Families Thames Valley West November/December 21

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H ME KE TA

EE FR E OM

Thames Valley West

IN THIS ISSUE

Local pantomimes special Bumper guide to local activities Overcoming bullying Introducing your kids to DIY Issue 115 November/December 2021

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2 • Henley • Reading • Wokingham • Bracknell • Newbury • West Berkshire

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...endless ideas for families of young children in Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham Families® Thames Valley West • Issue 115 • November / December 2021 Visit us at www.familiesonline.co.uk

In this issue... 4

Meet Reading Mumpreneur Tessa Sanderson

5-6

News and Views

7

Meet the Head: Dolphin School

8

The Great Homework Debate

9

Encouraging your Child to Become an Independent Learner

10

Overcoming Racial Bullying

11

Six Books to Help Kids Cope with Bullying

12

Introducing your Kids to DIY

13

Unusual Clubs and Classes

14-15 Clubs and Classes

Directory and News

Edit or’s Welcome... Hello! I’m Lesley, and this is my first issue as editor for Families Thames Valley West. It is really exciting to be part of such a lively magazine. As a mum, I have been reading it for several years, so I’m looking forward to creating interesting features and finding great activities for families! My professional background is as a languages teacher, and my last job was as a teaching assistant at the wonderful St Anne’s Primary School in Reading. I have a nine-year-old and a three-year-old, and they inspire me to get out and have fun! Christmas is such an exciting time for children, and this year feels particularly hopeful after

last year’s subdued festive season. Panto lovers will enjoy this issue’s pantomime feature, and, as usual, there are loads of

16-17 Local Pantomimes Special 18

Christmas Puzzle for Children

19

Christmas Shopping

20

Transitioning from Cot to Bed

21-23 What’s On

The Families team...

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

local events to keep you busy. Have fun!

Lesley x.

A purpose-built gymnastics facility in Woodley, running gymnastics classes for all ages including Pre-school from walkers to five years lead by British Gymnastics qualified coaches.

Editor: Lesley Chambers Production: Ridgeway Press 01256 300420 www.ridgewaypress.co.uk

membership@ bulmershegymnastics.co.uk

Next issue: Jan / Feb 2022 – New Year and Half Term Booking deadline: 6th December 2021

To advertise in Email: editor@familiestvw.co.uk

To advertise: If you are reading this, so are your customers! We can help you reach an audience of over 47,000 parents in Reading, Henley, Newbury, Wokingham, Bracknell and West Berkshire. Drop us a line at editor@familiestvw.co.uk to find out how we can help support your family friendly business! Families Thames Valley West is part of Families Print Ltd, a franchise company. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence. Families is a registered trademark of LCMB Ltd, Remenham House, Regatta Place, Marlow Road, Bourne End, Bucks SL8 5TD. The contents of Families Thames Valley West are fully protected by copyright and none of the editorial or photographic matter may be reproduced in any form without prior consent of Families Thames Valley West. Every care is taken in the preparation of this magazine, but the franchise company, Families Print Ltd and Lifecycle Marketing cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents, or any consequence thereof.

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Email: editor@familiestvw.co.uk

Families Thames Valley West • 3


Meet

Tessa Sanderson, Mumpreneur and Founder of Yoga with Tessa Ever since I was lucky enough to join Tessa’s friendly and relaxing mother and baby yoga classes with my daughter in Reading, I have been impressed and inspired by Tessa’s knowledge on so many subjects related to children, mothers and women in general. I recently caught up with her to find out more about her and her work. Please could you tell us a little about your family. I’m married to an Italian and we have two daughters at primary school. We also have a hamster called Guppy. What is your professional background? Before having children I was an academic researcher working in the field of Medical Sociology, based in the Rheumatology of the Bristol Royal Infirmary. My postdoctoral studies were in understanding patient priorities, including specific groups like Punjabi-speaking women to understand how their experience of illness was different. Even before doing my PhD though I trained to be a yoga teacher. I taught at least one class all the way through my studies because it was always my sanctuary. After focusing on yoga after my second maternity leave, I also added teaching cycle awareness to women and girls. What is your current work, and what made you keen to do what you do now? My passion is supporting girls and women around rites of passage like menarche (the first period), pregnancy and birth, and menopause. Having knowledge about what is normal to happen to your body at these times, and what is not normal and what you can do about it, can be life changing in terms of self-confidence, body image and sovereignty. You get to make the decisions when you know there are options and you have choices. Although I loved my research job, the benefits to people were always down the line and the wheels of research funding and projects turn slowly. With my work now I see the transformation quickly and that is very satisfying, whether it’s a heart-felt sigh during

a relaxation or someone learning how to care for their nervous system after birth trauma. What are your favourite things about your work? I love building community – whether that’s between local mums or yoga teachers that I train. People thrive through connection and I’m always learning from others. Another favourite thing is that there is room for great creativity when you’re an entrepreneur. I have written and illustrated six books over the last few years. I saw a demand for something a little different when I created the books about puberty for kids. I strongly recommend you answer questions about bodies as they’re asked when children are just plain curious. And if you need a bit of help with questions like “Why do boys have nipples?”, take a look at my fun, illustrated books. Have you had any funny or particularly memorable moments during your work? Recently, online classes have provided a few funny moments. One yogini told me she wondered why we were staying so long in a twist only to discover her computer battery had run out. Another joined the meeting not realising her boyfriend had changed the name to ‘Funk master’, and we’re still expecting some great tunes in the future! One of my favourite moments was when my book was released: Pearls of Wisdom- An Inner Journey with Stories, Insights and Practices. There are more than twenty positive, detailed stories from mums and dads who’ve been through my classes and generously shared their birthing experiences. It felt wonderful to be trusted with their precious stories and encourage others to inform themselves of all the choices available to them.

Photo: Tina Cleary

Is there anything else you are passionate about? I’m passionate about sharing knowledge. In November, I’m hosting The State of Birth online symposium which is for all pregnancy, birth and postpartum professionals and expectant parents who want to take a deep dive into the latest thinking from international speakers who are thinking outside the box. I’m thrilled that some of my long-term sheros have agree to speak. We have access to information like never before, but sometimes it still doesn’t get to the people who could really benefit. I’m passionate about taking information from one place, like academic journals, and making it accessible to people in a new way.

What do you like to do in your free time? I go to street dance with Conco Dance and do strength training with Fitness By Natalie. I also love yoga nidra, a particular kind of relaxation, which you can try for free at www.tessayoga.co.uk/dawnchorus. Right now, my family are enjoying watching Merlin episodes and escaping into a magical world.

Find out more about Tessa’s yoga classes and other projects:

www.tessayoga.co.uk www.thestateofbirth.com IG @tessa.venuti.sanderson

If you would like to appear in Families magazine as a local mumpreneur, please get in touch: editor@familiestvw.co.uk.

4 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

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NEWS AND VIEWS

Your Chance to Win Panto Tickets!

Aladdin Meets the Wild West in Hurst! Don’t miss Hurst Pantomime Group’s 10th production, “A Lad in The Wild West”, a fun-filled twist on the classic Aladdin pantomime! Swapping the Arabian desert for Texan ranches, our heroes include Jasmine, a plucky cowgirl, and her trusty steed, Flying Carpet. An original script written by talented Hurst residents, this pantomime promises lots of laughs and sing-a-long tunes for all the family. Dates for the performances at Hurst Village Hall (RG10 0DR) are: • Thursday 20th, Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd January 2022: 7:30pm • Saturday 22nd January: 2pm matinee Tickets go on sale from mid November via www.hurstpanto.org.uk, with prices starting from £7 for seniors and under 16s.

Families magazine and Hurst Pantomime Group are offering one lucky family tickets to attend the 7.30pm performance on Thursday 20th January 2022. To enter, simply send an email marked “Hurst Panto” to editor@familiestvw.co.uk by 30th November. The lucky winners will be chosen at random from emails received and informed by 10th December. Follow Hurst Pantomime Group on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@hurstpanto) for the latest updates. No cash equivalent available. Family ticket is for 4 people, maximum 2 adults.

