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Five ways to boost your child’s self-esteem Jo Wiltshire’s Countdown to Christmas Harry Wallop Captures the Nativity Dr Lea Waters on strength-based parenting The best festive family shows


Confidence Building Fun Try a Free Drama Class Perform weekly classes will boost your child’s confidence and give them a creative outlet to make friends and have fun. 4–7 year olds enjoy a lively mix of energetic games, catchy songs and funky dances to help bring out every child’s true potential. 7–12 year olds work with inspiring professionals, learning skills for life and putting on an energetic show that gives everyone a chance to shine. Why not try a Perform class for FREE? It’s a great way to experience our unique workshops and there’s no obligation to join afterwards. Find your nearest venue at or call 020 7255 9120 to book.


Lucy Quick Principal of Perform

Lucy writes...


elcome to our 5th issue of Shine, which I hope gives you an excuse to take a few minutes out to relax at this super-busy time of year.

Getting us into the Christmas spirit are our mum and dad writers, Jo Wiltshire and Harry Wallop, giving us a taste of their festive highs (and lows!). We’ve also got a round-up of some great family Christmas theatre which I hope you’ll enjoy. We’ve been busy here at Perform getting our songs, choreography and scripts ready for our exciting 2018 spring themes: a fun Outer Space adventure for 4–7s, a groovy journey to Ancient Greece for 7–12s with The Hercules Beat and our Perform X classes for 6–12s will dance into Victorian London with Twisted, a modern retelling of Oliver Twist. As usual, developing the children’s life skills is at the heart of all our weekly activities and these are detailed on pages 18–19. We can’t wait to get started! In the meantime, I’d like to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season, from me and the team here at Perform.



Share £60 with a friend Give your personal code to a friend for a £30 discount voucher off any Perform class, course or party. If they sign up, you’ll get a £30 voucher too.

Contents 12

Greeks, gods and gorgons We’re taking our 7–12s to Ancient Greece with The Hercules Beat this January, and in celebration of all things Greek, here’s our pick of the best Greek Mythology books for children.

6 4


Creative movement expert, Connie Bergstein Dow, explains why dance and movement are essential to children.


Mother knows best

The rise of Oliver and Olivia Our January Perform X theme is Twisted, a hip hop dance retelling of Oliver Twist. We look at the rise in popularity of the names Oliver and Olivia.

Mum of two, Jo Wiltshire, counts how many sleeps ‘til Christmas...and wonders how much she’ll need afterwards.


Shake, wiggle, jiggle, squiggle!

Child development


Anita Cleare suggests five practical ways to help boost your child’s self-esteem.


Outer Space Our 4–7s are off on an intergalactic adventure this January and we bring you a chance to win tickets to an interactive space show at the London planetarium.


Top Christmas family shows From traditional to modern, pantos to puppets, Claire Allfree reviews the best shows for families to see in London this Christmas.


Perform stories Primary School teacher, Lauren Binks, talks about her experience of Perform For Schools workshops.


Spring life skills A comprehensive guide to this term’s weekly focus topics across our drama and dance classes.


Everyday parenting Psychologist Dr Lea Waters, author of The Strength Switch, explains how we can benefit from this positive parenting tool.

14 WINTER 2017


Daddy Cool Harry Wallop looks forward to yet another Nativity play...but not the audience.



It’s the Christmas countdown A

s the festive season gets into full swing, mum of two, Jo Wiltshire, reflects on the never-ending exhaustions of Christmas with children.

The first signs appear around the end of August, hot on the tail of your summer holiday, just as you’re scraping the last of the summer sand off their flip flops and heading to the shops to buy pencils, pens and new school socks. There they are, on the supermarket shelves – those first little foil-covered Santas, an army of them, smiling jauntily at you as you peruse the aisles unsuspectingly. It’s assault by stealth. Before you know it, Wizzard is wailing ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Daaaayy’ as you contemplate the fact that you are still wearing shorts on the school run. Several friends helpfully put up Facebook statuses informing you that there are only 21 Mondays left before Christmas, and you feel a mild surge of panic that you haven’t started your lists yet. Any lists, not even Back-to-School ones. ‘I’ve done my Christmas list,’ my son tells me, offering it to me on outstretched palms, with the solemnity of a senior civil servant presenting


a document to the Prime Minister. In September?, I query tremulously. A quick scan: the usual heady mixture of a ‘Top Ten’ toy I will have to hunt down with the tenacity of Liam Neeson on a good day, peppered with several requests for random, impossible but very precise items that don’t exist in ANY SHOP EVER. Example: a mongoose with a moustache in a blue and yellow striped jumper (this is nonnegotiable) with your child’s name embroidered in green across the front? ‘In green, Mummy, you understand?’

