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Issue 4 September/October 2013 ÂŽ

Back to School issue Is your child ready to learn? 20 things you need to know when choosing big school

Plus News,What’s On and much more!

Currently distributed in Charnwood, Melton, Harborough & South Leicestershire, Leicester City and Rutland... coming soon in other parts of Leicestershire.

Welcome I hope you all had a lovely summer and enjoyed the sunshine! I can’t believe it’s September already and here we are again at the start of a new school year! This issue is packed full of useful advice for parents about helping your children get the most out of school and how to help them cope with the stresses and strains of every day life. The start of a new school year is also the time that we sign our children up for new clubs and classes, the choice of which can be quite baffling. Our clubs and classes feature on pages 12 & 13 will hopefully help you make the right choices. As ever, we have plenty of great ideas for things to do and places to go in our What’s On guide.

Cover photo by Ian Knaggs Photography. Ian specialises in Family Portrait Photography either on location or studio-style in your own home. Contact Ian on 07948 989 199.

Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @familiesleics to keep up to date between issues!

Helen Hill, Editor

All content ©Families 2013 Editor: Email: Website: Tel:

Helen Hill 07557 967 727

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November / December 2013 30th September 2013 for editorial and booking

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Disclaimer Families Leicestershire and Rutland is part of the Families group, established in 1990 and headed by Families South West. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence. We take every 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 any consequences. Colour transparencies and any other original materials submitted for publication are sent at owners’ own risk and, while every care is taken, neither Families nor its agents accept liability for loss or damage.

In this issue 03



Which Secondary School?


Mums in Business


Benefits of baby swimming


How to overcome stress


Clubs & classes


Ready to learn?


What’s on

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @FamiliesLeics 2

Tel: 0755 7967727


From around Leicestershire and Rutland

We love hearing your news! Please email

Local winner in National Children’s Awards Scheme The prestigious national ‘What’s On 4 Junior 2013’ Awards took place in June and local business Hartbeeps music and sensory classes was revealed as a national winner in the best national post-natal class category! The awards celebrate the best activities, classes and party providers from all over the UK, as nominated and voted for by the experts – PARENTS!

Hartbeeps run popular music and sensory classes in Market Harborough for babies and children from birth to four years. The sessions use state of the art music technology, over 100 original songs (including funky re-works of classic nursery rhymes) and sound effects as a platform for theatrical and multi-sensory mini productions. Sessions also include innovative and unusual props, puppetry, baby signing, dramatic play, dress-up and musical story-telling.

For further details please contact Donna Smith at Hartbeeps South Leicestershire on 07584 033108 or

13th September 2013 Changing the world for children with genetic disorders Wear your jeans on Jeans for Genes Day on 20 September and help change lives. In aid of Genetic Disorders UK, Jeans for Genes Day aims to change the world for children with genetic disorders, so get your school together and raise money by wearing your jeans and donating £1. Individually, genetic disorders are rare but together they affect 1 in 25 children born in the UK – that’s more than 30,000 babies each year. Their associated health problems mean that genetic disorders are the biggest cause of death of children aged 14 years and under.You can help by signing up for your fundraising pack full of everything you need to know to plan your day at

The largest drawing festival in the world returns throughout the month of

October, taking place in 20 countries across the world and offering 1400 events in the UK alone. The Big Draw connects people of all ages with museum and gallery collections and urban and rural spaces in new and enjoyable ways, offering unlimited scope for those who love to draw and those who think they can’t.

Why not hold a Big Draw event in your school or local library? Get inspired and find out how to organise your own event, plus discover what events are taking place near you at

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Make a date with mischief and mayhem on Roald Dahl Day on 13 September. This year Roald Dahl Day celebrates all the tricksy characters that fill his books, including George and his mayhemic medicine, those foulsome Witches and Matilda and her parent-scaring tricks. There are lots of ways to join in the fun: sign up for Puffin Virtually Live on 13 September to find out more about Roald Dahl and his characters, plan your costume for Dahlicious Dress Up Day on 27 September or throw your own Roald Dahl party. For ideas see, and help Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity raise money for seriously ill and disabled children.



From around Leicestershire and Rutland

We love hearing your news! Please email

Class sizes swell Department of Education figures have revealed a significant rise in the number of children in classes of more than 30 students. The number of five to seven year olds taught in classes of more than 30 pupils has risen dramatically in the past year, with figures showing that over 70,000 children are taught alongside 30 other pupils in 2013, compared with around 47,000 last year and 28,000 four years ago. This has prompted claims from teachers that the government is failing to address a serious shortage of school places, with critics adding that the government’s new free schools have not always been opened in areas with the greatest need for extra places. ‘They are opening new secondary schools in areas where there are surplus places,’ said Stephen Twigg, shadow Education Secretary, ‘whilst the need for primary places couldn’t be greater.’ However, the Department of Education said, ‘Children are only permitted to join classes of 30 pupils in exceptional cases, if for instance they are in care or from military families. Classes often fall back naturally to 30 over a

year or two.’ The increase is largely the result of a mini-baby boom after declining pupil numbers in the early 2000s, with the situation looking like

it will only get worse, as the National Audit Office forecasts that admissions will rise by another 240,000 in September this year.