Potential breakthrough in care of children with autism Training parents how to respond to babies showing early signs of autism could reduce by two thirds the number of three-year-olds meeting the criteria for diagnosis, a study suggests. The first two years are critical for brain development but most autism diagnoses are made at the around the age of three or older when children display symptoms such as difficulty talking or making eye contact. The study suggests that intervening earlier in at-risk children, when the brain is developing

rapidly, could prevent them developing these symptoms in the first place. Improvement on this scale has never been shown before, the researchers say. Study author, Professor Jonathan Green, said the first two years of life when signs of autism are emerging are critical. But he stressed that although the therapy can prevent long-term difficulties, it is not a ‘miracle cure’. More info: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics

Bring joy to a vulnerable child this Christmas Christmas won’t be magical for every child. It can be a difficult time of year for children in care who may be spending their first festive season away from their family. And for households facing economic hardship, buying presents will once again put additional pressure on families. Reading brings children profound and wideranging benefits that can have a lifelong positive impact on their lives, affecting their health, wellbeing and their academic and social

development. Just one book can brighten a vulnerable child's Christmas. This Christmas, BookTrust is aiming to give sixteen thousand books to children who need them the most – giving them access to a world of imagination, creativity and possibilities. A £10 donation to BookTrust will help fund a surprise book gift for a vulnerable child and support BookTrust’s work during the year. Find out more and donate at www.booktrust.org.uk/xmas

A lifestyle franchise made for mums Strong &Wild is an outdoor exercise business that focuses on building strength and mobility for life, bringing people together and doing all this in the great outdoors. We started our first group as we needed a job that worked around our children, but we also wanted to get fitter and stronger – and now we’re looking for more mums to join us. Our empowering and low-cost franchise model offers excellent earning potential and provides you with everything you need to run a successful business. No experience necessary!

We teach practical fitness for longevity - think running, jumping, climbing, balancing, crawling and lifting – for people that don’t like gyms and can’t face a Bootcamp. We give you accredited training, knowledge and confidence to bring Strong & Wild to your community - allowing you to love what you do, while earning a great income. Get in touch with Megan & Gill to find out more: info@strongandwild.com

6 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

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This issue we talk to Adam Hurst, Headteacher at Dolphin School, an independent day school and nursery for boys and girls aged 3 to 13, located in Hurst, in the heart of rural Berkshire.

Meet THE head

How would you describe the ethos of Dolphin School? Although we have just turned 50 years old, Dolphin School has stayed true to its founding principles; our freedom to learn approach is still an integral part of a Dolphin education. Children are encouraged to ask questions and are able to influence and direct their learning journeys. This also applies to our teachers, who are not constricted by the national curriculum and are therefore free to explore and develop their teaching. This creates an education that is engaging, inspiring and enjoyable for all parties. In what way is Dolphin School different from other schools? Dolphin School is unique in so many ways. I have never worked in another school like it (in a good way!) Whether it is the lack of uniform, first name terms with teachers, or simply the intangibles that you sense the moment you step through the school gates. There is an incredibly warm and welcoming atmosphere about the school, which you can immediately pick up from the smiles on the faces of our students, their willingness to chat to visitors, or the encouragement and care shown by our teachers. We have an unwavering commitment to crosscurricular learning, the intention being to link ideas and concepts, developing a genuine love of learning and an open, enquiring mind. Our trips programme is key to this, with day trips taking place frequently throughout the school, from Nursery to Year 8. This leads to our first residential field trip to East Sussex in Year 3, culminating in our Year 8s taking part in a nine day immersive trip to Italy! Our pupils get so much from their experiences on our many wonderful day trips, and we also have an exciting and diverse walking trip programme for Years 4-8! familiesonline.co.uk

How has Dolphin adapted during the pandemic? It all seems like so long ago now, as school is relatively normal this term! Learning online via a screen could not have been more anathema to what a Dolphin education usually involves, where children are encouraged to ask questions and go out and experience the things they are learning. However, in true Dolphin style, showing resilience, fortitude and a desire to overcome challenges and obstacles, staff and pupils adapted fantastically well. We had a robust online learning programme and academic progress continued seamlessly during the periods of lockdown. Have there been any positive changes to Dolphin School due to this experience? The most positive aspect to come out of this is the appreciation of human contact and face-to-face communication and conversation, which applies to both children and adults. All members of our school should feel proud of how well they coped, emerging stronger and closer as a community. Another positive outcome was that we were able to secure planning permission for our new eco-friendly ‘pavilion’ during the most recent lockdown, which will offer some amazing new learning spaces, including a new Library, Art Studio, Music Room and two classrooms, which should be completed by Christmas. It will also allow a vantage point on our new ‘terrace’ for parents to watch fixtures, attend events, or simply chat about our wonderful school! How do you help pupils who need extra academic support? This can be achieved through the care and attention of our subject teachers, as well as form teachers.

We also have an excellent SEN department who nurture, support and develop children with additional needs. We are a very supportive community and the teachers know our children incredibly well, so anything that arises is identified and addressed swiftly and sensitively. What would you like to achieve over the next couple of years and beyond? This is a wonderful school. I have

worked in a number of settings, and many of them share similar characteristics and traits, but Dolphin School is particularly special in its total commitment to celebrating the individual child. I would encourage anyone who hears about us to come and see for themselves what we offer. My aim is to stay true to the founding ideals of the school and respect its history, whilst fine-tuning particular aspects of school life to ensure that we remain progressive and pioneering, offering the best possible education for our boys and girls. Our raison d’etre is to plant a seed for our boys and girls that will see them thrive and grow as individuals, not just during their time here at Dolphin, but for the rest of their lives.

An Independent Prep School for Boys & Girls aged 3-13

Please visit our website to learn more or contact Kate Spooner admissions@dolphinschool.com www.dolphinschool.com 0118 934 1277 Waltham Road, Hurst, Berkshire, RG10 0FR

Email: editor@familiestvw.co.uk

Families Thames Valley West • 7


EDUCATION NEWS

By Lisa Wander and Catherine Loble

The Great Homework Debate The homework debate is never far from the news. Should homework be banned? Is it a waste of time at primary school? Do our children get too much? According to Katharine Birbalsingh, the founder of the Michaela School: ‘Homework is essential for a child’s education because revisiting the day’s learning is what helps to make it stick.’ There is no question that there is a link between homework and academic achievement. It gives children an opportunity to explore learning in an unstructured setting, encouraging them to become independent learners. In addition, it gives them time to focus on areas of the curriculum that they might struggle with. What is key to the benefit of homework, is that the task is appropriate and of good quality. Homework forges a partnership between school and family, giving parents and carers an insight into what their child is learning. As children move through primary school, it helps them prepare to transition into secondary school and the increased workload that comes with it. But homework can often become a battle with unwilling children pitted against stressed parents. So how can we strike a balance and prevent our homes becoming war zones? Some tasks do require greater adult support; however, it’s key to

remember that it is your child’s homework, not yours. It’s important to allow your child to work independently, getting it wrong, if needs be, so that their teachers can best assess what they can and cannot do. As to whether rewards are effective, there are arguments either way. Ideally, children need to understand the intrinsic value of doing the work themselves. Both finding out that to get better at something, you need to put the time in and the pleasure of skills mastered

are actually more valuable than bribery. If you feel that there’s too much pressure on your child, whether it’s the workload or the difficulty, it’s essential to get in touch with their teacher and discuss strategies for approaching homework tasks. Above all, try to keep them calm and if needs be, step back and revisit homework with a fresh mind, after a short break. Remember that unhappy and stressed kids do not learn. Be a supporter or a motivator; try to avoid being the enforcer.

