Category Archives: Parenting

Win £20 Worth Of Crafts And Help Bring Creativity Back Into Childhood

Have you heard of our friends at The Creation Station? They are passionate about inspiring children’s imaginations and have a team of 97 franchise owners across the UK. It was started by Sarah Cressall, proud mum to Sam. Ollie and Josh.

“Our fantastic team of Creation Station franchise owners have already inspired over 250,000 children and families with the award winning art and craft classes, parties, clubs, events and products. We have ambitious growth plans for 2020 to help inspire the nation’s imagination”.

Creation Station pitch to Rich

Sarah has pitched to Richard Branson online to help bring creativity back into childhood and are now at position 3. They would love it if you can click to vote to help them reach number 1 and make a difference to more children and families.

If you believe more children should have the opportunity to unleash their creative spirit so they can dream, believe and achieve, we would really appreciate your support by voting for our project: https://www.vmbvoom.com/pitches/the-creation-station

Voting takes just a few seconds and as thank you, when you share on Facebook with #creation station you‘ll have a chance to win a daily £20 craft giveaway!

Thank you from all at The Creation Station. It would mean a lot to many…

pitch to rich video

https://www.vmbvoom.com/pitches/the-creation-station

#VOOM 2016 is the UK and Ireland’s biggest and most valuable pitching competition, from Virgin Media Business. There’s £1 million (€1.2 million) in prizes and the chance to pitch to Richard Branson. Public voting is open until 9th May 2016.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts & Crafts, Little Ones, Parenting, School Kids, Uncategorized

5 Ways To Get Your Children Outdoors This Easter

With Easter just around the corner, finding ways to keep your children active during the holidays can often seem like a herculean task. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to get your little ones out and about in the spring sunshine and many of them won’t cost you a penny. So, lace up their shoes, button up their coats and start giving the Easter bunny a run for his money.

Eggs-ercise Outdoors With An Easter Egg Hunt

It’s nearly impossible to avoid chocolate at this time of year. But, an Easter egg hunt is aeaster-13646_640 great way for your children to burn off energy before they get their hands on any tasty treats. The garden or local park makes the perfect hiding place for these goodies, keeping your children active whilst they race around looking for them. For older children, you might want to introduce a scavenger hunt theme. Providing clues to where the next egg lies will help keep the game fun and engaging. Just remember not to go overboard, as the harder the clues, the higher the chance of your child growing bored of hunting.

Go Wild With Animal Role Play

Easter is the perfect time to introduce a little pretend play to your child’s life. With thousands of baby animals being born up and down the country, it can be fun to imagine what it would be like to be a sheep or a duck. Encourage your children to hop, waddle and quack their way across the garden, enabling them to exercise their imagination as well as their bodies.

Explore The Countryside With A Springtime Walkoutdoor play

If you live in an area where the countryside is close to hand, then you could think about trying to spot some local wildlife. The natural world is an abundant source of wonder to young children, especially if they’re introduced to animals they’ve never encountered before. Taking a stroll with your family through the fields or along the riverside can be a great way of letting off steam and exploring the world around you. Easter is also a great time to visit a petting zoo or local farm to see chicks, bunnies, lambs and ducklings.

Get Involved With An Easter Parade

Whilst there’s plenty to do in your own backyard, joining the local community in their Easter celebrations can be a great experience for the whole family. Check to see if your neighbourhood is putting on an Easter parade that your children can get involved with. These usually provide children with the opportunity to hop, skip and run down the street, along with the chance to create banners and play with their friends.

outdoorplay_boots

Encourage Creativity With Messy Play

If you’re looking for a sensory experience at home, then Easter themed messy play could be the ideal solution. Making shapes in sand, mud and paint allows children to exercise their creative side, as well as helping them develop core motor skills. By turning their creativity into a game, you can keep them active at the same time. Digging for eggs in the mud or searching for toys in the sand will keep toddlers happy for hours and only comes at the price of a quick cleanup afterwards.

 

Author Bio: Sam Flatman is an outdoor learning specialist and an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Play. Sam has been designing outdoor school play equipment for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. He believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which should be integrated into the school curriculum at every opportunity.