New Ballerina birthday parties launching in Oakham / Stamford Area Is your child Ballet Crazy? Well imagine their face when a professional ballet dancer turns up in a ballet tutu at their birthday party, and does a special ballet dance just for them! Twinkle Tots Dance are launching Birthday Parties in the Stamford/Oakham area. They will take your children on a magical adventure with dances, music, games and surprises and a pointe shoe piñata full of sweets. Each child will receive a fun goody bag, and the birthday boy or girl will receive two extra special gifts. All of their Party Entertainers are ex-Professional Ballet dancers and fully qualified RAD Ballet


Teachers. They are fully insured and can provide CRB Police Disclosure Certificates at your request. Prices start at £110 and you can even hire their own beautiful Grade 2 listed Ballroom Studio for your party for £20 per hour, which is set in Stamford Walk in the heart of Stamford. Party themes include Pirates and Mermaids, Fairy Fun and Frolics, Peter Pan, and Ballerina Magic and many more.

For further information or to book your party please contact Louise on or look them up on as they also offer term time classes in Brooke Priory School and Stamford Welland School of Dancing.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Tel: 0755 7967727

Mums in Business Keep your baby memories safe Clasting Memory takes treasured baby clothes and transforms them into beautiful keepsake memory blankets for families to use and then hand down through the generations. Other handmade products include memory cushions, duvets, birth announcements and tooth fairy pillows. The company was set up by Clare Brown in April 2013.When her son reached 18 months old Clare decided that her work life balance was poor and took the decision to become a full time mummy. It was the best decision she has ever made and now her son is at pre-school she has time on her hands to make these special keepsakes. Starting a new business and juggling family life is extremely hard work, but also very rewarding. Days are spent playing with a very active pre-schooler and working through the night creating personalised keepsakes. But as Clare says “it is the most rewarding job I have ever done as it means I am a stay at home mummy and a business

woman, rather than a business woman and a very part time mum as I was before”.

get her brand known by all new mummies so their special babies clothes aren’t just hidden away.

Clare had always been creative, however like so many never really had the time to develop this. Six months ago she created her first memory blanket, and then a cushion for friends and family who loved the idea. After market research she established that although there were other memory makers there was no one in the marketplace providing the blankets in quite the same way - utilising the clothes, rather than the prescribed squares that are most common in blanket making, and adding hats, fabric books, socks, photographs printed on fabric etc for that extra special memory.

For more information on Clasting Memory please visit or email Clare at

In the first three months of trading Clasting Memory received 1,730 likes on Facebook, 120 followers on Twitter and 30 orders, so things are going better than Clare ever imagined. The long term objective for Clasting Memory is to

DISCOVER A WORLD OF FREE FAMILY FUN AT COVENTRY MUSEUMS THIS AUTUMN! The perfect place to spend a family day out, Coventry’s museums have plenty to delight, intrigue and entertain the whole family. There’s so much to do and see you’ll discover more every time you visit. Coventry Transport Museum Come face to face with the world’s fastest car and experience the thrills of the Land Speed Record Simulator! Herbert Art Gallery & Museum Discover legends and see the natural world and history brought to life. You can even try on armour and smell the medieval toilet if you dare! Both museums are situated in Coventry City Centre within a few minutes walk of each other.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013


Parenting How to help your child overcome stress, anxiety and depression You probably won’t be surprised to hear that stress, anxiety and depression in children is worryingly getting more prevalent. The Office of National Statistics has found that one in ten children now suffer from mental health problems, with children as young as five being treated for depression.With these shocking statistics, experts say it is going to become a major health problem in the future unless something is done now to tackle stress in children. Although stress is not the same as depression, prolonged periods of stress can lead to depression, and about half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.The earlier we can reach the children showing signs of stress the better we can help them.

Stressful lives? Considering our own increasingly stressful lives, it is no surprise to learn that our children are suffering from rising stress. Parents under pressure and overwhelmed with their jobs, affects the way they parent. Rising unemployment and financial problems associated with the economic downturn increases tension that children pick up on. Heavily orchestrated schedules of extra activities can also leave little free time for children to be children, and to relax. School and social life also create pressures that can feel overwhelming for children. NSPCC research recently found that academic worries were the biggest cause of stress for nearly 50% of children. With an increase in the number of tests, and the pressure on schools to perform in league tables, is it any surprise that studying comes top of the stress list? Other common sources of childhood stress such as bullying, sibling rivalry, peer pressure are all fairly normal parts of growing up, but because


children now have less free time to relax these ordinary problems can become magnified and less easy for them to deal with.

Spotting the signs Stress or anxiety in children can be difficult to spot. Signs to look out for would include a low mood, unhappiness, tearfulness or irritability not related to anything specific. Sleeping problems, clingy behaviour, stomach aches and headaches are also signals.The main thing to look for is a change in behaviour.Trust your instinct. Erika Brodnock, one of the UK’s leading experts on the subject of raising happy, successful children says, “Don’t mistake your child’s behaviour for being naughty, when they may be feeling stressed and anxious.”

Explore and empower. Once they understand the feeling they have, explore together what to do. Simple techniques can make a world of difference and have a profound effect on the way they feel. When they start to feel stressed, encourage them to ask for help for example.

As a parent, you can’t protect your kids from the stresses of our modern world, but you can help them develop healthy ways to cope.

Notice out loud. Tell your child when you notice that something’s bothering them and name it, “Do you feel angry with what happened?” or “You must have felt worried about that.” Erika Brodnock explains this as “Notice, it, own it, tame it,” she continues, “once you can identify the emotion you can then manage it. Without this, things are significantly more difficult.”