There they are, on the supermarket shelves – those first little foil-covered Santas, an army of them... Santa’s going to be a busy man this year, not to mention handy in the needlework department. ‘But Mummy, he’s magic so he can make anything in his elf factory, right?’ ‘Right sweetheart. Yes. Absolutely.’ Sigh. At school, the children are whipped into a frenzy of festive creativity. Much of it involves glitter. Lots of glitter. (Who invented glitter, by the way? It surely is the creation of people whose vacuum cleaners are better than mine and who deserve a reserved seat on the Ninth Circle of Hell.) And they talk to each other. This is a Bad Thing. ‘What are you getting for Christmas?’ ‘Um... some Lego? You?’ ‘A gold-plated diamond-encrusted iPhone X with a personal butler to carry it around for me...’ Cue the sound of crashing expectations and the dawning realisation that Life Isn’t Fair.



Baking...or just messy play?

Eventually, you and your children achieve that all-hallowed state of Nirvana called ‘End of Term’. Your children are by this time glassy-eyed with hyped-up excitement, dreaming of present mountains the size of Peru. You are glassy-eyed with exhaustion, dreaming of quiet padded rooms and anything resembling a bank balance. You have by now cultivated a malevolent dearth of Christmas joy. If you see one more ‘fun’ Santa hat perched on an adult’s head (in a bank, seriously?) you’ll make Bad Santa look like a nativity cherub.

You are glassy-eyed with exhaustion, dreaming of quiet padded rooms and anything resembling a bank balance. You crawl towards the finishing line, hand outstretched piteously – surely soon a sit-down and a bucket-sized Baileys will be yours! But no – first the wrapping. What, did you think Santa was going to do it? By the night before Christmas, though – or at least by 2 or 3 in the morning – you start to feel that warm fuzzy glow. The children are slumbering peacefully, the presents are ready, the sprouts peeled, the turkey at the ready, you’ve even managed to find a manky carrot and a mince pie to leave out. And you’ve bought ALL the batteries, enough to power a small gadget-infested planet. You ease your achey limbs into bed and drift


into sleep, a small satisfied ‘I’m a good Christmas mummy’ smile on your lips. You are allowed precisely three hours and two minutes before you hear ‘Mummy! He’s BEEEEEEN!’ Here we go! Time to rise and shine, be merry, partake in the festive whirl of happy children, laden tables, basted turkeys, missing plastic parts, grumpy relatives, sick dogs (who left that chocolate Santa there?), uneaten sprouts, burnt parsnips, old films, crowded sofas, and many, many new socks, mostly adorned with reindeer or mistletoe, which will be a good look for precisely seven more days only. You find yourself grinding to a halt. You think you might be dribbling on your best cushion. A far and distant voice permeates your festive fog. ‘Mummy? Can you help me build this 15,000part castle, Mummy? It will ONLY take SEVEN hours, it says. Mummy... why are you asleep Mummy? Daddy, I think Mummy is broken!’ No, not broken. She just needs her batteries replacing. Please note for next year: always buy more batteries than you think you’re going to need.



Five ways to boost children’s self-esteem A

nita Cleare, positive parenting expert and author of the Thinking Parenting blog, shares some simple tips to help parents boost children’s self-esteem in everyday family life.

Self-esteem is how we think and feel about ourselves. Children are more likely to be happy, have good relationships and be successful at school when they have positive self-esteem. A child’s self-esteem is influenced by feeling loved and valued by the people around them and by believing good things about themselves. So parents can boost children’s self-esteem by providing lots of everyday opportunities for children to experience success and by celebrating their achievements however small.

1. Encourage independence Recognising children’s achievements isn’t just about doing well in sport, music or school. The little things matter too. When children do things for themselves, without adult help, they have an opportunity to feel proud of themselves. So encourage your child to be independent – teach them to get dressed by themselves, make their own beds, butter their own toast and wash their own hair. These little daily triumphs can really help children feel successful. And make sure you praise them for it too.

2. Use believable, descriptive praise Being praised for their achievements boosts children’s self-esteem. But praise only works if it is believable. Children’s self-esteem is not helped by overblown or generalised praise – so constantly telling your children they are amazing isn’t effective. If you tell your child he played really well in a football match when he obviously didn’t, that’s not believable. It won’t help him develop a good opinion of himself (and it might make him less likely to believe what you say next time). Be specific and praise your child for concrete achievements. Comments like ‘Well done for keeping on running even though you were losing’




Encourage your child to be independent.

or ‘Thank you for speaking so kindly to your sister’ tell your child exactly what they have done well and what to do again next time. Focus especially on effort and progress – knowing that when they try it helps them get better at something is a great self-esteem booster.

3. Listen to their ideas Expressing their ideas, being listened to and making decisions all help children feel valued. Involve your child in practical family problem-solving like what to do at the weekend or whether to go to the shops before or after lunch. Ask for their ideas and listen to their suggestions (even if they’re a bit daft!). This doesn’t mean that your child gets to decide everything but listening to their opinions helps children feel that they are making a positive contribution to the family.

