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Issue 60

March - April 2014

Independent Catholic boarding and day school for 400 girls aged 3-18 (and day boys aged 3-8)

Bursaries available for girls entering Year 3 and above

01865 762802

Lane, Oxford OX3 0BY give-aways! DON’T MISS May/June to celebrate our 10th BirthdayPullen’s with some fab

Bringing out the best in every pupil OLA is Oxfordshire’s only Catholic, co-educational independent day school, for boys and girls aged 3-18 w Nursery to Sixth Form on one site w Excellent exam results w Outstanding pastoral care w Small class sizes

Open Morning: Friday 7 March 9.30 - 11.45 Families Oxfordshire half page Jan 14.indd 1

2/11/2014 8:27:43 AM

Maths & English tuition Explore Learning centres provide maths and English tuition to children aged 5-14, designed to improve knowledge, confidence and enjoyment of learning. tries new things with relish. She counts the days until she can come back here!”

Explore Parent.

Book your free trial session today to find out how Explore Learning can help your child to gain confidence, enthusiasm and new skills.





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Inside Sainsbury’s, Oxford


As members, children work with tutors who are great role models, enthusiastic about learning and fantastic motivators. The individual focus allows children to work at their own pace – whether they are finding school tricky or are top of the class!

“The hesitancy and lack of confidence that held her back is gone. Now she


Explore helps children make fantastic academic progress, in addition the vibrant atmosphere keeps them engaged and focussed enabling them to have fun while they learn.

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Advertise in Families Oxfordshire call 01993 815966 or email

01/08/2012 14:55

Contents 04 05 06 Oxfordshire Contact: Ema Murphy - Editor T: 01993 815966 / 07733 228 038 E: W:

Social networking find us on

Competition winners Thanks to everyone who entered our two book give-away competitions. The two lucky winners are: Getting the Little Blighters to Eat Vanessa Martin of Charlbury Potty Training Book and pads: Nicola Brittain of Bicester

Do watch out for give-aways in May/June issue!

Families Oxfordshire designed by Dickidot Limited. 01865 400801

Front cover by

Confidence Building Fun Try a Free Drama Class

08 09 10/11 12/13 14 15/16


Note from Editor In our Jan/Feb issue we featured a story entitled: 7 Steps to a Smarter Child, which, for some readers caused an element of concern. We have therefore published a counter piece on our website, as a result of the feedback we received and to provide another side of the debate of some of the points raised. We fully respect the views of our readers and try to satisfy all questions and comments raised. Best wishes


Watch your child’s self-esteem soar with our weekly classes for 4–12s Child development is at the heart of everything we do. So our drama, dance and singing sessions will boost your child’s confidence, improve their concentration and give them an outlet to have fun. Call 0845 400 1276 or visit for a free class at your nearest venue.


March / April 2014


News & views Free maths and English activities

Good labelling saves pennies

Explore Learning centres provide maths and English tuition to 5-14 year olds of all abilities. Visit their website to find your nearest centre in Oxfordshire (in Sainsbury’s at Heyford Hill) or call to find out about their free workshops this 15th April and to book a free trial session!

Labels4Kids have expanded their range with the introduction of the snappy school pack. This multi-pack of labels contains snap on tags and vinyl labels giving you the advantage of vinyl waterproof labels for all your non-clothing items, two bag tags and snap on snappy tags etched with a name (and a phone number if you wish). Snappy tags have the added benefit of being removable and reusable. Other new lines include personalised luggage straps and sew-on labels. Sign up online at www. for updates and offers! . LEMONJELLY_LOGO_v2.pdf




Lemonjelly pioneers in childcare

Celebrate Pancake Day at Giraffe!

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For all your childcare needs Now in their 7th year, Oxon based

Nannies, Maternity Nurses, Babysitters, Lemonjelly are leading the way in Event Nannies, Mobile Creche Giraffe are celebrating Shrove Tuesday promoting training for nannies, by Service by offering 50% off their delicious and more... Callon07847 922483 offering courses child protection, first aid, baby massage, baby signing

Stacked Blueberry & Banana Pancakes.

driving awareness qualification for nannies in Oxfordshire. Nanny Drive iQ, provides essential information and coping strategies to ensure that a person driving children is fully informed and prepared for anything when out on the road. For more information visit www.

or Tesco Extra in Abingdon on 4th March until 11am and between 3pm and 5pm for a half price pancake breakfast or a post school supper with the little ones.

To take advantage of this scrummy offer, For details on also all our services visit andmore cookery. They are proud to simply pop into giraffe on George Street be the only agency promoting a new

Autism Champions Does your child have a diagnosis of Autism?

Is your child struggling at school or would you and your family like to know more about Autism? Are you worried about how to explain Autism to your child?

Autism Champions can help! For more information contact Dee on 07810205646 or


01993 815966

50p from every ½ price pancake sold is donated to Rays of Sunshine, a charity that grants wishes for hundreds of children each year.

World Book Day in March Building on the success of last year, The Biggest Book Show on Earth - World Book Day 6 March 2014 sees the launch of a brand new pre-recorded TV show format. Available online for the whole of March it will include all the wonderful World Book Day authors and illustrators and more. Schools, parents and children in Oxfordshire can log on and enjoy watching it together by registering at Half a million children from more than 75 countries watched the show in 2013.

New research seeking babies The world-leading ‘Babylab’ at Birkbeck, University of London, is launching a European study of the early emergence of autism and ADHD. With over £2.5 million in funding, Professor Mark Johnson and his team are now embarking upon the Studying Autism and ADHD Risk in Siblings (STAARS) project, which will map brain development from birth in order to identify the earliest signs of these lifelong social communication and attention disorders. The research will focus on infants who have older siblings with autism or ADHD as these infants are at particularly high risk for these disorders. Can you and your baby help? Expenses are paid and mothers we met said they spent a very special day with their child, which they really enjoyed. To read more or to take part go to www.

