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Thames Valley West


Spring Term School Open Days The Inside Track on Exam Prep Is Your Child’s Vocabulary Holding them Back?

PLUS Clubs and Classes to Try Today The Best What’s On Guide for Half Term Fun and More!

Issue 99 January/February 2019


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...endless ideas for families of young children in Henley • Reading • Wokingham • Bracknell • Newbury • West Berkshire Families® Thames Valley West • Issue 99 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 Visit us at

Hello from the Editor

In This Issue... 4

News and Views


The Inside Track on Exam Prep


Education News


Independent School Open Days


Is Your Child’s Vocabulary Holding Them Back?

Thames Valley West

• FREE trial with Steppin’ Out, see p.2 15

What To Do If Your Child Hates Reading?

• 2 week trial with Perform, see p.16 • FREE trial at diddi dance, see p.18 • FREE Slushie upgrade with Redkangaroo, see p.19 To advertise:


Clubs and Classes Special


Trampolining – A Bounce in the Right Direction

If you are reading this, so are your customers! We can help you reach an audience of over 45,000 parents in Reading, Henley, Newbury, Wokingham, Bracknell and West Berkshire. Give us a call on 01235 751 980 or drop us a line at to find out how we can help support your family friendly business!

The Families Team Editor: Lucy Heather Designed by: Ridgeway Press Ltd, 01256 300 420 Next Issue: March/April – Clubs & Classes The Easter Issue What’s On

Booking deadline: 10tht February.





The turkey’s long gone and the last bauble has been packed away – time to turn our attention to an exciting new year ahead! As usual, we have a packed issue for you, with lots of ideas for family fun to blow away the winter cobwebs in our What’s On Guide starting on p.21. If you’re starting to think about education choices for your children, many independent schools are holding open days in January and February – details are all on p.11. If you’re struggling to encourage your child to read, our feature on p.15 has lots of useful advice. A new year can be a great time for your child to start a new regular club or class. Our Clubs and Classes Special starts on p.16 and includes a comprehensive directory and is packed full of ideas to try from gymnastics to LEGO building. Finally, after 3 years at the helm of Families Thames Valley West, it’s farewell from me as I move on to pastures new. It’s been a huge pleasure and privilege to edit this wonderful magazine and I know you’ll give the new editor a warm welcome as she takes over from the March issue.


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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.

News & Views The Toxic School Run Children in the UK are being forced to breathe dangerous levels of toxic air on their way to and from school and whilst in the playground, according to new research. A study by Unicef and Queen Mary University in London reveals that young children are absorbing a disproportionate amount of tiny black carbon particles during the school day with potentially devastating health consequences. Exposure to the these particles, which can penetrate deep into the lungs, bloodstream and even the brain, stunt lung and brain growth

and cause long term breathing conditions, is generally higher at school than when children are at home. Unicef UK estimates that one in three children are growing up in places in the UK with unsafe levels of particulate pollution. It is calling on the government to take urgent action to protect children from toxic air before irreversible damage is done to their health and their futures. More info at

Schools that Ban Mobile Phones Improve Results Should children be allowed to take mobile phones to school? Opinion is divided. Some advocate a complete ban because of the potential for distraction, while others promote the use of phones as a teaching tool in the classroom. Schools in England and Scotland have complete autonomy regarding their mobile phone policy, which has resulted in large differences in the timing of the introduction of bans. Schools that ban pupils from carrying mobile phones show a

sustained improvement in exam results, with the biggest advances coming from struggling students, according to research published by the London School of Economics. The large-scale study found schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester that banned mobiles enjoyed a boost in the proportion of pupils getting five good passes at GCSE, compared with schools that allowed pupils to keep their phones, even if switched off. More info at

Spin a Tale during National Storytelling Week

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please ring 01235 751 980

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

The first week of February marks National Storytelling Week, a chance to reflect on one of the oldest art forms in the world. We are all immersed in stories — from conversations during which we retell events in our lives, to watching our favourite television shows. Speech and language therapists believe that storytelling is vital for children’s academic success as it promotes narrative skills and strengthens the ability of children to correctly sequence ideas. To be a good reader and writer a child needs firstly to be a good speaker and listener.

Above all though, storytelling is fun. Whether we are listening to someone else’s story or telling our own, inventing and adapting narratives can open doors to exciting new worlds — both real and imaginary. National Storytelling Week takes place in storytelling clubs, theatres, museums, schools, hospitals, spoken word venues, and care homes. To find a local event or to look through its extensive archive, visit

News & Views Healthy Drinks with Kids Meals

Girls Play Less Sport than Boys Boys spend significantly longer than girls on sporting activities. A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that boys spend an average of 40 minutes per day on sports activities, compared with 25 minutes a day for girls. But encouragingly, boys and girls who do participate in sport enjoy it equally, according to the study. One way parents can change this is by setting an example. Research shows that by being active themselves, parents,

particularly mothers can influence their child’s activity levels. Another way is to make it social. Research by Women in Sport shows that girls are most interested in making friends and having fun when playing sport. Seek out clubs, classes or activities that may have girls of a similar age as your daughter or encourage her to take up new classes with her existing friends. More info:

The Oral Health Foundation (OHF) is calling for the introduction of healthy drinks as the standard drink option served with children’s meals in restaurants, insisting that it will significantly help to improve oral health. The call follows a pioneering law passed in California, which will see milk (and a non-dairy milk alternative) and still, sparkling or flavoured water being advertised on menus and served as primary drink choices with kids' meals in restaurants throughout the state.

According to the OHF, around one in four (24.7%) children age 5 years in the UK have tooth decay and new government data shows the number of 5 to 9 year olds admitted to hospital for tooth decay has risen for the second consecutive year. The charity believes rolling out a similar initiative in the UK will help combat the health effects of sugary drinks and protect thousands of children from tooth decay every year. More info at

Kids Debit Card and App Teaches Value of Money and Giving gohenry is a pre-paid debit card and app that allows parents to manage their children’s pocket money whilst teaching them good money habits and giving them financial independence. Parents can top up the card with a regular allowance or set tasks for their children to complete to earn extra money. Parents can decide where the card can be used (online, in-store or at cash machines) all within set spending limits.

Children can set savings goals and choose how much pocket money and earned money they save. Now gohenry has teamed up with the NSPCC to launch a new Giving function, allowing children to make a one-off or regular donation to the NSPCC (capped at 20 pence per week). More info visit

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

Families Thames Valley West • 5

Hidden Condition Affects Maths Learning Many children are suffering from an undiagnosed developmental condition which affects their ability to learn maths, according to a study from Queen’s University in Belfast

are not being diagnosed, meaning that, in the view of the researchers, children with persistent, serious difficulties with mathematics, unlike children with dyslexia, do not receive specialist support.

A team of experts carried out research on the prevalence of Specific Learning Disorder in mathematics (SLDM), which is also known as dyscalculia and affects up to 6% of people.

More info at

A child with dyscalculia can have normal intelligence in every other way but struggle to do well in maths due a specific impairment in the brain.

The Big Garden Birdwatch The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place from 26 to 28 January and is the largest wildlife survey in the world. The information collected helps monitor bird species in the UK, and is great fun for children. To take part, you need to watch the birds in your garden or local park for just one hour at some point over the three days and report your results to the RSPB. You can request a FREE Big Garden Birdwatch pack from the RSPB which includes a bird identification chart and advice to help you attract wildlife to your garden. To make it fun, challenge your children to see who can spot the most birds. Take a bike ride to a local park to look for birds, or make a day trip out of it and spot birds in a new place. More info at

The researchers studied the mathematics performance of 2,421 primary school children over a number of school years. The study showed that, in almost all cases, children who appeared to have dyscalculia

Not So ‘Free Childcare’ Most parents are paying to access the government’s 30 hours ‘free’ childcare scheme, according to research for the Department of Education.

Almost half of parents said that they had seen restrictions placed on when they could use the hours or that they had to be taken at times specified by the provider.

The research confirms that 56% of parents are paying charges for additional items or activities when accessing the 30 hours offer. The majority of charges are for meals, snacks and other refreshments, while charges for special activities such as music, gym lessons or outings are less common, as are charges for consumables such as sun tan lotion.

Additionally, the research found that 39% of providers reported a reduction in their profit due to the 30 hours scheme while 25% of providers said that they had moved from either making a profit to breaking even or even making a loss.

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More info at

The Inside Track on Exam Preparation In the coming year, many children will be preparing for SATS, senior school entrance exams or the 11 plus. It may seem too early to talk about teaching children of primary school age how to prepare for exams, but this is a skill they can hone, refine and use throughout their entire education (and even in their working lives) and it can definitely help them feel less overwhelmed by the concept of being tested. Claire Winter gets some advice from tutors on preparing primary school children for exams. Make a Plan Once you know the date of your child’s exam, make sure you mark it on the calendar and think about what kind of preparation it would be appropriate for them to do. Most exams include maths and English and some contain elements of verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Would worksheets from your child’s school, online resources or verbal or non-verbal reasoning practice papers be helpful? You needn’t make a big deal about the preparation with your child but you do need to create some time for them to do it. Allocate certain times in the week to go over different topics, to prepare and build their confidence and to go over any problem areas they may have. At the same time, balance is so important, so don’t overdo it. Make sure your child continues with their extra-curricular activities and has lots of fun too.