Top tips for homework support Set up a homework area. A quiet designated area will help your child focus and motivate them to get the work done. Make sure everything they need is accessible. Schedule a regular study time. A regular routine helps children get used to working at home. Work out when your child is most productive. Avoid late in the day and encourage them to take regular breaks. Eliminate distractions. Especially important with technology and social media. Establish times around homework making sure that all screens are off and out of reach. Start with the hardest work first. Tackling this first will make doing the rest of their work feel much easier. Praise work and effort. By recognising and praising all work, you will find a way to get children to respond positively to homework. Teach by example. Do your own work at the same time in the same space, if you can. Accept help when needed. Do not be afraid to get support from YouTube videos, websites like Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) or even tutors.

Elstree School welcomes new St Joseph’s College News St Joseph’s College, Reading, is access to the garden allows the Head of Girls’ Games delighted that its newly refurbished children's learning to flow Gymnastics when she was younger, Katie is still a very keen netball player for the Thunderbirds Netball Club in the Reading League. It is an exciting time for Katie to join the school having become fully coeducational in September 2020. There are now nearly 60 girls across both the Prep and Pre-Prep.

Elstree School in Berkshire has appointed a new Head of its Girls’ Games Department. Katie Sanford, who joined Elstree this term, was previously a tutor, PE teacher and coach at Bradfield College. Having competed at a high level in Netball, Athletics and

Reception Class is up and running. Miss Davies, Reception teacher (pictured here with Mrs Stotesbury, Head, and Mrs Boccaccini, College Deputy Head (Prep)) reports that it is already much enjoyed. Improved

seamlessly. Particularly popular is the refurbished conservatory area, resourced with small world play and table space. Book a private visit or open morning at www.sjcr.org.uk

Headmaster of Elstree, Sid Inglis said: “I am delighted to welcome Katie to the Elstree community. She has a passion for sport and is extremely enthusiastic about developing the girls’ sporting opportunities here at Elstree. With more girls in the school than ever, we are thrilled to be able to provide girls with the same stimulating and nurturing sporting environment as the boys. To find out more information visit www.elstreeschool.org.uk.

8 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

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EDUCATION

Encouraging your child to become an independent learner By Bradley Busch and Edward Watson One study found that simply having your phone out, even if it is not being used, can make you perform up to twenty per cent worse in cognitive tests. Encourage learners to leave phones in another room, or at least on silent and out of sight, while they concentrate on the work in hand.

As children get older and progress within the education system, how they manage their time and how efficiently and effectively they study by themselves becomes an ever-increasing premium skill. So, what does academic research tell us about how parents can help facilitate this? Let’s look at three different but related techniques. The first is knowing that developing independent learners goes hand in hand with improving selfreflection. The more self-aware students are, the more likely that they can manage potential distractions. Self-monitoring is a skill that can be developed by encouraging students to ask themselves good questions, such as ‘how can I get better?’ and ‘where do I do my best work?’ Another way to improve independent learners is to help them become better at managing their time. Left to their own devices, people tend to procrastinate. In fact, some studies have found that seventy five per cent of students consider themselves procrastinators, with fifty per cent procrastinating regularly and to a level that is considered problematic. Research suggests that most students are poor at estimating how long a task will take to complete, as they get distracted or face unexpected obstacles along the way. This is called ‘the Planning Fallacy.’ One study found that one of the best ways to overcome the Planning Fallacy is with small, regular deadlines. This was proven to help students manage their time better and perform significantly better in their work, achieving higher grades overall. Finally, introduce students to effective goal setting. This must include flexibility, short and longterm goals and enough challenge

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to maintain motivation. Goal setting allows students to create targets that they would like to work on independently and achieve in a given time frame. Research has found that when people wrote down their goals, they were thirty three per cent more likely to achieve them than those who kept them in their minds. Encourage students to make a to-do list so that their goals feel more concrete. Overall, developing independent learners is easy to say but hard to do. It takes time, effort and repetition to ingrain these habits. But if you persist, your child will reap the benefits for many years to come. Developing a sense of purpose This is all about getting students to care about what they are doing. If they care about it, they are more invested in it and are more likely to apply themselves. For example, one study that illustrated this manipulated the environment that students were taught in. Some students were told that they had to study hard because there would be a test. Others were told that studying hard was simply what was expected of them. A third group of students were told that learning the material would really help them achieve their goals. The result? Those who had the instruction that learning the topic would be useful to them (i.e those who were given a sense of

purpose) rated the material as more important and were more likely to put more effort into it. A sense of purpose can be encouraged in a number of ways. Something as simple as completing the sentence ‘doing well at this will help me because…’ is a good starting point here. Remove distractions Research shows that the ability to improve concentration and attention is something that can be developed, even from a very young age. It helps to know that our ability to focus is not fixed and it can change for the better.

Music can be a big distraction too. Many students report listening to music when independently studying. Try discouraging this with facts: a recent study found that students who worked in silence during their study sessions performed twenty per cent better than those who worked while listening to songs that had lyrics. So, if you want to improve your child’s concentration, before any work is started, ensure that the immediate environment is clear of all potential distractions.

Bradley Busch and Edward Watson are the writers of the book A Parent’s Guide to The Science of Learning: 77 Studies That Every Parent Needs to Know out now in paperback, published by Routledge, David Fulton.

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Families Thames Valley West • 9


By Tamsy Ashman

Bullying comes in all shapes and sizes and anyone can find themselves targeted. Unfortunately, studies show that online bullying increased during the pandemic and that, in recent times, racial bullying has also increased in schools.

Overcoming racial bullying A poll of one thousand children ages 6 to 15 found that about thirty two percent of children had heard someone be racist at school, with the figure rising to fifty two percent amongst 13 year old children. (The Guardian, 2020). Racial bullying focuses on someone’s race, ethnicity or culture. It can be physical, verbal or both. It can consist of violence, racist names, offensive jokes, graffiti, damaging someone’s possessions or leaving someone out or excluding them in some way (Childline, 2021). Racist comments can be made directly or covertly by referencing skin colour or race and these comments reinforce negative stereotypes. This form of bullying can also be subtle, such as displaying unconscious bias based on preconceived notions. If you spot someone experiencing racial bullying, call it out; the more people speak up about it, the more we can challenge perceptions and tackle the problem.

Children are resilient and inquisitive so don’t ignore discussions about race; instead encourage them. Approached with sensitive and care, these discussions can be a great opportunity to address important racial issues. Engaging with children’s observations of race in everyday life can help them develop critical thinking, help them understand different people and promote the beauty of diversity.

Embracing ethnicity Every child is special and their ethnicity is part of their identity. Help your children embrace their ethnicity by building their selfesteem so they are comfortable in their skin – we are all beautiful in our own way! Showcase role models of colour to reinforce positive representation – there are inventors, scientists, creators and even astronauts of all races. When children see

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themselves reflected in pictures and texts, it helps shape how they view themselves and increases their selfworth. Encourage children to explore their roots and history with books and films – this could be fun to do together. There are millions of resources freely available to delve into online, with lots of kid-friendly material. Teach kids about their culture by incorporating it into everyday life, for instance, by introducing traditional foods to mealtimes. You could prepare a tasting menu with a variety of dishes to discover what they like! Tamsy Ashman is author of the book In the Know: Inspiring Black Figures, available from Amazon.

Tips for children facing racial bullying Speak up. Tell a teacher or classroom assistant as soon as possible. The incident can then be logged on file which can help if the situation escalates. Don’t keep it to yourself. Online abuse. If the bullying happens online, report and block the person responsible. Make your social media a safe space by blocking negative voices and focusing on the positive ones. Face to face. If it happens in person, stay calm, walk away and leave the situation, then seek help. It’s useful to keep a record of what happened for evidence as it may be needed in the future. Seek support. Speak out if you are affected by racial bullying. Talking helps so find someone you trust to confide in so they can support you. Don’t suffer in silence, your feelings are valid.

10 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

Stay strong. Most importantly, remember it’s not your fault. The person bullying you is the one in the wrong. Racial bullying is classed as a hate crime and can be an arrestable offence.

