The Little Things Magazine Issue 07

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Our guide to colds and ’flu

Large hall and yoga studio for classes, events or kids’ birthday parties Large, peaceful garden for all venue users Contemporary art gallery Seasonal events for children and families Regular classes and workshops for all FOR CLASSES AND EVENTS PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE | | 07712 523734 5 queen street Bath BA1 1HE Spotty Herberts donates 1% of all takings to sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. Charity registration number in England and Wales (299679) and in Scotland (SC042789)

Yes, there are fantastic things about being back into a routine however, do our kids get enough time to play once we get back into the thick of it? A quick search on the internet about the importance of play will lead you directly to the NHS website where they suggest that to “grow and develop, children need time and attention from someone who’s happy to play with them.” Mercifully, this could be a parent, friend or sibling so there is no need to sound the ‘bad parent’ klaxon just yet. Similarly, as adults, we know that all work and no play does more to Jack than simply make him a dull boy. Add in the mental health crisis in children and the Welsh Assembly’s decision to commit an additional £1.7m to support ‘play’ and all of a sudden play becomes pretty darn important. See you at the park (just kidding, I'm far too busy for that)!

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Lisa Merryweather-Millard DESIGN & ART DIRECTION

Rather Nice Design CONTRIBUTORS

Jane Bennett, Vincent Callan, Circus House Publishing, Simon Desorgher, Isabella Hamnett, Dr Emma Hepburn, Suzy Howlett, NIPS, John Randall, Joby Sessions, Dani Sharp, Colin Stafford-Johnson © Rather Nice Design Limited 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without written consent. Rather Nice Design Limited (company number 10214533) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Rather Nice Design Limited is 12 Wallbridge Avenue, Frome, BA11 1RL. The Little Things Magazine has taken great care to ensure the content is accurate on the date of publication. The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Little Things Magazine. Therefore, The Little Things Magazine carries no responsibility for the opinion expressed thereon. The published material, adverts, editorials and all other content is published in a good faith. The Little Things Magazine cannot guarantee and accepts no liability for any loss or damage of any kind caused by errors and for the accuracy of claims made by the advertisers.

Photo © Joby Sessions |

Back to routine


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There’s No Play At Home Jane Bennett, footballs, heels – nothing else to say If I Can Just Believe in Me Dr Emma Hepburn, on resilient self-belief Circus House Recommends… Children’s books about emotions Fully Body Therapy Jessica Macaulay on sports therapy for all Welcome to Snotsville Colds, ’flu and other childhood ailments COVER FEATURE Have A Nice Play Simon Desorgher of Colourscape talks about play COVER FEATURE Does Gender Determine Play? Vin Callan asks, and answers, the question Lazy Parent’s Guide to Fun with Science University of Bath’s Dr Ross, shows us how Living a Wild Life Wildlife cameraman, Colin StaffordJohnson, explains more Get your shoes on! Preventing the early morning rage Fright Night Frightfully good Halloween tips from mum of four, Isabella Hamnett Fortnite all night? Video games and kids – the good and bad Learning to Read With veteran teacher and founder of FunPhonics, John Randall Special Education Needs Dr Helen Ross on what you need to know Let’s talk… period. Dani Sharp mentions the unmentionable |


Mental Health


Jane Bennett explores her thoughts on play and tells about how she plays football in four inch stilettos

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y conversation with my best friend this morning started like this: ‘Do you remember so and so?’ she says. ‘Oh yes, from nursery and school – thingy’s Mum’, I replied. ‘Now I know who you mean! The ones who didn’t have a telly’. ‘Yep, that’s them.’ I confirm. ‘They played board games’. ‘Oh, I can never get mine to agree to that’, I sighed. ‘No. Just causes arguments here’, she said. Then we both sighed. Yet, as I type this, my children are playing football in the park, both of them, and a friend, while I prepare dinner. I’m slightly anxious as none of them has a mobile phone, but one has a watch and a time to be home. I should play more. I offer, I suggest what I deem to be fun things, but the lure of consoles often overrides. I’m not sure I was ever that great at getting down on



the floor playing for lengths of time. A toddler group was a chance for a rare sit down and a coffee with an adult; home always had other ‘pressing’ things to attend to. Although I am often found in my smart work dress, kicking a football in the street outside whilst pointing out my unsuitable shoes and trying to explain why I’d rather not header the ball as I’d prefer to keep the remaining brain cells I have. Mum opening the garage to get the football out for a kick about, or picking up a Swingball bat is what does it these days. As an only child, I happily played alone. Dad would be at his office, Mum was busy working in the kitchen at home. There were only 3 channels on the TV and you watched your programme when it was on! I loved when Granny would visit – she was elderly but played card games with me. Friends would come and we’d make up games; I had imaginary friends – with my new found spirituality I think I still do. I grew up on the outskirts of London,

Models wear jumpers and scarf from The Happysads AW18 Collection by Bobo Choses, courtesy of Sister’s Guild Jeans models own.

in the green belt with open fields and woods to run in and explore. Modern estates often do not have this luxury and are not built with sufficient area or amenities for children. Often a small patch of land, with tired equipment is all there will be; many children’s centres have closed due to cuts. We have somehow lost the freedom and the areas to just ‘play’. The importance of play for our children’s development is now being seen as more significant – the imagination,being creative, running free, community, interacting. Wales is setting an example with its play provision; each local authority, according to a measure passed by Members of Parliament in Cardiff in 2010, ‘must secure sufficient play opportunities in its area for children’. Surely this needs to be rolled out before future generations only learn about the real, hands on, messy, muddy play of our own childhood through their history lessons.

BUILDING RESILIENT SELF-BELIEF Words by clinical psychologist, Dr Emma Hepburn, The Psychology Mum. First published in the NIPS booklet for their first Mental Health and Children seminar.


e all have inner voices that are built on our beliefs about ourselves, the world and other people. These influence how we behave and interact with the world. As parents we have some degree of influence into building our children’s belief system. That’s a pretty big responsibility isn’t it? But actually it doesn’t require some complex psychological technique, you can influence self beliefs through extremely simple means, often just building on what you do anyway. Isn’t it amazing that we all have the power to influence another persons brain and build their self belief through such small things?


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NEGATIVE BEHAVIOUR It stands out: it’s infuriating, exhausting, and demands attention. As parents we often use times of positive behaviour to grab that cup of tea and go online. And that’s okay. But focusing on positive behaviour is important too. Tell them they are kind when they do something nice, tell them you are proud of the effort they made doing their homework, tell them how much you enjoyed watching them play. This can seem false or a bit sickly. But it’s worth

overcoming that inner cringe as “you are kind” to them becomes “l am kind”. You enjoyed spending time with them becomes “I am worth spending time with”, building up their self beliefs.


SELF ESTEEM This thought to be built from what we believe other people think of us. We can’t assume children know what we think, as their mind reading skills often aren’t developed to guess correctly. So tell them what you think. Tell them you enjoy spending time with them, tell them you were proud watching them deal with that difficult situation, tell them your favourite moment of the day is when you see their face light up when they see you. And it’s not just words, we interpret meaning into behaviour. That jigsaw you did together, says “I am a fun person to be with”. The film you both watched when they were sad says “people enjoy being with me, even when I feel rubbish”, building up self esteem for the future.


CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR It’s not about accepting all behaviours, in fact boundaries and saying what is and isn’t acceptable is helpful in building beliefs. When you do have to tell them off, make sure it’s the behaviour not them as person you are focusing on. The behaviour was unacceptable, not they ARE a bad boy. That’s wasn’t a very nice thing to do, not they ARE thoughtless. There’s a big difference between feeling guilt about a behaviour compared to shame about their

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Mental Health

character. Behaviours can be changed and rectified, it’s harder to know how to fix yourself. And surprise surprise, you are a bad boy, becomes I am bad.


POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR Conversely, When we see kind or helpful behaviour, focus on the child more than the behaviour. You gave your sister a sweet: what a kind boy you are. You kept on going at sports day even though you were worried: what a brave girl you are. These statements are internalised and the belief you are these things (kind, brave, whatever) means you are more likely to do that behaviour again.


MODELLING SELF VALUE We show ourselves we are of value by looking after ourselves, and we show our children they are of value the same way, spending time with them, being willing to listen, being there when they have difficult emotions. But the most powerful impact on children’s behaviours are the behaviours they see: they learn by modelling our behaviour. So how we treat ourselves is important too. Demonstrating we look after ourselves, that we can be kind to ourselves when we feel bad, nourish ourselves when we are ill, and generally give ourselves the nurturing we need. Because children learn these behaviours to apply to themselves. In the same way children who see their family reading are more likely to read, children who see their parents looking after themselves are more likely to do that too.

For more information about upcoming NIPS seminars and their free resources, visit or |


Mental Health


Circus House Publishing seeks to develop narratives for positive change through award-winning books like Mind Hug. Here are their recommended reads for understanding emotions.


ircus House Publishing seeks to develop narratives for positive change through award-winning books like Mind Hug. Here are their recommended reads for recognising and labelling emotions. Learning how to recognise emotions and label them is an important first step in emotional literacy, as well as being aware of how emotions feel in your body. My Many Coloured Days by Dr Seuss is a classic, gentle starting point, which uses a dance of colours to describe feelings. In a similar vein, The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas is a fun pop-up book about



a monster who gets muddled up by colourful emotions. In my Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek and Christine Roussey is another charming novelty book with more expressive language, while Friending Your Emotions by Stefanie Tsabar, Gur Tsabar and Brandon Fall has a great message about welcoming all your feelings and knowing they will come and go. There is plenty of humour and different situations in The Great Big Book of Feelings by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith and w is an engaging, bold drawing and colouring book. Any of these titles are great choices for talking about emotions, acknowledging and validating

what your child is feeling and helping them to identify and share. For a comprehensive list of our suggestions for reading for wellbeing, including books that explore self-esteem, empathy and much more, go to

JMM Massage & Rehabilitation TAKE OVER

TREAT YOURSELF TO SPORTS THERAPY Not just for the sporty, Jessica Macaulay sets us straight on the benefits of sports therapy for all, even couch potatoes.


ports Therapy is a treatment process whereby injuries and pains are both prevented and rehabilitated. Sports Therapy, however, does not target sporting people alone. Since beginning my career in London, I have worked with international rugby teams, ultra marathon runners, NFL players, disabled Paralympians, dancers, celebrity status clients, elderly and immobile clients, teenage aspiring athletes and of course, many clients who are not involved in sport of any kind. Office workers, builders and, importantly, parents are all people who will benefit from Sports Therapy treatment. I have been a sporting body requiring treatment, I have been an injured body requiring treatment and since becoming a parent I can assure you a parent’s body requires treatment. For those sporting and more active

bodies, sports therapy can increase performance, repair old and new injuries, adjust postural inefficiencies and manage any unwanted patterns that may be hindering form. My newly renovated therapy room is a space of comfort, calm and knowledge where your needs are always the first priority in every treatment. Relieving aches, pains and stresses is both important and rewarding and throughout my sessions clients can be sure to learn about their body and the

steps necessary to ensure they prevent recurring difficulties. As each client is treated as an individual, your treatment may involve; massage, soft tissue manipulation, acupuncture, joint mobilisation, ultrasound, cryotherapy, injury rehabilitation, cupping, postural realignment. Find out more on Facebook or Instagram: JMM Massage & Rehabilitation. Contact Jessica directly on 07753 451553 or email |



Welcome to Snotsville Hope you’ve got some annual leave left, we’re heading in to Snot Season…


hances are that at least one member of your family (and almost certainly you) are going to get ill over the next seven months, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do to fight it. We’ve put together a helpful list of some things you can do to stay well this autumn and winter.

Practice good hygiene

Sneeze and cough in to your elbow rather than your hands, like you’re doing a dab, wash hands regularly and don’t leave those snotty tissues lying around – it’s disgusting.

Eat well

Make sure you eat lots of vitamin-packed fruit and veg and drink plenty of water.

Sleep well

Sleep gives the body a chance to recoup and recharge and is important in keeping healthy – this includes naps.

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Get some exercise

As well as giving you some ‘wiggle room’ in the run up to Christmas, physical activity can support your immune system. Practicing mindfulness or meditation or any other practices that counteract the effects of stress on your body can help keep you healthy. 8|


Take Vitamin D

It’s cheaper than a week in the south of France and also a more reliable way of getting some vitamin D in to your system.


Is it a cold? Or is it the ’flu?

Should they stay or should they go?


In addition to colds and the ’flu, there are a whole host of ailments flying around in schools and workplaces. Here’s what the fabulous NHS has to say…

We explore the common differences so you know just how much sympathy to give

symptoms come on gradually sore throat congestion in nose / throat Sneezing


symptoms come on quickly headache and muscle aches fever chills fatigue and weak as a kitten

Stay At Home

Chicken Pox (return when all sores are crusted over) Food Poisoning / Diarrhoea / Vomitting (return 48 hrs after last bodily expulsion) Impetigo (return when all sores are crusted over or 48 hrs after starting antibiotic treatment) ’Flu (stay at home until symptoms clear) Scabies (stay at home until first treatment has been carried out) Scarlet Fever (return 24 hrs after starting antibiotic treatment) It’s important

Go To School / Work

to make sure kids wash their hands often and we ll throughout the col d and ’flu season.

Colds (bring tissues, treat symptoms) Cold Sores (but don’t touch, break or pick blisters) Conjunctivitis (but don’t rub your eyes) Glandular Fever (this can last a while, send in if well enough) Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Head Lice (treat only when live lice seen, remove eggs with nit comb) Ringworm (if on feet, be sure feet are covered until infection has cleared) Slapped Cheek (no need to keep them home, when the rash appears it’s no longer infectious) Threadworm (it’s uncommon be to spread in schools)

Get the ’flu vaccination

Obviously your choice, but certainly a good way of preventing the ’flu and keeping the population as a whole healthy (look up herd immunity).

Don’t touch your eyes or your nose (or anything)

The first rule of making curries and also important so as not to introduce germs and pathogens in to your body.

Wear a scarf The cilia (little hairs in your nose) can’t sweep up little germs very well when they are cold, warming up your nose with a scarf warms up the cilia so they can sweep more quickly – Grandma was right! |


Autumn on the Farm Look at these farm animals. Put a circle around the one thing that isn’t the same for both of them

Real Life Farm Fun They have four legs

They have ears

They have a woolly fleece

They like to eat grass


They give us milk


Tractor Ted introduces children to the world of real life farming and the countryside. DVDs, books, toys. Nationwide Live Events find out more

Answers: They have a woolly fleece . a - carrot harvester, b - potato harvester, c - combine harvester







Match the harvester to the crop

Cover Feature

Photography by Joby

ns Sessio

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Cover Feature

Model wears dress from The Happysads AW18 Collection by Bobo Choses, courtesy of Sister’s Guild

What is Colourscape? Colourscape is a completely open interactive space. The public are free to wander wherever they like exploring the colour, light and space. The intensity of colour, natural light and lack of any horizons or normal views of the world encourages a more playful response. This is true of both children and adults who feel less inhibited. We have seen very young children being very confident to explore in safety and interacting with other children in a natural way. Exploring is a natural starting point for play. Do you think children play enough? I feel too many contemporary children’s activities are passive (receiving television, receiving internet, YouTube etc). Colourscape encourages active exploratory play and this is very empowering for all. What does the music add to the experience? Because Colourscape has no boundaries (no stage, no separation of public and musicians, no seating) the public are more involved in the performances. Very young children can get very close to the musicians seeing the techniques