Practice Lucy Parsons, ( author of The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take says, “My top tip for any exam is to do past papers and to get the child taking the exam to mark their work themselves, using the mark scheme. This way they understand what the examiners are really looking for and can start to spot what's a good answer and where they will need to improve.”

You can find out more about Lucy at Another tip is to get your child to set a timer while doing the exam, so they get used to working under time pressure.

Do your Research Make sure you are up to date on the 11 plus format that your county or area is using. Selective independent schools set their own 11 plus exams, so find out from each school what the format will be so you can tailor your child’s preparation accordingly. Often tutors local to the school you are applying for or your child’s own current school will have detailed knowledge about its entrance exam. Chris from says, “Probably the most important point about preparing for the 11 plus is to realise that, not only does the format vary over the 36 local authority areas in England but it also tends to change every few years. So parents with a child who took the 11 plus a couple of years ago may not realise their younger child needs to use different materials. I update my website every year with the current 11 plus format for each of the 163 grammar schools in England.”

Know the Syllabus Education Consultant, Paul Anderson from says it vital to have indepth knowledge about the exam. “Our number one tip for exam success is knowing what is included in the syllabus for the particular exam you are studying for. Once you know the syllabus, you can evaluate your child’s knowledge and see where the gaps are.”

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

Talk about what you have Learned In terms of information retention, it’s helpful for your child to verbally recap what they have learned. Paul from Tutor Doctor says, “Do not underestimate the value of verbal revision. Just half an hour articulating what they know to teachers, friends, and family is a fantastic opportunity for children to test themselves.”

Short Sharp Bursts Make sure your child takes a break when they are doing exam preparation. Primary school children may find it hard to sustain concentration for longer than 30 minutes without a break. It’s important not to schedule too many preparation sessions in one day – one or two would be the appropriate maximum for this age group on a weekend or school holiday day, but less if they are also managing homework. Otherwise your child will become stressed and it’s much harder for them to learn under pressure.

Stay Calm Do your best to instil in your child the importance of staying calm and coping with any obstacles they face while sitting their exam. Teach them to leave challenging questions and come back to them once they have answered easier ones. Suggest that they look at the questions before they read a passage or text, so they know what to look for when they are reading the text. Taking entrance and 11plus exams can be stressful for some children. Try to ensure they get enough sleep and eat well. It also helps if learning can be fun. You can play games, colour code their work and even produce short videos about topics they find hard to learn. It’s also vital to praise your child’s effort in preparing for their exam, regardless of whether they pass or do well. Children need to understand that all you expect of them is for them to do try their hardest and that no one exam that they take in their life will ever be the key to success, failure or happiness.

Families Thames Valley West • 7

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Education News

Headmaster Andrew Colpus has been shortlisted in the iExcellence awards It has been revealed that Andrew Colpus, Headmaster of St Joseph’s College, has been shortlisted in the iExcellence awards. The judges have considered and deliberated all of the nominations and have decided upon the shortlist of 25 leading influencers and innovators in the independent school sector who have made an impact in some way. Andrew Colpus, Headmaster of St Joseph’s College, said: “I am delighted to be shortlisted for this award, which I feel acknowledges the development and growth which has taken place across the College. Whilst I am named as Headmaster, I feel being shortlisted is very much a result of everyone’s contribution – staff, pupils and parents.” The winners will be revealed at a gala dinner at the Waldorf Hilton on Thursday 21 March 2019. For further information, and to see who else has made the shortlist, please visit

Improving the Number Foundations of Pre-Schoolers A leading child psychologist from Kingston University has produced a series of number games for nurseries and parents which are proven to boost the confidence and ability of pre-school children in maths in just 5 weeks. Dr Jo Van Herwegen created the games based on her research into the Approximate Number System (ANS), a mechanism used by the brain to differentiate between groups that have more or fewer items in them without counting. The ANS games are based on two foundations estimation and matching approximate large amounts. "The activities we've developed are fun, rather than formal lesson plans, but they're based on scientific evidence about the cornerstones of

mathematical learning and how to nurture this in young children." "It's all about the child knowing which number is larger and which is smaller, but not to the exact number" Dr Van Herwegen explained. Her research showed that playing these specially-designed games for 10 minutes a day for 5 weeks improved young children's number foundations, the essential building blocks needed for mathematics. This improvement was still apparent 6 months later, when the children had started formal education. To download the free games, visit

11+ Top tips from Mary Farquhar of Farquhar’s Vocabulary Flash Cards • As I travel around the country speaking to tutors and schools I hear the same advice: to succeed in a verbal reasoning paper a welldeveloped vocabulary is essential. • Encourage your child to enjoy a range of books and magazines – fiction and nonfiction, of different genres and from different eras. • Never let a good word get away: if your child doesn’t want to stop reading to look up or ask about an unknown word, provide sticky notes and let them mark the word to look up later. Encourage them to use new words in everyday conversation and schoolwork to help them ‘stick’. • Make it fun: play word games incorporating a wide range of antonyms and synonyms. Flash cards are a great resource for making up your own competitive and non-competitive word

challenges, and are a fantastic way to make those odd minutes ‘on the go’ count. • Farquhar’s Vocabulary Flash Cards have been specifically created to develop the advanced vocabulary needed to underpin your child’s verbal reasoning skills, and ultimately help them succeed in the exam. This child-friendly resource is highly recommended by tutors and schools for CEM and GL preparation. • If your child is sitting a GL style test my Compound pack has been specifically designed to help children tackle the trickier non-traditional compound words which are increasingly appearing in tests. The pack will help your child recognise the range of words which can be joined to form a new correctly spelt word, which may require a change of pronunciation or emphasis (these can be very hard to spot without practice) eg. rest + rain = restrain, lime + rick = limerick, pen + chant = penchant, cap + rice = caprice ... Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

• For more information on Farquhar’s Vocabulary Flash Cards visit:

Families Thames Valley West • 9

Crosfields School unveils plans for new Senior School Crosfields School in Shinfield has announced exciting plans to extend its offer by launching a new Senior School on its 40-acre site in Shinfield Road, Reading. The co-educational independent day school, which currently goes up to Year 8, will extend its age range to 16, taking its first cohort of Year 9 pupils in 2021. This means parents of current Year 6 could join the school next year for Year 7 and be the first to join the new senior school.

Our Lady’s Prep School Crowthorne – A Different Approach Simon Cassell, new Deputy Head at the school, writes: ‘In September of this year, I was extremely proud and excited to take over as Deputy Headmaster of Our Lady’s Prep School, Crowthorne. Being a small familyfeel school, a commitment to compassion and respect, underpinned by Catholic values, are at the heart of the school’s ethos. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on offering a high quality and broadly affordable education for all. Children are given the opportunity to find an area in which they can flourish, and they are supported through the care and commitment of a small but dedicated staff. Whilst Our Lady’s upholds very traditional values, we offer far more than your ‘traditional’ independent school. For example, there are not too many prep schools that can boast as part of

the curriculum Forest School, cooking, three languages, pottery and swimming in all year groups. Another stark difference to your average independent school is the wrap around care provided. Not only do the modest school fees allow for an early drop off (anytime from 8:00am) and collection up to 6:00pm, also included is all holiday club weeks. In total, the high level of care provided at Our Lady’s spans 51 weeks of the year, with the school only closing between Christmas and New Year’s.

The development will include a brand new senior school building equipped with all the latest technology and classroom facilities. The school will offer an exciting range of GCSE options, taught by an expert team of teachers – all with experience of teaching to GCSE standard and above. The announcement is good news for current parents many of whom have petitioned for the extension of years. The new senior school will also be attractive to new parents who are seeking an all-round, high quality education for their children in a co-educational, dayonly environment. Parents are invited to find out more at a special presentation evening on 8th November at 7.30pm. Visit to register an interest.

So, I look forward to the challenges that I will face in my new role, knowing that the children who pass through our care at Our Lady’s are given the best start possible; equipped with a broad set of skills necessary to flourish in our ever changing world’.

