As we move in to the second week of social distancing and spending more time at home, the novelty might be beginning to wear off slightly!
Here are a few resources that you might find useful at home, to keep our minds positive, as well as looking after our physical health.
Relax Kids Free Calm Pack;
Full of lots of ideas to reassure children and to help them feel calm and safe during these uncertain times.
Mindfulness on the NHS website, full of lots of ideas and advice on how to keep relaxed;
10 Top Tips to help with anxiety related to Coronavirus;
Advice from the excellent charity, Young Minds;
I hope that you find these useful.
Child and Family Support Worker
Dear Parents and Carers
As we are all faced with the possibility of spending more time at home in the near future, I thought that these links might come in handy;
-finding the positives of being at home all together
-how to show children about thorough hand washing
-top tips for children worried about coronavirus
-and some happy news for children!
-lots of ideas to keep busy with children at home
Fantastic Ideas for Child-friendly Activities in the House
(please note that not all of these ideas might be isolation friendly!)
1: Den or cave building
There is probably not a single child between 1 and 10 who doesn’t like to build and play in dens or caves. The great majority of us claim to be grown-ups, and we’d all love to while away an afternoon building a massive pillow fort.
Children’s imaginations go wild with this activity. From planning the build – what will they use to make their den? Can they gather the materials themselves? – to playing inside of it, each step is an absolute pleasure. Hopefully they’ll be inspired to come up with exciting, fun-filled role play, or simply enjoy a change the scene and play with their toys ‘hidden away’ in their cave.
The easiest way to create a stable den is through using a blanket or bed sheet and cover a table or some other furniture moved together. You can create quite a spacious den using four chairs arranged in a square with the blanket placed over the back rests. Add few cushions added into the cave and your kids will have a great time for sure.
2: Have a birthday party for your child’s favourite toy
We really like this idea a lot. It definitely falls into the category of things to do at home with a poorly-feeling child, and requires nothing but things you already have at home. It’s up to your imagination and circumstances – how big do you want this celebration to be?
It could be anything from just a pretend tea party – maybe in your poorly child’s best to make sure they’re resting up – to a big party with music, balloons, treats and party games (think Musical Statues, Pass The Parcel and Simon Says). You can even think about inviting some of your child’s friends over to join in the fun. And party balloons will still give the kids endless fun even when the party is over.
One tip from our side: start with a little smaller party as we are convinced that your children may ask for more parties like this. Be prepared to have a few ideas in reserve in case all the toys start piping up and saying their birthdays are coming up, too.
3: Rice play
Take a messy play tray or a washing up bowl. Fill it with any uncooked rice and pop in several things to help your kids to become rice-panning-experts: Spoons, bowls, cups, balls, toys – anything you can think of really. The kids love it; it’s like messy play without the mess. Rice is way easier to clean up than teeny-tiny sand grains. So everyone wins!
4: A housebound treasure hunt
Create a map of your home and hide small items around it. Mark each piece of hidden treasure on the map. Explain the map to your little one and offer your support for the hunting game in case they need it.
If your kids are older you can use word cards describing a place where you have hidden an item. For example: “I am cold and make a ‘bing bing’ noise if left open”. The answer is the fridge, of course. Or possibly an emergency escape hatch. Kids love this combination of a quiz and hunt. It’s hard not to get in on the fun, too.
Even once they’ve found all the treasure, why not get them to organise their own hunt? They can draw their own map or come up with their own cryptic questions to send you on a great search.
5: Indoor water fun
If you can stand the risk of a few water drops here and there you can put a thick towel on the floor and place a bowl or a messy play tray filled with water on it. The kids will have endless fun while giving their toys a bath or experiencing thrillingly imaginative pirate, fishing or swimming adventures. Baywatch-like rescue-scenes actively encouraged.
6: Life size drawings
Stick a load of A4 sheets of paper together (or if you have a big paper roll even better!) and place it on the floor. Encourage the kids to lie down on it and outline their body with a pen. From this moment on there is no way to stop the kids getting creative: colour in, add accessories to the figures like stickers or stamps, design clothes with old material offcuts or other things you might find in the art drawer. The kids will have lots of fun with the real-size copies and you may have something really special to decorate their bedroom wall afterwards.
7: Indoor gym
Transform your living room into a kid’s gym and create some fun and age-appropriate sports stations. You can put a trail of paper sheets on the floor which the kids have to walk over without touching anything else but the paper. Time jumping on the spot, which can be made more difficult for older kids (maybe they have to spin around while jumping).
A planking station is great fun as well. If you have a soft carpet or mattress you can try some somersaults with them if they are old enough (take care that they don’t hurt their neck!). Any other kind of gymnastic exercise which is performed only with their own body weight is great.
To make it more competitive you can use the stopwatch to time the duration of each exercise. But make sure to stick to age-appropriate durations. It’s about the fun and switching back and forth between the stations rather than aiming for the next world record.