Tips for parents to combat racial bullying Dispel negative stereotypes and learn about different races and religions. By embracing other cultures, we can become more open minded and engage with other groups of people. Recognise differences and celebrate them. There are lots of resources online to learn about different cultures. Interested in African art? View an online exhibition on it. Intrigued by Indian music? Listen to some tracks on YouTube. Explore other lifestyles. It nurtures inclusivity which helps our children become more tolerant and welcoming of others. If your child is suffering from racial bullying, talk to them and reassure them, your support will be invaluable. Look at these resources: www.childline.co.uk very accessible and easy to read with links to other organisations for further help. www.bullying.co.uk has comprehensive guides to tackle sensitive subjects such as mental health. www.kidpower.org has interactive resources that can build resilience in children and give practical tips on coping with challenging situations. It also gives good advice on increasing self-confidence and how to handle conflict.

Remember you are not alone!

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Six books to help kids cope with bullying

By Georgina Atwell

There are lots of brilliant books out there which can help children open up about bullying and cope with the emotions or anxiety they may be feeling. For Anti-Bullying Week in November, Families asked children’s book expert, Georgina Atwell, to recommend six great books to help.

Elmer and the Big Bird

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 1: The Locker Hero

by David McKee

by Rachel Renee Russell

One day, Elmer notices that there are no birds around. How strange! Soon he finds them hiding from the nasty bully bird in a nearby cave. The bully bird is mean and likes to frighten the little birds. Elmer comes up with a plan for the animals to work together to frighten off the bully and they succeed!

Max is about to face the scariest place he's ever been: South Ridge Middle School! He’s been begging his parents to let him attend a real school after being home-schooled by his grandmother. He's starting to question that choice, though, with the Doug (aka Thug) Thurston Problem. Thug keeps stuffing Max in his locker.

A beautifully illustrated book about community, this is ideal for younger children ages 5 to 6.

If only Max could be like the hero in all the comics he likes to read and magically escape the locker and defeat Thug… Perfect for older children ages 8 to 11.

Cloud Busting How to be a Lion

by Malorie Blackman

by Ed Vere

Despite his mum's insistence, Sam doesn't want to be friends with Davey; he thinks Davey is a first class, grade A, top-of-the-dung-heap moron. But one day Davey saves Sam's life and a bond is formed between them. Sam is still embarrassed to be seen with Davey but little by little he must admit, when it's just the two of them, Davey is a lot of fun. But then something terrible happens to Davey...

You don't have to ROAR to be heard! Meet Leonard, a lion like no other. Leonard's best friend is Marianne, a duck. But lions chomp ducks, don't they? What will the pair do when their way of life is threatened? A witty picture book that can be enjoyed by children ages 2 to 7 (and adults everywhere!).

Told in verse, in first person, this is the touching story of an extraordinary friendship that changes two boys’ lives for ever. Perfect for ages 8 to 9.

Gloves Off Wonder

by Louisa Reid

by R. J. Palacio

Lily is mercilessly bullied at school so one day her Dad introduces her to boxing. Through it, she finds her own worth. It is a challenge that helps her face her fears and fight back against the bullies. This is a page-turning story of hope and resilience. This award-nominated book is perfect for early teen readers.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Georgina Atwell is the founder of Toppsta, which is the perfect place for parents and children to read book reviews and recommendations for the latest children’s books. Visit www.toppsta.com

Wonder is also an Oscar-nominated film starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. It is funny, frank and astonishingly moving, your kids will remember it long after the final page.

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Families Thames Valley West • 11


Introducing your kids to DIY Many children love to ‘help’ around the house, but it’s not always the type of help we actually want! Here’s how to introduce DIY jobs to your little apprentices: Start small When they watch you with wonder and want to get involved, tell them how helpful that would be. Start with small tasks such as holding/passing you tools, measuring or putting down dust sheets. This works particularly well for younger kids who might not be ready for some actual hard graft. Keep explaining what you are doing and praising their help, to keep them engaged.

measuring tape. The point of your child having their own tools is firstly not to mess up yours but also to give them a sense of responsibility. It will be their job to look after these tools by cleaning and tidying them away when they have finished using them. Safety first Give kids set of overalls to protect their clothes. Not only will they look the part, they will feel the part. Make sure long hair is tied back. Protect their eyes with safety goggles; if you can’t find any in the right size, buy a pair of super-cheap fake glasses. Ear defenders are a must when power tools are around. A room of their own While it’s not always relaxing having a child work on a DIY project with you, it teaches them not to be afraid of tools or making changes to things. Furthermore, the bonding experience and the practical skills could last a lifetime.

Practical tips for getting practical If you are painting together, start little ones off with a small area such as a low-level patch which doesn’t have to be perfect. Rollers are often easier than brushes for novices; use the small half size ones and don’t put too much paint in their tray. When it comes to jobs that involve power tools, fully supervise and demonstrate using them safely. Let children put their hands on top of yours when you use the drill or sander so they can get a feel for the vibrations (and the noise). Give them a wood off-cut to practise on while they get the idea and grow in confidence.

By Jo Behari

Once your kids have shown they are willing and able, you may discover you have a super keen child on your hands. So why not encourage them to get creative with their own project?

Their very own tools Choose different tools for different ages of child. As a general rule you can’t go wrong with a few paint brushes, a spirit level and a

Choose a space that they can work on themselves - their room is a great place to start. Suggest a single wall or a corner area and give them freedom to re-design by moving furniture around, choosing new colours, wall stickers, shelving etc. If they make mistakes, they can be put right. Don’t forget, this is a great learning opportunity! Jo Behari (www.jobehari.co.uk) is an entrepreneur, DIY expert and TV presenter.

Do you want to learn to swim? Do you want to develop your swimming further? Are you looking to get into competitive swimming? JOIN US! We are accepting new members at any level

12 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

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Try something new!

Unusual class and club ideas By Andrew Campbell Whether your child is bored with the usual options or simply not interested in the more conventional after school activities, you might be able to entice them to develop a new interest and meet like-minded friends by considering some of these less common activities. Rock climbing For the more adventurous young one, rock climbing offers a chance for some healthy, action-packed fun. Plenty of indoor and outdoor options are available for toddlers and up. Try your local leisure centre or check out www.thebmc.co.uk

Parkour Kids instinctively love to jump and throw themselves around. Parkour (freerunning) classes harness this exuberance and teach kids to interact creatively and safely with the physical world around them. For local clubs and parkour playgrounds visit www.parkour.uk

Fencing An Olympic sport, fencing is ideal option for children who struggle with team sports. As well as improving fitness, it develops mental agility and personal responsibility. For a local club, check www.britishfencing.com

Archery Kids love trying this sport at local fetes and fairs. If your child lacks the speed or strength for traditional sports, then archery may be an option. As well as improving concentration, it’s physically demanding and very social. To find a local club visit www.startarchery.co.uk

Photography and film making Does your young one enjoy capturing images or footage on their phone? Then, maybe they are ready for the next step. Holiday and after school classes are offered by photographers and photography clubs at venues throughout UK with many providing cameras to use.