IPL treatment with a qualified and experienced Bare UK consultant is the simple way to a carefree future. Find out more by contacting Fast growing dark hair, shaving and waxing could be a thing of the past. IPL is the freedom you’ve been looking for.

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School matters Recent OUTSTANDING awards received from Ofsted which we thought it worth telling you about… Woodstock Primary School was recently rated as ‘Outstanding’ following its first inspection in five years. Head Teacher Lisa Rowe, is exceptionally proud of all her staff, pupils and parents who make the school the fantastic place that it is! Willow Cottage Nurseries received ‘outstanding’ for their Farmoor and Eynsham settings which were inspected without prior notice in December, under stringent guidelines. All aspects of the nursery assessments were highly praised graded 1 and the nurseries were judged as being ‘highly effective early years’ providers, meeting all the children’s needs exceptionally well’. The Aunties’ Old School Nursery in Stanton St John and Wheatley has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ and awarded the Investors in People rarely-achieved Gold award, for going ‘above and beyond’ in the way they develop, support and motivate their team to develop the children in their care.

Limite d places - book now!

Learn to Sing, Dance and Act Boosts self-esteem and confidence • Fosters creativity Increases concentration • Make new friends Skills for life • Stretches imaginations Exciting performance opportunities - and lots of fun! Spring Holiday Shows Oxford CATS Abingdon Meerkat Manners Thame The Magic of Movies

Summer Holiday Shows Oxford FAME The Princess & The Pirates Abingdon Bugsy Malone Banbury The Jungle Book Thame Robin Hood

Stagecoach Schools OXFORD 01869 278600 Maya Sprigg email:

ABINGDON 01865 390970 Julia Howson email:

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Helping your child with maths At primary school most children face multiplication and division problems for the first time. Many parents realize that maths teaching is undergoing rapid change. As a result of this your child may not understand terms that you use such as long division or may resist if you try to show them a method that is not taught at school. This series by examines two methods - Chunking and the Grid Method. This first article focuses on Chunking, a division technique which uses multiplication facts to find the answers to division statements. Multiples of the divisor break the sum down into manageable chunks which are subtracted from the starting number and each reducing balance. Example: 142 divided by 8. In order to solve this you will need to think of a multiple of 8 that is close to 142 but not greater than 142. 142

We know that 8 x 12 = 96 Chunk 1 = 12

- 96

Subtract 96 from the total


We are left with 46

- 40

We know that 8 x 5 = 40

Subtract 40 away from the residual

Chunk 2 = 5

r 6 The answer is 17 remainder 6. We are left with a remainder because some numbers do not divide exactly into others. The author is Michelle King of

Radley College is an independent boarding school for boys aged 13 to 18. The Foundation Award at 11+, 13+ and 16+ are for boys currently in state education with academic potential and interest in music, art, drama or sport.

Radley College FOUNDATION

The award provides financial support of up to 100% of full fees for two initial years at preparatory school and then for a further five years at Radley.


11+, 13+ & 16+

Entry is through assessment in 1st December 2014 Applications close on 1st November 2014 Sample papers are on the website.

For details: The Registrar, Radley College, Abingdon OX14 2HR Tel: 01235 543174


March / April 2014


Education Prep schools: what are they and how to choose the right one? By Ellen Arnison

Traditionally a preparatory school was where children went to ‘prepare’ to go to one of the major British public schools, such as Eton and Harrow, working up to them sitting the Common Entrance exam at 13. However, while that picture still exists in some cases, the situation now varies widely. Broadly, there are two kinds of prep school – one where the children leave at 11, perhaps after an 11 + exam, and one where the children sit the Common Entrance exam then leave at 13. In some cases youngsters attend a prep school until they reach their 11 + exam and then transfer to a local (state) grammar school. The smaller classes and more focussed attention in a prep school can improve their chances. This is particularly appealing to parents who think their child won’t get what they require from the nearby state primaries. Traditionally boys attended prep schools up to age 13, either to sit the Common Entrance exam (part of the admissions process for academically selective secondary schools) and then to move on elsewhere or to graduate to the attached senior school almost automatically. However, girls as well as boys now attend prep school on this basis as across the board the trend is to move from single-sex education to co-ed. But it isn’t just about the exams, in both cases the prep schools can provide far more, including a wide range of sports and more specialised subjects, such as Latin, the pupils will need as they move through their education. Julie Robinson, a former prep school head and Education and Training Director at the Independent Association of Prep Schools said: “They say the independent sector seems to bring a set of high expectations: a huge amount of time invested in pastoral support and personal development for the children, excellent facilities and a focus on learning. “Parents believe their investment in fees is an investment in their children’s future.”

However, the range of places to invest and ways to ensure the best for your children is enormous. At first glance the decision about whether or not to use a prep school and, indeed, which one is best can seem bewildering. There are more than 1,000 prep schools in the UK taking children to 11 and 13, traditionally they are boarding schools but nowadays many parents chose to send their children daily. Equally some prep schools will be part of ‘all-through’ schools catering for from the age of three up to 18 and some will be attached to a senior school. Some prep schools adhere to the National Curriculum but they are not bound to, which can give them freedom to offer a broader and more varied curriculum that isn’t burdened by tests. There isn’t always an entrance exam for preps schools, in many cases the school will just want to interview you and your child, perhaps inviting him or her to spend a ‘taster’ session in class. This also allows teaching staff to observe how your child fits in. The decision is easier when you look to the end destination – the senior school –work backwards. Your decision will be narrowed by considering if there is a school attached to your preferred secondary and what kinds of criteria they use to select pupils.

Ask yourself the following questions: Does the school fit the basic requirements of you and your child in terms of gender, day and/or boarding, religious denomination, curriculum and location? Does it meet your educational objectives in terms of offering the exams your child will need to sit? Will your child be happy there? Do you get good feedback from other parents and children? Does the school get a good report? How are the exam results, the general atmosphere and the teaching quality? Do you like the ethos of school? It’s usually very clear and follows strong leadership from the Head. What is the teaching and staff turnover like? What is the curriculum? How big are the classes? What is the school’s approach to discipline and rules? What did the most recent inspection report say? What are the pastoral care facilities like? Does the school offer the facilities you would like to see, such as for sport, music or drama? Is there a wide-enough range of extra-curricular activities? Does the school give value for money for what you want? Be careful to take extras into account.