4. Encourage laughter Laughter releases feel-good chemicals that make us feel happy in ourselves. Spend time with your child doing things you both enjoy. And don’t be afraid to be silly sometimes. Play together. It might be running around play, or dressing up, or a game of Snap! – it doesn’t really matter as long as you are both engaged and enjoying it. Chat. Share jokes and funny stories. Spend half an hour watching something funny together. Having fun is good for parents as well as children! And it’s great for helping children relax and feel good about themselves.

5. Show you care Every child needs to feel that they are loved. Be affectionate. A snuggle on the sofa, a ruffle of their hair, a big bear hug. Make sure your child knows that they are accepted for exactly who they are and that who they are is utterly lovable. And when you have to tell them off (because no child is perfect!), make it clear that it is their behaviour that is undesirable not them. Find lots more tips on positive parenting on Anita’s blog Thinking Parenting. Perform weekly drama classes for 4–7s and 7–12s and dance classes for 6–12s all work to boost your childs self-esteem through games, movement and dance. Why not try a free trial? Visit to book online.




Let’s blast off! We’re going to Outer Space This term, Perform 4–7s will be blasting off into Outer Space for an amazing intergalactic adventure. They’ll shimmer with the Sparkly Spaceman, dance the Zero Gravity Groove and meet the Man in the Moon as they go on a mission to save the universe. Our unique weekly drama classes will boost your child’s confidence and build their concentration as they sing songs, play games and have fun. For a sneak preview of this term’s songs and dances, scripts and a selection of themed games download the FREE Outer Space app.

How to Book Book now for the spring term. Call 020 7255 9120 or visit We offer every child a free introductory session. Find out more at


020 7255 9120



Soar into the stars at the London planetarium G

rab your sparkly space boots, we’re off! It’s true, you can journey into space at London’s planetarium and we’re delighted to partner with them as part of our exciting intergalactic theme for 4–7s next term. Hear from a real astronaut and see the wonders of the night sky at The Peter Harris Planetarium within the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. You’ll see real images projected from actual spacecraft and telescopes on the planetarium’s large domeshaped ceiling! It’s just like being on a tour of the Universe (and you never know, you might spot our Little Green Alien or Space Queen too!). There’s also a programme of exciting space shows to suit everyone, from curious under 7s to

space-obsessed adults. We particularly love Space Safari, a perfect introduction to space travel for aspiring little astronauts. So, we’re thrilled to offer you the chance to win tickets to the show.

SPACE SAFARI Searching here and searching there, where oh where is the Great Big Bear? Join Ted the teddy bear as he searches the stars for the Great Big Bear. This interactive musical show is specially tailored for children aged 7 and under plus accompanying adults. A must-see for all budding explorers.

COMPETITION: Win tickets to Space Safari Send us a photo of your child in a space-themed costume for a chance to win tickets! Just post your photo onto our Facebook page or email it to Closing date: 31st December 2017. There is one prize of four tickets – 2 adult and 2 child (3–15 years) tickets. The offer is valid until 31st March 2018, and can’t be used in combination with any other discounts. The photos will be judged and one winner will be notified by 5th January 2018. There is no cash alternative.

The planetarium is part of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich London and is open every day. For more information and details of all shows, see




Top London Christmas family shows


ondon is always full of wondrous theatre for children but it pulls out the stops at Christmas. Theatre at its best is a form of celebration and, as December closes in and the school holidays beckon, there is simply no better time to see a show. From Brothers Grimm to Walt Disney, from old fashioned clowns to 21st century fairy tales, London theatre has something for the child in everyone. Claire Allfree selects five of the best. Snow White and Rose Red

Pinocchio If you’ve been lucky to get a ticket for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child then you’ll know all about the fabulous theatre wizardry of that show’s director John Tiffany. He’s back at the National sprinkling more of his magic, this time on to one of Disney’s favourite characters, Pinocchio, the mischievous, adventurous little boy puppet who must learn honesty and loyalty if he is to become the real life son of gentle old Geppetto. With a script by Dennis Kelly, who wrote the West End smash hit Matilda, and newly arranged songs from the original Disney movie, including When You Wish Upon A Star, if you see one Christmas show this year, make it this one. Ages 8+. Dec 1 to Apr 7, 2018. National Theatre. Pinocchio is also the theme of Perform’s February half term holiday courses. Find your nearest venue at


No, not the story of the girl who grows up in the forest after escaping the clutches of her wicked stepmother but another fairy tale, also collected by the Brothers Grimm. This one involves two very different sisters whose friendship with a bear over the course of one winter has unexpected consequences. Battersea Arts Centre can always be depended on for a richly imaginative Christmas show and, with theatre company RashDash at the helm here, expect an invigorating update of a very old story. Ages 5+. Nov 29 to Dec 30. BAC.

