Talking Mental Health

Following on from the national Mental Health Awareness week, we have been talking about mental health in class. We have been considering how physical health is easier to see and deal with at times and how mental health is sometimes harder to talk about and share with others.

Mrs Pelling, the Child and Family Support Worker, has been visiting classes and using the excellent resources designed by the Anna Freud Children and Family Centre. They explain what mental health is in simple terms; mental health is about our feelings, our thinking, our emotions and our moods. Looking after our mental health is important. We all have mental health.

We have watched a short animation that was made by children and talks about small and big feelings. We have thought about how we can help ourselves in school and at home and who is in our circle of support around us.

We have also been watching the A-Z video made by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) to give the children some ideas about how to help themselves when they have a worry.

The following links lead you to some of the resources we have been using;



How Can I Help My Child at School?

Welcome back to the Child and Family Support Blog!

So it is the start of the school year and the start of school life for our Reception children. You may be asking yourself ‘what can I do to give my child the best start at school?’ Hear your child read and read to your child, every day even if it is 10 minutes, is one of the best things that you can do to help your child.

Hampshire County Council has the following helpful information for parents and carers on how else to help your child do well at school.

Parental attitude has a key influence on a child’s school attendance and parents/carers can do much to encourage even reluctant pupils to attend. Good school attendance habits are best started early. Children learn from those around them and you as parents/carers set the standards and expectations for your child. Showing your child the importance of attending school every day, not only helps your child to settle quickly when starting school but helps them to keep and maintain friendships and enjoy the school environment.

Be organised, have a plan, be consistent and involve your child.
Try to:
•create good routines for mornings at home so that your child can arrive on time and they are properly equipped; this will also mean your mornings can start calmly too.
•Make time to encourage and show interest; chat to them about the things they have learnt, what friends they have made and even what they had for lunch!
Remember children can be tired when coming out of school, so a short chat over a snack, or later that evening, may produce a better result than a long list of questions.
•Read all school communications. Check your child’s book bag and diary each day.
•Attend school open evenings and functions.
•Check your child understands any home learning and that it has been completed. Support them in completing it by creating a calm space for them to work in and set specific times during the week when homelearning should be done.
•Share any education concerns your child or you may have with the appropriate member of school staff.
•Set realistic boundaries and sanctions (do not impose boundaries that neither your child nor you will be able to keep, eg. grounding a child for a month will not work, short periods will have much more effect).
•Avoid absence from school wherever possible – try to make doctors and dental appointments out of school hours. Absence means your child will miss out on the academic studies and will also learn that education is not the main priority within the family. This can have a lifelong effect.

Your responsibilities as a parent-
By law, all children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education. As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to make sure this happens. Once you choose to register your child at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly. This means your child should not have sessions of unauthorised absence.

If your child needs a leave of absence you must ask for permission in advance. The headteacher can only approve the absence if he/she views them to be exceptional reasons. The headteacher also decides on the number of days to authorise or unauthorise. You can request a leave of absence form from your school.

What do I do if my child is unwell?
Most schools will have an attendance policy which is aligned to the expectations and guidance of Hampshire local authority, including the specific procedures a parent/carer should follow in the event of their child needing to be absent from school. Parents/carers are advised to refer to the school’s own procedures alongside this guidance.

As a parent/carer you should notify the school on the first day your child is unable to attend due to illness. Generally this is done by telephone and many schools now have an answerphone facility specifically for this purpose. Schools should authorise absences, unless in very rare cases when they have cause for concern about the genuineness of an illness. If this is in doubt, schools can request that medical evidence is provided, such as a prescription or an appointment card; a note from a doctor may not be necessary. Schools can record the absence as unauthorised if they are not satisfied that the illness is genuine but should advise parents/carers if they intend to do so.

You should let the school know:
•the nature of the illness (although you may wish to talk confidentially about this)
•whether your child has seen their GP, or whether an appointment has been made for some other specialist service
•how long you expect your child to be absent from school
•the prognosis for the child’s recovery.

If absence is long-term or repeated, schools may request proof that your child is genuinely unwell and unable to attend school as this is a key part of their safeguarding duties. Keep copies of any appointment letters or medical reports.

If your child:
•has a long term or chronic condition, and is expected to be absent from school for a longer period
•has intermittent attendance due to an illness (such as epilepsy or sickle cell anaemia)
•is going to be absent from school for a period of therapy or surgery.