Table tennis Another Olympic sport, table tennis may suit children who don’t possess the physical prowess required for other sports. They may have already played the game at home or elsewhere and so may easily fit into a local junior club which can be found at www.tabletennisengland.co.uk

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Robotics Robotics is a fun, hands-on way to get your child’s creative juices flowing and engage them in an interest in technology, as well as a great way to meet like-minded friends. Clubs can be found in your local area and online. Skating Your child may love their annual outing to a local pop up rink, but did you know programmes for children as young as age 2 are offered at ice skating centres throughout the country? These can lead to figure skating, speed skating, ice hockey or even the Olympics! Find a local centre at www.iceskating.org.uk/rink-finder

Families Thames Valley West • 13


Clubs and classes directory Regular clubs, classes and activities give your child a chance to develop new skills and make new friends, and there is lots to choose from. Here are a few of our favourites for babies, toddlers and school-aged children. For more clubs and classes in your area, check out familiesonline.co.uk. Please get in touch if you would like to be included in our directory: editor@familiestvw.co.uk. Developmental classes

Music

The Academy of Magic – Created by Radek Hoffman, an international magician with 15 years of experience in the art of magic. The Academy of Magic shares Radek’s enthusiasm for entertainment and performance with young magicians through weekly online lessons. Fun and exciting after school clubs instil confidence, nurtures self-esteem and helps to develop children’s social skills. Visit radekhoffman.com for more information or to sign up for a free trial session. Suitable for children aged 8+. Portuguese Language Club – Offering tuition to help you talk fluently in Portuguese, but we don’t stop there. For us, it’s all about you and ensuring that you enjoy your stay with us whilst also making sure that your Portuguese language skills are vastly improved. We offer a range of services to suit all needs; including one-to-one and group lessons, in-school clubs, holiday Portuguese and GSCE and A Level tuition. Based in Tilehurst, Berkshire. Contact Maria on 07427630331, 0118 942 4591, info@portugueselanguageclub.co.uk, portugueselanguageclub.co.uk

Gym, sport and swimming Bulmershe Gymnastics Club – Based at a purpose-built gym in Woodley, run gymnastics classes for all ages including Leap Frogs for walkers to five years lead by qualified coaches. bulmershegymnastics.co.uk GR Swimming Schools – Uniquely structured, safe, FUN, swimming lessons from 3 years old. Lessons include continual assessment and lane progression. There is a maximum of 6 children per class. We are currently looking for a private indoor, heated pool, 1 or 2 weekday mornings, for much needed community baby & toddler classes in the Newbury / Hungerford area! jo@swimlessons.co.uk www.swimlessons.co.uk Reading Swimming Club – Formed in 1885, the club offers a structured learn to swim programme, squad training for all ages and competition opportunities from within the club, up through to county, regional and national level. We are keen to welcome new members of all ages and abilities. Please contact readingswimclub.org or email info@readingswimclub.org

Drama and theatre arts

RABBLE theatre – Reading’s leading professional theatre company. Runs LAMDA classes in Public speaking, Verse & Prose and Acting. Classes run at Kendrick school 5-6pm on Tuesdays for 6-18yrs. RABBLE also runs private lessons online and in person. Contact dani@rabbletheatre.com

Henley Youth Choir – Non-Auditioned Youth Choir. Rehearsals every Thursday in Term Time: 5.306.15pm for Juniors (7-11yrs), 6.15-7.00pm for Seniors (12-17yrs). Location: the D:Two Community Centre in the centre of Henley-on-Thames. Parking nearby. We are still welcoming new members for the Autumn Term which concludes with a spectacular Christmas Concert on December 11th. New joiners only pay for the remainder of the Term’s rehearsals (at £5 per rehearsal). Contact Fi Harding on 07947 658252 or email fi.harding@sky.com, and come for a free trial session!

Berkshire Maestros – fun, lively music classes for children from birth to seven years led by professional musicians and using a wide range of inspiring resources and real instruments. Lots of singing, dancing, games and playing instruments, building confidence and friendships, as well as developing creative, intellectual, physical, social and emotional skills. Classes in Lambourn (Tue), Hampstead Norreys (Wed), Arborfield (Thu), Woolhampton (Fri), Reading (Thu/Sat), Emmer Green (Fri) and Newbury (Sat). Session times and more details at: berkshiremaestros.org.uk/mini_maestros_ma in.html or email admin@berkshiremaestros.org.uk

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14 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow – COVID secure, fun, energetic theatre classes for 3½ to 18yrs. Dance, drama, singing, tap, street dance, pop styles and musical theatre. Regular awardwinning classes in Wokingham and Woodley, plus summer schools. Call Shelley on 07970 034 488, or email shelley@steppinoutstars.co.uk, steppinoutstars.co.uk Perform weekly drama, dance and singing classes – confidence-building fun for 4-12s. A unique mix of drama games, dance and singing specially designed to boost confidence, communication, concentration and coordination. Classes are delivered in line with government COVID-19 guidelines. Visit perform.org.uk/try to book a FREE class. Venues: Newbury, Twyford, Caversham, Earley, Wokingham, Winnersh, Crowthorne, Henleyon-Thames and Goring. Contact: 020 7255 9120, enquiries@perform.org.uk, perform.org.uk

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Clubs and classes news

Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow Steppin Out stars of Tomorrow theatre school for children continues to be one of the top schools in the area providing first class training from experienced and qualified professionals. Children can start classes in Drama, Dance, Singing and Tap as young as 3.5 years up to 17 years and will also appear in a big show at South Hill Park theatre. This year saw 6 students off to pursue their dream in September at professional drama school, as well as another receiving a Diana Award and another performing in the West End Matilda! Call now to book a free session at one of our venues at Bulmershe School in Woodley or at Emmbrook Senior School in Wokingham or e-mail: shelleysteppinoutstars.co.uk and quote Families Magazine to get your FREE trial session. www.steppinoutstars.co.uk

Tips for choosing the right activity for your child... Try before you buy Most clubs have free taster sessions.

Physical traits Different body types can be more suited to different sports.

The family schedule Some activities require a commitment that may not fit in.

Temperament How social is your child? Some don’t like team sports.

Consider a range of options Don’t just focus on the familiar.

Cost Some activities require lots of expensive kit.

Let them move on Kids outgrow activities, let them discover new things.

Sport In Mind provides free sport and exercise opportunities for children and young people aged 9-16 years old experiencing mental health challenges. Our service provides: • After schools activities • Youth Journals • PHSE programme

• Summer Holiday Programmes • Family Days • Workshops

Our mission is to ensure all children and young people understand the power of sport and exercise for good mental health and provide a vital bespoke activity service for those struggling with mental health challenges. For more information visit www.sportinmind.org @sportinmind

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Families Thames Valley West • 15


Local Pantomimes Special

CHRISTMAS

Panto is back in 2021! Oh, yes, it is!! Thank goodness for this cheerful Christmas tradition with its whacky humour, loveable characters and lively audience participation! Pantomime has a long history, and it’s still going strong, with Christmas pantomimes being part of many families’ Christmas traditions. Pantomimes have lots of unique conventions, often involving input from the audience. How many pantomime conventions can you think of? A little reading about pantomimes and their history on Wikipedia reminded me of what to look out for at my next panto. Here’s a checklist for when you go to the pantomime this Christmas: • The principal boy is traditionally played by a young woman in male clothing. Her romantic partner is usually the principal girl. • The pantomime dame – often the hero's mother - is played by a man in women’s clothing. • The audience is encouraged to participate, for example with shouts of "He's behind you!", "Oh, yes it is!" and "Oh, no it isn't!" The audience is expected to hiss the villain and "awwwww" in sympathy for the poor victims, such as the rejected dame, who usually fancies one of the male characters. • There are frequent rude jokes, often creating innuendo out of perfectly innocent phrases. This is aimed at adults; children are normally oblivious to anything but

the most basic level of humour. • Music may be original but is likely to combine well-known tunes with re-written lyrics. Children in the audience are sometimes invited on stage to sing along with members of the cast. • A four-legged animal, often a pantomime horse played by two actors in a single costume, might make an appearance.. • The good fairy enters from stage right (from the audience's point of view this is on the left), and the villain enters from stage left (right from the point of view of the audience). • A slapstick comedy routine may be performed, often a decorating or baking scene, with humour

generated by throwing messy substances. • Several actors make up the chorus They can be considered extras on-stage, and often appear in multiple scenes (but as different characters) and perform a number of songs and dances. • At some point during the performance, characters including the dame and the comic will sit on a bench and sing a happy song to forget their fears. The thing they fear, for example a ghost, appears behind them, but at first the characters ignore the audience's warnings of danger. One by one, the characters see the ghost and

16 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

run away, until at last the dame and the ghost come face to face, at which point the ghost, frightened by the dame’s face, runs away. If you’d like to enjoy a pantomime this Christmas, take a look at our round-up of local pantomimes, small, medium and large. Have fun!