Slava’s Snowshow There is a reason why this international hit keeps on rolling: there is simply nothing like it. Not a great deal happens – instead the show’s creator Slava has conjured up a largely wordless dreamscape populated by a bunch of artful comic clowns who tap into an elemental sense of wonder and which culminates, famously, in a ticker tape blizzard that smothers the auditorium. A surely welcome antidote to thrills-aminute, CGI, big screen entertainment. Ages 8+. Dec 18 to Jan 4. Royal Festival Hall Southbank.



Jack and the Beanstalk

Wilde Creatures

Panto in London is a serious business, with Hackney Empire and Theatre Royal Stratford East providing major competition for the best in town. But my money is with the Lyric Hammersmith which each year serves up a street-smart show steeped in theatrical invention, effervescent chaos and a wit and silliness that keep adults and children equally entertained. This year’s panto is Jack and the Beanstalk and it comes with the added bonus of Vikki Stone as Fleshcreep; her performance as Abanazer in Aladdin at the same venue last year was the best of the season. Ages 6+.

Tall Stories are best known for their Julia Donaldson adaptations but, to accompany a year-long season of Oscar Wilde in the West End, here they’ve reimagined the fairy tales written by The Importance of Being Earnest author instead. Watch characters from The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose come to glorious new life in this brand new piece, steeped in Tall Stories’ inimitable mix of music, comedy and make-shift stage craft. Ages 5+.

Nov 18 to Jan 6 2018. Lyric Hammersmith.

Dec 15 to Dec 31. Vaudeville Theatre.

Pinocchio February half-term holiday fun One and three day drama, dance and singing courses for 4–7s. A classic story of mischief and magic brought to life in our colourful holiday courses. Find out more at or call 020 7255 9120




Greeks, gods and gorgons


ove over Spiderman, Batman and Wonder Woman, the Greek myths feature some of the world’s most famous heroes and heroines and are also some of the greatest stories ever told. Whether you want to read about Pandora’s Box, Theseus and the Minotaur, Jason and the Argonauts or our very own Hercules, there’s something for everyone in our pick of the best Greek Mythology books for children.

Greek Myths by Marcia Williams Vibrant cartoon-strip story telling A fun but faithful retelling of eight myths using simple language and Marcia’s signature comic-strip format. Brimming with colour and decorative detail. The non-stop action makes each tale a pleasure to look at while the speech bubbles add humour. A perfect way to introduce young readers to the power of myths. Age guide 5–9 years.

D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire Stunning illustrations in a larger style book In print for over 50 years and still getting amazing reviews, this comprehensive book introduces children to many of the well-known myths. From powerful Zeus and mischievous trickster Hermes, to wise Athena and mighty Hercules, both adults and children will treasure the witty observations and evocative illustrations in this lovely book. Age guide 8–12 years.

Usborne Illustrated Stories from the Greek Myths Bedtime reading for the not-so-squeamish This collection of Greek myths taken from ‘Usborne Young Reading’ titles features the best-known of all the Greek heroes and monsters, with six stories starring Perseus and Medusa, Pegasus, Heracles, Odysseus, the Wooden Horse and the Minotaur. Each individual story has clear engaging text and is accompanied by original illustrations. Another Usborne hit. Age guide 5–7 years.


Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli Classic Greek Stories This treasury from National Geographic brings the stories to life by helping young readers to connect the tales to real events, people and places. Featuring stunning artwork, a family tree and a ‘cast of characters’ profile page to help make relationships between the characters clear. Age guide 8–12 years.

The Usborne Book of Greek Myths A bumper collection of lively concise stories Presented in a luxury cloth-bound cover, this sumptuous book features lively retellings of 32 popular stories such as Jason and the Golden Fleece, Pandora’s Box and the Minotaur. The stories are just 3–4 pages long, concise enough for young readers or as bedtime stories, but detailed enough to appeal to older children and adults. Illustrated maps of Ancient Greece and a glossary of tricky words are nice touches. Age guide 5–10 years.

COMPETITION To celebrate next term’s production for 7–12s, The Hercules Beat, we’ve got a copy of Usborne Illustrated Stories from the Greek Myths to give away. To enter, ask your child to draw or paint a picture of a Greek God or Goddess and post it on Alternatively send it to: Perform, 4 Blenheim Court, 62 Brewery Road, London N7 9NY or email it to Closing date: 31st December 2017. The pictures will be judged and one winner will be selected and notified by 5th January 2018.



A groovy Greek song and dance SHOW for 7 - 12 s Superhero Hercules is on a quest to inspire the ancient Greeks to take a break from eating, drinking and philosophising... and get dancing. Up on Mount Olympus, the Gods are worried. The mortals on Earth have forgotten how to move and groove. Hercules is sent to capture the nation with his fancy footwork and amazing voice. But, on the eve of the referendum, will the masses vote for their feet or stay slumped on their sofas? With hilarious scenes, rocking songs and dazzling dancing, The Hercules Beat is a jivetastic show. For a sneak preview of the songs, videos, script and walk-throughs for all the dance routines, download the FREE Hercules Beat app.

