results not as ‘success’ or ‘failure’, but as opportunities to explore. Exploration means a chance to discover.

In practice, this means encouraging your child to be curious of a result and ask questions such as:
• What have I learned about what doesn’t work?
• Can this explain something that I didn’t set out to explain?
• What can I do with these results?
• What have I discovered that I didn’t set out to discover?

The same approach should be applied to successful results, which can often be a missed learning opportunity – we rarely ask the child holding the trophy what they have learnt from their experience!

She also warns that ‘failing’ should never be swept under the carpet. Avoiding failure merely heightens the dread of it, so when it does happen it will be felt more strongly and deeply.

Sheree adds: “Helping a child to focus on learning in which there are choices and opportunities allows them to try different pathways so that learning remains a positive experience.

“We, as parents, are often tempted to step in when things become challenging but learning to deal with setbacks helps children develop important life skills such as creative thinking, and resilience.”

Sheree is a practitioner for the Sunflower Programme, which uses a pioneering approach to children’s health and well-being. The programme focuses on integrating the brain with the body to help children become the best that they can be. Sunflower has helped hundreds of children – many with diagnosed health, behavioural or learning difficulties, others who are underachieving at school and some, who for no obvious reason, need a little extra help to achieve their potential.

Sheree explains: “Resilience is a term that is used a lot at Sunflower. Sunflower believes that building resilience within children that extends to their body, brain and emotional state will enable them to cope better with life challenges and reach their potential.

“Often using the analogy of learning to ride a bike can be useful – when you fall off, you get back on until eventually you can ride without thinking about it. However, the absolute best way to deal with a child during challenging times is to make them feel supported and loved as much as possible.”

Mette Theilmann, from Parenting Success Coaching, says listening without saying anything can go a long way towards helping children cope with failure. She explains: “We want the sad feeling to go away so they can go back and be happy again, so we go into over drive to fix. But because of these feelings, we often find it hard to listen and accept what we hear or see.

“It is listening that gives them the greatest comfort to cope with the situation, their feelings and problems.

“Being listened to helps our children accept the situation better and allows them to problem solve themselves – since it’s our acceptance of their unhappy feelings/behaviours that can make it easier for them to cope with the situation.”

For more information about the Sunflower Programme: www.sunflowertrust.com

To read more Parenting Success tips:
www.parentingsuccesscoaching.com

Sion School advice

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

By | Education, Mental health, Relationships, Uncategorized

Anne-Marie Coe has been a teacher for over 20 years at Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing and is a mother with grown up children. Now in the role of Assistant Head, Pastoral, she has been instrumental in developing the Wellbeing Programme at Sion which has recently been recognised with an ISA (Independent Schools Association) award for Excellence and Innovation in Mental Health and Wellbeing. This programme successfully supports pupils and helps raise awareness about issues surrounding mental health with a whole school approach. Taking the stigma out of mental health is at the core of the programme so that students feel comfortable and confident in understanding and talking about their feelings.

Our mental health and emotional wellbeing is all about how we think, feel, and behave. It can affect daily life, relationships, and even physical health. It is our ability to enjoy life – to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

The emotional wellbeing ofour children is just as important as t heir physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. This can be attributed to changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.

The sad reality is that mental health problems affect about one in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. Sadder still is that 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age (as cited by The Mental Health Foundation).

In our roles as parent, carer or teacher we are very keen to fix things, so what can we do to keep the children and young people in our care mentally well?

Technological advances mean there is the biggest gap in cultural understanding between adults (parents and teachers) and children since the 1960s. The challenge is to bridge the divide because communication is key to good mental health. In order to have an open and honest dialogue with our children, we need to understand their world and what is important to them.

Empathy versus sympathy
The ability to understand and share the feelings of children and young people is a way in to meaningful conversations about their lives and what may be troubling them. With younger children, empathic listening will help their previously unmanageable feelings become more manageable. Take, for example, the toddler who doesn’t want to leave the play park and starts screaming – by saying that you understand that they love that play park and that they don’t want to go home, they will experience the relief of being understood and no longer being alone with their feelings of loss.

