Category Archives: Education

School Feature: Lockers Park – A Boy’s Education

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Lockers Park is a thriving day and boarding school where boys receive a first class education that is balanced and happy. With an excellent academic reputation, the school prepares boys for top British public and independent senior schools, frequently with scholarships. Set in 23 acres of woodland on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, it is a day and boarding school for boys aged 7-13 with a co-educational Pre-Preparatory for ages 4-7.

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At Lockers Park we seek to instil traditional values of respect, honesty and tolerance, while teaching and preparing every child to become confident, high achieving citizens of the future.  Headmaster Christopher Wilson, who is in his fourth year at the school, says: “As a small and family oriented school, we pride ourselves on an inclusive culture which ensures your child will be encouraged and supported both academically and socially.”

Academia, The Arts, Sport and Co-curricular success are celebrated in equal measure at Lockers Park and the school’s motivational and nurturing environment allows pupils to discover hidden talents and initiate lifelong passions.

Motivating Boys

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“Lockers Park brings out the best in boys” Good Schools Guide

Drawing upon our 140-year heritage, we employ a kinesthetic approach to ensure pupils are highly engaged and achieve the best academic results. An emphasis on the individual child, combined with small class sizes (a maximum of 16 children per class), outdoor play and structured sport every day enables each boy to fulfil his potential. Christopher Wilson articulates the school’s philosophy: “Lockers Park makes a virtue of letting boys be boys. We believe that engaging in outdoor activities is intrinsic to good schooling, leading to increased concentration and success during academic lessons.”

Inspiring Pre-Prep

From the outset, our approach is to foster a love of learning and not simply learning for exam success. This is a mind-set that stretches from the Pre-Prep through to the main Prep School at Lockers Park. We have the flexibility to teach core subjects in  lockers-park-pre-prepdifferentiated, small groups, allowing us to work closely with each and every child. A creative curriculum blends the more structured environment of the classroom alongside making use of our beautiful 23-acre grounds. It offers the perfect setting to allow children to discover new interests, develop a range of talents and cultivate long-standing friendships.

Close-Knit Community

Our Pre-Prep is nestled right beside the Prep School, with its own routines and in its own unique, purpose-built space, but having access to the many excellent Prep School facilities. These include acres of football and rugby pitches, sports halls, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a .22 shooting range. And not forgetting the Art Room, Design & Technology block, Drama Studio and the historic Chapel and Centenary Hall, home to countless celebrated choir concerts, musicals and plays. Involvement with the Prep School gives our younger children the chance to make friends across all year groups and find older role models, all helping to sensitively prepare them for Prep School and the broader world that lies ahead.

lockers-park-pre-prep-pupilWraparound Care at No Extra Cost

Parents lead busy working and family lives and we strive to accommodate this. Flexibility is in our DNA as boarders are on campus around the clock. As an example, wraparound care for Lockers Park Pre-Prep runs from 7.45am until 6.00pm, with all costs included in the term fees. Within this, children may have breakfast from 7.45am to 8.15am and/or supper at 5.30pm.

Open Morning on Saturday 18th March 2017, 10:30am–12:30pm

Join us for a morning of activities and crafts at the Pre-Prep, where littles ones can explore the theme of ‘People Who Help Us’… visit the vet’s surgery, dress upLayout 1 like a policeman or make your own emergency vehicle. Mums and dads will have the opportunity to meetHeadmaster Christopher Wilson and dedicated Pre-Prep staff.

The main Preparatory School will be welcoming prospective parents and pupils, too.

Contact: secretary@lockerspark.herts.sch.uk or call 01442 251712 to register. www.lockerspark.herts.sch.uk

Top 10 Tips for the Primary to Secondary School Transition

The move to secondary school is a challenging and emotional time for both parents and children. Fear not – this useful guide from the National Teen Trust should help make the transition as painless as possible!