Even more fun is it when mummy and daddy join in the gym activity and afterwards you all deserve a special treat!
8: Finger paint animals
Use your fingerprints to come up with some fun fingerprint animals and change them in to a whole zoo! Why not try to create a full zoo of handprint and finger painted animals – use different body parts to create different animals!
9: A roadway created across the house with insulation tape
Play mats are great fun for kids. They give them a great setting to get imaginative with their toys. But what if you created your own one? You could grab some tape and make roads all over the carpet. Think about how they will connect up, where they will lead to, and what sights you might need to add along the way. You could also use the same technique with the life size art portraits and draw your own scene on a ginormous piece of paper. Talk about what amenities the newly created community might need, and what toys are going to live there.
10: Recreate classic 90s gameshows
Now we’re not presuming anyone’s age here, but if you’ve been squealing with joy at hapless contestants running through the Crystal Maze once again, you still get chills from thinking about Knightmare, or you struggle to not shout out “cuddly toy!” when you’re reminded the Generation Game is returning, we might all be singing from the same 90s-tinged-hymn sheet (probably featuring the Spice Girls). Is the reason they’re coming back a shameless cash-grab? Possibly, but we also like to think these shows had family-friendly tasks nailed down. So let’s not allow the contestants to have all the fun – create your own games!
One of the suggestions that had us nostalgic was filling a tent with toy money, and blowing it around with a hairdryer – hey presto, behold the Crystal Dome! Collect a load of different items, ask your kids to remember as many as they can, and see who wins the most (“cuddly toy!”).
Some more recommended fun things to do at home
11: Paper maché
Making 3D art is great fun. Inflate a balloon, grab some newspaper and a PVA glue/water mix, and get creating!
Who doesn’t love a balloon party? There are lots of games to be played and science experiments to embark on!
13: Rock painting
Make a quick dash outside to grab some rocks. Dry them off and practice painting them, or decorating them with markers.
14: Cookie decorating!
16: Making a lantern
17: Hide and seek
18: An indoor fashion show
Get your favourite clothes, dress ups or even mummy/daddy’s clothes out and strike a pose!
19: Creating your own TV show
You could use toys, puppets and even film your debut episode!
20: Get a little creative; build your own shapes/sculptures from paper/paper plates from the back of the cupboard!
Tips for Parents (Taken from Dragonfly Impact Education)
Some ideas and support for those self-isolating
What can you try?
1. Set up a routine
The key here is to make it a routine – not a schedule. Be flexible, but with boundaries. That means getting up at the same times and having things that you do in a regular order…it doesn’t mean timing every second of the day with military precision! Make the routine visual, factor in free time without screens and when they’re doing schoolwork, do some of your own work/jobs/chores alongside them.
2. Try new things
Introduce them to the things you love and share stories with them – make it an opportunity to connect. Watch documentaries and nature programmes (who doesn’t love a bit of ‘Blue Planet’?!); cook together and measure out ingredients, create exercise routines together, play board games and card games, show them how you manage the household budget and divide up money to cover bills, food and other things.
3. Keep it simple
Read to them. Yes – even the older ones! It ignites a love of reading, creates a bond between you and it’s soothing and calming. Get them starting a gratitude journal, drawing or doodling and colouring – all activities that support mental health. When you are working on things together, or working side by side, begin conversations. Sitting next to someone without the requirement to make eye contact can encourage them to open up! It also helps if you share something first.
-Don’t forget to watch our bedtime stories found under the Blogs tab on the school website.
-As well as age-appropriate news items to help you answer questions about Coronavirus, BBC Newsround also has lots of quizzes, games and puzzles to help entertain the children.
We hope you find something here that will help you all.
Child and Family Support Worker
Are you looking for a book to help you with a particular problem?
‘Reading Well’ helps you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using helpful reading. The books are chosen by health experts and people living with the conditions covered. People can be recommended a title by a health professional, or they can visit their local library and take a book out for free.
There are currently five Reading Well booklists for adults, young people and children.
So, if you need information on autism, dementia, grief, memory loss, mental health and so on, check out the following link;
or search for the website;
Is your child asking lots of questions about Coronavirus and you’re not sure how to answer them?
The BBC and CBBC Newsround have put together two very useful articles with a video, to help you talk to your concerned child if necessary and to give them the correct facts.
Please follow the links below, or copy and paste in to a search engine;
The excellent Childline website has lots of information to help families who may have questions that they are finding hard to answer, or resolve.
Please follow the link below to find information on many subjects including homelessness, housing issues, step-families, living in care, alcohol, teenage issues and many more;
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;
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.
•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.
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.
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!
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.
Exercise is a great form of relaxation; walking, running, dancing, swimming and playing all provide the kind of exercise that children enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.