“Research has shown that harnessing children’s creativity and natural exploration increases their capability in Maths, Science and English” Simon Desorgher, composer and Projects Director of Eye Music Trust

of playing, hearing new sounds – even looking over their shoulder at the music. At our weekday events we tend to work with a creative musician who moves between performing and creating spontaneous workshops with a large range of percussion instruments from around the world. Often, we see grandparents and young children taking instruments and joining in a spontaneous ensemble led by the professional musician. What are your thoughts on creative subjects being removed from the school curriculum? The UK had a very strong creative curriculum with instrumental lessons and composition being encompassed within the exam curriculum. Recent changes and emphasis on sciences and “core” subjects has restricted access to creative subjects in school. This is a short-sighted viewpoint. Research has shown that harnessing children’s creativity and natural exploration increases their capability in Maths, Science and English. Rigid teaching by rote and information being received is never as powerful as learning by discovery and creativity. That principle is accepted by all educationalists.

Do you think there is a link between lack of play and poor mental health? Research into other species as well as humans has shown that inactivity creates a decrease in mental capacity. That is actually obvious as mind / body connections increase with activity. In extreme cases, lack of activity and lack of stimulation can result in degrees of depression. Why did you set up Colourscape? Colourscape was created in the late sixties by an artist who wanted to create pure colour installations. The inflatable technology allowed him to create sculptures of pure colour and space that he could take out into parks and open spaces rather than being restricted into art galleries. This naturally increased the audience from a more exclusive “arts” clique into a more diverse local audience. When Lawrence Casserly, a fellow composer, and I saw Colourscape in the mid eighties we decided to move our contemporary music festival out of a dusty old concert hall and into this exciting new space.The result was an increase in audiences from maybe 20 to 600 and upwards per day. In the first year of the Colourscape Music Festival � |

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Cover Feature

Is play gender specific? Vin Callan from Childs Play UK queries whether play and gender are connected… on Clapham Common in 1989 an ice cream van pulled up to sell to the queue and we realised that we had discovered a new way to vastly increase and widen the audiences for contemporary music. Now – 29 years later – Eye Music Trust is a regularly-funded Arts Council organisation with four different sizes of specialist Colourscape structures designed for music and workshop presentations. When can we get some more of this colour therapy? Colourscape now has three regular nine-day festivals in Waddesdon Manor (May / June), Holburne, Bath (late August) and Clapham Common (mid-September). Each one is shown in a different size of Colourscape with the largest being Clapham at a one-acre 95-chamber structure and Waddesdon, a purpose-made mid-size structure. Other one-day and weekend events happen around the country. In 2018: Sevenoaks; Birmingham; Buckfastleigh; Corby; Winchester; Lewisham; Bristol. In 2019 there may be other new venues. For up-to-date information about Colourscape, visit 14 |



hat are the clearest play memories you have with you mum? Was it sewing, cooking, knitting, arts and crafts, reading and storytelling? What are the clearest memories you have of playing with your dad? Was it wrestling, football, rugby, den-making, tree-climbing, making weapons, using drills or screwdrivers? Was it because that’s what they enjoyed doing? Was it cultural? Biological? Or, was it due to who went out to work and who stayed at home? Speaking to a small number of grandparents, I asked them what their memories where. Overwhelmingly, they told me that their mum would do arts and craft, baking and sewing and their dad would have the kids helping to fix the car. Interestingly this was the same regardless of the their gender – girls would also help dad with the car and boys would bake with mum. This was much the same as my upbringing – boxing, wrestling and fixing bikes with my dad and drawing and baking with my mum. But things were a little different when it came to spending time with my brothers. Our house was full of Action Men, Evel Knievel, Batman and Robin, Spiderman and the Fonz. We had

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Cover Feature

toy guns, boxing gloves, Transformers, drawers full of toy cars and Airfix models of fighter jets. So, this is what we played with. It got me thinking. If we only give boys footballs, trucks, guns, superhero figures, robots and dinosaurs surely that’s what they are going to play with? Likewise, if all we give girls are Barbies, My Little Ponies, princess dresses, nail art and toy ironing boards, isn’t that going to be all they will play with? What if, regardless of gender, we gave children the following: ● A box filled with card, wool, tape and colouring pens ● A hammer, some nails and some wood ● A tool kit and a work bench ● Optimus Prime and Rainbow Dash ● Elsa and Batman ● Or just a massive pile of Lego bricks?

Would boys make guns and forts and robot armies? Would girls build princess castles and animal shelters? Would the choice be ours, or theirs? A few weeks ago I was chatting to a film-maker about play and he paraphrased actor Robert Carlyle as saying, “Kids don’t need all these fancy toys, give ‘em a stick,

a stick can be anything, a wand, a sword a person, whatever you can imagine it to be.” A lot of the time children, like adults, will choose what they know. If we offer them a balanced “menu” of play opportunities they can make informed choices and makes things more spontaneous and more fun for everyone. This brings us around to play experiences with adults outside the home. Most children spend their weekdays away from home in either nurseries, schools or other childcare and after-school settings where female staff are the majority. Just 1-2% of childcare and out-of-school-care workers are male, 15 % of primary school workers are male and 17% of playworkers in the UK are male. Why is the number of men working with kids so so low? Low pay, reinforced perceptions of gender roles and stereotypes – of woman being natural carers and recruitment and marketing have all been sited. In addition, the risk of being wrongly accused of indecent behaviour, the perception that men can be perceived as being threatening or aggressive, and the perception that working with children is a career path for women because they are perceived as more nurturing may deter

men from choosing a career with children. These stereotypes run so deeply in our society we probably don’t notice at first, but just think about how supermarkets divide toys and clothes into “boys” and “girls” sections with unicorns in one aisle and dinosaurs in the other. We live in a world where we can choose what gender we want to live as, where gender can be fluid. What if we applied that to the way we played and parented? What if we were fluid with our approach to play and our approach to parenting?What if we balanced our own masculine and feminine traits when playing? We all have masculine and feminine characteristics, characteristics which help us to nurture and care for children, to take risks and be adventurous, to find out how things work and to share our experience of the world with others. I feel we need to look to ourselves to provide and model that balance, to show our kids it’s OK to be themselves and to choose what they want to play with without being shackled by fictitious boundaries. I can’t deny that some research suggests that there is a preference towards types of play depending on gender. There have been experiments where male monkeys gravitate towards trucks and female monkeys prefer playing with dolls. I’m not in any position to say that the research is wrong. I’m just proposing that, if all children have the freedom to choose from a balanced play ‘menu’ that it will enrich their play experience. And hey, you never know, it might even break down gender stereotypes and lead to a more equal society in the future. Vin is an Operations Manager with Childs Play Clubs UK, where he helps teams provide child-led, play-inspired out-of-school care in the South West of England across four sites in Cheltenham and Frome. Visit to find out more about local after-school clubs or email |