Brockhurst & Marlston House School Pupils enjoy Harry Potter Weekend! This term, Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools were transformed into “Brockwarts” for the weekend. Over fifty pupils attended the weekend event dressed up as Harry Potter, in regulation gowns and house scarves. The children enjoyed a candlelit banquet in the Great Hall, played games of Brockmarlich, made magic potions and descended through the secret trap door to explore the school dungeons. The weekend was finished off with a trip to the Harry Potter Experience

in the Warner Brothers Studios. The two schools share a magnificent 500 acre estate in Hermitage, near Newbury. The schools’ aim is to provide a first class all round education through combining the best features of the single sex and co-educational systems. Full, day and flexi boarding is offered. Pupils are encouraged to become well rounded individuals with open and enquiring minds who are confident in challenging their understanding. Pupils have the opportunity to explore the natural habitat in

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Geography and Science and they encouraged to participate in a wide range of country pursuits, field sports and camps. Facilities include: 21 acres of games fields, a sports hall, indoor 25m swimming pool, tennis courts, Art and Design studios, Performing Arts Centre, ICT suite, new Learning Development Centre with CreSTed status and a superb equestrian school. The school’s Gifted and Talented programme, called “Quest Club” seeks to identify early potential.

The next Open Morning is on February 9th at 10.30 – 12.00.


Independent School Open Days Spring 2019 BRACKNELL AND ASCOT LVS ASCOT (co-ed day and boarding, 4-18yrs), 01344 882 770, Infant, Junior School, Senior School OPEN MORNING Wed 6 Feb, 9.30am-12pm THE MARIST SCHOOLS, Ascot (independent Catholic girls school, 21/2 – 18yrs), 01344 624 291, Senior OPEN MORNING Fri 15 Feb 9.15am-11.15am Prep OPEN MORNING Wed 13 Mar 9.15am-11.15am

OXFORDSHIRE MOULSFORD PREPARATORY SCHOOL (independent boys day & boarding school 4-13yrs) 01491 651 438, OPEN DAY Fri 8 Feb from 10am12pm or 1pm-3pm SHIPLAKE COLLEGE (independent boarding and day school for boys 1118 and girls 16-18) 0118 940 2455, Whole School OPEN MORNING Sat 23 Mar 9.15am-12pm THE ORATORY SCHOOL (independent day and boarding school for boys aged 11-18), 01491 683 500, OPEN MORNING Sat 9 Mar THE ORATORY PREPARATORY SCHOOL (independent day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 2-13), 0118 984 4511, OPEN MORNING Sat 2 Mar 10am-12.30pm

CROSFIELDS SCHOOL (independent co-ed day school 3-13yrs), 0118 987 1810, OPEN MORNING Fri 8 Mar at 9am WAVERLEY SCHOOL (independent prep school and day nursery for boys and girls 3 months -11yrs), 0118 973 1121, OPEN MORNINGS Fri 25 Jan and Fri 3 May 9.30am-11.30am EAGLE HOUSE SCHOOL (independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3-13 in Sandhurst), 01344 772 134, OPEN MORNING Fri 2 March 10am12.30pm HOLME GRANGE SCHOOL (independent day school for boys and girls aged 3-16), 0118 978 1566, OPEN MORNING Fri 18 Jan 9.30am-12pm



THE ABBEY (independent day school for girls aged 3-18), Junior School 0118 931 3111, Senior School 0118 987 2256, Junior School OPEN MORNING Fri 8 Feb 9.15am-11am Senior School OPEN MORNING Fri 8 Mar 9.15am-11am Junior School OPEN MORNING Fri 3 May 9.15am-11am READING BLUE COAT SCHOOL (independent boys day school 1118yrs), 0118 944 1005, OPEN MORNINGS Thurs 10 Jan and Thurs 17 Jan 10.30am-12.30pm LEIGHTON PARK SCHOOL (independent co-ed day and boarding 11-18yrs), 0118 987 9600, OPEN MORNING Tue 12 Feb ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE (independent co-ed day school 3-18yrs), 0118 966 1000, EARLY YEARS AND SENIOR OPEN MORNING Thur 24 Jan 9.30am11am EARLY YEARS AND SENIOR OPEN MORNING Thur 26 Feb 9.30am11am EARLY YEARS AND SENIOR OPEN MORNING Fri 22 Mar 9.30am-11am QUEEN ANNE’S CAVERSHAM (independent girl’s day & boarding school 11-18yrs), 0118 918 7300, OPEN MORNING Fri 8 Mar 9.30am OPEN MORNING Sat 11 May 9.30am

THE CEDARS SCHOOL (independent co-ed day school 4-11yrs), 0118 971 4251, OPEN DAY Thur 24 Jan ST ANDREWS PANGBOURNE

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

(independent co-ed day and boarding school 3-13yrs), 0118 974 4276, OPEN MORNING Fri 8 Mar 9am BROCKHURST & MARLSTON HOUSE SCHOOL, (independent boys (Brockhurst) and girls (Marlston House) day and boarding prep school 3-13), 01635 200 293, OPEN MORNING Sat 9 Feb 10.30am-12pm ELSTREE SCHOOL, (boarding & day school for girls 3-8yrs and boys 313yrs), 0118 971 3302, OPEN MORNING Sat 3 Mar 10am-12pm

WOKINGHAM LUCKLEY HOUSE SCHOOL (independent co-ed day & boarding school 11-18yrs), 0118 978 4175, OPEN MORNING Sat 29 Sept 9am-12pm REDDAM HOUSE SCHOOL (independent co-ed day & boarding school 3-18yrs), 0118 974 8300, OPEN MORNING Sat 29 Sept 9.30am, presentation at 10am, tours of the school 10.30am.

Families Thames Valley West • 11

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Is your Child’s Vocabulary Holding Them Back? By Charlotte Gater One of the biggest factors affecting your child’s ability to progress at school is their language skills.


f they cannot understand what is being said or articulate their own thoughts, then school can be a confusing and isolating place. A recent speech by the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, highlighted the need for children to develop good language skills “because when you’re behind from the start you rarely catch up." According to the Department for Education, nearly one third of children ages 4 and 5 lack the language skills necessary to describe simple events or to even to speak in sentences. Here are some ideas you can fit into your busy family lives in order to help your little ones develop their language skills.

Encourage Reading for Pleasure from an Early Age This ensures that positive reading habits are set up from the start. Building a love of stories, books and reading are key to developing a child’s vocabulary. For very young children, create opportunities for sharing books throughout the day, not just at bedtime. Lead by example and let your child see you reading for pleasure as they become independent readers themselves.

Don’t be Scared of Using Challenging Language Children learn from what is being said around them, so if you model using a variety of language then your child will learn more and start to use different words. Use more challenging words and then explain what they mean to increase their vocabulary.

Attend Music Classes or Story Time Sessions These are also great ways to engage your child and build their language skills.

Label your House Involve your child in labelling items around the house so they can learn lots of new words. Write the words and get your child to trace over or copy them if they are able. They can also draw pictures on the labels to help them remember the words.

Make Word Learning Fun Play quick and easy word games such as 'word of the week' where points are scored every time the word is used in context correctly. Traditional games such as Hangman, Scrabble and Boggle increase literacy skills. ‘I Spy’ is good for younger children and can be adapted for older children to 'I hear with my little ear' and then giving a clue to the meaning of a word for example "a word that means the opposite of 'agree'" or "a word that explains how plants get energy".

Harness Technology Technology can help increase literacy skills if you use it in the right way. Some recommended resources are: Oxford Owl ( has a series of free e-books 3 to 11 year olds, some of which you can listen to as well as read. There’s also lots of helpful resources you can use at home. Audio books are great when you’re traveling in the car or getting ready to go out. Listen to stories and then talk to your child about the story. Apps such as Pirate Phonics, Hairy Letters and Reading Eggs ( are great to get started with language learning. When you are out and about let your child take some photos to make a picture diary. Then when you get home look through the photos and get them to describe what you did. You can also turn your adventures into a book. Book Creator ( allows you to make 40 e-books of your own for free.

Talk with your Child Conversation is key to building language skills. Whether it’s whilst having dinner, on the journey home from school or before they go to bed, take the time to have a chat with your child. Sometimes it’s hard to get anything out of children, and “fine” or “okay” are given as standard answers. Try a few open questions to get them expanding their answers like “what was the best thing about your day?” Or “Tell me about what you did at nursery”.

Join the Library Books can be expensive, and it may take time to find the types of stories that engage your child. So join the library and tap into this free goldmine!

Charlotte Gater is Head of Curriculum at leading extra tuition provider Explore Learning.

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

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What to Do When Your Child Hates Reading Would your child rather empty the dishwasher or fold laundry instead of reading a book? Do you have to beg your child to sit down and read—for school or for pleasure?


t can be difficult to motivate a child who doesn’t love to read. It may even seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to be.

Research confirms that motivation is a key factor in becoming a successful reader. When children are motivated, they read frequently, which in turn helps them become skilful readers. And children who are skilful readers learn well, deeply and successfully. Before you can work on motivating your child, it helps if you understand why he or she resists reading in the first place.