Website: http://www.pentagonplay.co.uk/.

Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonPlayUK.

Pentagon’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/PentagonPlayUK

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts & Crafts, Little Ones, Parenting, School Kids

Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego

Toy company funds research suggesting educational development can be hindered by early formal schooling. So are UK schools getting it wrong?

The Guardian today reports that parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm.

A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier, it means they miss out on the early play-based learning that helps to develop creativity, problem-solving and empathy, she says.

According to Rasmussen, the evidence for play-based learning has built enormously over the last decade, but parents don’t know about it. “Both in the formal education system and in the homes of children, the focus on the value of play is rather limited. That’s really something we want to work on – to improve the understanding of the value of play and what play really can do, where more and more it is squeezed by a desire both from the formal system and from parents that children should learn specific literacy and numeracy quite early.”kid_learningthruplay

The intervention by Rasmussen directly challenges the knowledge-based, heavily tested approach to schooling favoured by the UK government – and questioned by many education practitioners.

The 29-year-old Lego Foundation, generously funded with a quarter of Lego’s post-tax profits, is beginning to flex its muscles. Where once it quietly dished out cash – and bricks – to lots of small projects, it has set its sights on campaigning for a mindset change in education around the world. “Our contribution to the world is to challenge the status quo by redefining play and reimagining learning,” says the foundation’s mission statement.

Part of the mission involves putting £4m into a new ‘Lego professorship’ at Cambridge University – the first incumbent will be chosen in April – and supporting an accompanying Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (Pedal). There are more links with Harvard, MIT and other prestigious institutions. The aim is to provide an incontrovertible academic underpinning to the educational value of play, and to define more clearly what works and how to measure it, arming Lego with more evidence to support its campaigning.boy_learningthruplay

But can a toy company – albeit the largest in the world and so famous that its every move makes news (David Beckham builds Lego “to relax”; Ai Weiwei embarrassed “non-political” Lego into bulk-selling him bricks for art) – really influence the way our children learn? Conquering the globe with little red and yellow bricks is one thing; changing the minds of governments is another.

As a child in Denmark in the 1970s, Rasmussen recalls there was more time to play simply because there were fewer of the planned activities that clog up the timetables of today’s over-scheduled children. “We had more room to actually engage and keep ourselves entertained and we learned through that and we grew in many different ways through that,” she says. She and her sister played with Lego, but Rasmussen’s real joy was her years in the sea scouts, when she and three or four other teens would island-hop at weekends on a small boat off the coast close to the Danish capital, adult-free and entirely independent.

SA boy with bricks

©LEGO Foundation

“All over the world, we see parents spending much energy doing the best for their child, and play is not on that list because they don’t have the background to understand what it could do.”

The problem is not that parents don’t have their child’s best interests at heart, she says. But “global competition, economic development – that has put fear or a concern into parents and into governments over how do we become relevant in 15 years or even right now”.

Countries fear seeing their young people left behind, their workforce made irrelevant. “And in that situation what the parent says is, ‘I want my child to have a job, without a job the child will not have a good life, so what can I do to prepare the child?’ And the answer often ends up being more focus on specific skills, and earlier and earlier.”

Rasmussen laments that “barriers in systems – school systems, homes, longstanding institutions that run on their own structures and methodologies” make it a “heavy, heavy task” to change things. Here in the UK – with a school starting age some three years earlier than that of our Scandinavian neighbours, “instructional” learning from the outset and external testing of seven-year-olds in literacy and numeracy – the barriers look pretty solid.

Lego identifies five types of play – physical, symbolic, with rules, with objects, and pretence – and points to the variety of skills developed through each. Even tech-driven play – that source of guilt and respite for so many parents – can fit in: not mindless screen-gawping but activities in which children can “engage with the technology”, or what Lego calls “hands-on, minds-on”. Its second definition of play is a playful state of mind in which, Rasmussen says, “you are open and try different things and are in a positive flow”.

Nailing the benefits of play seems a bit like describing beauty – the essence of it seems somehow diminished by scientific analysis – but research findings are accumulating.

