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Issue 3: January/February 2013



Is a nursery right for your child? How to have the best family holiday ever: our top ten tips When love is broken how to tell the children Are you losing your child benefit?

PLUS Half-term activities and What’s On


January - February 2013 The really useful magazine for parents with children 0 to 12 years in Dorset

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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.


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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.






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!



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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January - February 2013

In this issue

Front cover image - Monsoon Families Dorset Editor: Sarah Carr Tel : 07876 761 623 Email: Next issue: March/ April 2013 Booking deadline: 1 February 2013 Copy deadline: 5 February 2013 24,000 readers per issue Printed by Bishops



Is a nursery right for your child?


When love is broken - how to tell the children


How to have your best family holiday ever


Wireless technology - can you feel the force


What’s On Guide


Follow us on twitter @familiesdorset Follow us on facebook

Copyright: Families Dorset, January/February 2013 Data Protection: if you send us your name and address in order to win a prize in a competition, we may supply your details to the company offering the prize. If you would prefer us not to do this please state this on your entry. Disclaimer: Colour transparencies and any other original materials submitted for publication are sent at the owners risk and whilst every care is taken, neither Families Dorset not its agents accept liability for loss or damage. We take care preparing this magazine but the publishers and distributors cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents nor for consequence. Families Dorset is part of a group established in 1990 headed by Families South West London. All magazines are independently owned and operated under licence.


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January - February 2013

News New Parent Pack launched

RSPB ‘reconnects’ kids to nature With more than 50% of the world’s population now living in cities, there is growing concern that generations of children with little or no contact with the natural world pose one of the biggest threats to the future of the UK’s natural environment. Now, the RSPB is unveiling a revolutionary approach to reconnect children aged 8-12 with the natural world and wildlife, exploring their empathy for creatures, responsibility for nature, enjoyment of nature experiences and sense of ‘one-ness’ with nature. “Without the opportunity and encouragement to get outdoors and connect with nature, children are missing out on so many benefits that previous generations have enjoyed, and it’s putting the future of our wildlife and natural environment at risk,” says RSPB’s Chief Executive, Dr Mike Clarke. Rachel Bragg from the University of Essex adds, “It’s vital we understand how a child’s experience of nature influences their feelings of connection to the natural world as this will affect future behaviour towards the environment.” Check your family’s level of connection to nature in a simple questionnaire at Contact Tim Webb 020 7808 1246, 07921 740753

Media Smart launches a new guide for parents to help them educate children about the commercial nature of the online world. Children may encounter all sorts of digital advertising on the internet, from search engine results to advergames, and this pack, developed primarily for parents of 6-11 year olds and backed by the Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, provides tips to help parents explain the intent of online advertising to children. “Parents know best how to bring up their children but they expect businesses to act responsibly in supporting them to do so,” says Timpson. “The Parent Information Pack is an excellent example of how the advertising and marketing industry is taking its responsibilities seriously. As a father myself, I see this as a welcome step in equipping parents with the relevant information to help them educate their children in an increasingly digital world.” Download the free Media Smart Digital parent pack at

Image - Inspire Studio Portraits

National Storytelling Week Storytelling can be found enriching lives everywhere: from nurseries and schools to support groups and theatrical performances. The 13th Annual National Storytelling Week takes place 26 January – 2 February 2013, encouraging all areas of the community to take part in creating and enjoying storytelling, this most ancient of communicative arts. National Storytelling week has an audience of around 17,000 people, so get involved in workshops, performances and events across the country.


Get crafty and support disabled children Leading children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation is calling on all crafters to support disabled and terminally ill children around the UK. Whatever your craft, getting involved is simple. Either make something and sell it at local sales and donate the proceeds to Newlife or donate your handcrafted goods and they will sell it for you. Alternatively spread the word or simply donate cash. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of funds received will directly support disabled children in your area. For further details contact Vicky Jones or Anna Szymczak on 01543 468888 or go to:


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January - February 2013

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News Lower speed limits key to kids’ health

Effective Learning At NumberWorks’nWords their goal is to help children learn. Learning is something that happens in our brains and involves processing all sorts of information. It is a complicated process involving great numbers of nerve connections and chemicals. People learn or process information in different ways. This depends on many factors, including fatigue, stress, interest or lack of interest, encouragement or lack of encouragement. Ultimately, it requires practise, which can be tedious or engaging, depending on the approach. Learning does not always take place on schedule and it should not be limited to time in the classroom. Learning may or may not be something that initially excites our children. The challenge is to find ways to make those things we need to learn in order to live, pass examinations, get jobs and improve our lives interesting and fun. Some things are remembered quickly, other things take more time. Therefore, it is necessary to approach tough subjects in different ways.