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Springmead School TAKE OVER

WHERE LEARNING IS CHILD’S PLAY During 2017/18, Springmead School in Beckington was awarded the National ISA Award for Excellence in Extra-Curricular Activities and commended for Excellence in Parental Engagement


esearch reveals that pupils who participate in extracurricular activities are three times more likely to have better grades compared to those who Go Explore!, an outdoor programme do not participate. Extra-mural clubs go teaching survival skills, science, plantlore, beyond the curriculum and allow pupils bushcraft, geography and mapping; to learn life skills that benefit them right a thriving School Council and an through to adulthood, socially and in Ambassador programme for their most their professional and academic careers. senior students. At Springmead School, there are over 30 In tracking participation in extralunch-time and after-school activities curricular activities, Springmead has children can choose from, ranging from found a strong correlation between Chess to Fashion, from Healthy Eating engagement in extra-curricular to Lego, Sport, Cross Country, the activities and academic success – Arts, Geography, Science – the Places still variety of activities enthuses available for and engages a wide range of 2018/2019 and interests. Springmead believes 2019/2020 every child has talent and that it is a school’s duty to spark it. While most schools offer some extramural clubs, Springmead’s commitment to their students’ development goes further, offering: an annual Geography Day, Science Day, Science Fair, Sports Day and Arts Showcase; Academic and Sport Enrichment Days; The Springmead Award which includes a hobby; a physical activity; community service; a first aid course; a residential trip and a hike;

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the more children try out, participate and engage in new ideas and concepts, the more they engage in class and in subjects across the curriculum. “We are delighted to have won the ISA Award for Excellence in ExtraCurricular Activities. We believe strongly in developing the whole child and we find this approach supports each and every child to excel academically and personally.” Madeleine Taylor The school was also identified as one of the top schools in the country for Excellence in Parental Engagement and shortlisted for the ISA’s annual award for successful initiatives such as: daily school diaries; weekly newsletters; their up-todate, informative and engaging social media; three annual progress reports each followed by a parent consultation; focus evenings for parents and regular, often weekly, email correspondence. Visit, email us at info@ or ring us on 01373 831 555 to find out more or to arrange a visit.

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Hero & Sass offers quality, colourful, comfortable fashion trainers with added sparkle. Designed mindfully for mums and their children, in two styles; High Tops and Sneakers available in both vegan and real leathers. Join us on the twinning wave #twinningiswinning Founded earlier this year, Hero and Sass respects that this busy parenting shizzle requires added simplicity where possible. Hero & Sass are aware of sustainability and we value a shared consumer interest in the ‘buy better, buy less’ ethos.

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The University of Bath’s Dr Andrew Ross talks to The Little Things about how to have fun with science. No, really…


ou may not have heard of Science Capital – most people haven’t, but it is all the rage across universities at the moment. Science Capital comes from some work done most recently at Kings College London. It basically says that children who engage with science at a young age are more likely to choose science or engineering subjects and careers in the future. The research suggests that children have pretty much made up their mind about whether they will aspire to a science or engineering career by the end of primary school, which is pretty scary. How do you build your child’s science capital and their knowledge of science and engineering? Don’t worry if you’re not a scientist, these tips are great for everyone and it will give you some quiet time while your child is engaged in other activities. A DAY OUT TO A SCIENCE CENTRE If you live near a science centre (there are big ones in Bristol and Winchester), then these are great places to have your child entertained for hours playing and engaging with all the interactive science and engineering on offer. Rather than them run aimlessly around, why not set them a few things they have to do while they are there? They could draw a picture of their favourite piece of science or write

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5 words about each of the things they engage with. Maybe you could even set some questions they have to answer like: What is the display about? What is the key science/engineering the activity is trying to show? Does it remind them of anything they have done at school? TV SHOWS We all need some down time and many of us use TV time as a bit of me time. Rather than standard children’s programmes, why not find some science shows on the internet? There are things for every age group; things about space or dinosaurs are usually a winner. While they’re watching the programme, they could write a few of the new words they learn or some things they find interesting. Sometimes your child will watch a programme then come to you with a really complicated question – don’t worry – rather than having to give them the answer why not use it as a learning opportunity and work with them to find out the answer on the internet. Eventually, your child will learn how to do their own research. GET THEM TO DO A RESEARCH PROJECT This can last for weeks. You can get your child to ‘ask’ a question that they would like to know the answer to. Smaller questions are much better than large ones – it’s much better to ask, “what type of items float?” than to ask, “Why is the sky blue?” There are lots of suggestions of questions online which you can use to guide your child to the right question online (mainly American sites that support students to do science fairs).

A question that can be measured is best and will allow you to expand their exploration as the hours/days/weeks progress. To ensure your child keeps engaged it’s best if they are producing something they can show you. They can write about everything they have done and design a poster at the end that they can take to a school show and tell session. This is not only engaging them with science and engineering but it also supports your child’s inquisition and questioning skills, which will help them in all areas of school and life. Any engagement your child does with science and engineering is very positive and will ensure they progress into secondary school still enjoying the thoughts of a scientific career. Things can change though when secondary school begins, science isn’t always fun practicals using Bunsen burners (despite what the open evening might show you) sometimes they will have to learn facts and figures and some children struggle with this and decide that science and engineering is not for them. Some students though stay engaged and decide to go onto scientific and engineering careers in the future.

DR ANDREW ROSS Andrew is the Science Outreach Manager at the University of Bath and runs programmes and activities to support student of all ages – primary through to sixth form – particularly from underrepresented backgrounds to progress to university. Andrew has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield and in 2010 he set the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to make 1 litre of ice cream – in just 10.34 seconds!


15 September to 13 October An exhibition of works that reflect, represent or capture modern day scientific phenomena. Free admission 11am–5pm, Tuesday–Saturday | 01225 386777 The Edge, University of Bath, BA2 7PD


Arts and creativity hub based at the University of Bath. The Edge is home to the Andrew Brownsword Gallery, theatres, music and art studios, plus a lively café/bar – a destination that promotes the art in science and the science in art – open to all.

HOW SCIENCE AND CREATIVITY CAN COME TOGETHER Arts and science can seem like contrasting subjects miles apart yet they are both fuelled by our desire to understand the world, to experiment, explore and test things out. Something our children seem so naturally ready to do. Bath’s creation centre The Edge is based at University of Bath and presents a place for play - where researchers, artists and audiences can come together to showcase new thinking and ideas. The perfect place for curious minds.

ART + SCIENCE = ? This autumn The Edge is showcasing artworks inspired by science, including a Visions of Science Art Prize and eight pieces created in collaboration with University of Bath scientists. From a comic book which takes us inside the Physics Laboratory, to a filmed performance exploring black holes, the free Visions of Science exhibition is sure to leave you wondering what in our world (or beyond) makes

you curious? So, let your children share their answer in an artwork…

CHILDREN’S ART PRIZE Create your own science-inspired masterpiece The Edge are asking young minds to get creative with their own artworks inspired by science. You can send something in to be pegged up in our Resource Room or visit the exhibition to seek out some inspiration. To enter the Children’s Art Prize, submit one piece of artwork inspired by science. You could

JOIN US FOR OUR FAMILY TAKEOVER FORTNIGHTLY SATURDAY WORKSHOPS 22 September, 6 & 20 October, 3 & 17 November, 1 & 15 December 2018 The Edge, University of Bath FREE ADMISSION Box Office: 01225 386777 Join artist educator Victoria Willmott at The Edge creation centre for a series of free, fun and informal drop-in creative activities every other Saturday. Simply pop by from 11am-2pm and have fun getting creative together, with drawing and making for all the family to enjoy, exploring ideas from exhibitions at The Edge.

paint a laboratory, draw the solar system or illustrate your favourite science fact! Artworks must be A4 and include the young artist’s age (from 0–16 years) Deadline: Saturday 13 October. Exciting prizes combining art and science. If posting, please send to: Miss S Cooper, The Edge, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY. Remember to include your contact details so we can let you know who’s won! Contact details will be stored securely and used for this purpose only. Email to find out more.