A Cambridge University project, funded by the foundation, saw children devise, tell and act out stories with Lego before writing them down, with play shown to boost narrative and writing skills, as well as interaction and cooperation. The Cambridge study centre will now look into how early play relates to other aspects of young children’s development, explore what happens to the brain during play and conduct a longitudinal study examining what promotes children’s playfulness and how it helps learning and wellbeing.

With strong evidence of the power of play, parents and politicians can be convinced, Rasmussen says. It’s not a question of rejecting the importance of the “content” so beloved of Conservative education secretaries, “but things are changing so fast in our society so the understanding of how you gain and use content knowledge is for us much, much more important. It has to be a balance. You need skills to interact with others, to be able to seek knowledge yourself, because learnings will get outdated.”

An early school starting age need not necessarily be harmful, she says, providing the learning is based on whole-child development and not “sitting at a desk”. But, in contrast to the UK system, she advocates children learning through play well into key stage 2: “In the early years – and that’s up to around eight – a play-based methodology makes a lot of sense.” She cites New Zealand research indicating that early formal literacy lessons do not make children any better readers by age 11, and may even put them off reading.

If Lego is right, then in Britain, with our early formal schooling, we’re getting it wrong. Critics might say that the Lego Foundation – though separate from Lego’s commercial arm – is simply about flogging more models of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon. But, Rasmussen points out, Lego isn’t producing pro-play research itself: the findings come from some of the most esteemed universities on the planet. The Lego link does not compromise the argument, she insists. “We certainly believe the brick is a very, very valuable tool in learning through play but is it the only way or only tool? No, certainly not.”

Can Lego really persuade fearful parents and governments to trust in play? It’s a safe bet that most of its audience will at some time have locked a few Lego bricks together – and just might be willing to listen.

Visit LEGO Foundation at http://www.legofoundation.com/en-gb/.

Visit LEGO at http://www.lego.com/en-gb.

1 Comment

Filed under Little Ones, Parenting, School Kids, Uncategorized

10 Simple Ideas for Days Out this Summer

Days out in the summertime don’t need to cost a fortune. Families can have a great time in their local area by enjoying outdoor activities, whether means heading to a nearby beach, exploring natural trails or camping out in your own back garden.

Here are ten simple ideas for family-friendly days out this summer:

Blue Flag Beaches

Blue Flag Beaches

We all love a day out at the beach, but how do you know which ones are best for your family? Blue Flag beaches are considered to be the cleanest, most well kept beaches with the highest water quality and safety services available. The UK has 178 Blue Flag beaches located all around the country. You can use this handy map to find your nearest Blue Flag beach.

Geocaching

How about taking the whole family on an outdoor treasure hunt? Geocaches are hidden boxes filled with unknown surprises that are dotted all around the country. All you need is a handheld GPS and you can download the coordinates for geocaches in your area. Geocaching is great for getting children active outdoors and their boosting map reading and problem solving skills. You can also try geocaching with the National Trust.

Woodland Walks

There are woodland walks and nature trails all around the UK, so no matter where you are you won’t need to go far for this activity. If your little ones are reluctant to get their trainers on and go out walking, encourage them by creating fun tasks such as collecting leaves which can be used for art projects at home, or spotting different kinds of wildlife. You can search for your nearest woodland walks on the Woodland Trust’s online map.

Fossil or Interesting Rock Hunting

Are your children born explorers? Fossil hunting could be the activity for them. There are a few spots across the UK which are famed for their fossils, including the Jurassic coast in the South West, the South Downs in West Sussex and the Yorkshire coast to name just a few. Fossil hunting is a great way for children to learn about rock formations and the environment. The National Trust has a full list of all the top fossil hunting spots in the UK. You may be surprised what is on your doorstep and if you can’t find a fossil you should be able to find some interesting rocks which will teach your children about the geography below their feet.

Pick Your Own!