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Be you! Look at your own moods, behaviours and energy levels. “We can all put a smile on our face at the end of a bad day but when the energy isn’t there your child will notice” says Erika Brodnock, “parents need to learn to manage their moods too!” This is backed up by statistics that show 60 - 90% of what we learn is through non-verbal communication. If we want our children to manage their emotions effectively, we must model the behaviour we want them to embrace.

Tel: 0755 7967727

Building emotional intelligence

Help reduce stress and anxiety for children with special needs

How do you feel? How do we improve our feelings? Explore the Gratitude Gardens, Love Lane and Angry Alley at, a unique online site for families full of tips, tools and news on helping children manage their emotions.

• Schedule exercise to get rid of some of the stress • Get to know your child’s likes and dislikes – cater to them, not what the book says • Encourage friendships, then ensure a good night’s sleep • Lever their independence – give them the chance to do more themselves, let them participate and make decisions • Prepare for gatherings, then plan in some downtime • Don’t rush, and use relaxation techniques • Last, but certainly not least...take care of yourself

Exercise, a nature walk, dancing to music will all naturally release those ‘feel-good’ endorphins that help reduce stress. Eating well, drinking lots of water, a bedtime routine and set schedules so your child can rely on daily patterns, are all ways in which you can help. Erika Brodnock recommends a 15 minute ‘Golden Moment’ every day with your child, “this is an opportunity for the child to speak privately and confidentially with their parent, knowing they can say anything without criticism or complaint, which builds trust and strengthens bonds.” This goes a long way towards protecting a young person against developing depression. As a parent, it hurts to see your child unhappy or stressed, but resist the urge to fix every problem for them and instead, focus on helping your child grow into a problem-solver — who knows how to roll with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, and bounce back to try again. By teaching healthy coping strategies, you’ll prepare your kids to manage the stresses that come in the future. Many thanks go to Erika Brodnock who offered many insights and information in compiling this article. Erika Brodnock is one of the UK’s leading experts on the subject of raising happy, confident

children. She offers a wealth of knowledge and practical advice and has even produced an eBook which she is happy to offer free of charge for parents looking for useful and practical information and techniques. Erika will also be launching some highly innovative new toys later in the year, which can help children develop their self-esteem and confidence through play. © fasphotographic -

Building stress-free kids

For more information go to

Additional information can be obtained from:

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013


Parenting Is your child ready to learn? Some deceptively obvious advice for parents The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and the charity Family Action have launched a joint Ready to Learn Every Day campaign aimed at helping parents to support their children’s learning. Families magazine talked to NAHT President, Bernadette Hunter, about the campaign and why their advice is relevant to all parents.

Research shows that children are best placed to succeed in school when parents are actively involved in their education. But that is not all about helping out when they get stuck with homework. In fact, preparing children to be ready for learning can be far more basic – like making sure they know how to take turns and to listen; that they go to bed on time; have breakfast before going to school, and turn up on time, having remembered their pencil case, PE kit and homework.

Bernadette is not surprised. “Not all parents realise how much sleep their child actually needs (under 5s need 15 hours and older primary school children should have 10 hours.). And not all parents realise that if you allow your child to watch TV or play on the computer before going to bed, they will have trouble going to sleep,” she says.

The first NAHT and Family Action The Ready to Learn Every Day guide covers these sorts of issues: bedtimes, family routines, organisation, behaviour, communicating with your child and spending time with them. Common sense – yes. Obvious ...? Well, yes, but deceptively so.You don’t have to dig very deep to realise that the advice is relevant for all parents. Modern life is certainly hectic. With many of us working long hours, and constantly pressed for time, even those with the very best of intentions can forget the basics. A HR manager shame-facedly admitted to me that, when her child started school, the teacher called her aside and told her her daughter was falling asleep in class because she was so tired.


Bernadette stresses the importance of talking and listening to children and spending time with them. Again, self-evident – but think about it for a moment! How many of us harried parents will recognise situations in which we have been checking e-mails or texts as our child was speaking to us? I’d hazard a guess most of us have been there. And many of us (however good we are as parents) would probably admit to having allowed a child watch TV rather than play with them because we were simply too tired? But as

Bernadette explains, there is more active learning in traditional games than in passive viewing. Ironically, while we are living in an age of 24/7 communication – instant messaging, Skyping and TV on demand – these very same tools are taking their toll on communication at home. Family meal times, where children learned to talk and to listen, are waning, and traditional board games are giving way to solo computer games and screen time. The first of the four The Ready to Learn Every Day guides urges parents to set aside time for talking without being interrupted by TV, radio, phones or computer; time where we REALLY do listen to our children, talk to them about their day, and tell them about ours. It also suggests that we share books or play games in a quiet environment away from the TV, and that we play games like jigsaws and board games that encourage concentration.