How to Book Book now for the spring term. Call 020 7255 9120 or visit We offer every child a free introductory session. Find out more at


020 7255 9120



Shake, wiggle, jiggle, squiggle! C

onnie Bergstein Dow, a professional dancer, teacher and passionate advocate of dance, tells Shine why we should encourage our children to dance. If you were to peek into my creative dance class, you might see a teacher and preschoolers sitting with their legs crossed, swaying from side to side. This activity may not look particularly exciting. However, if you realised that we are imagining ourselves on a boat trip, riding the ocean waves, each carrying different cargo in our boats and visiting exotic destinations along the way, you would understand the enthusiastic smiles on the children’s faces. Creative dance (or movement) is the form of dance in which the participant uses movement to learn, explore, create, communicate and express emotions and feelings. It incorporates the basic building blocks of dance: the body, space, time and energy. It can have a powerful impact on children’s daily lives because it is both a physical activity and a vehicle for self-expression. It offers the rich experience of exploring and creating, with the added benefits of lively movement. Encouraging movement opportunities for children increases their kinesthetic understanding of the world and


can yield tremendous benefits as we attempt to educate the whole child. We often incorporate music, art and drama into our early childhood environments, but movement may be missing. Here I’ll explore a few of the benefits of creative dance.

Improving self-control One of the gifts of structured movement is that it helps children develop body awareness and control, which can be incorporated into the rest of the child’s daily routine or into the classroom. Moving is what they are doing as they walk into the room, so it’s easy to transition this into learning. For example, make a game out of fidgeting! ‘Can you think of another word for fidget? How about shake? Wiggle? Jiggle? Squiggle? Show me how your body looks when it squiggles!’

Helping spatial awareness An important concept for children as they first experience a group or classroom situation is to learn about their own personal space, and to respect the personal space of others as well as the shared space. Playing an ‘Inside the bubble’ game with a group of children brings this to life, with each child imagining they are inside a giant bubble, but they can’t allow their bubble to touch anyone else’s. Taking giant steps around the room whilst keeping their ‘bubble’ intact is lots of fun and a great learning experience.



Aiding self-expression A playful activity about emotions can help a child sort out and get in touch with her feelings. A child may not be able to identify in words how she is feeling at a given time, but might be able to express those feelings through movement. A ‘funny faces’ game is a subtle way of drawing her out.

The benefits of creative movement: • Spatial awareness • Self-control (body awareness, control of one’s speed, and control of one’s direction in space) • Group cooperation • Delaying gratification • Listening, understanding and responding to instructions • Reasoning and problem-solving skills • Self-expression • Creativity • Gross motor skills • Life-long healthy habits • Learning academic subjects and concepts kinesthetically

All one needs to dance is the desire to do so. The body is the instrument, so whether it is used for a 5-minute brain break, a freeform expression of how one is feeling, a specific guided movement activity or an interpretation of an idea, a story or music, dance can and should be an integral part of a child’s day. When I was young, I was clumsy and had a tough time getting my body to move in an integrated way. My mother said I would even trip over the patterns in a carpet! She signed me up for dance classes to help me to develop balance, strength and coordination. This was my introduction to the art form of dance. It gave me strength, self-confidence and a voice to express myself, and led to a life-long career. I feel strongly that dance and the other arts are not ‘extras’, they should be essential and transformational forces in our lives. Connie Bergstein Dow is the author of Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn! Enriching Movement Activities for Preschoolers (Redleaf Press 2006) and One, Two, What Can I Do? Dance and Music for the Whole Day (Redleaf Press 2011). Reference: The Power of Creative Dance by Connie Bergstein Dow for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Explore, Express, Exhilarate Try a Free Dance Class Street dance classes for 6–12s Our unique high-energy dance sessions are designed to build your child’s coordination, boost their confidence and give them a new way to get fit and have fun. To book a free trial call 020 7255 9120 or visit




Oliver & Olivia top the charts W

ith next term’s Perform X classes rehearsing Twisted, a street dance version of Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist, we’re excited to see that Oliver and Olivia have recently been announced as the most popular baby names in England and Wales (and, in case you’re interested, also in Australia and New Zealand!). Oliver (meaning Olive Tree), was a common medieval name which became rare after the 17th century due to unpopular ruler Oliver Cromwell. The name was revived in the 19th century, probably because of Oliver Twist. Olivia (meaning Olive), was first used with this spelling in 1602

by William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, thought to be taken from Oliver or Oliva. These 400-year-old names form part of a wider trend for traditional names coming back into fashion, with the likes of Alice and Arthur also making a comeback. However the trend for unusual names also continues, with more baby Aryas (Game of Thrones) born in 2016 than Catherines or Marys, and more newborn Jaxons and Rileys than Michaels and Davids. Celebrity baby names also have an influence on popularity rankings. The choice of Cheryl Cole, Kate Winslet and Jamie Oliver – Bear – may mean we see lots of little Bears quite soon (although Bear Grylls may take credit!).