Play is a great way for children to express themselves as well as through words. You can learn a lot about how they’re feeling by simply spending time with them and watching them play. Stressed and upset children often play fighting games with their toys. Commenting that there are a lot of fights going on, or that it seems pretty frightening, can pave the way for them to open up to you about what is bothering them.

Dealing with change can be as difficult for us as it is for the children and young people. Changes such as moving home or school can often act as triggers for anxiety. Some children who start school feel excited about making new friends and doing new activities, but others may feel anxious about entering a new environment. One of the most important ways parents, carers and teachers can help is to listen to them and take their feelings seriously.

Starting school, or a new school, can lead to separation anxiety in some children – excessive and persistent worrying at being separated from those the child is attached to or worry that harm will come to them. Following the ABC plan is a great way to prevent the anxiety from becoming overwhelming or unmanageable.

Step A – acknowledge and validate how they are feeling with empathic listening.
Reassure them that anxiety is normal and that the aim is not to have zero anxiety but to prevent it becoming overpowering.

Step B – build self-esteem.
What I am good at and my achievements; what I like about myself; nice things that people say about me; my happiest memories, people I am grateful for.

Step C – challenge and plan.
Where is the evidence? How likely is it to come true? What if it does come true? What is a suitable alternative thought? Choose a goal and break it down into small steps.

It is also a difficult time when your child is grieving as you may also be in a state of grief and coping with overwhelming emotional pain that this brings. If they seem tearful or withdrawn, encourage them to open up about how they’re feeling by talking about the person who’s died.

Young children have an awareness of death, but can see it as reversible. It helps to explain it by saying, “… has died … is not going to be with us any more”. They may also blame themselves and can become angry or have difficulty with changes in routine. They may even have psychosomatic symptoms. Older children (around eight years old) start to understand the finality of death so their anger and distress levels can be higher. They can also display younger behaviour or may try to be the perfect child and be brave. Their grief will make them feel different from their peers and it is important that they feel supported by their school community.

We need to remember that children and young people’s negative feelings usually pass. However, it’s important to get professional help if your child is distressed for a long time, if their negative feelings are stopping them from getting on with their lives, if their distress is disrupting family life or if they are repeatedly behaving in ways you would not expect at their age.

If your child is having problems at school, a teacher, school nurse, school counsellor or educational psychologist may be able to help. Otherwise, go to your GP or speak to a health visitor. These professionals are able to refer a child to further help. Different professionals often work together in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

To end on a happy note here are the top tips for keeping our mental health and that of our children in top shape.

Smile – pass on a smile to someone.
Optimism – self-fulfilling prophecy – thoughts and behaviours will follow.
Creativity – everyone needs a creative outlet, something which lets us exorcise difficult feelings, perhaps through sport, art, music or drama.
Kindness – a random act of kindness each day.
Mindfulness – meditation – focus on your breathing – think of nothing!
Gratitude – think of three things that you are grateful for each day.
Have fun! – make time to do things that you enjoy. Happiness is contagious!

Our Lady of Sion is an independent interdenominational school based in Worthing for girls and boys, ages 3 to 18. www.sionschool.org.uk

Make time for teeth

By | baby health, beauty, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized
by Lisa Costigan, Rottingdean Dental Care

Lisa Costigan from Rottingdean Dental Care has practiced locally for 27 years. During this time she has dealt with many dental injuries and is very keen that all parents should know what to do if their child damages a tooth.

What should I do if my child damages a primary (baby) tooth?
You don’t have to do anything yourself to the tooth. However it is important that you visit your dentist as soon as possible. NEVER put back a knocked out primary (baby) tooth as you could damage the permanent tooth below.

Why is important that I visit the dentist straight away?
Your dentist will want to assess the injury and monitor the tooth. If it has become very loose they may want to remove it as there could be an airway risk. If it has been mildly displaced from the socket they may be able to reposition it. Sometimes if the movement is very slight the tooth will reposition spontaneously.

How can I care for the injured tooth at home?
Avoid giving hard food for two to four weeks and if possible avoid use of a pacifier or nursing bottle. Remember to keep brushing the tooth as it is important to keep it clean. Look out for any changes around the injured tooth. Colour change is a common sign of primary (baby) tooth trauma and may range from yellow to grey to black. Always return to your dentist with any concerns.