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Cinderella

Robin Hood

Aladdin

Beauty and the Beast

South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, RG12 7PA, southhillpark.org 26 Nov – 3 Jan Cinderella must go to the ball and meet her prince – but what tricks will the wicked step sisters play to stop Cinders finding her happy ever after?

Oxford Playhouse, 11 - 12 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW, oxfordplayhouse.com 27 Nov – 9 Jan Feared by the bad, loved by the good, taking from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood and his Merry Band are our favourite outlaws.

Baylis Theatre, Braywick Leisure Centre, Braywick Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1BN, maidenheadpanto.co.uk 18 – 24 December Cheer on our hero Aladdin as he journeys on an adventure of a lifetime. Expect flying carpets, a wish-granting genie and a lampfull of laughs!

The Anvil, Churchill Way, Basingstoke, RG21 7QR, anvilarts.org.uk 9 Dec – 2 Jan An evil sorceress sentences the Prince to live life as a hideous Beast in his enchanted castle. Can Belle teach him the error of his ways and lift the curse forever?

Beauty and the Beast

Cinderella

The Hexagon, Queen’s Walk, Reading, RG1 7UA, whatsonreading.com/beauty-andbeast 4 Dec – 3 Jan Beauty and the Beast has all the ingredients for a magical trip to the theatre, with hilarious slapstick humour, plenty of audience interaction and marvellous musical numbers that you will be singing for days afterwards!

Corn Exchange Newbury, Market Place, Newbury RG14 5BD, cornexchangenew.com 26 Nov – 2 Jan Will Cinderella make it to the ball? Will the Fairy Godmother save the day? And will her step-sisters ever give her a rest and help her with the housework?

Cinderella Robin Hood Crowthorne Parish Hall, Heath Hill Road South, Crowthorne, RG45 7BN, catscrowthorne.com 25 – 27 Nov Come and join Robin Hood on his thrilling quest to outwit the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and win the hand of the beautiful Maid Marian – all with a bit of help from his trusty band of merry men!

Kenton Theatre, New Street, Henley-On-Thames RG9 2BP, kentontheatre.co.uk 11 – 30 Dec Cinderella lives under the calloused and gnarly thumbs of her family, until chance encounters with a magical fairy and a handsome prince change everything.

Jack and the Beanstalk Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Windsor SL4 1PS, theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk 26 Nov – 9 Jan Featuring traditional pantomime comedy capers, dazzling dancers, colourful costumes – and some magic beans to make all your wishes come true.

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Families Thames Valley West • 17


Now taking registrations

CHRISTMAS

Fun is an essential ingredient in all our nurseries where the care and education opportunities for each and every child are as extraordinary as our colleagues who provide them.

At Meadowbrook we

FOR CHILDREN AGED 6 WEEKS TO 5 YEARS OPEN 7.30AM TO 6.30PM

Prioritising emotional wellbeing ensures that high academic achievement comes through warmth, support & tailored guidance,

T: 0118 931 3115 E: greenpark.nursery@childbase.com Green Park Day Nursery, 200 South Oak Way, Lime Square, Green Park, Reading, RG2 6UQ

needs of your child. Combining Montessori practice, the National Curriculum, Growth Mindset & Positive Discipline, Meadowbrook teaches children how to learn, not just what to learn, creating responsible individuals ready to tackle life with

T: 01189 733231 E: oaktree.nursery@childbase.com Oak Tree Day Nursery, 13 Nine Mile Ride, Finchampstead, Wokingham, RG40 4QD

WE LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU admin@meadowbrook.uk | 01344 890869 | www.meadowbrook.uk

www.childbasepartnership.com

PICTURE CROSSWORD

Can you solve the picture clues and put them in the crossword? 4

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1 1 2

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18 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

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CHRISTMAS

Local gift company of the year: Boho Vibes Earth My personal recommendation for great Christmas presents in 2021 is Boho Vibes Earth, who sell beautiful accessories. Boho Vibes Earth We are a local North Hampshire family-run business selling beautiful handmade natural stone and sterling silver jewellery for men and women, all crafted with more than a hint of a bohemian vibe! Whether you’re after an exquisite necklace or bracelet, some showstopping earrings or an eyecatching anklet, we have the perfect item for you, or that special person in your life, whatever the occasion, in our bold, colourful and distinctive ranges. We’re passionate about our products, but we’re also passionate

about running a business that’s ethically sound. That’s why many of our products are sustainably sourced, and our Kantha Jewellery is all Fair Trade. Browse our jewellery ranges and get in touch if you have any questions. All our items are beautifully packaged in craft boxes with colourful inserts and free personalised message cards. We deliver free of charge throughout the UK. www.bohovibes.earth

Playing it safe By Suzi Rodrigues Physical tests check the structure of the toy, to ensure that in usual use it won't be broken and cause risk to a child. The tests involve the toy being dropped, poked, pulled and twisted, put into a cylinder to determine whether it's a choke risk, and assessed for age, depending on its appeal and how it performs in tests. Flammability tests are almost selfexplanatory; toys have strict burn rates they must apply to, especially for soft toys, play tents and fancy dress items to reduce the risk of burns and enable a child to drop or get out of a toy which is on fire.

W

ith online shopping so quick and simple, it's too easy to overlook important safety factors when buying toys. Quite often parents remove labels without even looking at them, as it becomes second nature before handing anything to an excited child! We take it for granted that the toys we buy are safe but, increasingly, there are unsafe toys on sale. It's getting harder to determine whether something is safe before it arrives in your hands and, even then, some risks you just won't be able to determine by sight. For a toy item to get its CE or UKCA, its minimum safety passport for sale around the UK and Europe, it must go through a series of Toy Safety Standards tests. For most toys, this has three parts but others have more, according to the style of toy: familiesonline.co.uk

Being hazard aware To avoid unnecessary risk, it's important to always read the hazards on the labelling of toys and stick to the age guidance stated when it comes to very small children. Although children develop at different ages and stages, toys being marketed at children under 3 years old have a stricter chemical regulation than for those older than age 3, due to the likelihood of the item being mouthed. As well as more obvious hazards such as strangulation with long cords

and small parts that could be swallowed, long fur on soft toys can also be a choke risk for babies. Special care should be taken for babies under the age of 10 months, who aren't sitting upright yet, as they may not easily remove items from their mouths when lying down. There are also some dangerous parts of toys such as button batteries and magnets which can be fatal to children if swallowed, so inspect toys regularly to ensure that batteries and magnets are safe. Always dispose of toys with any sign of damage.

Suzi Rodrigues is a toy safety consultant for UKCA & CE Marking Handmade Toys Collective (www.cemarking-handmadetoys.co.uk), which provides advice and support for small business toy makers and is passionate about toy safety.

Chemical tests check for hidden nasties that wouldn't be easily assessed by eye. They ensure all the materials used contain nothing banned, as well as checking no heavy metals could leach out if sucked or chewed.

How can you be sure a toy is safe? Always read the labelling of any toy bought online, from a market stall, in a shop, even a handmade item for sale. All toys must have a safety mark to show that background work has gone into ensuring safety. It should also have the contact address of the company on it and clearly state any age-related warnings. If there is no label, or it has no CE or UKCA mark, return it. Email: editor@familiestvw.co.uk

Families Thames Valley West • 19


EARLY YEARS By Claire Burgess

Transitioning from cot to bed Moving your child from a cot to a bed is a big childhood milestone but when should it happen? And how can parents prepare for the transition practically and help their little one understand the big change? Your child can move to a bed any time between 18 months and 3 years old. In general, the closer you can get to 3 years old, the more developmentally ready they will be.

Here are some signs that indicate your child is ready to move: They are fully toilet trained and might need to visit the bathroom on their own in the night. They have started climbing out of their cot. This might be something that they then stop, so don’t let just one attempt indicate the need to move to a bed. But safety is key - if they might hurt themselves climbing out, you may want to move them to a bed for their own safety. They are getting too big for the cot.