Sometimes parents find it difficult to find the time to sit down and play with their children – it is easier to put something on theTV than to play the traditional type of games. But when you play a traditional board game, as well as being fun, children are learning to co-operate when they play, to take turns and to understand rules.They are picking up lots of key skills – speaking, listening and concentrating.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Tel: 0755 7967727

Visit website for more information The guide also asks parent to support children by establishing set family routines for bedtimes, mealtimes and homework and recommends having a regular time for a family meal. “It doesn’t have to be every day, but even just at weekends where everyone has a meal together and talks as a family,” says Bernadette. With busy lifestyles and a culture of TV dinners, Bernadette fears we risk losing these communication skills which were passed down from generation to generation. “What we are seeing now are some young parents who have never experienced eating together as a family,” she says. The guide talks too about good manners – encouraging children to say, please and thank you and not interrupting others when they are speaking. If at home we agree on realistic rules for behaviour and stick to them, children will also understand they need to stick to rules at school. Bernadette readily says some of the advice – like bedtimes – might seem obvious, but she adds: “We know from talking to parents that they can really welcome this advice. The Ready to Learn Every Day series of leaflets are about giving parents the confidence to set the boundaries for their children.”

Perhaps it is good news for those of us who feel daunted by hot-housing and tiger parenting. The crucial factors in determining our children’s success in school and beyond could well be the time we spend talking to and playing with them, and the ground-rules and routines we establish for them at home. It could be that simple!

The Ready to Learn Every Day guide can be downloaded from This leaflet will be followed this Autumn by a guide for parents to develop children’s speaking and listening skills. Later in the year there will be a parents’ guide to helping with schoolwork; and a final parents’ guide in the Summer Term about helping children with transitions – from one class to another, and moving on to secondary school.

We are looking for a telephone sales person, with previous sales experience, to work on a commission only basis. If you live in the Loughborough area and would like a few hours work per week during school hours then please get in touch. Contact: 07557 967727 or email for further details

*Family Action is a charity that supports and strengthens vulnerable and disadvantaged families throughout England. The charity knows from experience how vital it is that all parents get the support and advice they need to ensure that the home environment really supports learning and that their children are ready to do their best in school each and every day. And teachers see the results when the children are in school.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013



1 Make your own mind up. It’s amazing how many parents never even look round a school because of what they’ve heard. A school that doesn’t suit another family could be just right for yours. 2 Listen to your child’s feelings as well as your own. Choosing his or her primary was down to just you and your partner; but your 10 or 11 year-old deserves a say. 3 Use open days wisely. If you can, go to a daytime visit (especially to a school that seems a strong contender) because you’ll see it in working mode. 4 Nothing advertises a school like its pupils. Do they seem happy? Are they polite? If you have time, hang around in the area at home time. Are they well-behaved? 5 How about the staff – do they seem happy and fulfilled working there? Take opportunities to chat to them. 6

Think about your child’s talents and interests and ponder carefully whether they’ll be catered for. But think too about what the school offers that might be harder to pick up at home.We’re a family of journalists, where literacy is easier for us as parents; so I’m glad my girls went to a school that specialised in maths and science, even though these weren’t their strongest subjects.

9 Pay attention to what’s on the walls – and not just the artwork.What are children being warned about, or encouraged to do? Are there any school visits being advertised? What clubs seem to be thriving? 10

Look at the school’s league tables, but don’t pin everything on them. Read the Ofsted report too and pay particular attention to how the school has done over time. If it’s had a dip, are there signs of improvement or suggestions that it could turn round?

11 Where do pupils go on to from this school? You want to see at least some youngsters doing well academically and aiming for good courses at top universities.



Go to the head teacher’s talk and take your notebook.This is an important part of the event: not only do you need to pick up on the head’s attitude and values and what matters most to him or her, but you also need to pay special attention to anything that’s said about the entrance criteria. Understanding that is the crucial next stage.


If you like a school, do your homework about whether your child fits its entrance requirements. However much you love the school, and however much you think your child would thrive there, you’ll only get a place if you fulfil the criteria. Read the school’s entrance policy through very, very carefully. If you don’t fulfil the requirements, could you change something so you do? If not, move on: there’s no point in wasting a choice or railing against something you can’t change.

14 You’re bound to talk to other parents, and you want to talk to other parents, but don’t get pulled along by their tide. Do your own research and develop your own views: knowledge is power.

Listen to your instincts. If a school doesn’t feel right, move on.You don’t 15 Keep telling yourself (because it’s true!) that there is no perfect school. have to explain yourself or your reasons for doing so to anyone else Every school has strengths and weaknesses.There’s more than one (although you do, of course, need to discuss it with your child if your school that can be right for your child. instincts are different).

7 Don’t get bogged down in the detail: what you’re aiming to get is a sense of the school. Does it feel happy, productive, calm? Is there a sense of order and caring? These things matter more than the nitty-gritty. 8

© Jacek Chabraszewski -

Which secondary school is right for my child? 20 things you need to know when choosing ‘big school’ by Joanna Moorhead


When the time comes to fill in the forms, allow yourself lots of time and do it extremely carefully.There may be supplementary forms, and there may be complicated arrangements for giving them in (especially if you’re applying to faith schools). If you find it all too confusing, talk to your child’s primary teacher or primary head, or call the education department at your local authority.