Home schooling & Post-mocks subject consultancy

We have expert tutors for SATS, 11+ and Common entrance exams, scholarship exams for independent schools, home schooling and post-mock exam consultation We cover Abingdon, Bicester, Banbury, Didcot, Faringdon, Kidlington, Oxford, Wantage, Witney, Woodstock and all villages of Oxfordshire.


01993 815966

Open Morning Thursday 8 May 9.30am-10.45am


Open Morning

In partnership with

Home of Thomas & FriendsTM toys

Saturday, 10th May 2014 The school is extremely successful in meeting the academic needs of all students and enabling them to achieve high standards. Students are creative, think for themselves and relish stretching the boundaries of their knowledge. ISI Inspection Report - October 2013

Join Thomas & FriendsTM at a heritage Railway near you. Experience a ride on a real steam engine and take part in Thomas-themed activities.


An 11-18 independent, co-educational, school in North Oxford • entry at ages 11+, 13+ • direct into the Sixth Form

12TH - 21ST 2014 Day Out With Thomas Thomas the Tank EngineTM. Based on The Railway Series by The Reverend W. Awdry. © 2014 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, Thomas & Friends and Day Out With Thomas are trademarks of Gullane (Thomas) Limited. © 2014 HIT Entertainment Limited. TM


March / April 2014



DAY OUT WITH THOMAS Thomas & Friends return to the Watercress Line for more family fun from 12th-21st April! Shake hands with the Fat Controller, meet Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, take part in Thomas themed activities and ride the big steams trains all day! Free Thomas sticker and certificate for every child! Free activities, bouncy slide, children’ entertainer and face painting. Free rides with Thomas, Toad and Diesel. It’s a great value family day out! Book a Day out with Thomas tickets online at www.dayoutwiththomas. to get your free gift or pay on the day. Fares to also include all day travel on the trains and all free entertainment. Adult £18, child (ages 2-16) £12, child under 2 free. Family (2 Adults & 2 Children) £54.

There’s plenty of family fun to be had over Easter at Blenheim Palace where there’s an exciting Easter eggstravaganza of activities taking place. On 18th – 19th April children can enjoy the Easter Egg Hunt in the Pleasure Gardens and on 20th – 21st April popular children’s characters Peppa Pig, George, Mummy Pig & Daddy Pig, plus Fireman Sam will be making appearances on each day! Other family activities will include a bouncy castle, crafts at the ‘Pottering About’ studio and traditional fairground rides. Existing family fun at The Pleasure Gardens include the giant Marlborough Hedge Maze, The Butterfly House and the Adventure Playground. Visit whats-on/events.

Chip Lit Fest launch at the Park Saturday 29th March To celebrate the launch of the Chipping Norton Children’s Literary Festival, the Cotswold Wildlife Park is hosting a day of book related events. During the day Keepers will be reading picture books to Meerkats and Penguins. There will be a ‘Where’s the Meerkat? trail’, for which the winning entry will be picked out of a Keeper’s hat, for the chance to win a book of the same name and tickets to the Park. A children’s author will be storytelling at 1.30pm in the Rainforest Room in the Manor House. Organisers of the festival will be running an Animal Drawing competition, encouraging children (with clipboards and pencils) to sketch animals during their day at the Park. The drawings will be on display at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival in April 24-27th.

Family days at the museum are lots of fun and free with museum entry - drawing on a range of themes, from wildlife to history and some regular favourites which are taking place in the coming weeks. From 5th – 21st April children are invited to take part in the daily Easter Egg Hunt. Meet Sidney the Swan in the SwanUpping exhibition and explore the Museum Galleries looking for clues. Help solve a swan puzzle to claim a mini Easter egg. Join Mr Toad on 11th April in an art extravaganza of activities with a Wind in the Willows theme, including: painting, printing, collage and modelling. Hang your work in Mr Toad’s very own gallery and go home with your own creations. For older children, try some new techniques with the RRM art tutor. Don’t miss the Sweetie Shower Party Pinata on Tuesday 15th April where it’ll be raining sweets from a party piñata based on a mascot from a rowing club for 4-7’s! For more details including times visit

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During the Festival in Chipping Norton, Kids will love meeting ‘Charlie and Lola’s’ Lauren Child, with the chance to see ‘Winnie the Witch’ illustrator Korky Paul in action! The Oxfordshire Playbus will be in town, along with a special ‘Meerkat Mayhem’ hunt organised by Cotswold Wildlife Park.To keep in touch with the event, visit:




01865 849857


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12/02/2014 10:29

Choosing your childcare By Joanna Moorhead Childcare costs are increasing – but it’s quality that matters the most for any parent. Joanna Moorhead looks at what option might suit you best, plus what’s new in 2014. According to a recent survey from, childcare costs are soaring – up by 19% over the last year. Every parent knows that what matters most about any sort of childcare is its quality – it’s vital that your child is safe, happy and in a stimulating environment while you’re at work – but the money matters too. So what are the factors you need to take into account when you’re choosing childcare in readiness for returning to work? A nanny might suit you if... • You’re a reasonably high earner – nannies can be expensive, though they’re a lot more affordable if you share them with another family. As well as basic pay, there are a lot of extras to be aware of when you employ a nanny – particularly her tax, which you are required to pay, but also car insurance if she’s driving your car, and the costs of all the outings and visits your child is taken on. • You work irregular hours. That’s because you can pay a nanny to work the hours you work, whereas a nursery or childminder will be less flexible about time • You have two or more children, or have one baby and hope to have another very soon, because you’ll pay your nanny for her time, not for the number of children she’s looking after • You have quite rigorous ideas about, for example, the food you want your child to eat, and the schedule you want for his or her day. You can be a lot more prescriptive as a parent with a nanny than you can with a nursery or childminder, where your child will have to fit into a pre-existing schedule established by the institution or minder. A childminder might suit you if... • You work part-time or are not a high earner (childminders are usually the cheapest or, as many would prefer to put it, the best-value option) • You have two or more children and would like them to see a lot of each other through the day