Pick Your Own

Fruit picking is lots of fun for children, but make sure you know what fruits are in season before you go. Strawberries are usually ready June to August, while raspberries are only available for picking during July. The blackberry season is a bit longer, extending from July to early November. You can search for your nearest PYO farms here. Once you’ve got your berries, you can have making your own jam or just eating them straight from the basket!

Picnic in the Park

Putting together a picnic is a great way to encourage children to help out in the kitchen. Simply by making some sandwiches, blending some chickpeas to make hummus, and bringing along some chopped vegetables and fresh fruits, you can have an excellent healthy picnic basket in no time.

Castle Ruins

Visiting castles and ruins is not only an adventure, but also a great way for children to learn about history. The UK is home to some incredible stone castles, which you can look up on the CastleXplorer map. Many castles are owned and protected by heritage organisations and therefore have an entrance fee. You can save money by becoming an annual member.

Garden Camping

Garden Campin

You don’t to drive for miles to enjoy a camping trip. For young children, camping outside in your own back garden can be just as fun. Teach children how to set up a tent, using the poles to make the structure and pegging the strings into the ground. When evening rolls in, enjoy a small campfire and toast some marshmallows. Night time is the perfect opportunity for some stargazing too.

Kite Flying

Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! Kite flying is a favourite pastime of young and old alike. If you don’t have a kite already, you can make one at home using sticks from the local woods, a spare rubbish bag and some string. Head on up to your nearest hill or a windy spot and watch your kite soar.

Local Conservation

The summer holidays gives families plenty of time to get involved with conservation projects in their local area. These will vary depending on the area in which you live but you can usually get involved with beach cleanups, wildlife spotting and monitoring animal population numbers. You can contact the National Trust, the RSPB and other local charities in your area to find out what programmes will be running during the summer months.

Don’t forget to see ideas from What’s On 4 Juniors too in our annual round-up of ‘Days Out & Getaways’ : http://www.whatson4littleones.co.uk/days-outgetaways.asp

Days Out & Getaways 2015 with What’s On 4 Juniors

About the Author: Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5,000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons.

Website: http://www.pentagonsport.co.uk
Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonSportUK
Pentagon’s Twitter: @PentagonSportUK

Leave a comment

Filed under Little Ones, Mums, Parenting, School Kids

“Super-Mum”preneur Clare Wingfield is “One to Watch” as the UK’s first ‘What’s On 4 Juniors’ regional franchisee takes on the coveted South East!

Mumpreneur Clare Wingfield is the newest member to join the multi-award winning ‘What’s On 4’ international team as she takes on the What’s On 4 ‘Junior’ activity websites & BabyExpo Baby Show events in the coveted South East Region – www.whatson4littleone.co.uk, www.whatson4schoolkids.co.uk, www.whatson4kidsparties.co.uk and www.babyexpobabyshows.co.uk

Clare Wingfield - Profile Pic - Press ReleaseHaving spent two years in New York after a glittering career in the City, Clare returned to leafy Surrey with husband Andrew and daughters Leah and Natalie. Super-Mum Clare designed and built her new home recently and is now ready for her next challenge, soaring ahead with What’s On 4.

The What’s On 4 Junior websites and Baby Expo Events licenses have recently been offered across 12 regions of the UK and, with only a handful of places available, Clare swiftly seized the opportunity to be part of the international What’s On 4 business in her Region – the South East.

Clare says “With my youngest now at nursery it’s time for me to take on a new challenge! Having a young family is a perfect excuse to get out, explore new places and meet new people, especially when you have just arrived in an area – but you have to know where to go and what’s on offer and that’s why I’m really excited to be running the What’s On 4 websites and BabyExpo Baby Show Events in my area”

The What’s On 4 websites promote thousands of activity businesses across the UK and attract over 75,000 visitors each month. Clare is now responsible for the South East, with its tremendous fan and advertiser base and where What’s On 4 was launched by founder and MD Sam Willoughby from home countyHampshire over 7 years ago. In addition, the BabyExpo Baby Shows are one of the most successful Baby Show brands in the UK, attracting 150+ exhibitors and around 4,000 visitors. Not being one to waste time, Clare’s event planning is already underway ~ so watch this space!