The school may want to draw up a support plan with you, and consider whether to refer your child to our specialist services.

Education for pupils who are unable to attend school because of medical needs can be provided for in the following ways:
•children who are in-patients of most hospitals will be taught through the in hospital teaching service
•children who are not in-patients, may receive home tutoring organised via the Education Inclusion Service and a local education centre.

Children who are admitted to NHS hospitals (including psychiatric units) in other areas will receive education through local hospitals, schools or an education centre.

Why is high attendance important to my child’s education?
As a parent/carer you want the best for your children. Having a good education is an important factor in opening up more opportunities in adult life. Did you know that:
•a child who is absent a day of school per week misses an equivalent of two years of their school life
•90% of young people with absence rates below 85% fail to achieve five or more good grades of GCSE and around one third achieve no GCSEs at all
•poor examination results limit young people’s options and poor attendance suggests to colleges and employers that these students are unreliable
•poor school attendance is also closely associated with crime a quarter of school age offenders have truanted repeatedly
•at least 1 million children take at least one half day off a year without permission
•7.5 million school days are missed each year through unauthorised absence.

GCSEs may seem a long way off for you and your child but all absence at any stage leads to gaps in your child’s learning. This in turn can:
•mean that they fall behind in work
•affect their motivation
•affect their enjoyment of learning
•lead to poor behaviour
•affect their desire to attend school regularly affect their confidence in school
•mean they miss out on the social life of school and extra curricular opportunities and experiences
•affect their ability to have or keep friendships.

Family holidays and school holidays
Children have 13 weeks annual holiday from school and school holiday dates are published well in advance online. As such, all parents/carers are expected wherever possible to plan and take their family holidays at this time so as not to disrupt their children’s education. Education law states that parents do not have a right to take their child out of school for a holiday during term time. Only in exceptional circumstances may a headteacher grant permission for leave; and it is the headteachers decision on whether the absence is exceptional and how many days to approve.

Parents/carers who take their child out of school without the absence being agreed and authorised by written permission from the school can be issued with a penalty fine. See the Department for Education attendance guidance for more information.

Possible penalties for non-attendance
Once you have registered your child at a school it is your responsibility to make sure that she/he attends regularly and punctually. If you fail to do so the Local Authority has a statutory duty to consider legal action to enforce school attendance.

There are a number of legal measures that the Local Authority can pursue, these include:
•being issued a voluntary parenting contract
•being included in the fast track system which means you will be given 12 weeks to improve your child’s attendance
•receiving a penalty notice. This is a fine of £60 per parent/carer for periods of unauthorised absence such as truancy, holidays in term time, lateness, unauthorised absence during formal exams, schools assessment or testing or poor patterns of attendance/punctuality
•being prosecuted in the Magistrates’ Court. This means you could receive a community order, a fine of up to £2,500 per parent/carer or a custodial sentence, or your child being issued with an education supervision order. This is an order where the child attends court and certain measures are put in place regarding attendance at school.

Penalty Notices (fines) for non-attendance at school-
A Penalty Notice is a fine which may be issued as an alternative to prosecution. If it is paid it does not require a court appearance and does not result in a criminal record.

Section 444A of the Act gives powers to the local authority, and headteachers to issue Penalty Notices in circumstances where it is believed that a person has committed an offence under Section 444(1); that is, where a child fails to attend regularly at their registered school.

Who can be issued with a Penalty Notice?
Where absence warrants the issuing of a Penalty Notice, anyone with Parental Responsibility, or having day to day care of the child can be issued with one Penalty Notice for each of the children with unauthorised absence. If two parents have two children this may result in four Penalty Notices, 2 Penalty Notices per parent.

Further unauthorised absence from school-
If you pay the Penalty Notice and your child has further unauthorised absences additional legal action may be taken. For example, in the event that a Penalty Notice has previously been served to you due to unauthorised holiday, should your child have any future unauthorised leave this may result in further legal action for you, such as prosecution or an Education Supervision Order.

Circumstances when a Penalty Notice are issued-
As set down by the Department for Education, Penalty Notices can be issued for unauthorised absence. In Hampshire, Penalty Notices are issued when a pupil has had 10 or more half-day sessions (equivalent to five school days) of unauthorised absence, in the last 10 school week period.