Does your Child Fit into One of these Categories? Reading is hard! Most people don’t choose hard work as a leisure activity, and that’s true for reading too. A child who has to work at reading is not likely to find reading fun. If your child feels that reading is too much work, try to begin by identifying and addressing his areas of weakness, with his or her school, if necessary. As he becomes a better reader, he will grow to enjoy reading much more. And remember, reading takes much more patience than the relative ease of watching television and playing video games. Limiting “screen time” may increase a child’s interest in reading. Reading is boring! For some kids, reading isn’t hard, but it isn’t fun either. But it may be that they just haven’t

found reading material that interests them. So think about what your child loves to do. Does he have a hobby or special area of interest? Does she like dinosaurs or gymnastics? By finding reading material that piques your child’s interest and draws them into reading, you’re giving your child a motivational boost that can propel him or her to increased enthusiasm for books.

More Tips to Help Motivate a Reluctant Reader Make Time for Reading If you and your children have jam-packed schedules and reading is shoved between football and band practice, reading may seem like an unwelcome chore. Allow time for reading so that it can be relaxing and enjoyable. Set Aside a Regular Read-Aloud Time Reading aloud helps your child develop an interest in reading. Choose a variety of high quality literature that appeals to your child’s age and interests. Don’t abandon read-aloud time when your child gets older—even teenagers love being read to. Reading aloud to children also encourages them to read thoroughly when they read to themselves. This in turns improves comprehension and means they are more likely to become immersed in the reading experience. Buy Audiobooks for Journeys These build a child’s vocabulary and enable them to experience books above their actual

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

reading age. The Naxos range of wonderful classics with well-chosen classical music at Try to discuss words your children don’t understand. This means they’ll know what they mean when they next encounter them in a book they are reading. Enjoy Super Readable Books Check out which specialises in ‘cracking reading’ by publishing super-readable books that break down the barriers that can stop children getting into reading. Create a Cosy Reading Nook A special reading space may help encourage your child to settle down and spend time with a good book. Don’t Judge their Reading Choices The way to suck the joy out of reading is to make your child read something they don’t want to read. Let them choose. Don’t forget that match reports, comics, graphic novels, magazines and so on are ‘reading too’. Let them Read Easy Picture Books This provides excellent practice, yet it doesn’t feel like work. Be a Role Model When your children observe that you love to read, they are more likely to develop a love of reading themselves. So put down your device, turn off the television and pick up a book! More info at and

Families Thames Valley West • 15

Clubs and Classes News Primary School Hands On Learning with LEGO® and Master Builders Club Master Builders Club is passionate about providing engaging and stimulating play opportunities that nurture young minds. Their primary school brick building workshops bring curriculum topics to life through play with LEGO®. Master Builders Club can transform a classroom or school hall into a world of creativity. Workshops are tailored to support the individual needs of pupil’s learning and start with a short story which sets the children their building challenges and leads into the practical part of the session. With access to 1000’s of LEGO® bricks sorted into colour, size and type and no “right” way to build, the children are free to let their imaginations run wild. LEGO® is an inclusive toy with no boundaries which enables them to work with children of all abilities. Master Builders are given plenty of support with building tips and

positive feedback and our workshops are carefully written to be engaging, stimulating and fun! Educational workshops provide children with a creative stimulus and can be delivered during the school day or as an after school event. Topics including Extreme Earth, Space, Castles, Modern London, Tudors, Romans and Under The Sea have recently been brought to life through LEGO® and they are always keen to explore new topics. If you are passionate about providing children with an exciting, captivating and memorable experience whilst supporting their learning then please do get in touch: Email: Website:

Raising Confident Children with Perform Sara has two children, Honor (8) and James (6) who have both been attending Perform classes since they were 4 years old. “I’ve always wanted my children to feel confident speaking in public and chatting to all sorts of people. I think these are essential life skills these days” says Sara. Sara was drawn to Perform because of its focus on developing confidence and selfesteem in a fun way. “It’s not a pushy stage school” she explains. “Each week, the classes focus on a topic like manners, making eye contact or introducing themselves, but this is wrapped up in a highly engaging way in the context of drama and songs.”

“Since my children started attending Perform, other parents frequently remark on their confidence and how well they speak in school assemblies. I’m really impressed with how they chat to adults in places like shops and restaurants.” Classes at Perform are small with two teachers per class. “The teachers are professional actors with amazing energy and enthusiasm. They go out of their way to understand and engage every child” reports Sara. Perform offers a FREE noobligation dance or drama class in venues throughout Berkshire. Visit to book.

Stagecoach Wokingham Opens New School in Wokingham Stagecoach Wokingham have another busy year ahead of them. After a successful 2018, they are delighted to announce that they will be opening another brand new school at St. Crispin's School for Saturday afternoon for Spring term 2019. The classes will allow 4-6 years and 6-18 year students to attend their classes at another time slot. In the past couple of years Stagecoach Wokingham has successfully auditioned and performed at Disney Land Paris, Birmingham Symphony Hall & Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End. In 2018 it saw them be inspected by OFSTED and pass with flying colours.

Principal Claire says "I am so excited about the prospect of another school. It means that we can offer classes to even more students across the Wokingham area, who cannot attend the current times or their preferred class is full. I have a brilliant team of buzzing & experienced teachers who have been with me many years who are eagerly awaiting our new cohort of students". Stagecoach Wokingham also offers Easter & Summer workshops and accepts child care vouchers, tax free child care as payment for termly and holiday classes.

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

For further information please contact Claire at or call 0118 371 2998.

Learn guitar at your school or home

Try going Berzerk this New Year! Berzerk are still full of spirit for the New Year and all that it holds. With The Snow Queen, Naughty Elves films, Snow Show and Christmas choir, there were many projects for young people to be a part of and enjoy. A MASSIVE thank you to everyone that supported these events. If your child is not getting similar opportunities to perform, then maybe it’s time to try going Berzerk! With classes across Reading, including many local schools there is something for everyone and all abilities. With many exciting projects being planned for 2019… why not arrange a FREE trial in one of our classes and see what we can offer.

Beginners welcome 0118 375 9185 07414 675 859 – – 07863 734 830 #havefundogood #goberzerk

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Diddi Dance Launches First Inter-Generational Class diddi dance Reading & Wokingham is launching its first inter-generational dance class at Lord Harris Court, Sindlesham in January. Toddlers and their parents will participate alongside residents from the Care Home who are invited to join in and share the fun! Inspired by Channel 4’s hit television series “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds”, it is hoped that the experience will help the older generation to feel young at heart. Carol Green, Activities Co-Ordinator at Lord Harris Court, says: “We’re very excited about this initiative which will help our residents to boost their physical activity and have fun in the process. Regardless of age, all the class participants share

the common goal of friendship and keeping fit and we believe that it will give our residents a real highlight to look forward to each week.” “When it comes to music and dance, age is no barrier,” says Andrea Bickford, Owner of diddi dance Reading & Wokingham. “Everyone can benefit from the ‘feel good factor’ that dancing together in a group fosters. And we’ll ensure that each individual from age 2 to 92 can take part at a level that suits them.” diddi dance is the market leader in dedicated pre-school dance classes. The funky sessions are the ideal way to introduce girls and boys aged 1.5 - 5 years to the joy of dancing.

Regular Clubs, Classes and Out of school activities give your child a chance to shine and for you to have fun together, and there really is plenty of variety to choose from, as we’ve discovered. Here are a few of our favourites, for babies, toddlers and school aged children! For more clubs and classes in your area, check out

Developmental Classes (See also our Music & Movement section)

Master Builders Club – LEGO workshops for children. Weekend and school holiday workshops, birthday parties and primary school events are a LEGO lover’s paradise, designed to provide children with an exciting and captivating experience. Fun workshops start with a short story which sets the theme and building challenges. Then the creativity begins as the Master Builders have access to 1000’s of LEGO bricks sorted into colour, size and shape. If you are passionate about providing engaging and stimulating play opportunities that nurture your child’s mind, then Master Builders Club is for you.