More than half of parents believe lower speed limits would allow their kids to walk, cycle and play outside more often, according to a survey carried out for charity Sustrans. The survey revealed 54% of parents thought their kids would be more physically active if speed limits were lowered, with 49% identifying busy and dangerous roads as the main reason their children don’t walk or cycle to school. Sustrans’ Free Range Kids campaign is calling for a national 20mph speed limit in residential areas to help tackle the UK’s growing obesity epidemic – a call backed by Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation. “It’s a tragedy that so many of our children are failing to meet recommended physical activity levels but little wonder when parents don’t feel that their local streets are safe,” says Sustrans’ Chief Executive Malcolm Shepherd. “We urgently need to make our neighbourhoods safer if we’re to get kids active by walking and cycling to school and playing outdoors. Parents want to see safer streets - the Government must change the standard speed limit to 20mph on the streets where we live, work and play.” Contact:

That is where NumberWorks’nWords can help you and your children. It is why they approach each child as an individual and design maths and English programmes based on need rather than placing children into a “one size fits all” package. They use digital media, books, learning aids for physical engagement, discussions and other methods to reach goals. One of their recent students said it best: “I like coming here Mum, it makes me think.” Contact: Tel: 01202 433 673

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Families Dorset Issue 46 : (E)

January - February 2013

Is a nursery right for your child ?

By Joanna Moorhead

Nurseries aren’t the cheapest form of childcare - according to the latest figures, the average cost of a nursery place for a child under two for 25 hours a week is £103.19 a week. But prices vary dramatically, and in some areas nurseries charge as much as £15,000 a year for 25 hours’ care a week. Is a nursery the right choice for you? Studies show, though, that attending nursery can increase a child’s confidence, because it involves mixing with adults, and other children, from outside the family group.  It gives children social skills, and experience from an early age of an environment outside the home.  The nursery ‘key worker’ scheme, under which each child is allocated a special member of staff with whom they can bond, helps provide security. Healthy food and menus are another big plus of nursery provision: staff work hard to ensure children are given a balanced diet.  And as your child gets older, play and learning opportunities will be targeted appropriately: staff are trained in what young children can do when, and will be conscious of a child’s likely interests and potential. Nurseries work best for parents who have regular working hours, because it’s difficult or impossible for staff to deal with erratic patterns of collection and drop-off: nurseries often open early in the morning and some close late in the evening, but they are not as flexible as, say, a nanny or a childminder.  On the other hand, they have the big advantage


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that only very, very rarely will they be closed at short notice - so they’re more reliable than one carer who may be ill or have to cope with a sudden family emergency. They may be prohibitively expensive if you have more than one child, although many nurseries do offer a sibling reduction. But if you can fit around its opening hours, if your budget stretches to the fees, and if you like the idea of a social environment and a place with plenty of activities and trained carers, a nursery could be the place for your child and for you.

How to reduce nursery costs The government is currently considering cutting staff-to-child ratios in nurseries as a way of reducing what many see as unsustainable prices - but the move is controversial, and organisations such as the Preschool Learning Alliance is warning such a change could risk children’s safety and well-being. Under current regulations, there must be one staff member for every three undertwos, and one for every four children aged two and three. Most nurseries provide funded places for three to five year olds under the

government free nursery education scheme. If your child is younger, check whether your employer can offer help towards your nursery costs through the childcare voucher scheme.  Under this, money is taken out of your pay packet before deductions, giving you savings on tax and National Insurance - in return, you are given a voucher or e-voucher that you forward to your nursery, and the amount is deducted from your bill.  So it’s a way of getting more childcare for your money - though it requires your employer’s co-operation.

How to choose the right nursery Start your nursery search well ahead of the time when you’re actually going to need to leave your child: the more confident you are of the choices you make, the happier you’ll be when it comes to the day you have to head back to the office. Ask around so you get other parents’ views on what nurseries are like in your area.  Make a shortlist of ones that might work for you (remember to take geography into account: how easy will it be for you and/or your partner to do the drop off/collect?) and don’t hesitate to ask to visit a second time. January - February 2013

Nursery Feature Make sure you read the most recent Ofsted inspection report for the nurseries you are considering, and ask whether they have any awards of excellence. Be guided by your instincts when looking at a nursery: it may seem a cliché to say do the children look happy, but it is an important barometer of whether a nursery is good.  Be aware of the quality of both indoor and outdoor play areas: are the spaces pleasant, bright, welcoming, and do they seem safe?  Ask about meals, how the food is prepared, and what time meals are served.  Are you able to provide input for your child’s food - suggestions for what s/he would like to eat, or recipes?  What kinds of snacks are provided and how often are they available? Watch the children while they’re playing, and pay attention to how much they’re interacting with the staff.  How do the staff come across - do they seem happy, relaxed, fun to be around?  Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do they seem interested in your child and his/her likes/dislikes and interests? Ask about organised play sessions - weekly music groups, perhaps, or storytelling.  Are there trips to the library, and to the park?  How are these organised, and how often do they take place? Make sure you understand what the nursery charges, how payment is made, and exactly what the fees include (for example, do they cover meals, nappies, outings).  How many weeks a year is the nursery open?  How are parents involved in the nursery, and are there opportunities for parents to meet up?

it’s going. You know your child better than anyone else, so if your hunch is that your child is happy and contented , that’s almost certainly the case.  Remember that in the early days, he or she will probably get more tired than usual -nursery is a big change, emotionally as well as physically.  Both your child and you need time to adjust to the new set-up. Try not to drag out your goodbyes: leaving your child will be difficult, especially at first, but keeping it brief will help you both.  Remember that your child may cry every day when you drop them off (and so might you!) for quite a while; this is a normal part of getting used to this big change in your lives.  Cope with it by emphasising the positives: think about why you’re working (to make money and provide a better standard of living; to ensure you have an interesting life, and income, in the longer term) and how much your child will benefit from a wider social network.

