Tag Archives: Parenting

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

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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.

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“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.

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Childcare Costs now make it Unaffordable For Most Mums To Return To Work ~ What’s On 4 have a Brand New Solution…!

What’s On 4 brings you the opportunity to run your own work-from-home business with the Award Winning “junior” What’s On 4 websites and Baby Expo Events www.babyexpobabyshow.co.uk, www.whatson4littleones.co.uk, www.whatson4schoolkids.co.uk and www.whatson4kidsparties.co.uk

Franchise Profile (2)With recent news of childcare costs being prohibitive to mothers being able to go out to work, it will be welcome news to many mums that What’s On 4 have now launched their regional businesses for mums to work-from-home!  The opportunities are ideal for mums looking to get back into work and running a business from home.

Marilyn Bradshaw and Bev O’Sullivan are leading the way in creating flexible working opportunities for mums across the UK by expanding the very successful What’s On 4 brand of websites!

Our family of What’s On 4 websites has been bringing information about local activities, clubs, classes and events, catering for all age groups from newborns to over-60’s, for over seven years now, since their creation 7 years ago by What’s On 4 founder Sam Willoughby.

Now with over 75,000 visitors each month to our What’s On 4 sites, over 50,000 subscribers, and over 50,000 social media fans, these websites are immensely popular with adults, parents, grandparents and carers.  What’s more is that these businesses are about to be launched as regional businesses across the UK.

As working mums themselves, Marilyn and Bev understand the need for home-based business opportunities and this is a major driving force for them.  Marilyn has two boys under the age of six and in the past 2 years has already taken the UK by storm with What’s On 4 Me (www.whatson4me.co.uk) – the adult “arm” of the websites.  As Master Franchisee she has provided many mums with part-time, flexible working opportunities.

Baby Expo LogoMarilyn says “Being a mum and running a National business from home is the most perfect combination I could imagine.  Having already developed 12 local business owners across the UK for What’s On 4 Me I am completely driven to do the same for our What’s On 4 “Juniors” business. These opportunities give the flexible working arrangement that many families need these days.”

Joining forces with Bev O’Sullivan, mum of three children under 10, means that they can quickly expand the “Junior” websites www.whatson4littleones.co.uk, www.whatson4schoolkids.co.uk and www.whatson4kidsparties.co.uk, including the extremely successful and popular BabyExpo Events www.babyexpobabyshow.co.uk to create these desperately needed work-from-home opportunities.

Marilyn Accepting AwardBev says “Since coming on board with the What’s On 4 Team by running South Yorkshire What’s On 4 Me, my work life balance has changed dramatically for the better.  To now be able to run the children’s side of the business of What’s On 4 gives me the unique ability to also offer this lifestyle to others – and run a successful business.”

Marilyn and Bev have a wealth of business accolades between them including Awards for Best New Business Idea, North East Woman Entrepreneur Finalist and Best Brand Winner to name just a handful.

What’s On 4 “Juniors” will benefit from their combined entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen and drive the growth of the What’s On 4 family of websites across the UK – creating dozens of flexible work positions all across the UK.

Interest has already been registered for many of the local What’s On 4 business regions and discussions are underway with potential candidates.

However ~ DON’T MISS OUT!! If you feel that you would like more information about running What’s On 4 in your region, including the availability and cost, then contact Marilyn Bradshaw, 0121 288 1228, marilyn@whatson4.co.uk for more information!

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Giant Spiders and the Smell of Bonfires

Summer Holidays seem an age away now don’t they with the kids very much back in the swing of school. The nights are drawing in, X-Factor and Strictly are Back (yay!), our garden seems full of giant spiders and webs and there’s the smell of bonfires in the air.

With poorer weather and shorter days, kids inevitably spend less time outside having fun so it’s even more important to ensure they keep fit and active with classes and clubs. Have you checked out our new advertisers Farm Park Adventure Hobbledown with their unique farm park adventure. Don’t forget you can now follow us on twitter to get immediate updates of what’s on in your region.

What else is going on? Half term is fast approaching so check out our award winning websites for lots of stuff to do and of course Autumn brings Halloween and Bonfire night – 2 of our favourite dates in the calendar! If you are entertaining over Halloween or planning a party check out some of these fab recipes courtesy of our BabyExpoMK special guest Annabel Karmel here – http://www.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/exclusive-recipes/exclusive-halloween-recipes Annabel delighted audiences at What’s On 4 BabyExpo in Milton Keynes last month along with 150 exhibitors and some fantastic parenting experts from TV! We’ll bring you lots more film and photos soon but check out this fantastic video of Amanda from Amanda’s Action Club with our VIP Humphrey! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIv-umhAqVE  and all those who are signed up to PJ Week with Humphrey this month good luck, have fun and raise lots of money for The Children’s Trust!

See you soon!

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Throw the X-Box out of the window!

Firstly this is not a campaign against Microsoft.  But it is a plea to all parents of children, that cannot leave the house without a smart phone, or have no idea what the weather has been like today because they’ve spent it in their room gaming, to unplug the tech and get out of the house.

I write in my capacity of What’s On 4 UK Sales Manager and parent of two children. I am guilty, my children have rooms crammed with laptops, games consoles, both portable and not, smart phones, and so on.  Don’t get me wrong, I enthusiastically encourage my kids to be up to date with all things new and I was delighted when they were given ipads to use at school, but when I talk about my childhood memories of playing out, walks in the woods, days at the river they look a little disturbed and roll their eyes.  I’m not saying that I had a better upbringing then they’re getting, but I could hold a conversation with a real person at a young age and did not have to cling to a hand held device for entertainment.

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So, who will join me?  I recently challenged my kids to have a week of ‘outdoorsness’.  They can now surf (which they enjoyed, despite the rain), they’ve been taught life saving skills, they’ve learnt to abseil, rock climb, play lazer hunt, the list is a long one.  I think that they’ve enjoyed it and I’m sure that my electricity bill has been reduced. Needless to say, they’ll be back on their tech in no time, but they’ve had an experience that they can now tell their children about, and I’ll have grandchildren rolling their eyes.

If you think your kids are capable of doing something different, then give them the chance.  Use our advanced search for an actvitiy near you, or if you’re holidaying in the UK use the search to pre-book a session before you get there. We’ve even got the option to select free activities if your budget is tight this summer. Register for our newsletter to get up to date info from us. Image

And when the kids have had their fill of outdoors, why not swing by our facebook page, we’ve got some great hints and tips (check out the jelly oranges), perhaps you have a few of your own that you can share with us?

Most of all have a great time, enjoy the summer break, what ever the weather!

 

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