• You like the idea of another mother caring Lfor emon your child – most childminders are mothers themselves A nursery might suit you if... • You have an only child or this is your youngest child and you are unlikely to have more in the near future – because a nursery will give him or her plenty of opportunities to play with other children • Your child is not a small baby, and so many benefit particularly from the organised activities a nursery can offer • You like the idea of a setting where events are regulated in a way that involves a lot of carers, rather than just one What’s happening in 2014? Childcare is always a political hot potato – and with a General Election looming in just over a year’s time, politicians are saying more and doing more about it. Here’s what’s new on the childcare horizon: • From September this year, more two-year-olds will be offered 15 hours of free childcare each week, because the eligibility criteria are being expanded. See your local authority website for more information – they’ll be publishing full details of who’s eligible and how to find a place • Free universal childcare for all pre-school children is being promised by Labour in their election manifesto. If they’re elected to power next time round, the Labour leadership is likely to make a dramatic announcement about the way childcare will be organised in Britain in the coming years • The new tax-free childcare scheme comes into effect from 2015. Under that, parents will be able to claim 20% of the cost of registered childcare up to £1,200 per child per year. Both parents must be working to qualify, or a single parent must be in employment. • Last year’s report from the Department of Education that proposed making changes to the child to staff ratios in nurseries and for childminders was shelved after the Liberal Democrats objected, but the government has consulted on relaxing ratios and quality criteria for out-of-school childcare with the aim of making it easier for schools to offer provision. At the moment the issue is with the Department for Education, and an announcement is expected soon.




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For all your childcare needs Nannies, Maternity Nurses, Babysitters, Event Nannies, Mobile Creche Service and more... Call 07847 922483 For more details on all our services visit

• Under the Children and Families Bill, currently going through Parliament, Ofsted will be made ‘the sole arbiter of quality’. This means that local authorities will not be able to impose their own quality conditions on providers who offer childcare under the existing scheme offering free places for three and four year olds (provided these providers are not rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted). Some parents will see this as a good thing, as it could lead to a wider choice of providers; or they might see it as a bad thing, as local authorities will be able to do less to force childcarers to improve their services. Organisations offering advice and information on childcare include: is an online social networking platform for parents, childcare providers and private tutors. The Family and Childcare Trust is a campaigning organisation with a helpful bank of information for parent. The Pre-school Learning Alliance is England’s largest early years membership organisation. Working Families aims to help parents and carers achieve a work-life balance.

confident, happy & motivated learning Junior School

open Morning Thursday 6 March 9.30am - 12 noon

For more information please contact or 01491 651218

An independent school, boys from 2-7, girls from 2-16


March / April 2014


What to buy for your new baby By Joanna Parry


Having a baby is a costly business. Websites, baby manuals and personal shoppers list hundreds of products that you just have to have for your baby, from wrap-around slings to air humidifiers. It’s not unusual for new parents to spend thousands of pounds on baby gear, most of which will be gathering dust in a cupboard or winging its way onto eBay within a matter of months.






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01993 815966

11/02/2014 16:45

But don’t panic - many products you can borrow from friends or buy second-hand. Others you just don’t need. Every mum has their favourite gadget – here are some of the best products that Families mums swear by. Pushing Top of the list of things you’ll need is a pram. However, selecting one can be like negotiating a minefield. Does it need to fit in the car, or on the bus? Do you walk a lot? Do you have a toddler, or two? If you live in a top floor flat go with a lightweight fold-up buggy, if you’re tramping across fields every day a three-wheeler might be better. Prams can cost more than a month’s mortgage, so choose carefully. Bugaboo, iCandy and Stokke are still favourites but depending on what add-ons you choose you could be saying goodbye to over £1000. We love the limited edition Liberty Quest from Maclaren, as well as their Cath Kidston buggy, both of which cost considerably less. The new pram on the block is the Babystyle Oyster, which looks great and is less expensive than its rival travel systems. Another big fave is the Uppababy, recently judged as a ‘Best Buy’ by Which? Magazine and with features including reversible seat, carrycot and compatible car seat. What has really got us excited is the 4moms Origami Pushchair. It’s not cheap but will fold itself away at the touch of a button. It also has pathway lights and will charge your phone when on the go! The LCD dashboard includes thermometer, speedometer and odometer, so you can keep check of the distances travelled. Yikes! It may be the future of travel systems, but with this amount of technology, you might decide a reliable Maclaren buggy will be a safer bet. Carrying When my firstborn came along the choice of slings was limited to Baby Bjorns and wrap-arounds that nobody could work out how to use. Now, there are ring slings and pouch slings, backpacks and soft-structured carriers. Take advantage of www.slingmeet., which organises meet-ups across the UK for mums to testdrive different slings. The Lifft sling consistently comes out on top as it spreads the baby’s weight, reducing back strain. Baby K’Tan is different from many carriers as it’s a sling-wrap hybrid – too complicated for me but there are plenty of mums who love it! For a ring sling the Joovy Baba is a favourite. Our must-buy is theErgobaby. It is comfortable, easy to use and can be worn as a backpack as well as in front. Beware though – baby slings are often voted ‘most useless’ product by parents! Feeding Believe it or not, you can spend over £400 on a high chair! Everyone’s favourite is the Stokke Tripp Trapp as it ‘grows’ with your child but it comes with a price tag of over £150. John Lewis’ East Coast highchairs are another top choice, at less than half the price. Or IKEA’s easy-clean Antilop Highchair is a snip at £12. For a futuristic pod try Mamas and Papas’ Loop - it fits neatly under your table, looks like an office chair and costs nearly as much. If you want to buy top end, the bloom fresco chrome boasts designer looks in a myriad of colours, pneumatic height adjustment and the ability to spin 360 degrees. Another option is to do away with the chair altogether and invest in a Lobster seat from Phil and Teds that screws onto your tabletop. Mountain Buggy do a similar one called Pod Portable. Sleeping Most mums tell us you don’t need to splash out on a moses basket, cotandcot-bed. Your pram is perfect for daytime naps, and at night even a tiny newborn is fine in a cot-bed – block off one end by rolling up blankets. We love the Ryeland Cot-Bed from The Little Green Sheep, and the Stokke Sleepi Convertible Nursery Bed which starts as a crib, becomes a cot, then a junior bed and finally either two chairs or a sofa! Another favourite is the Alex cot-bed from John Lewis, at a tenth of the price.