Unauthorised absence is absence not approved by the school and will be coded on your child’s attendance record as one of the following:

O: unauthorised absence
U: late after close of registration
G: non-approved leave of absence (holiday).
Persistent Lateness (L) code which reaches the threshold may result in the issuing of a Penalty Notice.

How a Penalty Notice is issued and amount of the fine-
Penalty Notices are either posted to your home or delivered to you by hand. Each Penalty Notice fine is £60 and should be made within 21 days of ’deemed service’ (2nd working day after postmark on the envelope and receipt of posting). If paid after 21 days but within 28 days the Penalty is £120.

Written warning-
If your child has an ongoing pattern of unauthorised absence then you will normally receive a written warning of the possibility of a Penalty Notice being issued. This warning will advise you about the extent of your child’s absence and warn you that if your child’s attendance does not show a significant improvement and if this improvement is not maintained thereafter, a Penalty Notice may be issued without further warning.

Further support, advice and guidance is available from the Department for Education.

No appeal process-
There is no statutory right of appeal. Once a Penalty Notice has been issued, it can only be withdrawn if it can be shown that it was issued in error.

I hope the above is helpful for you so that you feel fully informed. Please also refer to St Peter’s Attendance Policy on the school website, or contact the Child and Family Support Worker (Mrs Pelling) for any other questions or support.

Sun Safety

We are hopefully due for some lovely weather over the next few weeks and summer holiday. We all need the sun for Vitamin D production but we also have to balance this with thinking about sun safety.

The following information for parents and carers about how to keep children and babies safe in the sun, is taken from the NHS website.

  • Exposing babies and children to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life.
  • Sunburn can also cause considerable pain and discomfort in the short term.
  • Babies under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.
  • All other children should have their skin protected from March to October in the UK.

Tips to keep you child safe in the sun
•Encourage your child to play in the shade (for example, under trees), especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
•Cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use one that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and protects against UVA and UVB. Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.
•Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their neck when they’re playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
•Cover your child up in loose cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves.
•Get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face, ears and neck.
•Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the CE mark – check the label.
•If your child is swimming, use a water-resistant sunscreen of factor 15 or above. Sunscreen should be reapplied straight after you have been in water (even if it’s ‘water resistant’) and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.

Sunlight and Vitamin D

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. Because it’s important to keep your child’s skin safe in the sun, it’s recommended all babies and young children aged under 4 years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D, in the form of vitamin drops.

Everyone over the age of 5 should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement from October to March.

Please look at the following for videos and further information;

Keep safe and have fun!

Ten Great Ways to Help Children Relax

Some children can cope with lots of stress whilst others need a little bit of help. The following are some ways that author Kelly Roper suggests can help children to cope and become more resilient:

1. Deep Breathing
This simple technique can be done by anyone to slow down the body’s natural response to stress and help you feel more in control;
1. Simply breathe in deeply.
2. Hold the breath for a moment.
3. Release it slowly.
Repeat the deep breathing until you feel relaxed.

2. Muscle Relaxation
Tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body helps you to relax.
•Face – scrunch up nose and forehead and then relax face. Repeat three times.
•Arms and shoulders – stretch arms out in front and then raise above head and stretch as high as able, then drop arms and let them hang loose. Repeat three times.
•Hands and arms – imagine squeezing an orange as hard as possible with one hand, and then dropping that orange on the floor and letting the arm and hand go limp. Repeat three times, and then switch to the other arm.
•Legs and feet – stand and press toes against the floor as though digging them into sand at the beach and then relax. Repeat three times.

3. Exercise
Exercise is a great form of relaxation; walking, running, dancing, swimming and playing all provide the kind of exercise that children enjoy.

4. Visualisation
Visualisation is also known as visual guided imagery. This technique uses the imagination to slow down the chatter of the mind and help release negative thoughts and worries. This technique can be especially useful following progressive muscle relaxation, which first relaxes the muscles and then calms the mind.
Imagining a beautiful, peaceful place is one type of visualisation that’s easy for nearly any child to use as a stress reducer. Colour visualisation can also be helpful and is a very simple technique to teach a child.
1. Ask your child to imagine a favourite colour that makes them feel peaceful and safe.
2. Have them imagine taking in that colour with each breath and sending it throughout their entire body as they exhale.
3. Have them continue until they visualise being filled with her special, relaxing colour.