Troubleshooting Fingers crossed, you’ll never have a problem with a nursery your child attends. But what happens when there IS an issue?  As every working parent knows, nothing undermines your ability to work more than a nagging suspicion that your child isn’t happy, or isn’t being looked after as well as possible or even worst scenario of all - isn’t safe.

If you have any worries at all about your child’s nursery you must resolve them, and as quickly as possible. So as soon as something strikes you as ‘not right’, talk to the nursery manager or your allocated member of staff - many niggles are simply down to a lack of communication.  Explain what’s up, and the chances are you’ll never have to mention it again, and things will all be smoothed over. But if you’re not satisfied that all is well, put your concern in writing to the nursery manager.  All nurseries should have a protocol for dealing with complaints - ask to see this if it’s not spelled out in the nursery handbook.

Is all well when I’m not there? Some nurseries have webcams which allow parents to see live images of their child at play from their desk at work. But while some parents welcome this idea, others are sceptical - they say they want their child’s nursery to know they trust its workers, and worry that they’ll be seen as a way of spying on care workers.  Others say they like the idea of watching their child at play so much that they’d spend too much time doing it - and wouldn’t ever get any work done! As your child is settling into nursery, trust your instincts about how well


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January - February 2013

When Love is Broken – How to Tell the Children By Soila Sindoyo MBPsSS

Depending on the age of the child, realise that this moment might be something that they will always remember – the time you told them that you, mummy and daddy, were going to live separately. It is therefore critical that the news is conveyed with caution and this is what we shall be looking at here. Here is what you will need to keep in mind and to have in place when and while you are breaking the news. Chose the right time. You know your children best so you will know when the right time is. However, before bed is not really a good idea as this means that they are left with their own thoughts through the night, not the best time to digest such news. You want them to be able to come to you through the day with any questions they may have. Of course they will still think about it when the lights are out and for a long time coming but let’s reduce the pain and stress as much as possible. Tell them together wherever possible. This may sound obvious but I have heard of cases where one parent takes it upon him/herself to talk to the children without the knowledge of the other. If you cannot tell them together for whatever reason, do let the other parent know what, when and how you are intending to tell the children and as you tell the children, do let them know, from the start that their father/mother knows that you are talking to them.

Agree on what you will be telling them and how you will be saying it. As we all know, words carry a lot of power and prepare yourselves for questions. Some questions to anticipate: Why? Do you not love mummy/daddy any more? Where are we going to live? Am I changing schools? Will I still see daddy/mummy? Most importantly reassure them that it is not their fault in any way. Really make sure that they get this. Contrary to popular belief, not all children blame themselves but it does happen. You might have to revisit this with them again and again. Be honest. If it’s a trial separation then let them know, if it’s definitely going to end in a divorce then let them know that too. Do not, under any circumstances, give them false hope. It is not fair on them to have to relieve the whole thing again, once they realise that you will not be getting back together ever again. Do not promise them ANYTHING. If you don’t have an answer then let me them know. Tell them when you are both calm and have the time to sit through any questions or concerns that they might have. Please don’t rush through it.


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Tell them when you are somewhere safe, somewhere calm and preferably somewhere familiar to them. This way there are neither new nor noisy distractions. They can concentrate on what is going on here and now. Don’t make it a “special” occasion i.e. take them to the cinema, get them whatever they want and then out to lunch in their favourite restaurant and break the news in there. They don’t need any associations with the news i.e. they don’t need to always see a Pizza Express or a Zizzi restaurant and “remember the time when…” This is one of the times that you will need to be totally present with your child. Watch them as you speak. Watch their body language and their facial expressions. They can tell you a lot about what is going on within them. Are they fidgety, avoiding eye contact, fighting back tears, curled up? Sometimes these and other behaviours will give you a cue on when to reach out to them physically. “Come here Tom, you look like you could do with a hug right now.” There are some children who might feel that they suddenly need to look after you – “Are you alright mummy/daddy?” Don’t let them parent you this could just be their way of avoiding hearing, processing and dealing with their own anxieties, fears and worries and displacing/transferring them onto you. Whatever you tell them make sure it’s age appropriate and use age appropriate words and language. Little ones might not understand a whole account of what is going on while teenagers may need more information. Be prepared to have them come to speak with you at the most inconvenient January - February 2013

