Putting children’s wellbeing first: Inside Out

Karen Neville

children

Inside Out is an education charity based in Reading focussed on improving children’s wellbeing.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing have never been so high on the school agenda. Teachers have never been under so much pressure, managing daily change.

To help teachers and parents with the current, flexible approach to schooling, they have developed a ‘Wellbeing Guide’ based on their 5 Keys to Happiness, the equivalent of 5 fruit and veg a day for your mental health.

This is a free resource for schools, teachers and families packed with inspiration and activities to boost children’s happiness and wellbeing. These resources will now help ease the long-awaited transition back to school.

There is a wealth of information and resources out there but it’s often confusing and hard to know where to start. The Wellbeing Guides are full of activities that are simple, fun and quick-to-use, at home or school.

The Guide offers fun, simple ideas and resources for children, whether they are currently being educated at home or in school with a new edition shared each week during lockdown. Please see attached pdf of the latest edition, which includes a 5 Keys to Happiness poster for parents to print out and use at home.

For more wellbeing inspiration, why not follow INSIDE OUT on Facebook and twitter or visit their website www.theinsideout.org.uk for all previous issues of the Wellbeing Guide.

Read about pop icon Billy Ocean and the Young Voices Choir’s charity single to help children’s mental health here.

Elephantastic half term events!

Liz Nicholls

children

Have you herd about the River & Rowing Museum’s Elephantastic online half term events?

This half term (until 21st February) the Henley museum is going online, celebrating extraordinary elephants and the colourful jungle inspired by their wonderful exhibition Elmer and Friends: The Colourful World of David McKee (due to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so).

Discover the real Elmer and what we have in common with him in our live Zoom session. Plus, use your grey matter in our quiz – are you up to the tusk? Make an elephant puppet and jungle friend and plot a trunk tale to tell in your own jungle puppet theatre. Enjoy songs and storytime with Maddy featuring Elmer’s Birthday by David McKee and solve the entertaining elephant puzzles. All from the comfort of your own home – it’s sure to be tonnes of fun for ivory-one!

Only £5 per household gives you unlimited access to the online activities and a live Zoom session on the day you prefer. Book today at rrm.co.uk

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Half term fun for families

Liz Nicholls

children

Half term fun for families & children with Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term is here: Hurray! We know it’s been tough times for parents this winter & that (whisper it) you might not exactly be jumping for joy at the prospect of filling extra time with your children.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust have some great resources to help you spot & encourage wildlife in your own garden or outdoor space, as well as activities you can enjoy online or in one of the 70 Surrey wildlife reserves the charity manages.

England’s most wooded county, Surrey is impressively diverse and possibly the richest of all land-locked counties in terms of numbers of recorded species.

This includes a stunning mixture of landscapes to explore in Surrey, from the beautiful chalk meadows and rolling hills of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin and sprawling wetlands in the east of the county.

Visit surreywildlifetrust.org & keep your eye on our social media feed to find out about courses & how you can identify nationally scarce mammals, birds, insects and reptiles that share this gorgeous county with us.

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Billy Ocean & the Young Voices

Liz Nicholls

children

Billy wishes you a Lovely Day with charity single to help children’s mental health

Pop icon & beacon of positivity Billy Ocean, who lives in Berkshire, has teamed up with the Young Voices Choir to release a new and uplifting recording of the Bill Withers’ classic, Lovely Day.

Also featured on the track are award-winning broadcaster and musician YolanDa Brown (saxophone) and The Voice UK 2018 winner (and former Young Voices singer) Ruti Olajugbagbe. Released on January 26th by Magic Star (the home of children’s and family entertainment at Sony Music UK), all UK profits will go to children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

“We have all been affected in different ways over this difficult last year,” says Billy MBE, “and many children have really struggled. I’m so happy to be able to join with Young Voices to help make a difference and to raise funds for children’s mental health with this wonderful and hopeful song.”

Profits from the single Lovely Day will go to the Place2Be charity which launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015. Place2Be’s school-based teams estimate that 85% of the young people they support have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and have seen an increase in referrals around self-harm and suicidal thoughts in secondary schools. 1 in 6 children and young people have a probable mental health condition (Source: NHS Digital)

Ben Lewis, CEO of Young Voices, says: “With school life currently disrupted, this highlights the need, more than ever, to support children’s mental health.”

Young Voices is an all-inclusive educational programme designed to use music to develop 21st-century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, mindfulness, and innovation. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year Young Voices have staged the largest children’s choir concerts in the world. In 2020 alone, Young Voices headlined 24 arenas across the UK, including a record breaking concert at Manchester Arena, overtaking Take That’s previous record of 46 shows.