A soothing sound, a special aroma, or the feeling of warmth or light can be used in place of the colour.

5. Laugh
Laughter is a wonderful stress reliever that soothes tension and helps the body relax. Encourage lots of laughter with games, tickles, telling jokes, making silly faces and watching funny cartoons.

6. Stretch

Stretching relaxes built up tension in the muscles. Teach your child how to gently stretch and feel the muscles relax.

7. Listen to Music
Listening to calming music can help a child regain focus. Even very young children may enjoy listening to relaxing classical music. Drawing to music is also very relaxing.

8. Meditate
Yoga can relax the mind and body. Here is a simple meditation your child can use at home, but it works well in the classroom too;
1. While your child sits on a bed at home, or at a desk at school, they should place their hands in their lap and close their eyes.
2. The next step is to breathe in and out slowly and evenly.
3. Each breathe in and each breathe out counts as a single count. Try for at least 30 in the classroom.
4. As they settle into the meditation, they should focus on listening to their breathing. As they do, they’ll begin to feel more calm and focused.
5. When they finish the count of 30, take a very deep breathe, let it out slowly, and then open eyes.

9. Cuddle
Encourage your child to cuddle with a pet, cuddly toy or loved one. Research has shown that physical, safe touch is very important and cuddles can lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.

10. Toe Tensing
Toe tensing draws tension down from the rest of the body. This simple exercise should be repeated ten times each session.
1. Lie on your back and allow yourself to sense your toes.
2. Use your toe muscles to pull all ten toes back in the direction of the face and hold to the count of ten.
3. Relax the toes and hold to the count of ten.

Supporting Children Through Exams/Tests

The excellent Young Minds Charity has some very helpful guidance for all those parents trying to support children through stressful tests and exams. Many parents and carers will also have older children in secondary school sitting exams this season. This can be a stressful time in homes and this tension can have an impact on younger siblings.
Please follow (or copy and paste) the following link for a useful guide on how to keep things calm at home and how best to support your children through this important time.

NHS Guidelines

Please use the following link (or copy and paste to a search engine) to seek guidance on how to manage illness and whether to send your child in to school.

Please look at our Attendance Policy for further information on the school website. This can be found under Key Information, Policies. If you would like paper copies of the NHS document, or policy, please contact me at school and I will be happy to provide one for you.
Tricia Pelling
Child and Family Support Worker

Stress At Christmas

There is a lot of pressure for us all to enjoy Christmas but for some it can be a very stressful time of the year for many different reasons.

The following is taken from ‘Care for the Family’ website;

The thought of Christmas can be enough to send stress levels soaring through the roof. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little thought and careful planning we can reduce our stress leading up to the holiday;

1. Keep hold of your finances – it’s tempting to blow your budget on all the trimmings and expensive presents. Expensive presents will soon be forgotten, but spending the day playing and focusing on your child will be a memory that will stay in their mind for years. Remember it’s not the presents but the presence that will be remembered.

2. Shop early – you can get great bargains in the after Christmas and mid-season sales; also, buying throughout the year helps spread the cost.

3. Set up a support system – someone you can talk to if you feel overwhelmed and find the day difficult. (See ‘Help at Christmas’ below.)

4. Keep your menus simple – less preparation and cooking means more time for you to relax and enjoy the festivities.

5. Stick to your usual routine – even though it’s Christmas, children still need structure in their days, and regular bedtimes. Some late nights are fine but it can be stressful if your children are overtired and grumpy, especially when you’re tired too.

Don’t feel guilty…for your own sense of well-being, focus on the things you do accomplish and the things you do provide.

6. Make time for your children – it’s easy to rush around with all the preparations and lose sight of what is important. Spend time playing, going for a walk, or maybe listening to some music together. Enjoy your children – they grow up so quickly. Allow each child to choose what activity the family should do one day during the holidays.

7. Don’t feel guilty – it’s always easy for single parents to feel guilty about the time they don’t have or the things they can’t give their children. For you own sense of well-being, focus on the things you do accomplish and the things you do provide. Don’t forget about all the love, attention and comfort you give throughout the year!

8. Decorate together – while it’s tempting to do it all when the children are asleep, putting up the decorations together gives you time to talk, time to listen and, most of all, to be together. Perhaps it could be the start of a new family tradition; you could even make your own decorations.