Book Corner time...yes, children have a way of finding the strangest time to want to discuss the most difficult things; when you’re running late for instance. Bear with them. The timing may not be the best for you but it is for your little one. Do not, under any circumstances, tell the children to keep what is happening at home to themselves. This is very heavy news for a child to carry. You have off-loaded onto them, they should be able to do it too, to whomever they chose. They need care, attention and support from you and others around as opposed to them looking after you and your secrets. Anyway divorce and separation is like pregnancy, you can only keep it a secret for so long. Soila Sindiyo is a seasoned therapist who helps families and children get through the challenges of divorce. A twicedivorced parent, she deeply understands the challenges faced by families going through divorce. Her coaching approach was developed over 10 years whilst working with children and families overcome the trauma and after effects of crime. Soila today specializes in working with mums and children living with or in the shadow of divorce. Soila is an accredited Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) practitioner and a member of the British Psychological Society. She has a Bsc (Hons) in Psychology and Msc in Child Psychology as well as training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Soila is also a soon to be qualified family mediator.

Distributors Wanted...

Families Dorset is looking for distributors in the Bournemouth area. If you have a car, a few hours to spare every two months and want to earn some extra money, please contact Sarah on 07876 761623 or email


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Ed’s Reading Room is an exciting free online book and story club for primary children in homes and schools. Each month, recently published books are selected as Ed’s Books of the Month for Owlets (age 5-7) and Owls (over 7s). On the website, there are fun literacy activities to accompany each book, including wordsearches, quizzes, poetry and reviews, and there are new original stories in Edtime Stories. There are also lots of other fun online activities, complementary to the curriculum. For further information visit

FOR AGES 5-7 YEARS My Great Big Birthday Bash!

by Betty G Birney (Faber £3.99)


FOR AGES 7 YEARS PLUS Genie in Trouble

by Ciaran Murtagh (Piccadilly Press £5.99)

‘Humphrey loves being the classroom hamster with such a wonderful crowd of children. In this story he learns about the importance of birthdays to humans and enjoys the unsqueakable excitement that surrounds birthday parties. When he hears about plans for a surprise party, he doesn’t realise how much of a surprise it really is going to be.

ED SAYS: ‘Jamie is starting another tricky spelling test at school when suddenly his genie friend Balthazar appears. There is trouble back in Lampville and Balthazar needs Jamie to return to the Genie Academy with him to help sort things out. Jamie knows he is in for a dangerous challenge but secret plots in the genie world and magic carpet races are better than a spelling test any day!

‘This is another super book in the Humphrey’s Tiny Tales series. The life of this adorable character provides a lot of FUN-FUN-FUN for young readers on their own or reading together.’

‘This is a hilarious and wacky story by this very funny writer. It is entertaining and full of energy. If you enjoy this book, look out for the other titles in the series.’

Feathers in the Wind

by Sally Grindley (Bloomsbury £4.99)

ED SAYS: ‘Joe and Aesha are thrilled to be going to the Indian city of Ahmedabad with their parents – a vet and a photographer. They will be there for the annual kite festival which is very exciting but which can be devastating for some of the birds. The children are eager to be involved but are they really putting themselves at risk when they try to help an injured bird on their own? ‘This is a fantastic adventure in the International Rescue series. It is a fastmoving story that will entertain boys and girls alike.’

Granny Grabbers’ Whizz Bang World by Charlotte Haptie (Hodder £5.99)

ED SAYS: ‘Delilah Smart’s parents are determined their daughter will excel in everything she does and to help them they send off for a childcare robot. Although at first Delilah isn’t sure what to make of the metal contraption with several long arms, soon Delilah and Granny Grabbers form a close bond. But when Delilah’s parents send off for the replacement Nanny Deluxe, is it time for Granny Grabbers to go to the scrapheap? Not without a lot of resistance! ‘This is a very funny and warm-hearted story. The madcap adventures and characters make for a real page-turner of a book.’ January - February 2013

How to have your best family holiday ever: our top ten secrets Image -

Joanna Moorhead, who has been planning her family’s holidays for the last 20 years, shares her insider tips to help you plan for a summer to remember in 2013 Fantastic family holidays don’t just happen. They’re crafted, often by hours of work from one or both parents, who spend endless amounts of time planning, plotting, budgeting and making sure safety nets are in place to stop hiccups becoming disasters.  Of course everyone loves spontaneity but for spontaneous decision to be possible, especially where a family with children are concerned, a framework has to be in place...and getting that framework right is the backbone of every holiday. So how do you do it?  Here are our top ten secrets. 1. Don’t cut corners.  To get the right holiday, you may have to spend a long time on research.  Don’t begrudge this time, and don’t expect the perfect holiday to fall into your lap without it: after your mortgage, your car and (if you’re paying them) your child’s school or university costs, the money you spend on your holiday is your biggest outlay.  So doing the homework matters. Start with a list of what sort of holiday you’re looking for – the location you’re after, what facilities you need close by, what sort of accommodation you need, how far it needs to be from the airport, and so on.  Give yourself parameters, and then get googling.  Keep a list of possible resorts/villas/hotels; whittle it down to a shortlist; and then make a decision. 2. Don’t expect a bargain.  After two decades of planning holidays for my