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  • Be prepared (like a boy (or girl) scout!) – It’s so important. Get all the uniform, books, shoes, trainers, socks and stationery out of the way as early as you can. You don’t want any last minute stress the week your children start secondary school!
  • Start to have conversations about the differences between primary and secondary school. You’ll have done the tour so you can reassure your child that they’ve seen the layout and that lots of people will be there to help them settle in.
  • Talk about how many children will be there in comparison to their primary education years. Often, your child will be going from a network of 30, 60 or 90 peers to around 200. This can be a positive… think how many new friends this means.
  • If your child has struggled to fit in at primary school, it’s likely that there will be a similar peer who is also facing these odds! For example, is your child a tomboy who has struggled to strike a friendship with the girls at primary school? Transitioning to secondary school may be the key, as there are likely to be girls with similar hobbies and interests.
  • In the first week, establish a routine as quickly as you can – where your child is going to hang their blazer, put their locker key, bus pass, do their homework, etc.
  • Be prepared – again – for the change! Suddenly your son or daughter transitions from a child into a more independent being. They may want to walk to/from school, get the bus or pop into town after school with new friends. Think carefully about what parental controls you will implement for this new stage.
  • New friends, new environments to hang out and have sleepovers at. How is this going to make you feel? Think about how you will approach this, whether you will meet the new friend’s parents first or is it sufficient to have a phone/text conversation?
  • Do your research. Establish if your child is better getting the school bus or the local bus or parent taxi. You can always change this as the terms pass by. First thing in the morning, your son or daughter may prefer the local, public bus to a bus full of excited school children!

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  • Make friends with other parents who are going to your tween’s new school. You may find that you lose a support network when your child’s friend’s move to different schools and this can be challenging.
  • As you can see, it’s not just about the effect this transition has on your tween, but also the effect that this may bear on you and the rest of your family. Be prepared for unsettling times as you all start to adjust to this new chapter in your family life. And remember, stay positive!

images     You may find your child’s move to secondary school a challenge in the first instance. However, the key is to be prepared and to stay positive. The National Teen Trust has been set up to create a support network for parents during these tween and teenage years.

If you’re struggling with parenting life, join the National Teen Trust Facebook group. The organisation also runs flexible programmes in St Albans that allow parents to come together and explore teen challenges, allowing you to develop practical parental approaches and skills.

Guest post written by Wendy Powell.

 

Herts Successful Designer Hosts Summer Children’s Jewellery Workshops

Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery began life in a spare room in Harriet’s home in 1998 and since then it has grown to be one of the most respected jewellery companies in the UK.

Harriet was originally taught to make jewellery by her father and made her first silver ring with him at the tender age of 4! Her crafting abilities flourished and by the time she was at primary school she was making and selling professional quality earrings to her classmates. At this time she was also giving the Covent Garden market traders a run for their money while selling her jewellery on a friend’s stall. Her love of design never waned and an Industrial Design degree at Brunel University was the perfect opportunity to pursue her three dimensional thinking skills. She achieved first class honours and the prestigious University Design Prize.

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Although Harriet enjoyed her post-graduate job in the computer industry, she continued to feel a desire to follow her creative side and for many years she had been taking on jewellery commissions for friends in her spare time. In 1998 when she had a queue of 33 commissions she knew it was time to follow her heart and she founded Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery. Expansion was quick and by early 2000 the company moved into its first studio in the North Hertfordshire village of Weston. Award followed award and by 2002 the business received a special commendation from the judges at the National Jewellery Awards.

In May 2005 despite being heavily pregnant with her first child, Harriet cut the ribbon and opened the second branch of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery in Cambridge city centre. Harriet has continued to juggle motherhood and her expanding business ever since. No easy task for any working parent.

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2011 was an exciting milestone year as Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery was chosen as one of the first twenty jewellers worldwide to launch certified Fairtrade gold. Membership of the Responsible Jewellery Council soon followed and the business was the first independent to be certified by both organizations. The company has grown from strength to strength and has over 20 national and international awards to its name. Most recently Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery was awarded ‘Bridal Jewellery Retailer of the Year 2016’ at the Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards, celebrated as the Oscars of jewellery retailing and what a glamorous night it was!