This summer Young Voices will attempt to break their own Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Simultaneous Sing-Along’, currently standing at 293,978 – a record set when the ‘Big Sing 2005’ was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. Streamed live from The O2 arena, Bily Ocean, Yolanda Brown and Ruti and Young Voices will join children, their teachers and families throughout the UK to sing ‘Lovely Day’. Involvement can be registered at: youngvoices.co.uk/biggest-sing/

Show your support and buy the single and share with us if Place2Be have helped you or someone you know

Build a lockdown family time capsule

Round & About

children

Kirsty Prankerd, from photo keepsake retailer Write From The Heart, explains how to build a time capsule with the kids.

If you’re currently looking for an educational family activity that will keep the kids busy during lockdown (and who isn’t at the moment?) then why not try building a time capsule?

Not only is this great fun, but it can help encourage the kids to learn more about the past, and to imagine their futures. Here, I’ll share my tips for creating a capsule as a family.

Make it educational

Before you set out to build your time capsule, you’ll need to decide how long you want to wait until you re-open it. Then, ask a few questions and get your children to use their imaginations.

For example, how old will they be when it’s re-opened? What might they be doing? What will the world be like in the future?

Find a sturdy box

Of course, before you can assemble your time capsule, you’ll need to find a strong box that will keep everything safe for a long time — preferably one that’s water- and air-tight. If you’ll be burying your capsule, it may help to double up and use multiple boxes to help provide an added layer of protection. Placing photos, letters, and newspaper cuttings in plastic wallets will also help to keep them safe.

Decide what to include

You can include any objects that you think might be interesting to revisit years into the future.

All of the following items are perfect for a time capsule:

Money. A few coins and notes will show future generations how money has changed over time.

A list of prices for everyday items, e.g. a pint of milk. This is a great opportunity to teach slightly older children about how the value of currency changes

Newspaper cuttings.

A few handwritten diary entries describing what an average day in lockdown is like — perfect for getting the kids to practice their writing skills!

A family photograph.

A note or letter to your future selves.

Find a spot to stash or bury it

Finally, you’ll need to find a place to buy or stash your time capsule. Remember, you don’t necessarily need to bury it in the ground if you don’t have access to a suitable location. Instead, you can always stow it in an out-of-the way place like an attic or storage space.

Once you’ve buried or stashed your time capsule, remember to make a note of its location so you don’t lose track of where it is!

 

Let us know how you get on and send any photos of your time-capsule in the making to

Foster care in lockdown

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children

Lockdown has been challenging for many of us, for lots of different reasons, and none more so than for Sarah and Darren who are Oxfordshire County Council foster carers, who were staying at home with five children.

They were home schooling all of them as well as keeping them safe and well and happy! As with many foster children they all have specific emotional needs and two of the children have ADHD and are on the autistic spectrum.

We all know that children manage better with routine and for many foster children change is something they find scary and confusing, so to suddenly find their lives changed overnight to not being allowed out, no school, and so many other changes that happened they would have been extremely anxious and unsettled.

You might wonder what lockdown would look like with such a busy household.

The children were kept busy, Sarah is very creative and knows the children are happier when busy. They have fun, they bake, create and paint and garden!

Sarah says, “We do so many things including foam painting the french doors, obstacle course in the back garden and we have planted runner beans, tomatoes and many herbs. We have really enjoyed learning with the children along the way”.

Sarah and Darren were also home schooling so became teachers too, but they obviously did a marvellous job as one of the children got “star pupil of the week”! In total the two younger children have 35 rewards from their school!

It is truly amazing and inspiring to see what they have achieved as a family.

Our foster carers do amazing things and rarely want us to give them any kind of shoutout because, its just what they do. But I think you will all agree that they very much do deserve our thanks and recognition. Throughout these unprecedented times they have given these children everything they need and deserve which is to feel, safe, loved, cared for and to have fun!!

Foster carers offer a safe environment for children who are not able to live at home for however long that might be. We need more carers in Oxfordshire and would welcome to hear form you if you are interested to find out more.


Get in touch with Oxfordshire County Council by email:
Call: 0800 783 5724

Or visit their website

LEGOLAND®’s World of Mythical Creatures

Round & About

children

The World of Mythical Creatures is coming to The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort in spring 2021 with the opening of a multi-million-pound new land where mythical LEGO® creatures come to life.

LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will feature thrilling new attractions and experiences, including a never-before-seen UK ride.

Created for kids by kids, the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA marks the Resort’s single biggest investment since it opened 25 years ago and will see children’s imaginations and creativity run wild as mythical LEGO creatures come to life in front of their eyes.

Revealed in a video on LEGOLAND Windsor’s social media channels, you’ll be teased into a mythical portal to another world opening for the first time. In a hint to the creatures that families may find in this parallel universe, huge footprints shake the Resort, a winged shadow flies overhead and the 30 second film ends with an ice storm engulfing LEGOLAND Windsor’s entrance.