1 6

Oliver Olivia Noah Isabella

2 7

Harry Amelia Charlie Lily

3 8

George Emily Muhammad Jessica

4 9

Jack Isla Thomas Ella

5 10

Jacob Ava Oscar Mia

Street dance classes for 6–12s

A spectacular street dance based on Oliver Twist. Starts this January. To book call 020 7255 9120 or visit




Sparking imaginations through drama P

erform For Schools provides creative and topic-based drama and dance workshops to primary schools. Year 6 teacher, Lauren Binks, tells us how it has helped the children and teachers at her school. We have several aims when we’re booking an external drama-based workshop. Firstly, we want the session to give children a chance to come out of their shell and share any skills that they may not always get to share in the classroom. We also want our children to learn something during the session, whether it’s about a curriculumbased topic or new drama and dance skills.

Our children love the Perform For Schools workshops...we often steal ideas to use back in the classroom! We’ll often book Perform For Schools to complement the topic children are learning about. For example, if we're studying a hero or heroine, such as Florence Nightingale, we may look to book a workshop which focuses on her. We also run workshops for specific events such as anti-bullying

week and Diwali celebrations to help make these events special for the children. Our children love the Perform For Schools workshops as it’s something different from their normal school day. And it’s wonderful to see the confidence in a child grow if they get the chance to take part in frequent workshops. It’s also a professional development opportunity for the teachers as we’re able to learn new things from the trained actors. We often steal ideas from the workshops to use back in the classroom! Lauren Binks, Year 6 teacher, Alexander McLeod Primary School. Perform For Schools workshops use children’s natural love of drama, role-play and improvisation to spark imaginations and stimulate interest in a wide range of topics, each closely aligned to the National Curriculum. If you’re a teacher or would like to recommend us to your school, you can call 020 7255 9121 or visit for more information about our free drama and dance workshops.




Weekly Focuses Spring term 2018 E

ach week we have a different focus for the children in our weekly classes. Whether it’s about finding exciting words, learning about balance or practising listening skills, we bring it to life using games, songs and dances whilst having a whole lot of fun. Here, you can see a snapshot of the areas we will cover this Spring alongside our themes: Outer Space for 4–7s, The Hercules Beat for 7–12s and Twisted for our street dance classes, Perform X. WEEK/ DATE




WEEK 1 3–7 Jan


4–7s Introducing Outer Space

We’re blasting off into a star-studded galaxy for an amazing intergalactic adventure. Playing lots of fun games we’ll start to get to know each other, and welcome any new children to the class.

7–12s Introducing The Hercules Beat

Superhero Hercules is on a quest to inspire the ancient Greeks to take a break from eating, drinking and philosophising, and instead, to get dancing! We’ll play some fun games to get to know each other, plus an introduction to one of the songs.


Introducing Twisted

Twisted is a modern retelling of the Dickens classic, Oliver Twist, in hip hop form. Through ice breakers and fun games, all set to music, we will have an introduction to this exciting theme.


Exciting vocabulary

Just as the Sparkly Spaceman sparkles and Hercules amazes, we look at how we can choose exciting words when we speak.


Listening skills

Thinking about what listening means, why we listen and when we might want to listen, and experimenting what happens when we don’t listen!

WEEK 3 15–21 Jan



Learning what balance is – both static and dynamic balance – through some fun balancing games which focus on both stillness and movement.

WEEK 4 22–28 Jan


Communicating without words

Exploring the art of mime and playing games to illustrate how we can show action, character and emotion without using words.


Hip hop moves

Learning how to isolate hip hop techniques and creating new moves for our own special routine.

WEEK 2 8–14 Jan




WEEK/ DATE WEEK 5 29 Jan–4 Feb

WEEK 6 5–11 Feb

WEEK 7 17–23 Feb


WHAT WE’RE EXPLORING THROUGH OUR TOPIC Experimenting how different emotions change our body language and improvising confident and positive body language.

7–12 Power-posing

Looking at the ‘power-pose’ and how we can use this to our advantage.


Percussive movement Learning about percussion and exploring the meaning of percussive movement linked to body rhythm.



Exploring the differences between projecting our voices and shouting.


Use of levels

Learning how the use of levels within a dance piece can be effective.


Exploring emotions

Understanding what emotions are, naming some and having a go at physicalizing these emotions with our bodies.


Expressing feelings

Discussing feelings and experimenting expression of different feelings through movement.


Looking at what makes a story interesting rather than boring, and how the way in which we tell a story can have an impact.


Movement sequence

Learning what a movement sequence is, and creating our own to a piece of music.



Exploring what an argument ‘for’ or ‘against’ something is and looking at examples of how these may arise.


Performance persona

Learning why performers develop a character or persona when they’re on stage, and how we can bring our Twisted characters to life with this in mind.