How to prepare Introduce a duvet to the cot. Never introduce a duvet or pillow before your child is 12 months old (at the earliest) - waiting until your child is over 2 years is ideal. Get some story books about sleeping in a bed. Start reading them prior to making the change. Moving rooms? Make the move while your child still has their cot. Let them adjust to their new environment and then introduce the bed.

Involve your child in choosing their bedding. Check the bedroom environment. Remove or secure any possible hazards before moving your child into a bed.

Make the bedroom a place which is relaxing and for sleep. Tidy away any toys so there isn’t a temptation for your child to get out of bed and play. Introduce a stair gate at the bedroom door. This will keep your little one safe in their room. It is best to introduce this when they are still in a cot so it becomes the norm to have a stair gate at the door. A bed guard will prevent your child falling out of bed. Alternatively, cushions or pillows on the floor by the bed offer a soft landing if they roll out.

When the big day arrives… Explain in the morning that today is ‘big bed day.’ If you are taking the side off the cot, let them watch you - it will help them understand the concept of their cot changing into a bed. If you can, put the bed where the cot was and use bedding which looks, feels and smells familiar. Spend some time in their room practising putting their toys ‘to bed.’ This will help them to familiarise themselves with the new situation before bedtime. If your child is still napping, set up the bed in the morning so they can have their nap in it that afternoon. Keep your bedtime routine the same as it has always been; this will help your child to wind down for sleep.

20 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

Once your little one has done a nap or whole night in their bed, don’t forget to praise them for doing so well. This will help them to feel positive about the change and want to go back for another night!

What if my little one keeps getting out of bed? A big bed will give your child a new sense of freedom and excitement but you need to remain calm and consistent with your approach. If your little one gets out of bed, calmly remind them it’s bedtime, take them back and tuck them in. If this continues, keep taking them back to bed with the same clear message. When children test boundaries, consistent messages help them feel safe and secure at times of change. Claire Burgess is proprietor of Bespoke Family, a family consultancy business offering parenting support packages, parenting blogs and webinars, with advice and support tailored to each family’s needs. Find out more at www.bespokefamily.co.uk

Recommended books Pirate Pete: My Big Boy Bed or Princess Polly: My Big Girl Bed by Amanda Li describe all the stages and excitement of moving to a new big bed. In A Bed of Your Own by Mij Kelly. Suzy Sue has to deal with a bunch of animals all fighting for space in her bed before she can go to sleep herself! Your Own Big Bed by Rita M. Bergstein tells the story of how animals grow bigger and bigger, just like us!

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What’s On November/December 2021

ONGOING LOCAL LIBRARIES Why not visit your local library? It’s free to join! Many libraries have regular rhymetimes and other events too. Details are normally available from each library 3-6 weeks beforehand. POP UP PLAY VILLAGE www.bookwhen.com/basingstoke playvillage We are a mobile role play village to let your children's imaginations run wild as they immerse themselves play pretending to be you! Our November themed sessions have the addition of our dinosaur themed role play area and extra dino themed crafts, and our December sessions bring the magic of Christmas to the play village, and tickets include a visit from Santa and a small gift to take home too. November prices: Child £6.50, Sibling £5, Pre-walker £4 December prices: Child £8.50, Sibling £7, pre-walker £6 Wednesday 3rd and 17th November 10:30-11:45am Sulhampstead and Ufton Nervet Village Hall, RG7 4DD familiesonline.co.uk

Thursday 4th and 18th November 10:30-11:45am Sonning Common Village Hall, RG4 9SL Thursday 11th November 10:3011:45am Goring Village Hall, RG8 9AG Tuesday 2nd November 1011:15am North Warnborough Village Hall, RG29 1EA, Friday 12th and 26th November 10-11:15am Chineham Village Hall, RG24 8YE Wednesday 1st and 15th December 10:30-11:45am Sulhampstead and Ufton Nervet Village Hall, RG7 4DD Thursday 2nd and 16th December 10:30-11:45am Sonning Common Village Hall, RG4 9SL Thursday 9th December 10:3011:45am Goring Village Hall, RG8 9AG Friday 10th December 10-11:15am Chineham Village Hall, RG24 8YE Tuesday 7th December 10-11:15am North Warnborough Village Hall, RG29 1EA,

NOVEMBER 4 Nov BLAzE’S BUDDIES West Berkshire Museum, The Wharf, Newbury, RG14 5AS, booking.westberks.gov.uk/heritag e_events This month’s session theme is owls. We will discover some fun facts about owls and make a simple owl hanging decoration. Suitable for 25 years. Free entry. 11:00-11:30 6 Nov NICK COPE FAMILY MUSIC Corn Exchange Newbury, Market Place, Newbury RG14 5BD, cornexchangenew.com Join Nick Cope, star of CBeebies’ Popcast, for his interactive music sessions with songs about everything from counting to how plants grow. Recommended for age 8+ £9 10:30am 6 Nov SPY MONKEY Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF, norden.farm Join Hanuman, our brave and intrepid Monkey Intelligence Officer, on his most important secret mission to date! Suitable for 4+ years £12 / £10 under 16s 11:30am 6 Nov NEWBURY LIONS FABULOUS FIREWORKS Racecourse Road, Newbury, RG14 7Nz Newbury Lions present a night of fabulous fireworks! Tickets: child £5, adult £8, family £20 5:30pm – 8:30pm

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6 Nov – 3 Jan CHRISTMAS AT LONGLEAT Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW, longleat.co.uk Christmas features such as the Enchanted Christmas Tree, Flight Before Christmas show, front of House show, Wonderland Walk, Christmas Cabaret and more. 7 Nov READING HALF MARATHON Readinghalfmarathon.com Go out and cheer the runners on the streets around Reading – good fun for children! 7 Nov FIREWORKS AT REDDAM HOUSE Reddam House School, Wokingham, reddamfireworks.co.uk All welcome! Fairground rides, food, gin bar, glow sticks and more! 5pm – 8:30pm 7 Nov THAMESIDE FIREWORK FIESTA Purley School, Maplddurham Drive, Purley on Thames, RG8 8BD, thamessidefireworkfiesta.co.uk This spectacular display over the River Thames promises to be another fantastic event for all the family. Advance tickets: child £3, adult £6, family £15. On the night tickets increase to child £4.50, adult £9, family £25. Gates open at 5:30pm, fireworks at 7pm. 7 Nov and 5 Dec PROSPECT PARK MINIATURE RAILWAY Prospect Park, Liebenrood Road, Reading RG30 2ND Take a ride on a miniature steam train in this popular and long-running attraction. Refreshments are available. Tickets 60p a ride or 10 for £5 1pm – 3:45pm

Families Thames Valley West • 21


WHAT’S ON NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021 8 – 13 Nov JACK AND THE BEANSTALK Kenton Theatre, New Street, HenleyOn-Thames RG9 2BP, kentontheatre.co.uk Poor Dame Trott has to sell her precious cow ‘Buttercup’ and sends her son Jack to the cow market. This is an amateur performance by children. Tickets: standard £16, concessions £14 13 - 14 Nov CRAFT AND DESIGN FAIR South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, RG12 7PA, southhillpark.org.uk Come and enjoy some of the UK’s best handmade crafts throughout the South Hill Park Mansion and Wilde Theatre. Artists from around the country will show and sell their fabulous handmade crafts, thousands of beautiful, unique gift ideas and festive wares. Free entry 10am – 5pm 13 Nov and 11 Dec BOzEDOWN ALPACAS OPEN FARM DAY AND STALLS Bozedown Farm, Hardwick Road, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Reading, RG8 7QY, bozedownalpacas.co.uk Have a wander around this beautiful farm and have your picture taken with an alpaca. Tickets: £5 / £15 family of four 10:00am – 3:00pm 13 Nov – 23 Dec CHRISTMAS FAIR Waddesdon Manor, Silk Street, Aylesbury HP18 0JH, waddesdon.org.uk Soak up the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas with hand-selected stalls all housed in charming wooden chalets, surrounded by twinkling trees. Free with grounds admission

13 Nov – 23 Jan WINTER LIGHT TRAIL Waddesdon Manor, Silk Street, Aylesbury HP18 0JH, waddesdon.org.uk From dusk, enjoy dramatic colour and playful installations as you stroll beneath magically illuminated tree canopies. Look out for the rose garden glowing with flowers, an interactive area with bubble tubes, giant dandelions and walk through a tunnel of light loops. Free with grounds admission

19 Nov – 2 Jan CHRISTMAS AT BLENHEIM PALACE Blenheim Palace, Oxford Road, Woodstock, OX20 1UL, blenheimpalace.com Over a million lights, lasers and seasonal sounds fill the air with festive fun through the Palace’s pictureperfect gardens.