If you want to share your bed with your baby but are concerned about the risk of smothering, go for the Arms Reach Universal Co-Sleeper Bedside Cot, which always gets 5-star reviews. Invest in some good blackout blinds – our favourite is the Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind from Gro Company. Those little things we can’t do without… Top tips from Families mums that will make life with a newborn a whole lot easier! • a dimmer switch in the nursery is the single most effective thing I ever invested in. A nightlight will also do the trick • avoid tripping over stairgates and buy a retractable one, such as Lascal Kiddyguard • warm mist humidifier, although it could also go in the Most Useless category. Instead, pour hot water into Tupperware • get a baby seat for the bathtub. They free up your hands, save your back and are cheap as chips • cot mobile • dummy, with a dummy clip so it doesn’t go astray • nursing pillow such as My Brest Friend. Provides back support and encourages correct position for feeding • we love Pink Lining changing bags. If you want to follow the celebs go for the Sofia by Storksak • Neals Yard Baby Barrier (a pricier version of Sudocrem) lasts forever and is excellent • organic food and toiletries, best for baby, best for the health of the planet • almost everyone we know swears by Lansinoh cream if you are breastfeeding • a baby nasal aspirator so you don’t have to do the sucking out yourself! Try Chicco Physio Nasal Aspiration Kit • Calpol, of course! Use a syringe instead of a spoon. Calgel for sore gums and Infacol to prevent wind. Homeopathy is great for babies - use a qualified practitioner and build a relationship early. Aromatherapy is great for baby massage and burning essential oils aids sleep • Vanish stain remover, and lots of it! …and those products mums thought were a waste of money! • the worst culprit of all has got to be the pop-up travel cot. Travel cots are bulky and impossible to assemble (most holiday destinations provide them anyway) but pop-ups are so lightweight they become useless the minute your baby can roll over • baby monitors. If you do use one, chose a monitor that doesn’t emit Electro Magnetic Radiation, as most work on WIFI. See recommended ones here: • bottle warmers. They take an age and don’t work very well. I always use a jug of hot water. (Best to avoid microwaving baby’s milk. ) • nappy stackers Nope, I’d never heard of them either, and disposal bins • bouncy chair, baby swing, playmat, door bouncer and Bumbos. Borrow them! • baby-weighing scales • pram sunshades • hooded baby towels • bath thermometer • newborn-sized feeding bottles. Use normal bottles with a newborn teat Top Tips Compare products and read reviews before you buy at www.,,, Buy second hand from,, or check out NCT sales. For new products,,,,, Oxfordshire

March / April 2014


The Science of play As the Easter break comes upon us, many parents will be thinking about how to entertain their children. Dr David Whitebread at Cambridge University shares his views on what constitutes effective play and tackles some of the myths and misconceptions around the types of play children engage in today. Dr Whitebread is supporting National Science and Engineering Week, which aims to raise awareness of the important role science has in many aspects of our lives. A whole host of scientific topics will be explored during the Week, which takes place from 14th to 23rd March. Adults and children alike can attend free events across the UK in a range of fun environments. To find out about these events and how you can take part, visit www.

Different types of play Physical play •

Most parents would recognise that physical play (such as running, climbing and gymnastics) helps a child develop their whole body and hand-eye coordination and is important in building strength and endurance. But it also provides a crucial means for children to develop their emotional intelligence. Encouraging children to get physical isn’t just about letting them loose outside, it’s also about creating opportunities at home. So encouraging play through things like craft activities, helps children with their fine motor skills, essential when it comes to learning to write and even playing musical instruments. Due to their absorbing nature, it has even been shown to help children develop their concentration and perseverance skills.

Create an obstacle course in the garden. Create time targets and challenges (ie do the course on just one leg!). Give craft activities a purpose, for example, create posters for an Easter egg hunt or party.

By Dr David Whitebread, Senior Lecturer in the Psychology of Education, Cambridge University

Symbolic play •

Artistic activities such as drawing, dance, and even developing silly rhymes, gives children the opportunity to develop their language and interpretation skills as they start to decode what is going on around them. It can even make them nicer! A study in 2010 of almost 100 four year-olds found that children who take part in music making were more likely to show cooperative and helpful behaviour.

Get your children to create their own music compilation for their best friend or family member. Encourage them to add their own tracks for that special touch.

Pretend play •

Pretend play can have a serious side too. Dressing up, playing with dolls and miniature figures gives children the chance to rehearse some of the scenarios they already see or might face in their future life, whether it’s expressing how to care for someone (such as their favourite doll) or tackling aggressive situations.

Make a challenge to act like a member of their family, or their favourite TV character for a day. It might be their mum, Homer Simpson, or Daddy Pig!

Playing with rules •

We live by rules and playing by the rules in sports, board games, card games and computer games helps children adjust to the reality that they cannot always do, say, or act how they wish to.

The use of electronic and computer games by today’s children is another particular area of anxiety for parents and teachers. Too much screen time obviously prevents your child from doing the range of other activities that is beneficial to them, so keep these tech tools in your armoury, but keep time restricted on use. There is some evidence that welldesigned videogames can enrich play resources for children and their families.