Clare joins at a pivotal time for What’s On 4 as the franchise programme gathers increasing momentum – paving the way for blanket national coverage across the UK, region by region. The 7thAnnual What’s On 4 Junior Awards with Konfidence have broken all records with nearly 60,000 votes now in from the UK alone and as What’s On 4 continues its international expansion, more and more parents and carers from around the world are enjoying these fantastic websites packed full of inspiration, information, activities and fun!

Bev O’Sullivan and Marilyn Bradshaw, the Master Franchisees for the What’s On 4 junior business in the UK say “Clare’s track record has shown that she is success-driven and ready for the challenge of running one of our most exciting Regions. We’re thrilled with Clare’s plans and have absolutely no doubt the Clare is “one to watch” in the Mumpreneur arena!”

If you would like to follow Clare’s footsteps and run our What’s On 4 Junior businesses in YOUR region then please email marilyn@whatson4.co.uk for more information.

1 Comment

Filed under Little Ones, Mums, News, Parenting, What's On 4 Franchises, What's On 4 Team

Win a Babyzen YOYO buggy!

Enter our new competition to win one of the brand new Babyzen YOYO buggies worth £309!

Buggies have always been cumbersome and parents often face a struggle getting them up and down stairs, forcing them into car boots and on to packed tubes and busses and storing them away at home.

Anyone who has flown with a young child will also be familiar with the hassle of having to get the buggy packed away into the main luggage hold as it is simply too bulky to take on as hand luggage. These days are now over as the new YOYO buggy by Babyzen is set to revolutionize travelling with a child. YOYO is the first buggy in the world to fully comply with size recommendation for cabin baggage. Perfect for urban parents and fantastic for globetrotters!

This innovative buggy has already become a phenomenon in much of Europe and is about to hit the UK. Weighing just 5.8kg, this unique buggy is the most compact ever imagined when folded (52 x 44 x 18 cm). The featherweight buggy has a one of a kind folding mechanism which allows it to be opened and folded in seconds with just one hand and it can then be carried over your shoulder with the detachable shoulder strap.

To be one of the first to pre-order the Babyzen YOYO simply register your details at www.whitestep.co.uk.

Become a Fan on Facebook:www.facebook.com/WhitestepUK

To win a YOYO buggy worth £309 just click here and answer the simple question

Leave a comment

Filed under Babies, Childcare, Competitions, Little Ones, Mums, New Babies, News, Parenting

Bullying: Q&A with Education Law Expert Anita Chopra

Discovering that your child is a victim of bullying in school can be one of the worst feelings for a parent, yet too often we see a distinct lack of help for those who want to act on this. Parents can be left in the dark about the bullying complaints procedure, and their rights to a satisfactory conclusion, meaning that the bullying can frequently continue. To this end, we at Match Solicitors have produced a help guide for parents attempting to tackle this issue and give a little more information on the process as a whole’.

Anita Chopra, Education law expert, Match Solicitors

bullying iQ: My child has just told me that they are being bullied at school. What are my first steps?

A: You should speak to your child and try to ascertain more details about what has been happening, who is involved and where within the school the bullying has been taking place.

Explain to the child that bullying is unacceptable. Tell your child that if the bullying persists, your child should make clear to the bully that the behaviour will not be tolerated. Impress on your child that if bullying takes place at school, it should be reported to an appropriate adult such as a teacher or the school nurse. Your child should feel able to discuss concerns/worries with you at home so reassure your child and be supportive.

Encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. This may help to increase confidence levels which should protect your child from further bullying. See www.whatson4schoolkids.co.uk for local classes to increase your child’s confidence and develop new friends.

Make an appointment to discuss your concerns with your child’s form tutor, head of year or head teacher. Approach the matter in a calm and non-confrontational way. You should try and ascertain whether the school teacher has noticed any unusual behaviour and whether there have been any issues with your child and other pupils. Ask the school to keep an eye on your child and the bully and ask for suggestions on how to address the issue.

If appropriate, and depending on the situation, you may want to speak to the parents of the bully to make them aware of what has been happening. Explain the situation non-confrontationally and explain that it is unacceptable. Ask them to take appropriate action to prevent further bullying from taking place.