17 Have a plan of action for what you’ll do if you don’t get the school you’re hoping for. Just having that plan will make you feel more relaxed. 18 Remember that there’s a lot of movement in the first few weeks after places are allocated, and many children get in from waiting lists. 19 Don’t underestimate how much hard work an appeal can be, or how emotionally draining.That’s not to say don’t do it: just be prepared. 20

Remember that, at the end of the day, parents make more difference to a child’s future than a school does. Even if your child doesn’t get into your first choice of school (and one in seven didn’t last year) your attitude to that could be a much bigger factor in what happens next for your child than the school itself. Have confidence, first and foremost, in your child. And believe that, together, you will work things out if and when you come up against problems.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Tel: 0755 7967727

The Benefits of Baby Swimming More and more of us are joining structured swimming classes or heading to the local pool with our babies and toddlers. Our little ones love being in water and the sense of freedom it gives them. As well as, just as importantly, learning the potentially life saving skill of swimming from a young age. But are these the only reasons for swimming with your baby? Baby swimming originally evolved out of a desire to ensure that babies are safe and confident in water. However, the exercises used to teach this confidence – gentle rocking, reaching for objects, kicking movements and learning to respond to commands – also provide the perfect stimulation for your baby’s brain. In the first year of life the brain develops more rapidly than at any other time, and swimming with your baby can have an extremely positive effect on this development, making it even more beneficial to take to the water as early as possible.

Development of motor skills

Physical development

Emotional development

Babies love the repetitive movement of bouncing and splishing and splashing in the pool, and this movement provides fantastic stimulation for the vestibular system – which allows us to sense motion and to balance. As this system matures it will help a baby to keep their head upright, pull themselves up onto their feet, balance, and eventually walk.

It‘s not only motor skills which are benefited by swimming; physically it is wonderful for your baby, and the only form of exercise they can do literally from birth. Just half an hour in the pool can provide a complete work-out for them (and you!) and parents often comment that their little ones eat and sleep better on swimming days.

Chasing after bright and colourful swim toys in the pool, and grasping hold of them to bring them in for a good old chew, is a great exercise for enhancing hand-eye coordination.The cross lateral movement of reaching out is the same one used in crawling.This teaches both sides of the brain to work together, not only helping to coordinate physical movements but also strengthening nerve pathways between the two sides, helping the brain store and retrieve information more effectively – all great for learning!

Babies can exercise many more muscles in the water than they can on land, and amazingly can swim short distances unaided from when they are tiny. Sessions in the pool are great for strengthening arm, leg and neck muscles, and superb for tiny lungs and cardiovascular fitness.

As babies learn how to manoeuvre in the water on their own, their independence and self-confidence blossoms, and they enjoy being in the pool more and more.Where they are very dependent on you in the early days, a few months on and a baby will happily swim a short distance between you and their instructor, or splash off the poolside and into the water all by themselves.

One study recently carried out in Iceland (where baby swimming is extremely popular in their thermal pools!) concluded that, when tested at the age of four, children who had attended baby swimming lessons from a young age showed significantly better balance than their peers.Their ball skills and dexterity were also tested, with the early water babies achieving better results.

Swimming will not only make your baby fitter and stronger, you will also notice the difference in their physical ability on land – where regular swimmers have often been shown to crawl and walk earlier than their peers.

So enjoying a swim, with all these added benefits, is surely conducive to a dip!

The confidence and self esteem involved in learning to swim will often then be transferred into other aspects of their life. For a toddler, the thrill of grasping a new skill in their lesson, or achieving something they have been working up to for a while, will be evident in their ear-to-ear grins – and may also give them that confidence to try new things and increase their interest in learning in general. Last, but certainly not least, is the benefit to your baby of all the fun you can have together in the pool and just how much they’ll love it! Water Babies is the UK’s largest baby swim school, with classes available locally across Leicestershire and Rutland. Call 01664 567302 or visit to find out more.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013


Clubs & Classes Extra-curricular activities - by Ellen Arnison know what, and how much, out-of-school activity is right for your child? Not long after your son or daughter disappears through the classroom door for the first time, the choice becomes bewildering.Their schoolbags come home stuffed with leaflets from this or that organisation promising all manner of benefits from enrolling in their classes.You may find yourself feeling guilty if you don’t sign up to everything.   Please take a deep breath and relax. Extra-curricular activities are not essential; many children do perfectly well without them. However, there are some benefits from a few well-chosen groups, clubs or classes.   With the best will in the world, school cannot teach all the skills you might consider essential for modern life. Swimming lessons, for example, or cycling proficiency are crucial for safety.   In addition, carefully selected activities can bring numerous other benefits that could help your child now and in the future.   They will get a huge confidence boost from participating in an enjoyable activity they are successful at. A shy child, for example, may flourish in a dance class.   As well as learning new skills, more subtle benefits include fostering a sense of community, increasing self-sufficiency and allowing a child - particularly one in a large family - something they feel is their own. Club time can also allow one-to-one time for other children.   While these advantages are very real, care must be exercised when choosing activities.Too many and the wrong ones will only leave everyone fed up and exhausted.   The easy choices are the ones your children are desperate to do. Although beware of signing up for something just because your son or daughter’s best friend is doing it, this may not be a good enough reason.