Hartbeeps - Magical multi-sensory music classes using innovative props, lighting effects, and puppetry to a backdrop of funky tunes, reworked nursery rhymes, and beautiful lullabies. Classes for babies from birth to sitting; sitting to walking; and walking to four years. For Ascot, Bracknell, and Caversham email Rachel at For Henley and Marlow, contact Kerraleigh on 07866 656366 or email For Windsor, Burnham, Maidenhead, Woodley, Earley, and Wokingham contact Liz on 07985 935662 or email

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 5 years lead by qualified coaches. GR Swimming Schools – children’s swimming lessons from 3yrs in Newbury, Thatcham, Woodcote and Pangbourne. Beginners, improvers and club level swimmers. Also holiday crash courses in swimming, diving and snorkelling. Structured lessons, ASA Award Scheme. 01635 201 410, Aquababies/Kiddies Bagshot, Surrey and Dorking

If you would like to find out more about diddi dance, please call Andrea on 07719 87 87 89, email or visit

Clubs and Classes Directory – one of the UK’s leading children’s swimming schools. They run lessons for children of all ages, including babies from as young as 8 weeks old, that are based on progressive exercises relating to the child’s stage of physical and social development, whilst having fun. 20% off relaunch offer for newcomers. 07766 242572,

Arts and Crafts Artspiration School of Drawing and Painting: Offering fun, imaginative and instructional lessons in drawing and painting to school-aged children in Maidenhead, Wokingham and Reading. Artspiration will inspire, motivate, guide and give your budding artists the skills required to express themselves better visually. 01628 634 418,

Music and Movement Inspire Guitar School – individual and group classes run by Alexander Clarke, B.Mus (Hons), M.A. Inspiring students, fulfilling aspirations. Learn guitar in your school or home, Inspire Guitar School is a Berkshire based music service continued on p.18

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

Families Thames Valley West • 17

that offers tuition in Acoustic, Classical, Electric, Bass and Ukelele. The benefits of learning to play a musical instrument cannot be overstated. Learning to play helps with confidence, mindfulness and creativity. Flexible style to suit the student and fulfil their aspirations. 0118 9375 9185, 07414 675 858,, Monkey Music – fun music classes from 3months-4yrs with action songs and rhymes, music and movement, percussion instruments and musical games. Classes in Newbury, Thatcham, Mortimer, Henley and Upper Basildon. 01635 860 959, diddi dance - funky pre-school dance classes for girls and boys. Award winning, high energy sessions explore 16 different styles set to original, age-appropriate music. Classes improve gross motor skills, rhythm, co-ordination, confidence, creativity and social skills with dancing games, fun exercises, action songs and a host of props. Lessons are aligned to the EYFS and are structured yet relaxed. Nursery workshops and parties too! Free trial available. Classes run every day throughout Reading & Wokingham. Call Andrea on 07719 87 87 89, or email Musical Bumps – outstanding music classes for babies, toddlers and pre-school children, which follow the EYFS principle of holistic learning through play. Classes also incorporate the Kodaly principles of music teaching which have recently made headlines for their positive impact on school and pupil performance. Classes in Caversham, Emmer Green and Henley. 07813 319 4040,, BilinguaSing – award winning Spanish and French bilingual singing, music and movement classes for babies (from 1 month), toddlers and pre-school children. BilinguaSing is a unique class for parents and little ones to learn Spanish or French together in a fun and engaging way. Familiar nursery rhymes and songs are learned in both English and Spanish or French and are accompanied by a variety of fun movements and lovely props. Classes suitable for complete beginners to native speakers. Wokingham, Reading and surrounding areas, including Saturday mornings. First taster class is FREE! Call Kate on 07810 751 645,,

Dance & Drama Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow – Fun, energetic classes for 3½ to 18yrs. Dance, drama and singing, tap, street dance, pop styles, musical theatre. Regular classes in Wargrave, Wokingham and Woodley, plus summer classes. Call Shelley on 07970 034 488, or email, Stagecoach Theatre Arts School: Dance, drama and singing classes for 4-18 years that build confidence and teach skills. Early Years classes for 4-6 years designed to introduce young children to the performing arts. Local branches in Wokingham, Henley, Reading, Bracknell, Marlow and Newbury. Perform – Weekly drama, dance and singing classes. Confidence building fun for 4-12s. A unique mix of drama, dance and singing specially formulated to bring out every child’s true potential. Classes are kept small to ensure lots of individual attention. Perform offer no-obligation FREE trial sessions. Venues: Newbury, Pangbourne, Twyford, Caversham, Wokingham, Henley and Crowthorne. Contact: T: 020 7255 9120 / Berzerk Productions: LAMDA examination classes, unique Drama Factory workshops, musical theatre and production opportunities for 6-19 years in Tilehurst, Woodley, Spencers Wood, Caversham, Reading, Pangbourne and Woodcote. Trial class free. 07863 734 830, CATA – The Commercial Arts Training Academy – aims to offer young people with a passion with performing arts the opportunity to gain vital training in specialised sectors of the performing arts industry, focusing on acting for TV & film, vocal coaching, songwriting and recording, dance training and artist development. Classes are catered for ages 3-7 and 8-18 in Reading, with private coaching also available. Classes on Thursdays ages 3-7, 4-5pm, ages 8-18 5pm-7pm. Holiday workshops also available. Call Kat on 07768 990 238 or email


for classes in Compton, Thatcham, Reading & Pangbourne

Term & Holiday courses available email: |

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

Trampoline parks are popping up all over the country and have never been more popular. Almost regardless of age and how physically active they are, children love bouncing on a trampoline. There’s something about the combination of danger and exhilaration in a safe environment that keeps them coming back for more.


ne of the great things about trampolining too is that it’s exercise in ‘disguise’ which makes it perfect for children (and parents!) who don’t like taking part in sports lessons or sports activities. If this is your child, you are far more likely to encourage him or her to go to weekly trampolining sessions or join a trampolining club than take up rowing, netball or even gymnastics. One of the sport’s distinct advantages is that children learn at their own pace. Some may be good enough to take part in competitions or displays but others can still take part and reap the benefits by just having a fun session every week. If they wish, children can work towards official British Gymnastics badges and

Trampolining – A Bounce in the Right Direction certificates so that they can enjoy a sense of direction and achievement. Trampolining can be enjoyed by children with all sorts of different abilities and missing the odd session does not generally mean a child will lose out or fall behind - though most kids won’t want to miss a single second once they have confidence on the trampoline. Trampolining also provides an overall body workout which is highly recommended for multi-sport success.

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

Trampolining clubs take coaching and safety very seriously and some will have a special code of conduct for participants and parents. As well as at trampoline parks, clubs are based at leisure centres or schools. They usually allow children to learn from around age 5, although many have pre-school and toddler sessions too. Parents can take up trampolining too, so this is a sport the whole family can enjoy together.

Families Thames Valley West • 19

Cyberbullying: What You Need to Know

By Claire Winter

Today’s children spend a lot of time online. How can we make sure they are safe? According to Bullying UK’s national survey, 56% of children surveyed said they had been bullied online, and 42% felt unsafe.

Think before you type - remember the impact your words can have on others. Once you send or write something online you can’t get it back. Remind your children to ask themselves: would I be happy for everyone I know to see this?


If your child or someone you know is being cyberbullied make sure you get some help. Bullying UK ( has some great resources and a helpline at 0808 800 2222. Internet Matters ( also has some useful tips and videos that you can share with your children.

yberbullying is defined as the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody. This kind of harassment can happen anywhere your child is online, class Whatsapp groups, gaming platforms, apps, and social media. One of the main problems with bullying online is that it can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it can go viral very quickly. If it’s happening, children can’t escape it; we need to educate them on how to deal with it and to ensure they know to tell a trusted adult if it is happening to them. The earlier parents start to have conversations with their kids about being online, the better. We need to guide them and teach them about responsible online activity. Internet Matters encourages parents to talk to their children about who they want to be online, what they share and how long they spend on the Internet. They also advise taking an active interest in what your child is looking at and frequently check up on them. Other tips include making sure there are no phones/devices in the bedroom at night and putting Wifi on a timer to limit the time your kids spend online.

Talk about it - make sure you tell a trusted adult or friend. They can give you advice and support you if you are being bullied. Block it - block the user who is bothering you and report it. This is important even if this person is someone you know, or a so-called ‘friend.’ Report it - if someone at school is harassing or bullying you make sure you tell a teacher. If it is a stranger or a person from out of school, make sure you tell your parents. Be private - make sure your privacy settings are set to private so people that you don’t know can’t contact you. You wouldn’t talk to a stranger on the street, so why do it online?

Don’t respond - never respond to a rude comment. Bullies only bully to get a response.

You can be traced – explain that children that misbehave online by posting abuse or threats can be tracked and traced by the police without any difficulty. Every time you visit a website or make a posting, your Internet service provider has a record of your activity. Even if you create an anonymous email address, you can still be found. Keep passwords safe - remind children to protect their passwords and not share them with others. Tell them to use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. This will mean they are less likely to be hacked.

Screenshot - take a picture of the bullying behaviour, so you can report it if the behaviour escalates.

Log out - if using a public computer at school, a library or even at a friend’s house, be sure to sign out of the web service you are using.

Here are Families top tips on how to teach your children to stay safe from cyberbullying.

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

What if your Child is Cyberbullying? Psychotherapist Alex Drummond, who is a member of the Counselling Directory ( says it is easy for children to distance themselves from the consequences of their actions when they are online. “It will be upsetting to find your child is the perpetrator of online abuse, but it’s also important for parents to see this as part of the socialisation of children, step back from the emotive aspects and deal with this calmly and thoughtfully. Express disappointment, not anger, and ‘call-in’ rather than ‘call-out’ the behaviour, by helping the young person recognise the impact of their actions. All children will do things we disapprove of at times; our role as parents is to be patient and guide, to understand consequence, and to give them the courage to stand apart from the crowd when injustice prevails by doing what is right.”