SHOES ON! Retired teacher Suzy Howlett knows a thing or two about getting dressed…

© Adobe Stock


ou know, really, that you would save more time if your child knew how to get dressed, and had learnt to get on with it, right? You also know that it takes time you already struggle to find. Perhaps the biggest challenge is actually finding that time, and finding the patience to see it through. Bear in mind, though, that you probably have one or two children to organise, while teachers frequently have well-over thirty. Bite the bullet, preferably beginning well before they go to school. But it’s never too late so here are some tips to help you get going… Let your child know, cheerfully and firmly, that they are now big enough – and clever enough – to get themselves dressed, and you’re going to help them with some handy tricks to make it easy. Start with clothes that are just slightly on the large side. Aim for small victories rather than expecting your child to tackle everything at once. You might begin with underpants and socks (but not tights). Teach your child to sit down to get their legs through pants. Show them that the label goes at the back (or buy pants with pictures on the front to help). Vests or t-shirts will help them learn how to organise their own arms into their

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It’s good advice for ! ‘adult headache’ days, too sleeves. You might need to start by getting them to practice pushing their own arms through the arm-holes and all the way down. Teach them how to put the tag at the back, push the crown of their head through the neck-hole (not face-first), then find the armholes with first one arm, and then the other. Add trousers or shorts (starting with elastic waists). Remember that socks go on before trousers, and they also make it easier to slide those feet into the legs. Gradually add more items at a pace your child can realistically manage. Avoid zips, fastenings at the back, tight buttons and tight clothes until your child has got used to this stage. You’ll sort all those things out, but not quite yet. Fabric softener can make stiff clothes easier for your child to manage. If you have a coat with a hood, teach them to put the hood on their head first. That way it shouldn’t go on back to front. Velcro shoes are a good place to start. Place them side-by-side the right way round. Make sure they have somewhere to sit down, like a low step or stool. When taking their shoes off, get them to practice putting them together the right way round (saving their teacher many grey hairs). You could put a small coloured dot on the inside of each shoe that’ll matchup when the pair are correctly lined-up. Once you get on to buttons and zips, practice with big buttonholes. But remember, if they’re using a soft toy to practice on, being able to button a teddy’s jacket from the front is the other way round from doing their own, so try dressing it from behind, with the toy facing away. If shirts and cardigans get buttoned up and out of line with one remaining at the end, don’t worry – you’ve already come a long way! To help, take an old shirt and draw a line with a marker around a buttonhole and its matching button. Then,

just move on to using a more discreet mark on a wearable item. Sometimes it’s easier to start with the lowest button and work up. Getting organised is really important. As your child moves through the stages, lay their clothes out the night before, with the first things to be put-on arranged on top. Then, unless they’re dressing-up as a super-hero, they won’t get to the end and realise they’ve forgotten to put their pants on before their trousers. Get your child to help you do this so that they’ll eventually be able to do it independently. Set an expectation that they can get dressed when they’re out of bed without waiting for you. Avoid having any phones or screens anywhere near your child’s sight lines at dressing time. The distraction will prove irresistible. At the risk of sounding a bit Mary Poppins-ish, we found a busysounding piece of music or song quite a good accompaniment. You could even make a ‘Getting Dressed’ playlist – although you’ll likely use a phone or similar device to play this so the potential for distratcion could outweigh the benefit. Some children find a countdown timer helpful to keep them focussed, others find that it makes them anxious. At school, explain to the class teacher what you’re doing to help your child become more independent.They may have some good tips,or may make a special effort to praise them for their achievements. Stay cheerful, if you can! Star charts, can help your child stay motivated, or you might take the view that these are reasonable, normal expectations which need a bit of praise and patience. Finding whatever works in your family is the key, though. Hang-in there – you and your child will both feel happier and more confident once they’ve cracked it. They’ll definitley still lose their jumper at some point, though… and their coat. And probably a shoe.

Harris & Harris Solicitors TAKE OVER

SERIOUS BUSINESS So you’re finding parenting too easy? Or you don’t fancy returning to your old job at the end of m/paternity leave? Perhaps you’re an empty nester or a grandparent? Why not start your own business? HOW DO YOU START A BUSINESS? The ‘idea' comes first. If you don’t have an idea, you don’t have a business. The idea can be revolutionary and disruptive, or it can just be doing something better or differently. No 'idea'? You could take on a franchise and pay for someone else’s idea. DECIDE WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. A lifestyle business that you will enjoy and will pay for itself? Your primary source of income? Secondary source? Grow rapidly, sell off and retire? TALK ABOUT YOUR IDEA – OR DON’T. Those who are in business need a supportive network. Your friends, your children’s friends’ parents, your old work contacts, and their friends, are all resources for market research, business planning, and even technical guidance. Get their advice and learn from their mistakes. In creative industries and increasingly the wider economy these people may also be your collaborators or business referral network. However, if your idea is really innovative and has big potential, don’t reveal it to anyone else. Meet people, talk to them and listen but beware, there are people out there with fewer morals and more resources than you who steal your idea. If you have 'the big idea', ask others to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before you talk. The Intellectual Property Office ( has a good precedent, which is free, if you don’t want to spend money at this stage. As well as your existing contacts try meeting new people, networking

and getting advice from organisations like your local Chamber of Commerce, or your local council's Economic Development Officer. There are plenty of resources on the internet, some of which are reliable – try www.startupdonut. Most worthwhile professionals will give you half an hour of their time to a new business without charging. WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN Business plans are always a good idea. Lenders will require one. Write one that suits your business, or the audience for the plan. Not many will survive the first contact with commercial reality but that’s fine. They give you a framework to start from but every business plan has to be reviewed and revised. Think about getting help with this from a business mentor or coach. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU NEED? This isn’t just desks, machinery and paper clips. You can run many businesses from a laptop in a café. In most cases it is going to be people. UNDERSTAND WHO YOU NEED? Do you need people with skills or people with money? Will they be employees, or provide services to you. What about finance and business structures. At this point it is prudent to talk to an accountant. It will also save you money. You will also need to think about customers – how will you find and deal with them? RISKS AND YOUR RIGHTS. For many businesses their value is not in

the physical things in their warehouse, or the lathes in their factory, but in their name, their brand and their logo. Make sure that you own as much as you can and have all the rights you need, especially when dealing with designers. What are your risks with customers – can you protect yourself through systems or your Terms & Conditions? Finally, remember the ancient Phoenician proverb - “Do business with your brother, be optimistic, but get it in writing.” It avoids misunderstandings, and it protects you from the kind of disputes that can destroy a good business, a friendship, a relationship, bank balances and peace of mind. There may be a perfect business where the idea leapt fully formed from the forehead of the innovator, the money fell off the money tree and the business plan performed perfectly and met every performance indicator KPI. Yours probably won’t be like that but Harris & Harris can help you navigate your way through. If you’re ready to discuss your idea, give us a ring, we’d love to hear more over a cup of coffee. Neil Howlett is a Solicitor at Harris & Harris in Frome. He has worked with many startups, SMEs and larger, corporate businesses. He has helped many entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, but too often he sees things go wrong when businesses fail to get the right advice and support. Neil is also on the committee of the Frome & District Chamber of Commerce, where he is constantly surprised and delighted by the optimism and expertise of local entrepreneurs.

Find Harris & Harris online at: |

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to make the one hour documentary. Currently, we are in the process of putting together tours. We’ve seen other people try to do tiger tours. We understand India and we understand tigers. They will be the best tiger tours in the world.