© elisabetta figus -

Football or ballet, drama or Brownies - how do you

Ask yourself if your child gets something from the activity that they don’t get elsewhere and that it complements what’s already going on.   For example, an active youngster who is already in the football team might be better balancing their activities with music or drama than adding another sport. Equally a child timid in the classroom may get great gains from being in a choir if it boosts their confidence.   A more tricky area is an activity you’d like your child to do when they’d rather spend their after-school time at home relaxing. Only you can tell if they are genuinely exhausted by a day’s education or not. However, do take their views into account as there really is no point in forcing a child into something they hate. And some school stages are more taxing than others.   After-school activities affect the whole family. No one wants to spend all their time ferrying children from one activity to another while dinner that still needs to be prepared and other children become resentful.   So only commit to out-of-school activities that fit comfortably into the schedule and budget. It may transpire that your time and money can be better spent on family activities at home.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Tel: 0755 7967727

When you do decide on a class or club – take some time to check it out. Find out how long it has been running, do other parents recommend it, are the staff Disclosure or CRB checked? While extra classes keep your children entertained and active, it’s also important that they have some unstructured time – even that they are allowed to feel bored. If they bounce from one organised thing to the next, they’ll never learn the important skill of amusing themselves. Liat Hughes Joshi, author of Raising Children:The PrimaryYears, told Parentdish: “If you decide to do none at all, you won’t be short-changing her if her after-school activity consists of nothing more than a TV programme, a snack and some good, old-fashioned playing.”

Equally there are other more educational and developmental benefits that make extra-curricular activities important. Dyspraxic youngsters, for instance, can find their co-ordination improves while doing karate or trampolining.   Clubs can be important social outlets for SEN children, perhaps giving them a chance to meet others facing similar challenges.The school or local authority will be able to advise about SEN groups in your area.The Leicestershire Family Information Service also provides advice and guidance for families and the Family Information Directory includes information on many useful local organisations.View the directory online at

SEN activities

Children with special educational needs can benefit hugely from well-chosen extra-curricular activities. Even with the best educational support, SEN children can often feel ‘less’ than their peers.They may be aware of their difficulties and differences and this can have a profound effect on their confidence.   Therefore an activity they can participate in successfully is a huge boost to their self-esteem. For example a dyslexic child, for whom school is a struggle, may blossom as a leading light in the dance troupe.

Art and craft workshops for all ages! Now booking Autumn Courses Fabulously fun childrens parties! %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Visit: for details Call us on 01858 466 692 Visit us at 10a High Street (above Monsoon) Market Harborough LE16 7NJ

Join in the fun with a free taster session at Lemon Jelly Arts! Lemon Jelly Arts have been working with young children to release confidence and explore performing arts activities for the last 7 years. During the last year they have made a movie, which was screened at the Showcase Cinema in Leicester, and performed their own show at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End, London, amongst many other remarkable projects that give children the opportunity to perform their talents across a wide medium. People love working with them because fun is the essence of everything they do! “We are all big kids at heart and we get so much satisfaction from watching our students grow with confidence and developing strong friendships at our classes.” No two weeks are the same at Lemon Jelly and they have a number of exciting projects that they will be embarking upon this year. Join them for a free taster session to see why everyone loves their classes so much. For further information call 01858 545599 or email

Join in, act up, shake out! Thriving classes for children and young adults looking to progress through performing arts. Lemon Jelly is recognised throughout London and Leicester as a fun, innovative approach to theatre arts.

Classes available for children aged 6-17yrs in Great Glen, Leicester, Oadby and Loughborough

For more information please call 0759 5511 509 or email

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013


What’s on

Around Leicestershire and Rutland

Whilst we do our very best to be accurate please always check with the venue before you set off just in case details have changed. To include any future events in this section please email:

Museums Granby Street, Loughborough LE11 3DU Artzone For children aged 8-15 years. 10.30am-12.30pm, Saturday’s during term time. 7th September - Make like a Magpie Graphite and gouche drawing and painting session, with a glint of something shiny.

21st September - Last One Standing Use a ‘never ending line’, ink and eco friendly paper in this animal drawing workshop. 28th September - Good With Words! Get poetic with performance artist Lindsey Warnes Carrol. The pieces produced will be placed around Charnwood Museum for National Poetry day on 3rd October. 5th October - Weave It Up Learn about ‘upcycling’ materials and weaving techniques. Make a mat out of plastic bags. 12th October - It’s a Wrap! Explore using willow and fabrics to make pieces in this sculptural workshop. To book or for further details contact Charnwood Museum on 01509 233754

Leicester Castle

Seaside Special Steam Day Sunday 8th September, 12.00 - 5.00pm Enjoy the sun, sea and sand, bring your swimsuit and enjoy the sights and sounds of a traditional day at the seaside, complete with fairground, donkey rides and Punch & Judy! Tickets: Family £8.00, Children/Conc £2.50, Adults £3.50. (Small charges for train rides, fairground and donkey rides)

Heritage Open Day & Falconry Display Sunday 15th September ,11.00am - 3.00pm Normally closed to the public, this historic building opens its doors for the public to explore.

Corporation Road, Leicester LE4 5PX

Charnwood Museum

14th September - African Masks Construct your own African mask from cardboard and then paint.

Abbey Pumping Station

Scarecrows Abound Railway Day Saturday 5th October, 11.00am - 4.30pm Travel on the railway and see how many scarecrows you can spot, follow the autumn trail round the museum. Free onsite parking and picnic facilities. Free event/small charge for train rides. Play with Clay Tuesday 22nd October, 11.00am - 3.00pm Let your artistic streak come to the fore and use clay to make your own work of art then take part in a museum trail. Free admission / £2.00 for activities. Ghostly Engineer Monday 28th October, 7.00 - 9.30pm Are you brave enough to take the spooky tour in the eerie engine house basement and hear the tragic tale of the Ghostly Engineer? Wrap up warm and wear sensible shoes as the basement can be damp and has steep steps. Pre-booking essential, tours: £3.00 (not suitable for children under 10 years). For more details visit or call 0116 299 5111.