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family (my children are aged between ten and 20), I’m sure of one thing: where school holidays are concerned, bargains are as rare as hen’s teeth. Far better to start from the premise that you’ll get what you pay for.  Look for the best deal, the best quality that you can possibly afford: but if somewhere seems a lot cheaper than other places, scrutinise it very carefully indeed.   3. Space is crucial.  You know those places that say ‘sleep 4/6’ and turn out, on closer inspection, to have a pull-down bed in the sitting room?  Avoid them (at full capacity) like the plague.  Squeezing as many people as possible in is fine for students, less good for grown-ups.  You want a bit of luxury on holiday – and space is luxurious.

4. Location, location, location. Just as when you’re buying a house, this is your number one priority.  Some of the villas I’ve looked at for my family’s holiday this year are twice the price of others, simply because of where they are.  And guess what: I can understand why.  On holiday I want a great view and shops and restaurants we can walk to.  If you’ve got younger children, a beach within walking distance may be your number one

location priority. Know what you need, and don’t settle for less. 5. Friends matter, so think very carefully about who to holiday with.  However close you are, nothing scratches away at a friendship’s weakest points as much as sharing two weeks together.  You think you know that couple, and you think you like their kids?  Take it from me, you’re going to know a lot about them, and you may have totally reassessed their kids, by the flight home.   6. Be honest about the sort of experience you want.  Holidays aren’t times to be aspirational, or eyeing up the Joneses, or following the incrowd.  They’re about being honest about how you’d really love to spend a fortnight with your family – and who cares what anyone else might think.  You don’t need anyone else’s approval, or envy, for the holiday you choose: what this is about is working out what’s right for your family, and making it happen.   7. Once you’re there, alternate busy days with quiet ones.  Even if you’re a busy, boisterous, actionpacked family, everyone needs some downtime.  The easiest, simplest way to make sure you get both busy days and more relaxed ones is simply to alternate them.  If you went to a water park yesterday, relax by the pool today.  If you went fell-walking yesterday, read a book and have a cream tea today.  Overloading is the enemy of a good holiday. January - February 2013

8. Don’t over-plan: have ideas, but leave space to be open to what you find when you get there. It’s well worth doing some research about the area you’ll be staying in – essential, in fact – but it’s a mistake to plan every jot and comma of your stay before you even touch down.  You want to explore, to discover, to be surprised, to make friends – and all these things will only happen if you’ve left the space for them to unfold.  So, for as much knowledge as you’ve learned beforehand, always be flexible about what you’re going to find out, and want to do, when you actually get there. 9. Embrace change: as your family grows up, be ready to move on to new destinations and new experiences.  For three years running my family had wonderful holidays in a hilltop villa in inland, northern Mallorca.  It was perfect for us: but by the third year it was obvious my older daughters needed something more: shops, places to hang out, a beach they could walk to.  I was desperately unhappy about giving up the villa: but guess what?  The following year I found somewhere even better. 10. Set boundaries.  It might be a holiday, but rules ensure everyone – especially the parents – get a break.  If your children are younger, those rules might be about bedtime (you need some time with your partner, so letting your kids stay up all evening might not be the best move), or about time for the children to go to the crèche; if your children are older, the rules might be about sharing the washing up, or about how much contact you need to have with them through the day.  But put your rules in place, because then everyone can relax and have what they came to do: have a wonderful fortnight away.  

Travel Feature Where to go...the Alps The Alps are much too good to save for your skiing holidays – in fact, those who’ve tried the area summer and winter often say summer is the best time to be there. For a wonderful family Alpine holiday, you’ll be hardpressed to improve on the Chilly Powder formula – choose from a luxurious hotel or a villa, all set in a biscuit-tin picture-perfect location, complete with in-chalet childcare and – for the foodies – an in-chalet chef. Sports on offer include white water rafting, rock-climbing, trekking, tennis and summer tobogganing (which is one of the most fun summer sports I’ve ever tried, and kids adore it). Prices vary depending on what sort of package you’re after, but as a for-instance, Chalet des Amis (three bedrooms; sleeps up to eight) is £1,200 in the midsummer. More information at

Where to go...North Devon Devon is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, and for good reason: wonderful beaches, plenty to do (even in the rain), beautiful scenery and a wide choice of where to stay. Libbear Barton, a country estate on the north side of the county, hits just the right note of luxury (beamed cottages that are beautifully laid out and furnished) and has everything on hand, from stairgates to babysitters, for the hard-pressed family. There’s an indoor pool, games room, play areas inside and out, fishing lake and woods – all on a rolling, 40-acre estate, and with the sea a half hour’s drive away. Perfect for big families or families holidaying together – the farmhouse sleeps up to 14. Prices vary, but for example Moley’s Place, sleeping eight in four bedrooms, costs around £1,700 a week in high summer. More information at