Working in partnership with Kids Industries, the LEGOLAND Windsor team behind the new the land spent a year discussing and testing ideas and concepts with seven to 11-year olds and their parents who influenced everything from the final ride experiences, names and characters.

Thomas Jellum, Divisional Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, said:

“What better way to celebrate our 25th birthday than by unveiling a completely unique experience like nothing else we have launched at the Resort since we opened.

“At the heart of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will be epic rides, including a UK first, and breath-taking mythical creatures designed to capture children’s imaginations and inspire them to build and play.

“Our new land has been two years in the making and co-created with families to make sure it delivers what children and their parents want from a theme park in 2021.”

 

LEGO MYTHICA World of Mythical Creatures is currently under construction at the Resort and is set to open in spring 2021. The new land will be found between Heartlake City and the Resort’s LEGO-themed hotels.

For more details and to book tickets to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, visit www.legoland.co.uk/mythica

Wildlife Trusts online

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children

The Wildlife Trusts have created wonderful online nature activities to encourage everyone to tune in to wildlife at home this spring – and to help people find solace in nature during tough times

Spot bees, butterflies, bats and birds during your permitted local walk, keep children entertained with nature-themed crafts, or tune in to look at fabulous wildlife footage and photos! 

The Wildlife Trusts are also offering plenty of practical outdoor advice to inspire us to do more for wildlife in gardens, balconies or window boxes. 

Tune in at www.wildlifetrusts.org. The Wildlife Trusts launched a weekly wildlife programme on YouTube last week for kids and parents. A new video will be uploaded to Wildlife Watch UK every Wednesday at 10am. The channel will feature wildlife experts, home-school help and seasonal species to spot at wtru.st/Wildlife-Watch-YouTube. 

Future videos will include:

• How to build a pond

• Be a garden scientist  – exploring your garden wildlife

• How to identify insects in your garden

• How to make a bug hotel

• What is marine pollution?

• Why birds sing and how to recognise their songs.

Wildlife Trusts across the UK are providing new ways of helping us feel more connected to the wider world and each other, via their online and social channels.

Wildlife experts who are usually leading school visits, events or talking to visitors on reserves have had to down tools and work from home – and so they can now be found online leading wildlife-spotting tours through their gardens, blogging about the life cycle of oil beetles or sharing heart-warming sounds of a dawn chorus on a sunny April morning.

For example:

Follow over 20 webcams from nests and locations around the UK and watch puffins in Alderney, peregrines in Nottingham, bats in Essex and ospreys on their nests www.wildlifetrusts.org/webcams.

Join Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s mini-beast expert Ben Keywood talk about frogspawn and springtime insects from his own garden. Help the Wildlife Trust record sightings of wildlife and follow their advice for helping in your garden.

Daily wildlife diaries from Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Michael Blencowe who talks about the wildlife in his gorgeous garden.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is advising people about feeding birds, watching wildlife in the garden and learning how to identify it.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is producing a series of videos called Bringing Nature to You. Join education officer Susan Symmonds and hear about the life cycle of an oil beetle.

Go to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s website where you’ll find spotter sheets and activities to help identify local wildlife.

Sign up for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Wild at Home ideas for regular activities and inspiration to help people stay connected with wildlife.

Keep an eye out for #EverydayWildlife across social media, an outlet to share local wildlife, big, small, grand or often overlooked.

Get guidance on how to create a butterfly haven in our Wild About Gardens campaign with the RHS, by downloading a handy booklet full of inspiration.

Leanne Manchester, wildlife gardener and digital communications manager at The Wildlife Trusts, says: “More people than ever are tuning into our wildlife webcams – more than double the figure for this time last year – and we’re seeing people have a lot of fun wildlife-watching in their gardens.

“Spring has arrived in splendid colour and sound, and over the past few days, hundreds of people have told us that they’ve spotted their first butterflies. These are joyful moments that people hold dear at this difficult time.

“Everyone can share and follow on social media using #EverydayWildlife – swapping such experiences can be a lovely way of keeping in touch.

“Do keep an eye on our channels in the coming weeks – we’ve got lots of lovely ideas and activities to help you stay connected to nature and still feel the health benefits of being outside in your garden or neighbourhood.”

Co-parenting advice

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children

In this time of upheaval, the most important thing is to provide a safe environment for your children, while staying within the law. Solicitors Couchman Hanson have this useful guide to co-parenting during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Parents sharing contact time with their children will find this time even more difficult, but with a little forethought and flexibility, they will be able to get through it. Here is our five-point guide to making co-parenting work during the COVID-19 lockdown.

1 – Stay within the law

While you are not permitted to leave the house except in certain essential circumstances, it was clarified straight after the lockdown was announced that children under-18 can move between their parents’ homes, when their parents do not live in the same household.