Many parents are concerned about videogame overuse but the key is to make it interactive. So get involved! Challenge them to their favourite game in return for them participating in an activity of your choice.

Play with objects •

Touching, sorting, building and making objects encourages children to organise their thinking and helps them learn how to solve problems. Children have to pick the right strategy to complete the task, and then stay on track to complete it. Creativity comes in here, as does the use of language, as children often talk to themselves when they broach these tasks as a way of organising their thoughts.

Get your children to build their own skyscraper. Arm them with different materials to build at home or in the garden.


01993 815966

References 1. ‘Developmental Psychology & Early Childhood Education’ (Sage, 2013) David Whitebread. Available on Amazon and at all good book shops. 2. ‘The Importance of Play’ (Report written for the Toys Industry of Europe, March 2012). David Whitebread with Marisol Basilio, Martina Kuvalja and Mohini Verma. importance_of_play.pdf

Do you know about the Oxfordshire

Fun Music & Movement Classes for 0-4 years old!

Oxfordshire Playbus is a children’s charity that has been established since 1979. The main focus of our work is to promote and provide play opportunities for children and young people. Play is a very important part of a child’s life. Studies show children need free positive play to develop socially and emotionally.

NEW to West Oxfordshire! First class is FREE! Call Lynn on 01993 201987 or email to find out more. We’ll be having fun with action songs, puppets & musical instruments every week! (FO2)

Play helps children improve in education and health. In fact we believe play is the MOST important part of a child’s life. Office no: 01869 233 933 Manager’s no: 07979 691530 Oxfordshire Playbus provides play opportunities with: • • • • • • • • • • •

The Double Decker Playbus The Single Decker Youth Bus Sensory lorry After School Clubs Holiday Play Schemes Bouncy Castles Youth clubs Mobile Skate Park Street Games Sumo suits Den Building

Try Tennis for Tots If you’re looking for a new activity for 3-5 year olds, check out Premier Tennis Tots classes around Oxford, Abingdon, Wantage and Witney. Designed by James Auckland, former doubles partner of Andy Murray and coach of 2 Wimbledon Champions, these fun sessions help nursery and reception year children develop physical and social skills.

See or call 0845 475 1147 for more info.

All these things are available to loan or hire please contact the office for more details.


SESSIONS 0845 475 1147

to join in the fun call

01869 325 499 693_oxford_advert_01.indd 1


24/08/2012 16:06

March / April 2014


Mothering Sunday

Easter Weekend Entertainment at Blenheim Palace

Mums really DO know best! Mothering Sunday is on March 30 and here at Families we think we should be celebrating the universal wisdom of mothers. Often our advice goes unheeded but we are (nearly) always right. We’ve asked our readers via twitter and facebook to share the best advice given by their mothers. 1.


My own mother always says, “You shouldn’t need a specific day to celebrate mothers and that mums should be appreciated every day”. This is of course true, but who can resist giving your children the opportunity to present you breakfast in bed with their beautiful homemade gifts and cards, even if the carefully prepared meal usually consists of a cold cup of tea and some soggy cereal on a tray? This one is not for the fainthearted! Karen says that her mother said she could, “Try anything once”. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging our children to be adventurous but I might get them to sign a disclaimer with the added caveat of no illegal activity.


Lois says, “When I was having a moan about someone, she told me that the faults we most dislike in other people are often the ones we have ourselves”. A great bit of maternal advice for any child.


Layla May says her Mum used to have: “There are no problems in life, only opportunities.” stuck up on her wall. A good one to remember when your children have scribbled on the furniture, have said no for the 100th time or they have kept you up all night.


Thanks to Melissa, owner of Messy Monets, whose mum told her, “You can do anything!”


“Take a deep breath and count to 20....” a simple but great bit of advice from the matriarch in Emily’s family.


Phoebe’s mum used to convince her to do things that she didn’t want to do by saying, “feel the fear and do it anyway”.


Thanks to Nandie, who had a major career change later on in life, for: “It’s never too late. Just go for it. Follow your dreams and if it turns out it’s not for you, try something else.”


Nikki, a local Zumbini and Zumba instructor has a great bit of wisdom that was passed down from her mother in Wales, “Trust your instinct - you know your children better than anyone”.


10. Lastly thanks to Petra, whose mother Janet has come up with my favourite bit of advice: “It’s 5’o’clock somewhere”.

© 2014 Prism Art & Design Limited. © Hit Entertainment Limited.

Peppa Pig © Astley Baker Davies Ltd/Entertainment One UK Ltd 2003.

The Great Blenheim Palace Easter Egg Challenge 18th – 19th April Appearances from Peppa Pig & Family and Fireman Sam at intervals on each day 20th – 21st April Traditional fairground rides, bouncy castle and craft activities 18th - 21st April

Buy One Day, Get 12 Months Free Terms and conditions apply

Visit or call 0800 849 6500 for more information Find us on Facebook and Twitter

Britain’s Greatest Palace

A great big Art Extravaganza! Friday 11 April 10.30am – 4pm

An art extravaganza including painting, printing, collage and modelling. For older children, try some new techniques with our art tutor.

Free with admission As a treat this Mother’s Day, The Whitehouse Pub in Grove Road, Bladon, is giving Families Oxfordshire mums who dine that day, with a free gift and a glass of bubbles! It’s a busy time so booking’s advised for one of two sittings; 12-2.30pm and 3-5.00pm. We think it’s one of the best roasts around so try it! Book on 01993 811582.