What’s On January-February 2019 LOCAL ATTRACTIONS THE LOOK OUT DISCOVERY CENTRE Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 7QW, 01344 354 4000, thelookoutdiscoverycentre There are over 90 hands-on science activities for children of all ages to enjoy at The Look Out Discovery Centre. You can launch a hydrogen rocket, play with boats in the indoor stream or build a house with your friends. Activities and exhibits are organised in ‘zones’ which correspond with what your child may be learning about in school: Forces & Movement, Body & Perception, Light & Colour, Woodland & Water and Build It where you can use the rubble chute, wheelbarrows, design a house or drive a dumper truck. Open daily from 10am-5pm. Extra shows run at The Look Out on weekends and school holidays. Until-6 Jan THE DINOSAUR SHOW Give us your best dinosaur ROAR as you become part of the herd. Guide the dinosaurs through the challenges to help them survive. It’s so REXciting! Show times at weekends and Bracknell Forest school holidays: 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3.15pm. Cost £1.95 in addition to entry price. No need to book – just buy show tickets at reception on the day. Suitable for primary-school aged children 19 Jan-24 Mar UNDER THE SEA Enter the magical world of the ocean as you take a journey through the wonders of the deep. Discover the creatures that live there and help protect them through different challenges. Can you help save our seas? 16 & 17 Jan TODDLER DAYS On Toddler Days at The Look Out there are no school bookings and there are extra activities on such as arts and crafts, storytelling or hand and face painting. Toddler Days run from 10am-4pm and there is no need to book – just turn up on the day. The theme for 16-17 Jan is Robots!


BASILDON PARK, Lower Basildon, Reading, RG8 9NR, 0118 984 3040, Until 31 Jan ILLUMINATED WINTER WALK As the sun fades see the woodland walk lit up. Hundreds more lights have been added this year, to make the walk even more special. Free with admission. Dogs on leads welcome. THE VYNE From 12 Jan GEOCACHING: THE LOST TOYS Willliam Wiggett Chute’s children have been playing in the woods. Unfortunately, these young Victorian adventurers have managed to lose four of their toys along the way. Can you help the children find them again? To get started, all you need is a free account with and the official Geocaching app or a GPS. Or, if you prefer something a bit less digital, you can pick up a map at the Visitor Reception. Normal admission applies. Children must supervise adults at all times. Dogs on leads welcome. Free with admission, wear practical outdoor clothes and shoes – wellies for wet weather. Until 3 Jun.

From 16 Feb VICTORIAN CHILDREN’S TRAIL On this family trail through the gardens, see if you can find ten Victorian children that used to live at The Vyne. Pick up your £1 trail sheet from Visitor Reception and look out for Martha Chute’s ten children in The Vyne’s gardens. 10am4.30pm. Daily until 2 Jun. From 16 Feb DRESS LIKE A VICTORIAN How would you have looked if you had been alive during the Victorian period? In the house, peruse the costume rail and pick yourself a Victorian outfit to try on. Please note, those dressed as servants might be given work to do around the house! 12pm-3pm. Free with admission, until 2 Jun. From 16 Feb PESKY PEST TRAIL Something has been guzzling away at a piece of historic fabric at The Vyne. On this creepy-crawly challenge, use what you learn about bugs to work out which one did it. After picking up your £1 trail sheet from Visitor Reception, your task is to explore the house and learn about the different bugs that like to live there. Afterwards, see if you can work out which of these pesky pests has been feasting on the fabric shown on your activity sheet. Daily 12pm-3pm, until 2 Jun. WADDESTON MANOR, nr Aylesbury, HP18 0JH, 01296 820 414 From 5 Jan WINTER WALKS, Saturdays & Sundays 10am-4pm From January to March, enjoy a winter walk in the gardens at Waddeston. With early spring flowering snowdrops and winter aconites, winter shrubs and views that are only visitble before the trees come into leaf, the gardens at Waddeston are particularly special at this time of year. Waddeston’s ‘Silent Space’ will also be reintroduced, giving visitors the chance to switch off and relax in the peace of the gardens. It’s a perfect time to be inspired by nature, spend time with friends and family or cosy up with a delicious hot chocolate. From Jan ADVENTURE BACKPACKS From January 2019, Waddeston are introducing a selection of adventure backpacks that you can borrow on your visit. Carefully put together to suit different age ranges and needs, the aim of these backpacks is to encourage children to experience and engage with Waddeston in different ways. Hear stories of trees, discover nature’s colour palette and design a Manor of your own while you explore. Free with grounds admission. From 5 Jan SENSORY MAP This new, sensory map unlocks new corners of Waddeston’s landscapes. Listen carefully to the birds singing in the Aviary, feel the texture of tree bark and take note of light and shade when walking down Miss Alice’s Drive. Designed for young children or those with learning disabilities, the map explores nature through senses such as touch, smell, sound and sight. Free with grounds admission. 16-25 Feb FAMILY COOKERY SCHOOL Have fun with the kids this half term at Waddeston’s Family Cookery School. Create a lunch, and take home a wonderful selection of sweet and savoury treats. This hands-on cookery class is run by Waddeston’s chefs in the Manor Restaurant and is designed to be fun and informal. 11.30am, 1pm, 2pm, 3.30pm. Suitable for 7-11 yrs. All Children must be

accompanied by an adult. Bookings 01296 820 414 or at CLIVEDEN, nr Taplow, SL1 8NS, 01628 605 069, 9 Jan CLIVEDEN CRITTERS WORKSHOP These workshops teach little ones the value of nature from a young age. In a small group, they’ll explore Cliveden’s estate and create their own adventure in this weekly workshop for young children aged 2-4.5yrs. With hands-on creative crafts, nature-focused activities and story time, each week is different. Make this fun, outdoor session part of your and your child’s routine. Children must be supervised by an adult. Each session has a maximum capacity of 10 children. 10.30am, 11.30am. £5. Weekly until 3 Apr. 1 Feb SNOWDROP WALK A self-guided walk around the Cliveden estate to see the first signs of snowdrops. The best clusters of snowdrops are expected at Blenheim Lawn, Stable Bank and Ilex Grove (weather depending). Please call in advance to check the status of the snowdrops. This is an outdoor event so please dress accordingly. The snowdrops can be seen from the hardstanding pathways. Daily 10am-4pm. Until 31 Mar. 16-24 Feb FEBRUARY HALF TERM TRAIL Wrap up warm and get outdoors with this children’s trail. Children will have fun exploring Cliveden estate. At the end of the trail, little ones will make their own craft to take home. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for ages 3+, admission £2. Dogs on leads welcome.

ONGOING EVENTS Weekly FRIDAY FLEDGLINGS at The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX, 0118 378 8660, A weekly outdoor session for the under 3’s in the fantastic urban garden at the MERL. Discover the benefits of outdoor learning led by Charlotte, a local teacher and Level 3 Forest Leader. Join in outdoor activities inspired by the themes and collections in the museum. Enjoy outdoor play and explore the natural environment. Each session involves story-telling, craft activities and singing. £3 per child (includes a snack and a drink). Children and adults must dress for the weather

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

(there are a small number of children’s wellies and waterproofs to borrow if necessary). 10am-11.30am, term time only. Weekly BIG SCREAM CLUB, TODDLER TIME AND KIDS CLUBS at The Regal Picturehouse, Boroma Way, Henley, RG9 2BZ, 0871 902 5738, Big Scream Club runs on Fridays at 11am exclusively for parents with babies under 1 year so you can catch up on the latest film releases. Toddler Time on Tuesdays at 11am offers special 30 minute shows designed to introduce little ones to the big screen, followed by fun activities. For the older ones there’s Kids Club every Saturday showing a classic film at 11am plus pre-screening activities. Weekly TALES FOR TOTS – STORY TIME FOR THE UNDER 5’s at Reading Museum, The Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QU, 0118 937 3400, Enjoy a story using objects from the Museum’s collection. Every Wednesday at 10.30am-11.30am in The Green Space or Window Gallery. Just drop in. FREE. Weekly FAMILY ACTIVITY TASTER SESSIONS at Dinton Activity Centre, Dinton Pastures Country Park, Sandford Lane, Reading, RG10 0SU, Give it a go – taster sessions give everyone a chance to try something new at an affordable price. From £20 per person or £36 for two people. Booking essential. Weekly RHYME AND SHINE at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, Suitable for parents with babies 2 and under. A relaxed singing session with a range of songs, rhymes and rhythms in a fun and relaxed environment. Singing with your child is a great way to encourage their language development, whilst actions help develop motor skills. Meet other parents too! Price includes a hot drink from the Corn Exchange Kitchen & Bar. 10.15-11am, £3.50 per session. Weekly RHYME TIME at Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, RG1 3BQ Rhyme Time every Monday (except bank holidays), Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10.30am-11am. No need to book, just drop in. FREE. Weekly BOARD GAME CLUB at Southcote Library, Southcote Lane, Reading, RG30 3BA, 0118 901 5109 A weekly free board game club for ages 912 from 4.10pm-5.10pm.