WEEK 8 DRAMA 24 Feb–2 Mar

WEEK 9 3–9 Mar

WEEKLY FOCUS 4–7 Confident body language

WEEK 10 10–16 Mar

ALL CLASSES Presentation rehearsals

Putting together the songs, dances and scenes for the end of term presentation to friends and family.

WEEK 11 17–23 Mar

ALL CLASSES Presentation week

A fantastic chance for the children to show their parents, family and friends what they’ve been working on this term. Enjoy!

WEEK 12 24–29 Mar


A fun introduction to our themes for the summer term – The Jungle for 4–7s, Bluebeard’s Bride for 7–12s and Perform X to be announced – with lots of games, singing and dancing.




The Strength Switch sychologist and author Dr Lea Waters argues that, by flicking the ‘Strength Switch’, parents can encourage creativity, develop their children’s confidence and enhance achievement.


Nick’s birthday, I came home from a long day at work to find Nick’s bike leaning beside the front door as usual. When will that boy ever learn? I thought. Inside, in a not altogether nice way, I asked Nick to move his bike to the correct spot.

Most of us have heard the expression ‘Play to your strengths’ but how many of us really do this in any systematic way? Instead, we tend to focus on our weaknesses: what we’ve done wrong or need to improve. We often do this with our children too, thinking that fixing their weaknesses will make them strong and successful. But maybe you’ve noticed that overemphasis on the negative makes life feel like a slog – dull, frustrating or downright depressing – certainly nothing we want for ourselves or our kids. It doesn’t make parenting easier, either. When Nick turned eight, we bought him a new bike. He loved it and rode it every day after school. Matt cleared a space for Nick to store his bike, but Nick seemed to forget this and left it by the front door more often than not, despite repeated reminders to put it away where it belonged. One evening, a couple of weeks after

We’re super-good at seeing what our children do wrong and jumping onto the negativity train.


His face fell, and I had one of those awful moments of classic parental guilt. I’d walked in the door and, before even saying hello, I’d pointed out something my son had failed to do. What should have been a happy homecoming after not seeing each other all day was instead a painful episode for both of us. We’re super-good at seeing what our children do wrong and jumping onto the negativity train. Psychologists have identified four thinking processes wired into our brain that predispose us to this.

The four negative defaults Selective attention is our brains’ way of avoiding information overload by filtering incoming information. By selectively focusing on some aspects, our brain can make sense of the world, but it does this at the expense of noticing other aspects. When I snapped at Nick about his bike the minute I got home, I was displaying selective attention: blind to anything else Nick had done, I was seeing only the bike. Negativity bias. The very architecture of the brain causes us to overlook our child’s strengths. Simply put, we’re programmed to see what’s wrong faster and more frequently than what’s



Tips for learning the Strength Switch:

right. Indeed, this negativity bias is so automatic that it happens unconsciously. Projection. Now for an interesting twist. While we see weakness in others more readily than strengths, we’re very good at not seeing weakness in ourselves. Naturally, positive self-views make us feel good and negative self-views make us feel bad. So our ego has developed ways to filter out the negative and amplify the positive in our sense of self. When I was growing up, I was unbelievably messy, forgetful and disorganised. I confess that when I see signs of my children showing messiness and disorganisation – like Nick leaving his bike at the front door – it triggers a projection reaction. Binary thinking is what we do when we describe our children like this: ‘He’s the naughty one’, ‘She’s the serious one’ or ‘He’s the class clown.’ It’s what we do when we place our children into categories. Binary thinking fails to do justice to reality. People are never just one thing. But there’s one aspect of binary thinking that particularly undermines strength-based parenting: it leads you to think that weakness and strength are polar opposites. But we can override our negative defaults. I knew from the research that, just because I wasn’t seeing my kids’ strengths, didn’t mean they weren’t there. I had to find a way to shine light on them. I would 1) take a couple of deep breaths, and 2) insert a thought: The strengths are here, but they’re hiding. Let me switch over to find them. Thus the Strength Switch was born. The Strength Switch acts like a circuit breaker. I literally picture a switch and watch it flick inside my head to turn the spotlight off the negative and turn it onto the positive. Its power is in reminding me that, in order to be a successful strength-based


• Start with low-stakes situations. • Progress to using the Strength Switch on those small issues that turn into big arguments. • When you feel your negative defaults start to cascade, STOP. • Notice how you’re feeling. Acknowledge those feelings – they are legitimate – but don’t attach to them. • Select a strength. Is there a strength you can remind your child to use in working through this situation? • Visualize the switch and tell yourself: ‘Flick the switch.’ • Speak to your child’s strengths. When you see a strength, highlight it.

parent, I need to look at what my kids have done right before I look at what they’ve done wrong. Think of the switch as a self-imposed mental pinch – a wake-up call for you to focus intensely for a moment on strengths. It reorients you from the negative to the positive. It allows you to see your child’s strengths in a tense moment. I encourage you to think clearly and deeply about where you place your attention with respect to your child. And when you don’t have the time to think clearly or deeply, remember the Strength Switch. And flick it. The Strength Switch: how the new science of strength-based parenting helps your child and your teen to flourish is published by Scribe (£14.99).