01993 815966

Easter egg hunt 5 – 21 April Daily 10am – 5pm Mill Meadows Henley on Thames RG9 1BF

01491 415600

RRM_Art extravanganza+Easter_FamiliesOx.indd 1

12/02/2014 12:36

What’s on March/April 2014 MUSEUMS & GALLERIES PITT RIVERS MUSEUM Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PW   FAMILY FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

FREE drop-in activities for children aged 5+. Adults to accompany children. Every Sunday 14.00–16.00 Activity backpacks, sorting boxes, trails, colouring sheets and craft activities. PITT STOPS

First Saturday of the month, 13.0016.00 Explore the Museum, discover something new and make something super! Drop in sessions. Suitable for ages 5+ 6 MAR. SINGING AROUND THE WORLD

Learn catchy traditional tunes from around the world and make a noisy instrument to practise them at home! 10.30– 12.30, 14.00–16.00. Under 5’s. 20 MAR. AFTER HOURS: RESONANT VOICES

Try a special After Hours with VERVE Artist in Residence Nathaniel Mann. The culmination of Nathaniel’s residency at the Pitt Rivers, the evening will include a live performance, talk, tours and a workshop. 18.00-21.00. 26 MAR. AFTER HOURS CINEMA CLUB: THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED

Explore the galleries of the Pitt Rivers before taking your seat for the screening of Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 animation The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Live music from Flights of Helios Cash bar. Pre-book FREE tickets online. 18.30-22.00. 19 APR. LEARN HOW TO BUILD A CANOE!

Local artist and craftsman Simon Clements will be talking about techniques and materials used in making canoes, illustrated with models from the museum and demonstrating techniques to build a Nessmuk, a small Native American craft. 2.30pm.


A new exhibition explores grave goods and archaeological treasures discovered in Oxfordshire. Explore objects created during the first millennium AD and discover the stories they tell us using touchscreen cases.

RIVER AND ROWING MUSEUM Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, RG9 1BF 5-21 APR. EASTER EGG HUNT

Meet Sidney the Swan in our SwanUpping exhibition and explore the Museum Galleries looking for clues. Help solve a swan puzzle to claim a mini Easter egg. Free with admission. 10am-5pm. 8 APR. POM POM RATTY

Learn the skill of making pom poms in this perfect activity to prepare for spring. 10.30am-12.30pm. Ages 4-7. £8.50. 9 APR. TAYLOR TUGS HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS

Join Taylor Tug for lots of creative summer fun. 11am – 12.30pm. Ages 18 mnths-5. £8.50. 11 APR. A GREAT BIG ART EXTRAVAGANZA!

Join Mr Toad in an art extravaganza with lots of activities with a Wind in the Willows theme, including: painting, printing, collage and modelling. 10.30am – 4pm. Free with admission 15 APR. SWEETIE SHOWER PARTY PINATA

It’s raining sweets from a party piñata based on a mascot from a rowing club. 10.30am – 12.30pm. Ages 4-7. £8.50.

MUSEUM OF OXFORD Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1BX 15 MAR. MUSEUM TRAILS APP LAUNCH

Witness the launch of the new gallery trail app, unlocking a whole new perspective on Oxford’s past. Enjoy a fun day out Exploring Oxford in a whole new way. 10.30am–3.30pm. Free. 17 APR. FAMILY DAY, 10.30AM–3.30PM, FREE, HERITAGE LEARNING CENTRE

Family fun in the museum’s learning centre. Handle real objects and find out who they were used by and why! For more information view the website.



Beaumont Street, Oxford Ashmolean. org See online for a full list of activities over March and April 2014. All family events are free, with a suggested donation £1 per child. Children must be accompanied by an adult.



Woodstock, Oxon

There’s plenty of family fun to be had over Easter at Blenheim Palace where there’s an exciting Easter eggstravaganza of activities taking place. 20-21 APR. CHILDREN’S FAVOURITE TV CHARACTERS

44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford, OX1 1AY 5-20 APR. TRIALS AND SENTENCING

Explore the world of trials and sentencing and help judge Mary Blandy. Did she poison her father by accident or was it a cleverly masterminded plan? Based on a real case at Oxford Castle from 1752. Visit website for info and prices.

WADDESDON MANOR Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 0JH‎

Easter family fun with appearances from Peppa Pig & Family and Fireman Sam!


Where else can you come face to face with a live owl, touch a live snake and go pond dipping … all under one roof!? 12pm-4pm, free/drop-in. 22 MAR. CREATURE COLOURS


Walk, hop skip or run your way around the gardens in The Waddesdon Mile. Choice of 1, 3 or 6 mile loops. For all ages. Normal admission charges apply. Register at 11.30am. 28 MAR. LACE AT WADDESDON WORKSHOP

Try lace-making! All materials provided so just turn up between 11.00 and 3.30. Normal admission charges apply. 5-17 APR. SPRING TRAIL

Explore wicked warning colours and clever camouflage. Discover the science behind a zebra’s stripes and the art of being invisible! 1pm-4pm, free/drop-in. 27 MAR. OCEAN COMMOTION

Step into our underwater world and touch real ocean objects. Make a marine scene to take home. A special event for under 5s. 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm, free/drop-in. 4 APR. CAN SEE A RAINBOW

Find a rainbow of colours in the Museums and take a rainbow streamer home with you. A special event for under 5s. 10.30am-12.30pm & 2pm-4pm, free/drop-in.

Hunt for the signs of Spring around the Gardens to claim your small prize. Drop-in sessions from 10am. (Excludes Mondays & Tuesdays.) Normal admission.




Waterperry, Nr Wheatley, Oxford, OX33 1JZ 5-21 APR. EASTER BUNNY HUNT

Hunt to find bunnies hidden around the ornamental gardens. Find 8 and claim a special Easter prize from Miss H’s Teashop. £2 per child. Must be accompanied by an adult. Garden entrance fee applies. 10am-5.30pm.

Rose Lane Oxford OX1 4AZ Help celebrate National Gardening Week: go along for sowing and growing activities, craft, a trail and more! 11:00 - 13:00. Free with entry. £4.50/£3, children free.

FAIRYTALE FARM Southcombe Farm, Chipping Norton, Oxon, OX7 5QH 19-20 APR. SPECIAL EASTER EGG HUNT

Have lots of fun and get the chance to meet a giant Easter rabbit! Open on Tuesdays and Thursdays until 5 April and open daily thereafter.