Q: Are there any tell-tale signs that my child may be being bullied?

A: Signs may include: sudden aggression or bullying of siblings or other children, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, reluctance to go to sleep, changed eating habits, coming home with damaged or missing clothes or with physical marks. It is always worth noting if your child is suddenly having difficulties with school-work or is reluctant to attend school or to go outside to play.

Q: I have a feeling that my child may be being bullied, but they will not open up to me. Who should I contact in this regard?

A: This is a difficult issue, and it is highly recommended that, if possible, you speak with your child to ascertain the details of the problem. If this still proves impossible, speaking with your child’s form teacher, headteacher or even the school’s designated anti-bullying personnel about your concerns would be the best route.

bullyingQ: I am not happy with the outcome of an internal complaints procedure. What should I do now?

A: The answer to this question depends on what type of school is involved.

If your child attends a state funded school (a community, foundation, voluntary aided or voluntary controlled school – not an academy), you may wish to progress your complaint by approaching the local authority. At this stage, try and ascertain whether the local authority is aware of other cases of bullying at the same school. If there is a problem of bullying within the School and the School has failed to respond appropriately, this will make your case more serious.

If your child is at an Academy, contact the Academy to ask how you can escalate your complaint.

You could contact the Department for Children, Schools and Families or the Secretary of State for Education. It may be useful to make contact with the Department through your MP. Please note that the DCSF is only able to take action if your child is still a pupil at the school in question.

If you remain dissatisfied, you could contact the Local Government Ombudsman. Since July 2012, the Ombudsman is unable to consider complaints about the internal workings of a school and can only consider complaints about the way a local authority has dealt with a complaint.

Q: My child is being bullied on the school network, and I can’t access this to see it, what can I do?

A: If bullying has occurred over the School’s internal computer network, the School has an obligation to address this.

Express your concerns to the head teacher at the School and record in writing the steps that will be taken. Schools will have a policy regarding use of computers and cyber-bullying will be a clear breach of this. Schools should conduct an investigation and take disciplinary action if they become aware of bullying.

Q: I wanted to know the school’s official procedure on dealing with bullying, but they claim that there isn’t one and it is addressed on a case by case basis. Is this allowed?

A: State schools have an obligation to have a written policy to prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. If no policy is in place, write to the local authority to explain that the School is legally obliged to have a policy in place and requesting that one is brought into place as a matter of urgency.

Q: The school reached a conclusion that bullying had taken place, but no punishment was issued to the offending child and I am worried that they will bully again. What can I do?

A: You should write to the head teacher in the first instance and make your concerns known.

The School has an obligation to have measures in place to encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. If the School has found that bullying has taken place, but no sanction has resulted, you should request a written explanation providing reasons for this decision.

If the situation is not remedied to your satisfaction, consult the published complaints procedure and initiate it.

It may be appropriate to seek legal advice on next steps.

Q: Couldn’t taking my child’s school to court lead to my child being affected negatively by the school?

A: If, as a last resort, you have decided to pursue legal action against the School, the School should not treat your child adversely because you are pursuing legal action against it.

If you are pursuing a claim of discrimination against the School, if the School treats your child less favourably because you are pursuing this complaint, the School will have committed unlawful discrimination.

Speak to your legal advisors about this and seek further advice.

bullying_iiQ: My child has been receiving abusive texts from a number he is not familiar with. What should I do?

A: Take a detailed note of the text messages, the times they were sent and the number they were sent from. Do not delete the messages.

Report the text messages to the mobile provider and ask for the number to be blocked.

If appropriate, report the matter to the Police.

Please note that the above is provided as general information only. Each case will turn on its own facts and before a parent takes any of the above steps, they are well advised to seek legal advice and not to rely on the above as directive advice on dealing with a bullying situation.  Anita Chopra, Match Solicitors

To improve your child’s confidence, check out the range of local classes and clubs near you at www.whatson4schoolkids.co.uk

Leave a comment

Filed under Parenting, School Kids