COMPETITION Win a copy of The Strength Switch We have one copy of The Strength Switch by Dr Lea Waters to give away. For a chance to win, simply send us an email including your name and address to Closing date: 31st December 2017. One winner will be selected at random and notified by 5th January 2018.



Capturing the Nativity H

arry Wallop puts the audience in the spotlight as he braces himself for another dramatic interpretation of the birth of Christ. I think I’m onto my 25th Nativity/carol concert/ Winterville production. I’m not sure. After a while all the tinsel halos and red noses blur into one. With four children under the age of 14, I have seen enough tea-towels on heads to fill an Ikea linen department, and enough angels to sing me to my rest. Last year, the youngest, just turned 5, was a snowflake. Or possibly a star. He was certainly dressed in white and had to bang a bongo drum during Whoops a Daisy Angel. If you put aside his complete lack of rhythm, he did it very well. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a Christmas show. Not hugely – I’d always much prefer to settle down with a box of Quality Street and ‘Trading


Places’ to get me into the Christmas spirit. But I appreciate that a Nativity Play is often not just a child’s first foray onto the stage, but also their introduction to the original Christmas story. And I’m all for that.

The crush to see the show is as bad as if they announced Benedict Cumberbatch was appearing as Jesus Christ Superstar – in a loincloth. What I find increasingly difficult to stomach, however, are the parents. With each passing year, the parents do an ever-better impression of someone trying to keep the flame of Christmas spirit alive – by blowing it out. Part of the problem is that our local primary school gym is not large enough to squeeze in four years’ worth of pupils, their tambourines and stuffed sheep, along with all their parents. The school gamely puts on two performances, but this does not quell the crowds. The crush to see the show is as bad as if they announced Benedict Cumberbatch was appearing as Jesus Christ Superstar – in a loincloth. It starts about half an hour before curtain up. The mob gathers in the playground, dressed in scarves and woolly hats and looking perfectly friendly. But it’s a front. Underneath the sensible overcoats and small talk about the weather, lies a seething mass of unalloyed aggression, ready to inflict grievous bodily harm in order to secure a much coveted seat near the front. Last year, I rocked up late and had resigned myself to jostling outside the school gym and craning my neck through the doorway. But then I got a text from my wife. It turns out that as a leading light in the Parents’ Association, and organising the pre-performance coffee and mince



Tea-towels, tiaras and total excitement!

pies, she had bagged a brace of seats. Trump’s White House is no match for the nepotism and back-room dealings that go on in the PTA. But I was not complaining. I slipped in the side and claimed my seat three rows from the front. For the first time, in many years, I could see the action. Alleluia. But even this prime spot didn’t stop me having to watch most of the play via the screens of other parents’ iPads.

The mob gathers in the playground, dressed in scarves and woolly hats and looking perfectly friendly. But it’s a front. A decade ago, of course there was the odd camcorder and camera wielded. Of course, there were sharp elbows and the odd hissed, ‘Martha! Martha!’ as the shepherds herded in their flock. But it is now unbearable. Alongside the thicket of screens, I witnessed the debut of a selfie stick at a nativity play. The parent in question crouched, she must have thought, unobtrusively on her knees in the aisle while the phone-atop-stick


was slowly raised high above the audience. She then, in crouching position, slowly swivelled the contraption to capture a panoramic shot. She might as well have hoisted a banner, with an arrow pointing towards the floor and the message “Warning: absolute prat”. Another parent, sitting next to me, wasn’t satisfied with having a pretty good view of her darling little Santa. She left her seat, midperformance, to find a spot on the floor at the front of the audience so the worshiping of her own child could continue unadulterated. I sensed she would have preferred if everyone else on stage just packed up, left Bethlehem, and returned to Nazareth so she could enjoy a solo performance from her child, while she hugged herself in raptures.

Trump’s White House is no match for the nepotism and back-room dealings that go on in the PTA. The idea that this was a joint enterprise, that the children had come together to put on a play for everyone’s entertainment, was completely lost. The concept that a school does things collectively, and sometimes children will not be the centre of the universe, did not seem to have crossed this parent’s mind. The only thing that mattered was her daughter. As Christmas messages to pass onto your children, it’s a pretty crumby one. Maybe we should ban the parents. Or certainly their iPads.


Narnia One, two or three days of December fun Full day drama, dance and singing courses for 4–7s Find out more at or call 020 7255 9120

Perform Parties are high energy, fun and totally infectious. With a magical mix of songs, games and laughter, kids just can’t resist joining in.

‘Wonderful beyond belief.’ Paula Vaccaro

Use the code P143740236493 to claim a special £25 discount. 020 7255 9120

© Perform. All rights reserved.


Shine Magazine | Winter 2017  
Shine Magazine | Winter 2017  

The magazine for parents who want to raise happy, confident and fun-loving children.