9. Be consistent with discipline – it may be the holidays, but children need to know that “no” still means “no”. Holidays are a time when children push the boundaries.

10. Establish in advance who the children will spend Christmas day with, so both they and you know what is happening. If you are going to be without the children, plan in advance what you will do; ask friends to help. Don’t just sit at home alone; do something, even if it’s helping at a shelter for the homeless.

11. Make time for yourself – the build-up to Christmas can be exhausting. Make time even if it’s just reading a book, watching a favourite DVD, or taking a warm bath. Setting aside some personal time will give you a chance to refuel. I always buy myself a new book and a big bar of chocolate. Then when the children are at their mother’s, I have something to look forward to.

12. Stay positive – it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and demands of parenting alone. Try to maintain a positive attitude. The best way to deal with stress is to exercise, eat properly (not too many chocolates!) and get enough sleep.

Help at Christmas-

Christmas can be a very difficult time for those who are grieving the death of a loved one or the breakdown of a relationship. The sense of isolation can be greater when it feels like everything has shut down for the holidays. Don’t forget the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day to listen to anyone in distress or despair and to give emotional support.

Tel: 08457 909090

NHS & Family Support

The NHS has linked up with You Tube and have created lots of helpful videos for families ranging from subjects like First Aid, embarrassing conditions, sleep problems, mental health, exercise, dental health, disabilities, child health and many more.
Type the following link in to a search engine:
or simple search for NHS Choices videos on You Tube, to find the help you need.

Christmas Day Lunch

Would you like some company on Christmas Day?

Park Community School’s MUNCH team

kindly invite you to join them for

a traditional Christmas lunch

Park Community School.
25th December 2018
11am – 4pm
Middle Park Way, Leigh Park, Havant, PO9 4BU

Booking in advance is essential because the elves need to prepare a sumptuous feast and let Father Christmas know where everyone is.

For more information please contact:
Lorraine Daughtrey
Telephone: 02392489807
Park Community School,
Middle Park Way, Havant, PO9 4BU

Half-Term Activities

Here are a few suggestions for things to enjoy together over half-term; for ideas.

(The following ideas have a cost involved)
Halloween Family Trail at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey.
Join Sir Harold Hillier Gardens for creepy fun in the Gardens on a spooky self-guided trail. Survive the tricks and receive a small chocolate treat!
Visit the following site for further information; or ring 01794 369318. Tickets £2.50

Also, a Halloween session of fun, spooky songs and storytelling around the campfire. Join Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in the woods where they will help you to make your own witch’s broom to take home. You can toast your own marshmallow and enjoy some popcorn that is cooked over the fire too! Suitable for 4-12 years. See their website for more details.

Beaulieu, National Motor Museum. New Forest.
01590 612345
Discover the fantasy and folklore of Halloween at Beaulieu this October half-term – plus visit the brand new exhibition celebrating 50 years of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Visit between 20 – 28 October to see harvest festival-themed decorations in Palace House. (Cost involved)

Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey
23 – 28 October | 10am – 4pm: Inspired by the exhibition, James Henry Pullen: Inmate – Inventor – Genius, discover a world of inventiveness from giant puppets to model ships and use an array of materials to create your own at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village. for more information.

Bluebird the Storyteller presents …
TISTOU – THE BOY WITH GREEN THUMBS at Waterlooville Library.
Local storyteller Bluebird tells her version of Tistou the Boy with Green Thumbs based on the 1965 book by Maurice Duron. This is a delightful story suitable for children 7+ and adults alike. Tuesday 23 October 2018, 10.30am. Tickets £4 per child with one accompanying adult free. Buy one and get one free! Available from the library on 02392 252608, or online at

Here are some suggestions from the National Trust from their ’50 things to do’ list;
-Go for an ‘adventure walk’ with your child at night with a torch and try some star gazing.
-Build a den together with an old sheet and pegs (great for indoors when it’s pouring with rain).
-Grab some binoculars and go bird watching with your child. Take a bird book with you from the library and see how many you can spot.
-Fly a kite
-Skim stones at the beach

CHILDREN GO FREE at British Airways i360 between 22nd and 26th October! Book online to avoid missing out. (Beware-still a cost for adults!)

Please don’t forget to read with your child every day if possible (even if it’s only 10 mins) and also let them have a good rest before returning to school.
Have fun!