Colin Stafford-Johnson tells The Little Things about his wild life in advance of his show at The Cheese and Grain in Frome on October 19th. How did you become a wildlife cameraman? I always liked natural history. I grew up with five siblings and, for the most part, we entertained ourselves. We had the freedom to play and natural history was always there. I ended up studying biology and videography for my degree. For my career, the connections I made in industry were important. As soon as I finished studying, I started an apprenticeship and put myself out there. I had a knowledge of wildlife and a knowledge of biology. Passion is important too. I remember having read about the Bower bird of Papau New Guinea and I was intrigued by their exotic courtship display. It took me 15 years, but I eventually tracked one down. It’s a career of passion, rather than cash. We’ve been exploring play, has play been important to you? My main entertainment was books, and occasionally television. As I said, we mostly entertained ourselves hours were spent with nothing more than string and a bit of pepperoni. We climbed trees and climbed walls we weren’t supposed to. There was very little organised play. That sparks imagination. 22 |


That sounds amazing. Family? Or just adults? They’d be mostly for adults and older children and they’d last about a week or 10 days. Right. I suppose young kids and tigers don’t mix. What is the number one threat to wild animals? Human population and the way humans are deciding to live. There are 1.3 million people in the world every week. Human greed plays a role too. What can kids do at a local level to help protect the environment for wild animals? Grow food, connect with the seasons, the earth, temperatures, the sun. Give kids their own little patch of land. This could even be window boxes for each child if you don’t have a big garden. Plant for butterflies and bees. Grow native, get native.

Nowadays there is a lot of imagining of things for children. We are not giving them choices and we are solving all of their problems for them. I often draw on those times when I was growing up and using my imagination. What is your favourite animal? Tigers. I’ve spent a lot of time with tigers. I followed one regularly for about 10 years. I also filmed a documentary called Broken Tail: A Tiger’s Last Journey about India’s last few tigers. I spent 220 days in the field

Colin has filmed some of the most renowned natural history sequences in his homeland of Ireland and now for the first time will be sharing his hair-raising stories with UK theatre audiences this autumn with his tour ‘Living a Wild Life…with Colin StaffordJohnson’ which comes to the Cheese and Grain in Frome on Friday 19th October 2018. Tickets are available via the Cheese and Grain Box Office tel: 01373 455420 / website: cheeseandgrain. com. Visit for other tour dates around the UK.

MERLIN THEATRE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS Stuck with what to buy a friend, loved one or colleague as a gift? Is there a birthday, wedding, baby shower or leaving do fast approaching? Unsure of what the latest, must-have kid’s present is? The Bath Gift Card is the perfect flexible present for any occasion. Launched by Bath Business Improvement District, the Bath Gift Card is the ideal option for those tricky-to-buy-for loved ones as it can be redeemed at nearly 200 outlets in Bath. Pre-load the card with as little as £10, or as much as £500. The Bath Gift Card can be purchased online from and from designated sales points in the city, such as My Small World in Southgate.

THE NUTCRACKER A musical play

THURSDAY 06 DECEMBER TO SATURDAY 15 DECEMBER VARIOUS TIMES It’s Christmas, the best time of year for toys and stories. But all over the world, the magic of Make Believe is fading. Only the toys know the truth: the Queen and King of Mouses have stolen the Christmas Star and used its magic to turn the Prince of Make Believe into a wooden Nutcracker. Can Clara and her brother Fritz bring the Nutcracker back to life, help him defeat the House of Mouse, and restore him to the throne? First, they must believe… After last year’s hugely successful award winning Hansel and Gretel, Merlin Theatre Productions return this Christmas with a beautiful imagining of this festive favourite.

At The Chapel, Bruton Friday 9 November 9am–4pm The Somerset Collective is back hosting a Christmas pop up sale in At The Chapel, Bruton, for the 4th year running. Consisting of a group of over 25 local sellers and makers selling a mixture of homewares, jewellery, skincare, fashion, menswear, toys, accessories, teen gifts, edible gifts and more , there will be regulars plus many exciting new stalls. The Somerset Collective has raised over £5,000 for charity over the past 4 years. This year 10% of all sales will be donated to The Nelson Trust to support disadvantaged women in Avon and Somerset. Find us up in the Gallery, down in the Clubroom and out on the terrace.

Booking for lunch is essential. Call 01749 814070 Follow The Somerset Collective on Instagram and Facebook for more information.



It’s Halloween! (as if everyday parenting doesn’t scare us enough.) Mother of four, Isabella Hamnett, helps us to conjure up the festive spirit.


o sooner have the children returned to school sporting haircuts and shiny new shoes than we are hurtling towards Autumn events. The highlight of which in our house, is undoubtedly Halloween; a custom which grows more spectacular every year, not least owing to Pinterest and Instagram. Here are my top tips for surviving Halloween whilst (attempting) to save precious pennies and teeth!


Halloween rivals World Book Day in terms of the array of costumes now available everywhere from supermarkets to Amazon. It’s so easy to point, click and have dispatched, but the one year that my children still talk of was when we made the simplest home-made costumes and the fun we had making them. The prospect is admittedly daunting, particularly when squeezing it in between work, house and a zillion other to-do’s; but the rewards are well worth it… trust-me. Oh, and making-your-own wins hand-down on the good-life front.

mUmMY This has to be the easiest

and quickest (eco-friendly) costume there is; the bonus being that your child can wear their

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own comfy sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms underneath. Simply wrap toilet roll around their body… they particularly love it if you stand still and they spin themselves around! Face and hands can be painted in white face paint and some fabric bandage round their head (or face) makes it extra authentic.

gHoST An oldie but a goodie and looks super cute on tiny tots. Simply cut up an old sheet or piece of white material to drape over your child and cut out two eyes. sKeLeToN Paint bones onto an old black top and trousers or leggings for a ready-made skeleton and if you can get hold of glowin-the-dark paint so much the better. Don’t forget the face-paints, they have the power to transform pretty much any outfit into something suitable spooky.

tRiCkS & tReAtS

This is an opportunity to make food fun for littlies and the big-kids too. We all know that the kids countdown for the treats; mine usually return with buckets so heavy they can barely carry them. The trick (for parents) is to fill their tummies with goodness before they head out into the night, to minimise room for sweets! Sites like Pinterest are flooded with foodie inspiration, but here are a few personal favourites:

hAlLoWeEN pIzZA pOtAtOeS Hearty, tasty and healthy. Halve baked potatoes and then hollow out the skins before filling with a mix of the potato and passata. Top with sliced or grated cheese and sliced olives to make spooky spiders webs, mummies, ghouls and ghosts. sKeLeToN cRuDiTE Healthy and scary, simply assemble your chosen crudité on a large board to make a delicious skeleton with crunchy bones. Add some suitably gruesome dips such as green guacamole and blood red tomato salsa. fRuIT mOnStER The ultimate Halloween showstopper. Carve a watermelon as you would a pumpkin (kids will love doing this), stand on a large plate and create melon ‘vomit’ spilling out of the melon’s mouth. Add in other favourite fruits to make a nutritious dessert. Wolf them down yourself. And finally, how to ration those You know you sweets? If you have tiny ones, it’s want to! pretty simple to let them have a couple a day before they forget all about them. With older kids, how about exchanging their sweets for a gift-card or if they love baking; the internet is full of recipes that involve sweets such as stained-glass window cookies. Happy Halloween!

Real Life

WHEN IT’S ALL A GAME Since Atari’s Pong was first released in 1972, video games have been a familiar part of family life.


xperts estimate that approximately 2.4 billion people play video games worldwide and it’s almost a certainty that you have at least one living in your house. Since Atari first launched Pong in 1972, video games have become a thriving international industry worth over £80 billion (Superdata, January 2018). Recently, the World Health Organisation has included Gaming Disorder in the International

Classification of Diseases citing for “gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months” ( What was that? ‘Significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational or other important areas of functioning’? I’m sure many of us would be able to put together a strong case for a diagnosis of Gaming Disorder, particularly when the game needs to go off and the arguing starts. Before we all rush to our GP, it’s worth spending some time learning about video games. Did you know that surgeons in training are advised to play video games to help with their hand-eye coordination

and fine motor skills? Games can also help develop reading and maths skills, leadership skills and develop a child’s ability to decision-making skills. With the help of some experts in the field of gaming, we’re putting on an open and honest discussion on games. How much is too much? How do I set limits? How do kids get addicted to games and how to games developers encourage longer game play? Should my child play Fortnite? Join us, and our panel of pros, on Thursday November 15th in Bath to find the answer to these questions and more… See below for more details.