Families Thames Valley West • 21

What’s On

Pictures from top: Master Builders Club, Family Cookery School at The Vyne, The Vyne, The Giant Jam Sandwich at South Hill Park, Horrible Histories at The Corn Exchange, Nick Cope Family Music at The Corn Exchange

Weekly LEGO CLUB at Winnersh Library, The Forest School, Robin Hood Lane, Winnersh, RG41 5ND, 0118 979 7519, Every Thursday during term time for children aged 5-10 years. 4pm-4.45pm, 50p. Weekly STORY TIME at Caversham Library, Church Street, Caversham, RG4 8AU An experienced storyteller will bring stories to life for the Under 5’s every week during term time. Sessions must be booked in advance via the library. Weekly TODDLER CRAFT at Southcote Library, Southcote Lane, RG30 3BA, 0118 901 5109 A free craft session for the Under 5’s from 11am-11.30am Monthly NATURE EXPLORERS at The Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG18 3FU, 01635 874 381, A monthly parent and toddler group with a difference. A great opportunity each month for you and your pre-school child to have fun in natural surroundings. Each session includes activities such as bughunting, mud-painting and mask-making. Tea, biscuits and mud provided! Booking essential and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Please dress for the weather. £7. Monthly NATURE TOTS DIDCOT at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre, nr. Didcot, OX14 4TE, An opportunity each month for you and your pre-school little one to interact with and learn from nature. Come along for an outdoor nature play, games, stories and craft on the wild and wonderful nature reserve. Booking essential. Dress for the weather. 9.30am-11.30am, £7. Monthly STAY AND PLAY at The Abbey Nursery, 30 Christchurch Road, Reading, RG2 7AR, 0118 931 3111, Held on the first Thursday of every month, The Abbey Nursery’s FREE Stay and Play sessions offer you and your toddler a safe and stimulating environment to make friends and to enjoy learning through play. Inspiring creative and imaginative play and encouraging your child’s natural curiosity is central to The Abbey’s learning ethos. Set in the University area of central Reading, children can explore the nursery garden and play with a range of toys, dressing up, science and role play equipment as well as take part in activities such as art, cooking, music and movement as they find out about the theme for the month. Refreshments are provided for the children and parents/carers. Limited places, email or call 0118 987 2256 for more information.

JANUARY 8 Jan MULTIPLE BIRTH PLAY SESSION at Active Tots, 5-7 Granary Court, Stratfield Saye, Reading, RG7 2DL, 01256 880 220, Every Tuesday from 10am-12pm, multiple birth families are invited to play for the special price of £6. This represents great value for twins and even better value for triplet families! One extra adult is also included free for those who need an extra pair of hands.

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

11 Jan MESSY PLAY at Eddie Catz, Northway House, York Road, Newbury, RG14 7NF, 020 3475 5268, option ‘3’, Brand new messy play sessions for children 4 months-4yrs. All you have to do is go along, mess it up, and leave the cleaning to Eddie Catz! The 1 hour long sessions give babies and toddlers the freedom to move around at their own pace, and all products are non-toxic and hypo-allergenic. There are a variety of areas to explore including a sand-pit, pasta, jelly, foam and much more! 1.30pm-2.30pm. Entrance by ticket only. 11 Jan CHIDDLER’S HOUR at The Roald Dahl Museum, 81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0AL, 01494 892 193, Come for songs, craft and play based on storytelling from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Suitable for ages 0-3. £3 per child. Accompanying adults do not need to pay. Cost does not include museum entry, which you do not have to purchase to enjoy Chiddlers Hour. 10.30am-11.30am. Booking essential. 12-13 Jan PACK YOUR TRUNK at The Roald Dahl Museum, 81-83 High Street, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0AL, 01494 892 193, Celebrate 30 years of ‘Boy’ and step back into Roald Dahl’s childhood to pack your own trunk or tuck box for school, just like Dahl did. What obscure objects or tricksy treats would you pack to take with you? Suitable for 5+. 11am-4.30pm. Free with museum entry. 12 Jan DADDIES BREAKFAST TIME at Active Tots, 5-7 Granary Court, Stratfield Saye, Reading, RG7 2DL, 01256 880 220, Every Saturday from 9.30am, daddies can enjoy bacon rolls and the morning papers. A great opportunity for daddies to spend some time with their little ones whilst mummy has some time to herself (mummies are welcome to come along too if they want to!). 17 & 18 Jan NATURE TOTS at The Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, 01635 874 381, A monthly parent and toddler group with a difference. A great opportunity each month for you and your pre-school child to have fun in natural surroundings. Each session includes activities such as bughunting, mud-painting and mask-making. Tea, biscuits and mud provided! Booking essential and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Please dress for the weather. 10am-11.30am and 12.30pm2pm. £7. Also runs on 14 & 15 Feb. 19 Jan NICK COPE FAMILY MUSIC at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, Join Nick Cope for his ever popular interactive music sessions with songs about everything from counting to how plants grow. 10.30am-11.30am. Suitable for children aged 8 and under. £4 per ticket. Also on 16 Feb & 30 Mar.

FEBRUARY 3 Feb FAMILY UKULELE at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, A fun music workshop suitable for all the family. Explore the techniques and chords and have a go at learning a song. No experience necessary but participants will need to bring their own ukuleles. Suitable for all ages, 1pm-3pm, £6. 3 Feb FAMILY STORY SUNDAYS at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, With imaginative play, singing and craft, this is a chance for the whole family to explore much-loved stories. Led by The Corn Exchange’s Early Years and Education Officer, these sessions are an opportunity for a creative exploration of some well-loved stories. The session will include imaginative play, singing and craft activities. Suitable for children 6yrs and under. Older children are welcome but activities are designed with younger children in mind. 10am, £6. Also on 24 March. 7 & 8 Feb SHIFT at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, A breath-taking performance from the award-winning circus company. An explosive display of power-based acrobatics. Marooned in an unstable environment, the acrobats use all available resources – string games, storytelling, rubber bands, pushing physical performance to its limits to pull through. Age guide 8+. 7.45pm, £18.50, Concessions £16.50, Schools £10. 8 Feb 3 LITTLE PIG TAILS – PUPPET THEATRE at Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury, RG14 2DR, 01635 279 279, A grumpy old wolf is a chef who wants some pigs’ tails for his soup. Will the little pigs outwit the wolf, and what kind of house will they build? A funny, warmhearted and interactive rustic tale to make you squeal with laughter, bristling with puppets, live music and lots of joining in. Garlic Theatre entertain the whole family with beautifully crafted puppets, music and a garlicy French twist to the tale. Suitable for 3-7yrs but older and younger children are welcome. The show has plenty of joining in and is a funny and original take on a traditional tale. Running time 45 minutes with time at the end to show puppets and answer questions from the audience. 2pm. Adults £9, Child £7, Under 2’s free. 13 Feb CROSFIELDS NURSERY STAY AND PLAY at Crosfields School, Shinfield Road, Reading, RG2 9BL, 0118 987 1810, Interactive Stay & Play sessions are an excellent opportunity for you and your child to come and spend some relaxed time together and play! Aimed at children 18months-3yrs. Places are limited. Call 0118 987 1810 to book. 14-16 Feb OLIVER THE MUSICAL at The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading, RG1 7UA, 0118 960 6060, Bringing Charles Dickens’ beloved novel to live, Lionel Bart’s Oliver takes audiences through Victorian England. Join young,

What’s On orphaned Oliver Twist as he navigates London’s underworld of theft and violence, searching for a home, a family and most importantly, for love. An amateur youth theatre production. 7.30pm, Sat Matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets £17, £16, Under 16’s £1.50 off. 16 Feb WELLINGTON COUNTRY PARK REOPENS, Odiham Road, Riseley, Reading, RG7 1SP, 0118 9326 444, Set in 350 acres of beautiful parkland, Wellington Country Park offers a safe, open-air, fun-filled venue for all the family. Family friendly events are held throughout the year from summer adventure weekends to Hallo’Welly’Ween. Camping also available. Visit the website for more information. 16 Feb THE GIANT JAM SANDWICH at South Hill Park Theatre & Arts Centre, Ringmead, Bracknell, RG12 7PA, 01344 484 123, By Jack McNamara, music by James Atherton. What a to do! One hot summer’s day, four million wasps invade the quiet village of Itching Down. The picnickers panic and the farmer stops haymaking. The wasps are noisy, nasty and worst of all, they don’t mind who they sting! That is until the baker has an ingenious idea. Join the villagers in their giant sandwich-making plan to defeat the wasps and help save the day, in a funpacked fest for 3-7yr olds and their families. 12pm-1pm, £13, Conc. £11, Family £43. 16-17, 20, 23-24 Feb HALF TERM STEAM DAYS at Didcot Railway Centre, OX11 7NJ, 01235 817 200, On Steam Days you’ll be able to view the collections of locomotives, coaches, wagons and buildings and enjoy the various facilities and exhibits. Discover Brunel’s Broad Gauge and the 1930’s engine shed. Visit the GWT Museum and restoration workshops. Watch the modern passenger and freight trains from the picnic area. In addition, you’ll be able to ride in coaches from the 1930’s behind a Great Western Steam Locomotive, a Steam Railmotor or Diesel Railcar. There are two running lines: The Main Line and The Branch Line with trains normally running on either or both lines. Ride as many times as you like with no extra charge. Adults £11, Over 60’s £10, Child 3-15 £8.00, Family £32. 17 Feb CREATION STATION FAMILY FUN at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, Suitable for the whole family. Come and celebrate National Nest Box Week with bird related makes and all things Spring. Decoupage lovely mini birdhouses, make clay ball bird feeders to attract feathered friends to your garden, get arty with painted hands as you turn them into bird and flower pictures and create a Spring garden bowl. 1pm-2.30pm, £8.50 per child (additional children from the same family £6.50). 18-22 Feb MAKE AND DO HOLIDAY CLUB at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, Young people aged 4-8 can join in daylong creative fun in the school holidays. Participants will get the chance to take part in all sorts of creative activities led by an expert team – from arts and crafts to drama, dance and music, as well as the