Glamping at Mill Farm in Wiltshire Enjoy the best of the beautiful British countryside from the comfort of a luxurious canvas lodge equipped with a wood burning stove, comfy beds, a nice warm shower and much more inside. There is also a self-catering farmhouse on the family-run, organic farm. With acres of grassland for kids to run wild, and lots of local attractions such as Stonehenge and Longleat there really is something for everyone! T:01380 828351


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January - February 2013

Health Feature

Wireless technology: can you feel the force? By Helena Foss

Can you remember a life before mobiles and texting? I often let my five-year-old son play games on my mobile. That’s normal, isn’t it? There is wifi in most schools and there are phone masts on top of the tower block where my son’s school friend lives. In the past, community activists campaigned against such things. Today, they are simply part of the landscape. But surely this technology wouldn’t be allowed if it wasn’t proven to be safe, would it? As the more powerful G4 network is being rolled out across the nation, I think it’s wise to at least question the safety of wireless technology. Especially in light of the recent roll call of unethical activity in once trusted institutions: banking (once a paragon of respectability); Sir Jimmy Savile (OBE no less); BBC management; abuse in care homes; corporate tax avoidance (one rule for the rich, another for the poor); Rupert Murdoch’s News International debacle; and prestigious medical journals losing credibility due to industry funding that skews research in drug corporations’ favour. An exeditor of a reputable medical journal has estimated this accounts for at least two thirds of trials published in major journals. Blimey! Is nothing sacred anymore? OK, so here is a little basic info Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is basically microwave radiation. Small doses, of course, will not kill you. (In fact, I would say microwave ovens are lifesaving at stress o’clock when the kids are famished and you resort to heating up a frozen ready meal!) But do we want this kind of invisible energy in our homes all the time? WiFi and cordless phones, we often forget, are all EMRemitting devices too.

The fact is that telecommunications industry-funded research says that EMR poses less danger than independent scientists say it does. Plus, the effects of EMR on children, whose skulls are thinner and whose brains are still developing, is still not fully researched or understood. In 2011, the World Health Organisation classified EMR from mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic” and, according to a Daily Telegraph report in October 2012, a link between heavy mobile use (up to six hours a working day over 12 years) and brain tumours, was upheld in an Italian court (an employee was suing his employer). The Telegraph has also reported a link found with hyperactivity and poor memory in adult offspring of pregnant mice exposed to cellphone radiation by researchers at Yale University. OK, so let’s not panic – but let’s not ignore the issue either. Whilst the scientific debate continues, when it comes to erring on the side of precaution, I’m with Edmund Burke who said: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” It’s like insurance, you don’t need it till you find it’s too late. • Always turn your wifi router off at night (just a switch). • Never put your mobile close to your baby’s head, nor let them use it as a toy. Think twice about whether your cordless baby monitor is necessary or place it as far as possible from baby. These devices also emit EMR, they work with Wifi after all.


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• Carry your phone in your bag, not your pocket. Manufacturer’s small print warns users to keep mobiles away from the body, even though advertising campaigns show the opposite. • The NHS advises children and teenagers to text or make short, essential calls only. The further away from the body/ears the better. • Do not let your teenager sleep next to their phone at night (and especially not keep it under their pillow for secret texting). (See the NHS leaflet on • Do not use your phone as an alarm clock next to your head. • Go back to a corded phone. No rewiring is required, simply buy two Ethernet boxes to plug in computers and laptops to your regular electricity socket. Radiation from cordless (DECT) phones is intense, and in some cases higher than a mobile phone (models/devices vary in intensity, check SAR levels). Get informed. We’ve collated lots of useful websites, articles, reports, videos etc. here: radiation Further Information A comprehensive report on controversies in current EMR research: http://archive. pdfs/15reasons.asp

January - February 2013

Family Finance

Are you losing your child benefit? In January 2013, middle-income families will lose their child benefit if one parent earns £60,000 or more, or see it reduced if the figure is over £50,000. The ‘squeezed middle’ are being squeezed yet again, which means parents will be desperate to make up the shortfall by taking on extra hours at work or by trying to pay less tax. If you’re working during the school holidays, you will need to pay for childcare and this can be achieved by opting to pay by childcare vouchers. It means you pay less tax and they can be redeemed against holiday playschemes right up until your child turns 15 years old. In addition, if signing up for childcare vouchers brings down your net income to below the £50,000 threshold, you will keep your child benefit.

Why should I bother? You can save over £1000 a year. A basic rate taxpayer can pay for up to £243 of childcare with vouchers each month.

Guy Ker, Super Camps’ Managing Director, is keen to spread the word so that working parents aren’t missing out. offers the following example to explain this:

“Surprisingly, only 30% of Super Camps’ bookings made during the summer of 2012 were paid for using Childcare Vouchers. We think parents are missing out and want to encourage them to pay for their children’s holiday activities using their company’s salary sacrifice scheme.” Guy goes on to say “A wrongly held belief is that childcare vouchers are only useful for paying for pre-school nursery places, when in fact they can be ‘banked’ and used in one go for older children during the holidays. With higher earning parents facing a cut in their family budget when child benefit is means-tested next year, we would urge parents to sign up to childcare voucher schemes and start saving their vouchers, ready for the long summer holidays.”