Where there are court orders that set out contact arrangements, parents can agree to vary them to take account of the lockdown. Where parents do not agree, one parent can alter the arrangements on the grounds of safety. However, the parent must understand that if evaluated at a later date by the Family Court, their actions could be viewed dimly.

The critical message is that if you can’t keep to the letter of your Child Arrangements Order, you must try your best to keep to the spirit of it.

Of course, not every set of parents has a court order. They may be working their way through the divorce process. For the best outcomes, try to follow these guidelines.

2 – Communicate

Communication between co-parents is imperative during this stressful time. It will be impossible to get through it without open dialogue. There has never been a better time to put your other differences to one side and make plans in your children’s interests.

Talk about what you can both do when it comes to contact arrangements. If moving your children between households isn’t possible, explain why. Talk about other ways you can spend time with your children if you can’t have them in your home.

You must also agree on arrangements around home-schooling; boundaries for where they should and should not go when they are at the other co-parent’s home, as well as who else they can see.

3 – Stay in touch

This is the age when technology has come into its own, alleviating the anxiety of not being in contact. Parents will be worried about their children, more than ever before.

Use tools such as Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp, so your children can see their other parent. Be open to allowing video calls every day. After all, we’ve all got a lot of time on our hands now.

4 – Be flexible

During the lockdown, it’s important to understand that you might not be able to get everything you want with regards to time with your children. You may not even be able to get everything you have previously agreed to with your ex-partner. You must also think about the toll this is taking on your children. If you take a flexible approach, life will be a little less stressful, for you and your children.

Look at the time you do spend together as quality time, with no pressure to go out or do anything. Hopefully, the lockdown will not last too long. Try and make it an experience.

5 – Stay safe

Perhaps most importantly, make sure you follow all the government guidelines on staying healthy during the Coronavirus outbreak. Stay inside; look after each other; don’t take risks. If someone in your household starts to show symptoms, isolate.

The goal of the lockdown is to stop the virus being from transferred between people. While it’s natural that you want to spend time with your children, think about what you could be bringing into your home, or sending out to your ex-partner’s home.

Find out more

No one is saying this lockdown is going to be easy. However, with a bit of flexibility, communication and common sense, we can all get through it.

These five points are only guidelines. Also, everyone’s circumstances will be different. If you’re concerned about your individual situation regarding your family under lockdown, it’s a good idea to get legal advice.

Further information

At Couchman Hanson, our solicitors genuinely care about getting the best outcome for you. We’re highly professional, with ‘city’ level talent and experience, but also friendly and welcoming. Everything we do fits with our values of integrity, honesty and authenticity.

Call 01428 722189 or visit couchmanhanson.co.uk.

Home schooling

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children

Youngsters at home? Don’t panic. Liz Nicholls gathers great educational ideas with the help of Lucy Spencer

When the government announced school was out for the foreseeable, my 11-year-old did a little victory dance. It was a bright moment amid a bleak week, but I was soon chastised when I mentioned this, cheerfully, to a family member who fumed ‘’That’s very irresponsible of you – how are you going to make sure she covers the curriculum?’’

Having been hothoused in an uncaring academic grammar school, I’ve yoyoed and am especially lax in my approach to fixed learning. So it was lovely to hear calming words from Lucy Spencer, a private tutor who lives in Sunninghill and works with Education Boutique.

“Home ed may seem daunting but the beauty is your children will have time to realise you don’t only learn English in English lessons but that all sorts of activities help children to develop and grow in confidence. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. Build a routine around your personal situation. You don’t have to emulate school at home.

“The government may be in the process of getting clear guidance about all of these changes but, as teachers, we thrive in situations where people need our help. The whole teaching and tutoring community are coming together and are ready to support every family. It looks like we’re entering a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you include outdoor fresh air time and consider doing some physical exercise as a family first thing to get up and ready for the day!”

Lucy recommends aiming for an activity that can feed into learning for the whole day. Baking, for example: your child can start the day reading recipe books then select a recipe based on checking ingredients, weigh them out, possibly scale the recipe, time the cooking and can even create imaginary packaging and a menu or business plan for how they could sell their creations.

“I’ve been home educating the children of other for years, from my nextdoor neighbour to celebrities. I understand how daunting it may seem – everyone feels the same. Smile, be positive and create your own unique curriculum and style – it’s not all about worksheets.”

MORE RESOURCES:

Visit educationboutique.co.uk for ideas to support common themes children love, including Minecraft, Pokemon, Lego etc.

Visit scholastic.co.uk and bbc.co.uk/bitesize for lots of free learning resources for all ages

Carol Vorderman has live maths fun at 10am daily at themathsfactor.com and check out worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses for English fun at 11am.

History with Dan Snow is free for 30 days at tv.historyhit.com/signuppackage

For geography check out lovely Steve Backshall on Twitter & there’s tons of science fun with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & guests at cosmicshambles.com