chance to relax and watch a film. 9am5pm, £25 per child per day or £100 for the week (Mon-Fri). 19 Feb NICE MICE! at River and Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF, 01491 415 600, Where do little mice live? Find out and make your own little mice from junk materials, plus some habitats to hide them in. You can visit the mice in the Wind in the Willows and learn mice language. Suitable for 4-7yrs. Children under 7 must be accompanied by an adult. 10.30am12.30pm, £8.50. Booking essential, call 01491 415 600. 19 Feb WILD AT HEART BIRD BOX FEEDER WORKSHOP at The Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU, 01635 874 381, Learn all about how to nurture your feathered visitors this winter. Find out some amazing facts and figures and discover the best food to feed the birds this winter. Build a fantastic bird box from an easy to assemble kit and create a special Valentine-themed bird feeder. You’ll receive advice on the best place to put up your new bird box and how to look after it to achieve maximum residency numbers. £10 per box – suggested 1 box per family. 1pm-3pm and 3pm-4pm. Please report to the Nature Discovery Centre reception 15 minutes before the event starts. Suitable for all ages. 19-23 Feb MADAGASCAR THE MUSICAL at The Hexagon, Queens Walk, Reading, RG1 7UA, 0118 960 6060, Join Alex (X-Factor 2016 winner Matt Terry), Marty, Melman and Gloria as they bound out of the zoo and onto the stage in this live musical spectacular. This smash hit musical features all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Tickets from £25.50. 19-23 Feb SOUTH EAST BERKSHIRE GANG SHOW – KIDZ IN KONCERT 2019 at South Hill Park Theatre & Arts Centre, Ringmead, Bracknell, RG12 7PA, 01344 484 123, In February, when it’s cold and miserable outside and Christmas has come and gone, what do you need to get rid of those winter blues? Let the Scouts and Guides of South East Berkshire Gang Show entertain you with a variety show filled with fun, laughter, songs and dance. Come join the party and support all those involved who have been working hard to put on a fantastic show. Suitable for all the family. Show times 7.15pm and Sat matinee at 2.15pm. £14.50, Sat Eve £16.50, Groups (20+) £13.50, Family (2+3) £65.50, Seniors £13.50 (not available Sat Eve). 20 Feb MASTER BUILDERS CLUB LEGO BUILDING WORKSHOP at Storton Lodge, Icknield Road, Goring, RG8 0DL and Sonning Common Village Hall, Wood Lane, Sonning Common, RG4 9SL, Do you love LEGO? Calling all young designers, engineers and inventors, Master Builders Club needs you! A two hour themed workshop with LEGO building challenges. Master Builders Club workshops follow a different theme each session and after setting the scene with a

short story, the Master Builders will complete a number of build challenges. Master Builders Club aims to inspire children to be original in their designs and share their ideas. At the end of the session, the Master Builders are presented with a themed badge to keep and collect. Suitable for ages 5-11. 9.30am-11.30am at Storton Lodge and 2.30pm-4.30pm at Sonning Common Village Hall. £15. See the Master Builders website for more information. 20 Feb FAMILY ACTIVITY DAY – BEAUTIFUL BIRDS at Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury, RG14 2DR, 01635 279 279, Using porcelain pens, decorate a ceramic bird. A new house trail will also be available. For 4-11yr olds but younger and older children also welcome. No need to book – just drop in. £2. 10am-3.30pm. Please note Shaw House is a Grade I Listed building and cannot accommodate pushchairs. 20 Feb BRILLIANT BIRD FEEDERS at River and Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF, 01491 415 600, Brrrr it’s cold out there! Find out how local wildlife adapts to survive the winter and use your construction skills to make a bird feeder from a recycled plastic bottle and wooden spoons. Suitable for 7-11yrs, 10.30am-12.30pm, £8.50. Booking essential, call 01491 415 600. 21 Feb MASTER BUILDERS LEGO BUILDING WORKSHOP AT Sacred Heart Parish Hall, Vicarage Road, Henley-onThames, RG9 1HT and Dorchester Village Hall, A two hour LEGO building workshop following a different theme each session. Details as above. 9.30am-11.30am at Sacred Heart Village Hall and 2.30pm4.30pm at Dorchester Village Hall. See the Master Builders website for more information. 21 Feb FIRE AND ICE at River and Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF, 01491 415 600, Make a mini-volcano and investigate all things meteorological as you explore extremes of temperature. Discover the Icelandic myths that inspired William Morris and design a troll to feature in your own story. Craft a sundial and a weather vane and help Mr Toad to do a weather foreast. Will it be rain or shine? Free with admission. 21 Feb FAMILY ART WORKSHOP FASCINATING FOSSILS at West Berkshire Museum, The Wharf, Newbury, RG14 5AS, Get hands-on with some of the museum’s fossil collection while the Armadillo Art Experience teach you how to draw, colour and paint your own fun version of how they look now and how they would have looked when they were living creatures millions of years ago. You will have a range of artwork to take home with you after the session, and you will also be invited to contribute to the large-scale drawings being created to stay at the museum. You may wish to bring an apron or overall as you’ll be using acrylic paints. Suitable for ages 7+ (accompanying adult free). Places are limited and must be

Email: • Tel: 01235 751 980

booked in advance. Book in advance on 01635 519 562. 10.30am or 1.30pm, (2.5 hours) £8.50 per child. 21-23 Feb HORRIBLE HISTORIES: BRAND NEW BARMY BRITAIN at The Corn Exchange, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5BD, 0845 521 8218, We all want to meet people from history. The trouble is, everyone is dead! So it’s time to prepare yourselves for Horrible Histories live on stage with a brand new West End show that has never toured before – featuring all new scenes! Would you be shaken or stirred by Richard III? Mount a mutiny against King Henry VIII, see Mary Tudor knock the spots off Mary Queen of Scots! Will Elizabeth I endure her terrible teeth? Would you be hanged by King James I for being a witch? Peep into the world of Samuel Pepys and help Georgian detectives find the headless man! Take a trip into the night with the night soil men and discover how to survive the first ever train ride. It’s the history of Britain with the nasty bits left in. Showtimes at 2pm and 6pm. £15.50, Concessions £13.50, Family £54. 22 Feb MESSY MUSEUM DAY at West Berkshire Museum, The Wharf, Newbury, RG14 5AS, Fabulous Fossils: make your own fossil from a replica mini-beast using clay, Plaster of Paris and foil. While waiting for the fossil to set, why not visit the museum galleries to see some of the museum’s fossils. Dress for mess! Disposable aprons will be provided. For 4-11yr olds but younger and older children welcome. No need to book – just drop in. 10am-3pm, £2 per child. 22 Feb LIVELY LETTERS at River and Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF, 01491 415 600, Be inspired by William Morris’s beautiful lettering to create a banner celebrating you, wth the first letter of your name and a few of your favourite things. Suitable for ages 4-7. Adults must stay in the workshop with children under 7 yrs. 10.30am-12pm, £8.50. Booking essential, call 01491 415 600.

BABY & CHILDREN’S MARKETS Up to 30 stallholders selling excellent nearly new baby and children’s items from birth to 6 years, and a small selection of unique businesses in the baby and children’s industry showcasing and selling their products under one roof. 10 FebnTILEHURST, Meadway Sports Centre, RG40 4BZ, 2.00pm3.30pm 10 Feb NEWBURY, St Bartholomew’s School, RG14 6JP, 2.00pm-3.30pm 16 Feb BRACKNELL, Bracknell Leisure Centre (Main Sports Hall), RG12 9SE, 2.00pm-3.30pm

Families Thames Valley West • 23

Profile for Families Magazine


New Year issue for Jan / Feb 2019


New Year issue for Jan / Feb 2019