● Know what the age ratings mean and set parental controls – visit to find out more. ● Learn about the content of the games your children are playing. ● Set time limits in discussion with your child and stick to them.

With an international panel of esteemed male and female games designers, games developers, columnists, innovators, psychotherapists, psychologists, gamers and parents, this promises to be an informative and entertaining evening. Jill Bendry, co-founder of My Box Clever.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 15 Walcot House, Bath, BA1 5BG

Join us for an entertaining evening of discussion and drinks as we explore the pros and cons of video games, their impact and parenting strategies.

Doors 6:30pm | Discussion 8:00pm–9:30pm with interval Open until 11:00pm For tickets, and more information, visit: Tickets limited to 100. Dinner tickets available.

Brought to you by My Box Clever | The Little Things Magazine | Walcot House

Weekday Dinners


ust over a month in and if you are anything like most parents, you must be sick to the back teeth of sandwiches. Sandwiches in the morning, sandwiches in the evening, always sandwiches. The worst bit is, they don't even get eaten. The laboured-over lunch comes home in the same container sweating like a teacher at parent’s evening. So, given that they don’t eat whatever you put in their lunch boxes anyway, we thought we’d offer up a few alternatives to the everyday sandwich.

Picnic Lunch This is a firm favourite in our house and it take very little preparation. This lunch is, more or less, exactly the same as the picnic plates given to toddlers at a kid’s birthday party (minus the party rings). You can make this the night before, the morning of, or, you can get the kids to make it themselves (if they are supervised and/or old enough to use a knife). Put in what they like, leave out what they don’t.


●● A quarter of a cucumber roughy chopped in to strips or circles ●● A carrot, chopped in to strips or circles ●● A handful of cherry tomatoes ●● Half a celery stalk cut into chunks or strips ●● A couple of slices of ham / chicken / salami – any meat, or veggie meat, they will eat ●● Cream crackers or alternative – as many as your child likes ●● Slices of cheese – enough for the crackers ●● A handful of grapes – cut in half for young children ●● A banana, an apple or any other fruit ●● Dried fruit, such as mango or apricots or anything else ●● Nuts and whatever they will eat from your cupboard


Throw it all in a sealable container. You can include some hummus or other dip if your child likes it, if not, leave it out.


If you’re already chopping veg, why not chop enough so can have some for your lunch / snack as well. It will last for a couple of days in the fridge – eat it yourself, give it to the kids after school or chuck it in their lunch box on another day! 26 |


Tuna Mayo Lettuce Wraps INGREDIENTS ●● Iceberg lettuce ●● Tinned Tuna ●● Mayonnaise ●● Sweetcorn or cucumber to put in tuna mayo – but only if you like it

METHOD 1 Crack open the tin of tuna, drain it

and mix it up with some mayonnaise. 2 Add tinned sweetcorn or chopped up cucumber depending on yours, or your kids, taste. 3 Take off a leaf of iceberg lettuce. Place the tuna mayo in the middle of the iceberg lettuce and wrap it up. Be sure to include plenty of kitchen roll in their lunch box – this will be messy!

Weekday Dinners

Toasted Pesto Cheesy Pasta Wraps Yes, it’s a bit like a sandwich, but much more fun. You can throw just about anything in-between two wraps, add a bit of cheese and presto, you have a fun sandwich / pizza alternative. To make it healthier, choose wholewheat wraps. This recipe is best to do the night before. Store in the fridge until they leave for school.


●● Pretty much exactly what your kids like on their pizzas. You could put pepperoni, mushrooms, ham, pineapple, red onions, sweetcorn – anything, really. But if you are making them for the kids it’ll likely be just cheese and a bit of tomato puree with a light sprinkling of mixed herbs and S&P. ●● You could also go with some more Mexican flavours if your kids are a bit more adventurous. Try cheese with some cooked chicken, avocado and mild salsa.

© Adobe Stock

METHOD 1 Spread a thin layer of tomato puree

with a sprinkle of mixed herbs and salt and pepper (or not if you’re going for more Mexican flavours) on to a wrap. Drop in to a frying pan with the puree side facing up. (Be sure this frying pan can go under the grill.) 2 Add grated cheese plus any other ingredients you choose being careful not to fill too full. Add another wrap on top. Keep the heat on low-medium until you see the cheese melting. Put the wrap under the grill to cook the top. Be sure that all food, particularly pre-cooked meats, is piping-hot before removing from the grill. 3 Cut into triangles and let cool before putting in fridge.

Not just for quick and easy dinners, this lazy parent’s favourite works for lunchboxes too! If you feel guilty about just giving them pasta, you can add sundried tomatoes into the mix or you could add spiralized courgettes when cooking the pasta. They probably won’t eat anything other than the pasta, but at least you can get on with your day knowing that you tried!


●● Pasta or any shape, size or ingredient including wholewheat or spelt ●● Pesto – green or red / store-bought or homemade ●● Optional to make you feel good – sun-dried tomatoes or courgettes


Surely you don’t need instructions, your kids have been living off this (and other pasta recipes) for years. 1 Boil it up, drain it off, toss in some pesto, let it cool off, throw it into a sealable container and put it in the fridge. 2 If you’re not adding any veg to the pesto, at least give them some fruit for afters.

P.B. & Banana Okay, so there is really is no way to get through a full week without resorting to a sandwich in the lunchbox. This bad boy has always been one of my favourites. There are few things as satisfying as the saltiness of the peanut butter with the sweetness of the This con tains banana. As a child of the peanut butter, N so DO O T m ake if y ’80s, mine were always ou, you or anyo rc ne at yo ur child hild on stodgy white bread, has a se ’s schoo vere pe l anut all fact, pe but it’s better to use ergy. In rhaps s ave this an afterone for whole-wheat or 50/50. school


snack or week end lun ch.

●● Two slices of bread of your choice (just kidding, I know it’s your kid’s choice) ●● One banana ●● Peanut butter ●● *Willpower – optional

METHOD 1 Slather both pieces of bread with

peanut butter. Slice the banana into thin, round circles and lay on to one slice of peanut buttered bread. 2 Slap the other slice of bread on top. * If you don’t have any willpower, whack a whole bunch of peanut butter on the the remaining slices of banana and gobble it up before anyone sees you. |

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she was up-and-running. I wasn’t needed again and she is now at university. Both parents were teachers, so why weren’t they teaching their own daughter to read? The answer – I think – is this: most of us have mythologised reading into being something that only school can teach; if we try and get involved we’ll probably mess-up the system, mess-up our kids, so best leave it to ‘the professionals’.