Can an injury to a primary (baby) tooth damage the unerupted permanent tooth?
During the first years of life the primary (baby) teeth are very closely related to the permanent teeth which are forming inside the bone. When injury occurs in the primary teeth in this period it can affect the appearance of the permanent teeth, which could erupt with white or brown marks or a deformation in the crown. It may also disturb the eruption time of the permanent tooth.

What should I do if a permanent tooth is broken or knocked out?
• Find the tooth. Hold the
tooth by the crown (the white part), not by the root (the yellow part).
• Re-implant immediately if possible.
• If contaminated rinse briefly with cold tap water (do not scrub) and put the tooth back in place. This can be done by the child or an adult.
• Hold the tooth in place. Bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position and go to the dentist immediately.
• If you cannot put the tooth back in, place in a cup of milk or saline. When milk or saline or not available, place the tooth in the child’s mouth (between the cheeks and gums).
• Seek immediate dental treatment as your dentist will need to take an x-ray and place a splint on the adjacent teeth. Follow up treatment will depend on the stage of root development of the tooth.

Lisa advises that due to the frequency of the tooth injuries all parents should download the Dental Trauma First Aid App which is endorsed by IAPT (International Association of Dental Traumatology).

Rottingdean Dental Care was opened in 1982. It became the first practice in Sussex to hold both national quality standards BDA Good Practice and Investors in People.
Email: info@rottingdeandental.co.uk

Water sports – more to it than sailing?

By | Uncategorized
by Harvey Dawkins
Lagoon Water Sports

Kids love to splash around in the water; they seem to get as much fun from the falling in as they do from any actual activity! When a child learns to windsurf, sail or wakeboard, not only are they learning the key skills required for the sport, such as how to pull the sail up and where to put their feet, they are also introduced to a whole new world, which for many kids is completely different and requires them to use new skills.

 

Combined with careful leadership and instruction from qualified and experienced staff the young novice will not only learn a new watersport but will come away with their eyes opened to a whole new world.

Water sports provide children with a fantastic opportunity to have a great time and learn new skills, but water sports offer far more than learning the technical skills of each sport. They provide an excellent way of developing and improving a whole range of life skills away from the classroom and frequently allow a different group of children to flourish.

Our first time sailor quickly finds they need to know where the wind is coming from. They need to figure out what they can and cannot do in this new world. This requires experiential learning. Once up and going, our novice sailor will need to try many different ways to make sure they are heading where they want to. It soon becomes apparent that the wind is the boss of the boat and the sailor must learn how to use this to their advantage. Whilst all this is going on, our young sailor is becoming more and more confident in the water, which
is a very important and rewarding outcome.

It is common to find that children that do not flourish in the classroom find the water sports arena is one in which they can excel. Just a few months after their first nervous steps on the water a youngster can be out sailing on the sea or jumping the wakeboard ramps. The confidence gained by proving to themselves, parents and peers that they can master the new skills and succeed in a challenging environment can have a host of positive outcomes As one parent puts it… “My son started windsurfing and sailing as a very shy 11 year old who found the classroom environment difficult due to dyslexia. Three years later he is a confident teenager achieving excellent results at school, is passionate about water sports and is now confident enough to teach adults and children sailing during the holidays. Thank you Lagoon Water Sports.”

All this and more can be achieved whilst the children are having a ball as long as you choose the right location. Before leaping in, make sure you look for a Royal Yachting Association School and one that is Adventure Activity Licensed as they will ensure the school operates to high standards.

There is more to water sports than meets the eyes and it is all out there waiting for our children – and there is nothing to stop you joining in either!

Useful website: www.rya.org.uk

Tips to get your children listening

By | family, Health, Mental health, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Camilla Miller
Keeping Your Cool Parenting

It’s easy to feel guilty, stressed out and overwhelmed when you know there’s a way to lead to a happier family life, but you just can’t find it.

As a parenting coach, I get to work with many families and the one thing all the parents tell me is that they want to have a better relationship with their children.