15 and 18 Nov NATURE TOTS Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, bbowt.org.uk/events Fun in nature, organised activities and run by a friendly welcoming face. £7 per child, adults free 10am, 10:30am, 11am

20 Nov CANDLELIT CHRISTMAS MARKET Hampstead Norreys Community Shop, Manor Courtyard, Church Street, Hampstead Norreys, Thatcham, RG18 0TD There will be over 40 stalls, Christmas songs, sing along carols, a chocolate tombola, Santa's Elves and wooden bauble making activities as well as a delicious street food style Christmas menu available. Free entry 3:30pm – 7:30pm

17 Nov – 9 Jan CHRISTMAS AT KEW Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, kew.org Visit Kew Gardens at the most wonderful time of the year as their magical winter trails lights up the evening skies for 2021. Standard advance adult: off peak £21.50/peak £26.50 Family tickets available Ticket discount for Kew members 18 Nov – 31 Dec THE JUNGLE BOOK The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE, watermill.org.uk Khan comes looking for prey, the child - Mowgli - is swept to safety by a friendly bear and a wise black panther. Together they teach him the laws of the jungle. Suitable for age 4+

New for 2021, the story of The Nutcracker re-imagined within the palace.

20 - 21 Nov YATTENDON CHRISTMAS MARKET Yattendon Village Hall, Yattendon, RG18 0UE The festive and fun market is the perfect opportunity if you are looking for unique gifts to give this year, or for something extra special to treat yourself and your loved ones. The members of Modern Makers Collective have been busy creating hundreds of beautiful items to buy. 10am – 4pm

21 Nov ARTISA CHRISTMAS MARKET Creativ.Spaces, 2B Southview Park, Marsack Street, Caversham, Reading, RG4 5AF, madebytamalia.co.uk Bring the kids to visit Santa in his whimsical grotto and then leave them having supervised festive arty fun in Santa’s workshop. Free entry 10am – 3:30pm 24 – 27 Nov SHREK THE MUSICAL Kenton Theatre, New Street, HenleyOn-Thames RG9 2BP, kentontheatre.co.uk “Once upon a time, there was a little ogre named Shrek…” And thus begins the tale of an unlikely hero. Tickets: child/student £16, adult £21, family £64 28 Nov WOKINGHAM WINTER CARNIVAL Wokingham town centre, wintercarnival.org.uk A community event with floats, stalls and winter fun for all the family 30 Nov – 30 Dec KIPPER’S SNOWY DAY Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead SL6 4PF, Norden.farm Based on the award winning children's books about Kipper the Dog by Mick Inkpen. It's snowing! And Kipper is very excited... Kipper, Tiger, Pig and Arnold go on an adventure in the snow - but can they find their way home? £14.50 / £12.50 under 16s, £50 Family and Friends (4 people)

DECEMBER 1 – 24 Dec FESTIVE FAIRYTALES WITH FATHER CHRISTMAS Odds Farm Park, Wooburn Common, High Wycombe, HP10 0LX Father Christmas invites you to join him and his Elves for an enchanting group story-time. After meeting Father Christmas and stopping for a festive photo keepsake*, you will take a magical stroll deep into the sparkly, wintery Enchanted Woodland, to arrive at the North Pole, with a stop at The Toyshop on the way! 3 – 24 Dec THE SNOW QUEEN South Street Arts Centre, 21 South Street, Reading, Berks, RG1 4QU, whatsonreading/snow-queen Gerda and Kai are inseparable, pals since birth, nothing can tear them apart. Until one winter's day, Kai mysteriously disappears and Gerda is forced to set out on a treacherous journey across Scandinavia to find him. Recommended for ages 8+ £25 standard ticket, £19 concessions, £15 under 16s

22 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

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WHAT’S ON NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021

3 – 31 Dec TWILIGHT TRAIL Forbury Gardens, Reading, web.livingreading.co.uk/twilight-trail2021 An outdoor light trail featuring innovative light installations that mirror the biscuit-making process, interactive elements that will delight the whole family, and famous Reading locations as you’ve never seen them before. £8 adult, £6 child, £26 family ticket 3 – 31 Dec A CHRISTMAS CAROL Reading Rep Theatre, King’s Road, Reading, RG1 4LY, readingrep.com Ebenezer Scrooge is having a miserable Christmas, but with a little help from Christmas Past, Present and Future, will he be able to see the festive joy after all? Enjoy the whimsy and wonder of this festive production for the whole family… 4 Dec FESTIVE CLAY DECORATION MAKING The Lookout Studio, The Base, 1 Communications Road, Greenham Business Park, Greenham RG19 6AB, thebasegreenham.co.uk Join artist Cáit Gould to make your own hanging ornamental decorations from clay. Recommended for age 6+ 4 Dec – 3 Jan PERCY THE PARK KEEPER’S WINTER WANDER Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, RG8 9NR, nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park In association with the best-selling author and illustrator Nick Butterworth the Percy the Park Keeper winter wander will introduce children and their families to the busy park keeper and his animal friends. 10am – 4pm 5 Dec CHILDREN’S MAGIC SHOW Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury RG14 2DR, westberkshireheritage.org

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Featuring Mr Muddles the charming, if muddlesome magician, who captivates and amazes children with his comical slapstick magic. Suitable for 3 – 8 year olds, but younger and older children are welcome. £5 8 – 11 Dec BABE, THE SHEEP PIG Progress Theatre, The Mount, Christchurch Road, Reading, RG1 5HL Babe is no ordinary pig. When he arrives on Hoggett’s farm he immediately begins to make friends and charm those around him. An intelligent pig with big aspirations! A hero in the making! Come and cheer for Babe, and meet all his friends! £12 (£10 concessions) 7:45pm (Doors open 7:30pm) 17 Dec ELEPHANTS ON THE MOVE – CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS LECTURE Palmer G10, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AH, reading.ac.uk Join Dr Vicky Boult, an expert in all things elephant, on a journey alongside a family of elephants over the course of a year in their lives. Aimed at children aged 7-12. Free entry 4:30pm 22 Dec MESSY MUSEUM MORNING: ROCKIN’ ROBINS West Berkshire Museum, The Wharf, Newbury, RG14 5AS, booking.westberks.gov.uk/heritage_ events Using porcelain pens, colour in a ceramic bird hanging decoration as a festive robin that you can then take home to display on a Christmas tree or gift it to someone special. Suitable for ages 7-11, but older and younger children are welcome. £2 per child 10am, 11am, 12pm

The Look Out Discovery Centre A great family day out whatever the weather!

W NOPEN O Freshly prepared sandwiches, food boxes and pizzas. Freshly baked cakes. Plus a wide selection of hot and cold drinks. Ice creams.

We look forward to seeing you soon Please check our website/social media for full information and to book.

www.facebook.com/thelookoutdiscovery @thelookoutbracknell www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/leisure-services/look-out-discovery-centre Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 7QW

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Families Thames Valley West • 23


The Abbey’s Human Intelligence initiative Simply put: it’s the most exciting, innovative and rigorous curriculum available anywhere in the country To find out more, contact admissions@theabbey.co.uk

www.theabbey.co.uk 24 • Bracknell • Henley • Reading • West Berkshire • Wokingham

familiesonline.co.uk