Veteran teacher and founder of FunPhonics, John Randall, gives us some advice on how to get little one's reading.


of it.” He nodded towards the school. He had marked his boundary-line of when teaching your own children ends and relying on school begins. What he didn’t know was that I’d taught my daughter how to read before she’d even started school, and I didn’t understand why he seemed to regard it as beyond him. I got my answer to that question via another friend – a teacher colleague (yep, I’m a qualified secondary school teacher) who asked if I could help out with his fiveyear-old daughter who wasn’t making any progress with reading since she’d started at primary school. She was bright and willing, but just wasn’t getting it. This is where I need to tell you that I’m trained in teaching phonics-based reading to young children. I turned-up for three 30 minute sessions at their house and after some games and excitement,

© Adobe Stock

yself and another dad had spent an exhausting half an hour running up and down car-free tarmac next to the local primary school, in the name of teaching our daughters how to ride the dreaded two-wheel bike. Having run alongside wobbling six year olds, panting instructions and encouragement, we finally threw in the towel, each of us trying to mask how breathless we really were. “I’ll be so glad when we don’t have to teach them anything else”, gasped my red-faced friend. “Just imagine”, he continued, “if we had to teach them everything, like learning to read and all

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PHONICS As someone experienced in teaching phonics, I know just how easy it can be for any parents to teach their own children to read before they start school. I taught my daughter, Lily, to read when she was four years old and it was fun for both of us. When her peers in reception were getting to grips with reading from scratch, she could read simple single-syllable words such as ‘Tap’, Shop’, ‘Bug’ and I believe it’s no coincidence that in her school career she has consistently enjoyed a reading age beyond her actual age. Reading is crucial for success at school. Reading is a doorway to understanding. It feeds into writing which remains the principal medium for demonstrating understanding to teachers and examiners. The problem is that we as adults have been reading for as long as we can remember and so we don’t really know what it involves which is why it’s easy to feel unsure what to do to teach it. One fudge is to use picture books and it’s quite common for children to give the appearance of being able to read an entire picture book fluently. In reality they have memorised a story that’s been read to them and they use the pictures to prompt their memory. When presented with a word from the book in isolation, they can’t read it. Phonics-based reading focuses on sounds. Phonics in a nutshell is this: letters are pictures of sounds; a word is a series of pictures of sounds; say the sounds, blend them together and hear the word! But it’s a far simpler nut to crack than people imagine.


It all rests on learning the soundpicture (letters). A sound-picture can be represented with one letter, two, or more letters. ‘P’ is a sound-picture and so is ‘sh’. Throw-in ‘o’ and we have pictures for the three sounds in ‘sh-o-p’. The skill of reading is identifying the separate sound-pictures, ‘hearing’ in our heads the sounds they show and blending them together into words. Building on that principle can be simple, fun and creative

for parents to start introducing their children to sound pictures. “What’s the first sound you hear when I say ‘Jam”? “What’s the picture of that sound?” “Shall we play sound-bingo?” Learning just one sound-picture a week and learning just three sound pictures (say, ‘t’ ‘a’ and ‘p’) is enough to start reading. I set-up Fabphonics to provide parents with games and simple activities they can use to teach these skills to

children as young as four. I’ve seen enough children needlessly struggling, or lagging behind because they’re lost in a crowded class-size and it can be so easily avoided. A quick search on YouTube will enable you to hear the 42 sounds that letters are pictures of. Do some research and have confidence. John Randall is a teacher and can be contacted at



SEND Specialist, SEN Teacher and Founder of Helen’s Place, Dr Helen Ross, discusses getting the right support for your child in school

hey’re in. They’re settled. They’re doing well. At least that’s the hope for the first half term of the new school year. Our kids have now completed those first few crucial weeks where, particularly for those who have changed key stage or even school, new teachers, routines and places are intimidating and all-too-unfamiliar. For children with special educational needs and disabilities, however, the change from one school year to another can be at best a seamless flow from one setting to another, and at worst a traumatic hotchpotch of miscommunication, misunderstanding and missed opportunities. I have worked as a Special Educational Needs Educator for the last 6 years and have taught for 11 years seeing many students through their ‘back-toschool’ process. Here I’ll talk you through how to handle it when transition goes awry. (UN?)SUCCESSFUL BEGINNINGS Ideally, each year information is passed from one teacher to the next, or from one school to the another. Meetings should take place, and staff working with your

child should meet them and actively engage with them in the first week of term. When this happens, young people are supported to settle quickly, 1-page profiles are in place and teachers familiar with them before students join their classes. However, there are times when this hasn’t happened as smoothly as you may like. Your child may not be given lesson notes, their usual scribe be missing, or their time-out card overlooked. Your child might not have the words to talk about school. But schoollife impacts on home-life. She may be tired. He may seem more tense than usual. They may be tearful. But for vulnerable young people, the importance of appropriate support cannot be underestimated. This is the time where contacting the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) is vital. MEETING THE SENCO Meeting the SENCO can be intimidating; they hold the keys to support for your child at school! But, it is really important to remember that everyone is on the same side and wants the best for your child. It is important at this stage to ask the SENCO

what information they have been given about your child from their previous setting. Sometimes things get missed so the new school may not know the nature of your child’s needs. If this is the case, try to give the school as much information as you have access so that they can start to devise a support measures for your child. It may be that the in-school support for your child has changed and is not adequately meeting their needs. It is important to understand what, if anything has changed from one year to the next so that you can discuss these changes and their impact with the SENCO. If the programme is not working, changes should be made sooner rather than later! Your child is the most important person in this process and SENCOs want to support their students. Communication and collaboration between home and school is paramount when a young person has SEND. Having a discussion now can ensure that provision is implemented after half term, to support your child to be their best self. For more information or advice, visit or contact Dr Helen Ross directly on 07541 557827. |

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While we wouldn’t want to bloat it all out of proportion, Dani Sharp has a point…


couple of years ago, I had a somewhat concerning conversation with my flat mate. At twenty-one years old, he had absolutely no idea of what a period meant, or entailed, and was guilty, as many are, of making some pretty distasteful jokes. However, after a sustained and surprisingly adult conversation (considering the potato smileys that were baking away in the oven), I concluded that it probably wasn’t his fault. Does your son know about periods? Does he realise there’s absolutely no need to batten down the hatches and barricade the doors? Ignorance is born from poor education and under the current curriculum of sex education, boys are unfairly erased from the

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teaching of periods. Periods, of course, are a fundamentally female issue, but are also a human one. When a little boy is denied an education on such an important part of a woman’s life, it becomes a stigma. As it has for many young men already, it becomes an unknown, easier to joke about than empathise with. Who can blame them? If we teach our little boys what will one day happen to our little girls, we’ve surely already instilled a sense of normalcy around periods which – lest we forget – are entirely normal for 50% of the population! Dare we live in hope that one day an assertive female opinion is not dismissed as ‘time of the month’? I believe that if young boys in particular understand what women and girls go through on a daily (or rather monthly) basis, we have the potential

to breed a generation of sensitive young men who value women and respect them for their human abilities, rather than hide from them, assuming that they are taboo, or worse, disgusting. I decided to put some feelers out and asked what young men currently knew, don’t currently know, would like to know or wished they had been taught when they were younger. Almost all of the boys revealed that they didn’t really know anything about menstruation other than the fact that it was a monthly process and that they’d been advised to simply avoid women during this time. But yet, most of the boys expressed some desire to understand a little more than just the ‘mechanics’ that are taught in the Year 9 Biology curriculum. Nearly all of them now wished that they knew more, so that they could support their peers and girlfriends. These boys were all over twenty, studying at a Russell Group University and they were clueless. Many of the boys said that during their sex education, they were route marched out of the classroom during period talk. Is it any wonder that boys are uncomfortable talking about them? We are taught from day one that men shouldn’t know about, or get involved with periods, they’re labelled as something boys should actively avoid – at all costs – but many still wanted to know how to help, they just didn’t know how to ask. If any child is educated rationally about menstruation, there will be no room for taboo. My goal, a one-woman mission – if you like, is to normalise the current taboo around menstruation. Now, I’m not saying we need to go public with our cycles, I’m not telling you to pack your son off to sort through the minefield of winged towels for night or day or white-water-rafting… but I do think that our sons have a right to know, and our daughters have a right to discussion, to empathy and to human understanding – even from the boys… Dani Sharp 07907668767



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