New Walk Museum & Art Gallery

Belgrave Hall & Gardens

53 New Walk, Leicester LE1 7EA

Church Road, Leicester LE4 5PE

Fossil Handling Session Sat 7th September & Saturday 5th October, 11am-4pm Free event

The Belgrave Hall Good Food Fair Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd September, 11.00am - 4.00pm Eat, drink and take home tasty treats, with the opportunity to meet local food producers. Free parking nearby. Disabled parking outside. Adults £1.50 / Under 16s Free.

Everybody’s Reading Festival: Dougal Dixon Does Dinosaurs Saturday 5th October, 1.00pm & 3.00pm A reading & play session for children with their parent/carer. Dougal Dixon is a writer and editor specialising in the earth sciences and has a reputation for putting over the concepts in a totally novel way, which children love to hear. Places limited, advance booking essential. Tickets: £3.00/£2.00 For more details contact New Walk Museum on 0116 225 4900

Jewrywall Museum

156-160 St Nicholas Circle, Leicester LE1 4LB Meet the Vikings! Sunday 15th September, 11.30am – 3.30pm Come and experience life in a Viking camp with demonstrations and combat displays. Drop-in event, Adults £1.00 / Children free.

Castle Park, Leicester LE2 7BY

Falconry display on Castle Green between 12.00pm and 3.00pm featuring owls, hawks and falcons. Listen to the Falconer talk about the different birds and have your photo taken with them. Free event.

Coventry Transport Museum

Millennium Place, Hales Street, Coventry CV1 1JD Wartime Half Term Activities Sat 26th October to Sunday 3rd November In the spirit of Coventry Transport Museum’s War Effort exhibition, October half term is wartime half term - but the fun won’t be rationed as a whole host of wartime-themed crafts and activity trails are on offer. Admission FREE, some crafts and trails have a small charge. Tel: 024 7623 4270

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP

Tiny Tot explorers: Art play sessions Thur 3rd, Fri 4th, Sat 5th October, 10.30 - 11.30am & 1.00 - 2.00pm Art play sessions which encourage children to explore and investigate through sensory play, combining a small selection of art mediums with a variety of recycled materials and objects. For children aged 1 - 3 years £2.00, booking required. The Big Draw - Pockets of Plenty Sat 26th October - Sun 3rd November, 10.30am - 12.30pm & 1.30 - 3.30pm  A week inspired by the Big Draw and Quentin Blake’s imaginative book, which sees Angelica pull weird and wonderful objects from her pockets.  Walls will be filled with pockets for children to open and reveal an object from the collection, which will then inspire the art work for that day. Each day families will use different materials and drawing techniques.  FREE, drop in event. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. At busy periods you may be asked to wait.  

For more details call 0116 225 4971. 14

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Tel: 0755 7967727

Inclusion in this section is free, please email:

Wartime Sundays Sunday 10th & Sunday 17th November, 12.00pm - 3.30pm   Learn about the Second World War through object handling and craft, with something to take home and into school! You can also just drop in to the craft session at any point throughout the afternoon.Sunday 10th - Make do and mend, rationing & evacuationSunday 17th - Civil defence, gas masks & air raids FREE, booking required. To book events please call 024 7629 4774 or visit


Independent School Open Day’s Please contact schools in advance to confirm that details have not changed and to check whether booking is required.

Grace Dieu Manor School

Thursday 26th & Saturday 28th September 2013 Co-educational 3-13 years Thringstone, Leicestershire LE67 5UG Tel: 01530 222276

Brooke Priory

Loughborough Library

Saturday 28th September 2013, 9.30am - 11.30am Co-educational Nursery and Preparatory School 2-11 years Station Approach, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6QW Tel: 01572 724778

Granby Street, Loughborough

Spooky House Award Ceremony Saturday 14th September, 11am - 12pm & 2.15 - 3.15pm Come and receive your certificate for completing your summer reading challenge. Tel: 0116 3052420

Ratcliffe College

Saturday 12th October 2013, 10am - 12pm Co-educational 3-18 years (boarding from 9 years) Fosse Way, Ratcliffe on the Wreake, Leicestershire LE7 4SG Tel: 01509 817000


Oakham School

Curve Theatre

Saturday 21st September for 10-12 entry Saturday 5th October for 13+ entry Saturday 12th October for 10-12 entry Boarding and day school for boys and girls 13-18 years. Chapel Close, Market Place, Oakham LE15 6DT Tel: 01572 758758 Pre-booking essential.