FOREVER LIVING PRODUCTS Part time work for full time pay 07793 539 509 Oxfordshire

For times and prices, please visit venue websites

March / April 2014





South Parade, Oxford OX2 7JN

Moving with the Times’ showcases brand new dance work by some of Oxfordshire’s most exciting performers and choreographers. Tickets sold at



See the launch of this exciting event at Science in your World, Bonn Square, Oxford. The Festival welcomes ATOM!, a celebration of science and technology in Abingdon. For more details www. 22 MAR. HENLEY, TWYFORD AND DISTRICT NCT NEARLY NEW SALE

Selling good quality clothes, toys and equipment and more at the Christ Church Centre, Henley on Thames, RG9 1AG. Visit branches/henley. 10.15am members, 10.30am non-members. £1 entry. 22 MAR. VISUALISE: A MAGICAL SCIENCE SHOW FOR ALL!

As part of The Oxfordshire Science Festival at Abingdon Guildhall, Abingdon for a mischievous mix of physical theatre and live science demonstrations. 26 APR. FARINGDON NCT NEARLY NEW SALE

Selling good quality clothes, toys and equipment and you can now sell door bouncers, sit-in activity centres, baby walkers and electrical equipment (subject to PAT testing). No need to be a member to sell, just download a seller’s pack at http://www. 9.15am – 10.30am. £1 entry.


St Hilda’s College, Oxford, OX4 1DY 2 MAR. MEET THE CHAMBER ORCHESTRA:

To introduce children and families to their various parts and how they all play together. Aimed at 5 years and over and their families. £5. Tickets available from noon.


Raise money for Sue Ryder, Air Ambulance and Sonning Common Primary School and join the feelgood family 6, 12 or 20 mile cycle ride. Playground ride for tots. All ages welcome. Register at

Led by Tom on trumpet and introducing the cello in a special music building and bring your own cushion! £5. Limited places. Book at www. Under 5s: 10am & 11am. Over 5s: 12pm.

Magdalen Road Oxford OX4 1RE 27 MAR-27 APR. PLAY THE WORLD Fun creative activities to share with pre-school children. Thursdays 10am – 10.45am. £20 (£15) 7-11 APR. MUSICAL THEATRE WEEK

6-12 year olds can immerse themselves over a week in an all-singing, all dancing production inspired by a well-known story. A week of wildly silly tales that will be turned into a big show on the Pullman Stage at Pegasus on the last day to bring your friends and family to enjoy on 11th. Price £100 (£75 concessions) daily from 10am – 3pm. MONDAY 14 – FRIDAY 17 APRIL

Taster Workshops 9.30am – 12.15pm & 12.45pm – 3.30pm Book for a morning or afternoon, a day or a week from our selection of fun activities for 6-12 year olds. Choose from drama, dance, music, craft, art and puppetry sessions. Programme and prices will be confirmed in February. Available for OX1–4 residents only. Supported by Oxford City Council

THE KENTON THEATRE New Street Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2BP 17 APR. HANSEL AND GRETEL A feel-good show for all the family, Hansel and Gretel is the story of a brother and sister whose happy life gets interrupted by an unwelcome visitor. Based on the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, the show has puppets, illusions and fun. £9, Family £30. 11am/2.30pm.

Cake Pops

Push Up Pops

Celebration Cakes

Cake n Candy Carts

Contact Suzie on T: 07880 712955





Cup Cakes


At the Cholsey Pavilion. 10.00am Register online at or call 0783 700 9774.


Baked to perfection for any occasion

A magical stage adaptation of the story by Polly Dunbar, with enchanting puppets and enough imagination to make you want to sail away in your very own dream boat. 11am/2pm. £7. 2+.

Join the Jazz All Star day time show, sprinkled with a touch of Ronnie Scott’s jazz club magic, with vocalist Natalie Williams. From awe-inspiring brass to stunning soulful vocals, hear best-loved jazz classics and jazz twists to children’s favourite film tracks; The jungle book, The Wizard of Oz, The Flintstones and The Sound of Music. 11am. From toddler upwards for all the family. Tickets: £5 children, £7 adults. £20 family ticket. Book at or at the Oxford Playhouse.



Featuring a working model railway, live music and two very playful characters, Grandpa’s Railway is a journey of discovery that explores the past, illuminates the present and lays new tracks for the future. 11am/2pm. £7. 5+.


Yoga & Dance Classes in Kidlington Children age 3+ Stage School age 6+ Adults Tuesday & Thursday group classes Private sessions Small group bookings Home visits available Contact: Tanya White on 07717 837706 or

For all the family featuring large scale illusions of the like seen in Las Vegas, incredible sleight of hand, and comedy suitable for all ages. The characters are fantastically talented illusionists and also comic. 7pm £14.50/£13/£45. Ages 8+ WhiteStar_Advert.indd


15/10/2013 16:40:23


Families with toddlers can discover a world of water, bubbles and spinning. With live music, there’s a game of hide and seek with rhythm and song to carry little ones along. Very interactive, appeals to all the senses and puts little ones at ease. 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30pm £8, £6 (concs) Ages 3 upwards. 6 APR. COMEDY CLUB 4 KIDS

cracking comedy for everyone over six years old and under 400. Comedians who generally play to adults really love playing to children as it’s a great way of trying out new material. For the audience it’s also a perfect way to entertain the whole family, to enjoy a real laugh! 2pm £9/£7. EASTER ACTIVITIES

Discover great activities for all the including Clay Sculpture, Print Making, Handmade Felt, Cheerleading, Animation and much much more! Go online for more details.

CREATION THEATRE Creation is running week long Put on a Play in Week workshops at Leckford Place School in Oxford for 6-8s and 9-12s over the Easter holidays. See website to find out more information.

Advertise in Families Oxfordshire call 01993 815966 or email


Families Oxfordshire Magazine Mar-April 2014  

A free, quality magazine on parenting, education, local clubs, classes, events and activities in Oxfordshire.

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