A Quick Reference Guide to Childcare Vouchers What are childcare vouchers? A special government scheme operated through employers that allow you to pay for childcare from your pre-tax salary and National Insurance income. Who can use them? Parents with children aged up to 15 years. If each parent works, they can both claim for childcare vouchers, so there’ll be twice as many to use.


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How can I get vouchers? Employers can either give you vouchers in addition to your normal salary as a perk, or they may ask you to sign up for a “salary sacrifice” scheme in which part of your pay is turned into vouchers.

You give up £1000 of salary (but after tax and National Insurance that’s only worth £700ish in your pocket) In return, you get £1000 of vouchers (so you’re £300 per £1000 better off) The vouchers aren’t specific to each child and can be banked until needed. So if you need to use more of them to cover the school holidays, you can store them up. Where can I use them? They can be used for registered and regulated nurseries, playgroups, nannies, childminders and holiday playschemes like Super Camps. Ask your employer if they run a childcare voucher scheme themselves; they might use a voucher company to do it for them. Voucher companies include: Busy Bees, Computershare, Edenred, Kiddivouchers, plus many more. What if my employer doesn’t run a voucher scheme? Don’t be afraid to ask them to start one. It needn’t cost them anything – and in fact they’ll save money as they won’t have to pay National Insurance on wages you use for vouchers. If you are selfemployed, ask your accountant as you too are entitled to childcare vouchers.

What’s the catch? For most people there isn’t one! If you claim Child Tax Credits, using childcare vouchers may affect the amount you receive – so it’s worth checking if you’ll be better off with the HMRC’s online calculator. calcs/ccin.htm How do I pay by childcare vouchers? Once you have signed up to your company’s scheme, their voucher administrator/company will set you up with an account. Your vouchers will go into your account, like a bank balance, at the end of the month when you get paid. Log into your account at the end of the month to check your voucher balance. If you need to make any payments to your registered nursery/nanny/childcare provider you can authorise and make payments like a bank transfer. If you’re saving them up, they can sit in your account until they’re needed (although do check for expiry dates). Make sure that the voucher company has your childcare provider listed as one of your chosen recipients. At the other end of the chain, once the childcare provider has the information to link the payment to you, your child and your booking, they’ll receive the vouchers as payment. And with childcare vouchers, everyone’s a winner. You benefit because your salary will go further; employers don’t pay National Insurance on the vouchers so it saves them money; and your child can enjoy the wide range of childcare options and activities on offer. For further information visit or childbenefitcharge

January - February 2013

Out & About

What’s On

We aim to be as accurate as possible but the listings are compiled several weeks beforehand and may be subject to change. Please contact venues in advance to check details and prices.

Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts, Kingland Road, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1UG 0844 406 8666 Image - Paul Coltas Midnight Is A Place 2 February 3pm and 6.30pm (3pm a BSL interpreted performance) £9 / £32 Family Ticket / discounts available (Age 5+) Inside the gloomy Midnight Court, Lucas Bell and Anna-Marie Murgatroyd live under the stewardship of Sir Randolph. When a mysterious fire forces them onto the icy streets they face danger at every turn. Following the success of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Phoenix and the Carpet, Forest Forge revisits a classic tale. Join in for an uplifting family adventure featuring original live music. The Moscow State Circus 8 – 10 February 7.30pm / Saturday & Sunday 2pm matinee / Sunday 5pm £28 / £24 / £20 / £15 / discounts available This new show will take you on an incredible journey in the company of, without a doubt, the greatest circus performers on earth.

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog 19 February 11am & 2.30pm £10 / £36 Family Ticket / discounts available A family show with puppets and live music for ages 4+. Michaela Strachan 20 February 2pm £12.50 / £45 Family Ticket / discounts available (Age 3-7) TV’s Michaela Strachan takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the alphabet jungle of animal rhymes. From


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antelopes to zebras, from orphaned orangutans to polar bear dentistry, this is a whistle stop interactive show, a journey though the animal world full of poetry, movement and music. Directed by award-winning Malachi Bogdanov, this show is suitable for ages 3−7. Who knows, grown-ups might even learn something too! Mavis Sparkle 22 February 11am & 2pm £7 / £25 Family Ticket / discounts available (Age 5+) With a magician for a dad and a stargazer for a mum, no wonder there’s more to Mavis than meets the eye! A telescope in one hand, a feather duster in the other and a few tricks up her sleeve, Mavis is on a journey north to see nature’s biggest light show with her own eyes. M6’s delightful new production mixes illusion, animation and laughter plus a galaxy of delights to discover the magic and wonder in the universe, each other and ourselves Little Red...You Know Who! 23 February 11am & 2pm £7 / £25 Family Ticket / discounts available (Age 3-7) Taking a well-known traditional story (you know which!), this spellbinding play for young children follows a magical path through the woods. Freehand Theatre creates a memorable and reassuring journey with its delightful use of puppetry, colour and specially composed music.

Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre 0844 576 3000 21 February – 23 February Beauty & The Beast - The Musical Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the award-winning worldwide smash hit musical, is coming to the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth this February - this elaborate theatrical production will come to life on stage from Thursday 21st – Saturday 23rd February 2013, promising to capture the minds of young and old audience members alike. Pavilion Dance 01202 203630 Rapunzel by Tutti Frutti and York Theatre Royal 17 February, 11.30am & 3pm A delightful new production based on the classic fairytale with live music and magical design for children aged 3+, rewritten by leading children’s playwright Mike Kenny.
£5, babes in arms free.
 Spring term of classes for all ages and abilities 7 January – 28 March £5 (adults)/£2.50 (under 5s) per class.

Adventure Moors Valley Country Park and Forest 01425 470721 Adventure Cycling Saturdays throughout Jan & Feb, 10am – 11am 8 to 12 years Explore the tracks and trails through the Park and Forest whilst learning new skills and improving techniques and confidence. Tank Engine Day 3 February 10.45am – 4:30pm All Ages A special day for Moors Valley Railway to show off some of the trains you don’t normally see on the track. January - February 2013

Out & About The Gruffalo Trail 16 – 28 February, 10:30am – 3:30pm Explore the Forest on a self-led family trail with the characters from the wellloved children’s story – The Gruffalo.

WEYMOUTH SEA LIFE ADVENTURE PARK 01305 761070 Discover over 1000 creatures, rides, water play park and exciting events at the Sea Life Park.

A Woodland Fairy Tale 21 February, 10:30am – 12:00pm Up to 6 years A fun event especially for the under 6s with stories, games and activities.

Days Out ADVENTURE WONDERLAND 01202 483444 Open for half term week At Adventure Wonderland there are more than 30 fantastic rides and attractions throughout the park and Wild Thing! for all the family to enjoy. They provide hours of fun and entertainment and are primarily aimed at children up to 12 years. FARMER PALMER’S FARM PARK 01202 622022 Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park is packed with fun-filled attractions and adorable animals. Their attractions are designed specifically with under 8’s in mind and are guaranteed to keep your little ones entertained throughout their stay. Paultons Park
 023 8081 4442 17 February – 25 February Paultons Park, home to the UK exclusive Peppa Pig World, is open for February Half Term! Peppa Pig World is set in nearly 3 acres of fully themed fun with 7 fantastic rides, magical attractions and indoor and outdoor play areas! Paultons Park now has over 60 wonderful rides and attractions to discover, such as the awesome volcano-themed ride MAGMA, the fabulous EDGE and not forgetting the awesome Cobra!

INDOOR PLAY Marwell The Wonderful World Of Scales 16 – 24 February Take part in their themed crafts, meet the mini beasts and enjoy the animal talks. SWANAGE RAILWAY 01929 425800 Visitors can experience a unique journey through six miles of beautiful scenery passing the magnificent ruins of Corfe Castle. Corfe Castle www.national 01929 481294 Teddy Zip Wire Challenge 16 – 24 February, 10am – 4pm Back for half term by popular demand, bring along your own brave teddy to have a go at the fearsome zip wire challenge. Highcliffe Castle 01425 278807 18 February - 21 February, 11am - 4pm Fun hands-on crafts to keep the children amused during Half Term. The activities take place between 11am and 4pm daily in the Castle’s Dining Room. There is no need to book, just pop in during those times. Plus have a go at their entertaining free trail around the Castle rooms. WEYMOUTH SEA LIFE TOWER 0871 423 2110 Enjoy amazing panoramic views of the Weymouth Bay, Portland and the Jurassic Coast. To include your events in our What’s On Guide email the details to


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Bee a bug play cafe 01202 766710 16 Landseer Road, Westbourne, BH4 9EH Mon - FrI 10am - 5pm Sat 9am - 3pm The Good Play cafe 01202 425577 128/130 Seabourne Road, Bournemouth, BH5 2HZ A state of the art soft play centre for the under 5’s in Bournemouth, serving healthy food and drink at affordable prices. Serendipity sam’s 01202 481015 Reid Street, Christchurch, BH23 2BT Serendipity Sam’s is the ultimate indoor family venue with over 10,000 square feet of fun for children up to the age of eleven.

Nearly New Sales Baby & Children’s Market 07926 202323 3 February, 2.30pm – 4.30pm Merley Community Centre, Merley, Wimborne 9 February, 10.30am – 12.30pm St Joseph’s Parish Centre, Christchurch 16 February, 10am – 12pm The Hub, Verwood 24 February, 2pm – 4pm Ferndown Village Hall January - February 2013





Families Dorset

January - February 2013

Families Dorset Issue 3 Jan-Feb 2013  

Families Dorset Magazine for January and February 2013

Families Dorset Issue 3 Jan-Feb 2013  

Families Dorset Magazine for January and February 2013