Here’s how Emma describes her situation: “When I first met Camilla, I was at my wits end. My relationship with my children had hit rock bottom. They were constantly fighting and I was losing my cool and shouting too much. The kids weren’t listening unless I lost it. I went to bed most days feeling guilty and overwhelmed. I didn’t think there was any way out of the power struggles and negative cycle of anger and frustration. The relationship with my husband was becoming strained as we were arguing about how best to deal with raising our children.”

Sound familiar?

Within just a few hours of learning the techniques and skills I teach on my parenting course, Emma started to see results, and you can too.
Here’s what Emma said after taking the course: “Camilla’s ‘Chaos to Calm’ course transformed family life. Our family went from stressed out and overwhelmed to calm and connected. Our relationship is now based on love and respect. Camilla taught me techniques that improved our communication skills and we learnt how to best deal with misbehaviour in a positive way.”

“How do I get my children to listen?” is one of the questions parents ask me most often. If you’re having the same problem, here are some tips that will help you rapidly improve your relationship with your children:

1 When your child is defiant, what he or she needs is more love and attention, not less. Our children first need to feel heard by us before they can listen to us. So, spend time talking and listening to your child each day.

2 No one likes being bossed around all the time – it only leads to resentment and push back. Notice how many demands and commands you give your child daily and aim to lower it.

3 Before losing your patience with your child, think: “Would I speak to my best friend that way?”

4 Ask for what you want and not for what you don’t want. For example, ask your child to walk, rather than telling them not to run.

Camilla Miller is a qualified parenting coach at Keeping Your Cool Parenting.
She supports mums and dads whose kids are starting to rule the roost, and communication has broken down, often leaving parents feeling guilty, stressed and overwhelmed. She supports parents to gain skills that create willing cooperation without coercion so that the whole family can go from chaos to calm.

Choosing the perfect dance class for your child

By | children's health, dance & Art, Education, family, fun for children, Uncategorized
by Rianna Parchment
Kicks Dance

Children love music and they love to dance! But with so many dance classes run locally, how do you choose the right one?

Have a read below of my top tips when choosing the perfect dance class for your child:

Are you looking for a school that is technique driven, or just good fun?
Whilst dance schools are united in their passion for dance, their mission and ethos can differ. Some schools focus on preparing children for exams and competitions, whilst others prefer to focus on the fun and enjoyment of dance. Is your child interested in taking exams and competing, or would they prefer a more ‘stress-free’ class?

Top tip: Speak to other parents who have children taking different types of classes to see which atmosphere and environment might best suit your child.

What do others say about the school?
Once you’ve narrowed down the local options in your chosen ‘type’ of school, have a look at their website and social media pages to find out a bit more about them. Are the staff qualified and experienced? Do they come highly recommended by other parents?

Top tip: Asking in local Facebook groups is a great way to get the best recommendations from other local parents.

What is the commitment?
Of course, as an extracurricular activity, dance classes are intended to take up free time. However, it’s a good idea to know whether your child’s class will change day as they get older and progress, or whether there will be extra rehearsals or costs involved during the year for shows, exams, competitions or uniform.

Top tip: Many schools have a Parent Handbook or similar with this information in one place.

Time to talk
A huge part of getting a feel for a dance school is speaking with the owner or principal about their school. This is an opportunity for you to find out the answers to any questions you may have, but also to get a first impression of their customer service and ethos
in practice.

Top tip: Many dance school owners teach during ‘after-school’ hours. If you can, try calling during the school day, but if this is not practical for you, don’t forget to leave a message for them to call
you back.

Finally – give the class a try!
Sign up for a trial class (some schools even offer this for free!) It’s not unusual for some children to feel anxious for the first time in a new class, so see how the teacher responds
to this.

Top tip: Remember that depending on the age of your child, many dance schools will not permit you to watch the class due to safeguarding reasons. My advice is to get to the class a few minutes early to have a look around, meet the class teacher and get a feel for the class environment.

Whether your child is interested in classes just for fun, or to pursue a future career, it’s so important that they feel welcome, safe and inspired in their first dance class. Do your research, follow your gut feeling and find your child’s perfect dance class!

Kicks Dance provides fun, friendly and stress-free dance classes for children aged 18 months – 11 years in your local area. Every child is a star – give yours the chance to sparkle!
www.kicksdance.co.uk

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.