Rutland Street, Leicester LE1 1SB Poetry Joe Saturday 7th September, 10.30 & 12.30pm Star of CBeebies Rhyme Rocket.Tickets £6.00 The Flying Machine Saturday 14th September, 10.30 & 11.45am, 1.30 & 2.45pm Interactive theatre session.Tickets £6.00

Our Lady’s Convent School

Thursday 3rd October, 6.00pm - 8.00pm Co-educational Nursery and Primary School 3-11 years Girls only Senior and Sixth Form 11-18 years Gray Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 2DZ Tel: 01509 263901

Uppingham School

Saturday 7th September and 12th October for entry into fourth form Boys and girls 13-18 years boarding Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9QE Tel: 01572 822216 Pre-booking essential

Loughborough Endowed Schools Saturday 5th October 2013

Fairfield Preparatory School

Co-educational, ages 4-11 years Leicester Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 2AE Tel: 01509 215172

Loughborough Grammar School

Boys 10-18 years Burton Walks, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 2DU Tel: 01509 233233

Loughborough High School

Girls 11-18 years Burton Walks, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 2DU Tel: 01509 212348

Dinosaur Zoo Tue 22nd October, 1.30pm; Wed 23rd October, 10.30am &1.30pm; Thu 24th October, 10.30am. £12.50 Hairy Maclary and Friends Fri 25th October, 1.30 & 3.30pm; Sat 26th October, 10.30am & 1.30pm. Tickets £10.00 Yummm! Sat 26th October, 11am & 1pm A dance theatre show that celebrates food seen through children’s eyes.Tickets £6.00 Ticket office: 0116 242 3595

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013


Loughborough Town Hall

£20.00 entry fee, all money raised goes towards Alex’s Wish fighting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - a childhood muscle-wasting disease that affects 1 in every 3,500 children born.

Market Place, Loughborough LE11 3EB James Campbell’s Comedy 4 Kids Saturday 28th September, 2pm Suitable for ages 6+.Tickets £7.00

For further details on the event please contact 07903 349475, email: or visit

Scrooge (a Christmas Carol) by Charles Dickens Saturday 12th October, 11.30am Suitable for ages 5+.Tickets £7.00

Rutland Day: Food & Drink Festival Saturday 14th September, 10am - 6pm Sykes Lane, Rutland Water, Empingham, Rutland LE15 8PX Excellent food and drink plus great family entertainment. Free event, £5.00 parking per car.

The Snail and the Whale Sat 26th October 2pm and 4pm; Sun27th October, 11am Suitable for ages 4+.Tickets £10.00

Tel: 01572 720924,

Box office: 01509 231914

Rockingham Castle Food & Craft Fair

Baby and toddler nearly new / pre-loved sale

Saturday 7th September, 10am - 2pm Exton Village Hall,The Green, Exton, Rutland Sell your items and make some money or go along and buy new and pre-loved items at a fraction of the cost. For further details contact or call 07841 707253.

The Big Buggy Push

Thursday 12th September, 10am Beacon Hill Country Park,Woodhouse Eaves A great family day out, bring your own picnic. Family entertainment and lots of stalls. Complimentary goody bag plus free 4 week mummy fitness plan.

Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd September, 10am - 5pm Rockingham Castle Estate, Rockingham, Rutland LE16 8TH Celebrate all that is good to eat and drink across the region and beyond. Cookery demonstrations, wine and beer tasting, Entrance: Adults £5.00, conc £4.00, children £2.00, under 5’s free. Entrance price does not include access to castle and gardens.

Barnsdale Gardens

The Avenue, Exton, Oakham LE15 8AH The Big Draw 2013 Saturday 5th, 12th & 19th October, 11am - 3pm This month-long UK-wide festival runs throughout October and Barnsdale is joining in the fun with a series of drop-in workshops where children of all ages and their families can try out new ways of mark-making. No booking required, just come along and get creative! Entry to The Big Draw only is FREE. Entry to The Big Draw + Garden admission: Child £2.50, accompanying adults FREE. Autumn Birdwatch Sunday 6th October, 11am - 3pm A bird-spotting tour of the 39 gardens at Barnsdale, No booking required, all for the price of Garden admission. Garden admission: adults £6.50, concessions £5.50, children FREE!             

Wistow Maze

Tel: 0800 141 2823,

1st - 22nd September, weekends only, 10am - 6pm Children £4.95 (13 and under), Adults £5.95, Family (4) £19.95 Ticket price includes activity funyard and maze. Free parking

NCT Leicester nearly new sale

Embrace Arts

Saturday 28th September, 1.30 - 3pm (1pm entry for NCT members) Beaumont Leys School, Anstey Lane, Leicester LE3 0FL

Richard Attenborough Centre, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA. Workshops for disabled young people (4-16 years) and their families Turned on its head Sunday 15th September & Sunday 6th October 2.00-3.00pm - fun and physical for children on the autistic spectrum

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Explore materials, movement and space in these creative movement sessions tailored to meet everyone’s individual needs. £5 per child (accompanying adults free)           The Big Draw family workshops Saturday 26 October, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm A quick and easy printmaking session with Leicester Print WorkshopAdults £1; Children 50p Tel: 0116 252 2455

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3.30-5.00pm - reflective and sensory for children with complex disabilities

Oakham & Stamford Quality Market

fre park e ing No t im limit e s play all d ay

Leicester Meridian Leisure Park Braunstone Leicester LE19 1JZ 0 1 1 6 2 8 9 4 7 3 1

Victoria Hall, Oakham, Rutland, Sun 13th October, 11am - 4pm Arts Centre Ballroom, 27 St Mary’s Street, Stamford, Sun 27th October & 17th November, 10am - 3.30pm Indoor lifestyle market with products ranging from interior design items to locally made breads.With vintage style cafe. Free Entry. For further details contact or find Rutland Events Company on Facebook and Twitter.

Families Leicestershire & Rutland – September / October 2013

Tel: 0755 7967727

Families Leicestershire & Rutland Sept/Oct 2013  

Families Leicestershire & Rutland magazine for September/October 2013

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