 

Harriet has always been a passionate campaigner for skills and education within her sector and has transformed the lives of countless design graduates and is also “Master” to a Worshipful Company of Goldsmith Apprentice. Closer to home, she organises competitions and events for children in her award-winning Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre, knowing from firsthand experience the importance of local events to keep children entertained. With our on-site coffee shop, parents have the added bonus of coffee, cake and a bit of time to themselves while the children are occupied. The Children’s Jewellery Making workshops are a wonderful opportunity for children to work with and learn from qualified jewellery designers. What could be better than unleashing a child’s creative side whilst keeping their hands and minds busy?

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Workshops will be taking place at the Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre throughout the summer.

More information can be found at www.hkjewellery.co.uk/children-s-jewellery-making-workshops

Yoga for Pregnancy & Mother and Baby Yoga,  by Julie Llewellyn-Thomas at Clinic8 Studio

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You may have already attended yoga classes for improving your fitness and flexibility, and gained a sense of well-being from it. But did you know that yoga can also bring numerous benefits during pregnancy and birth?

Yoga can be an amazing birth companion, enriching bonds between mothers, babies and partners. You can practice yoga for all sorts of reasons. It helps you to stay fit and supple, it relaxes your body and mind, it gives you a break from the outside world, and it allows you to become more aware of your body and your ability to control it. So while yoga wasn’t designed to help with labour and childbirth – it was originally only performed by men – it might as well have been because every one of these benefits can make all the difference to a pregnant woman.

With yoga to help you, your birth will be a gentler and more beautiful experience – you will feel empowered to birth in the way that’s best for you, perhaps in an upright position, using the assistance of gravity. A positive birth experience will mean that you can give your baby the warmest of welcomes into the world and will strengthen the bonds between you. cfed4c37-2906-46a4-a8af-351a21f598f3

Many yoga positions we practice in pregnancy are similar to those which are helpful during labour and birthing. They develop and widen your pelvis, help to position your baby properly and prepare you psychologically to open and release while giving birth. Regular practice can help you to get familiar with positions such as squatting, kneeling or on “all fours”, which will feel natural during labour and birth, because they allow gravity to assist your baby’s passage. Indeed many women have said that if they practice the gentle yoga positions during pregnancy they are able to move freely and spontaneously in labour. We also learn from our yoga that we do not need any special environment for its practice – we can kneel on the bed, support our hips against a wall, squat on the floor or just lie on our side. All this is very comforting in labour – especially in an unfamiliar hospital room – and can help facilitate a birth.

The benefits of yoga practice will go beyond the birthing room, possibly staying with you for the rest of your life. Some of the many tremendous benefits of yoga in pregnancy are outlined below (1):

  • Relaxation and stress relief
  • Improved body posture and tone
  • Practice of postures which can provide a more natural and active birth in an less upright position
  • Less lower back pain
  • Improved production of the hormone oxytocin, which is essential for effective birth contractions and breast feeding
  • Pain relief, via the production of natural “feel good” factors called endorphins
  • Inner strength which can help ease adversity and also empower you to birth in your own preferred way
  • Better bonding between you and your baby
  • Greater involvement of your birth partner, especially via shared yoga practices and relaxation
  • More rapid recovery to pre-pregnancy fitness
  • A stronger and healthier pelvic floor

Another  important role of yoga is to keep the birth as relaxed as possible, reducing the likelihood of complications. Hospitals have protocols and procedures which will be adhered to – yoga will not alter these, but will keep your birth as straight forward as possible and improve your environment.

Yogic breathing can be helpful in any situation, even during difficult birth interventions. We can carry the yoga within us during the whole birth process, not being dependant on anything but our own inner strength. You will feel more able to birth in your own way, turning inward to your own natural birthing abilities. Even if there is trauma or the birth doesn’t go to plan, whether at home or in hospital, you can use the healing power of yoga to let go of disappointment and progress positively. This is important as women who suffer birth trauma may have more difficulties in bonding with their babies and possibly post natal depression (2).

Most importantly, enjoy your yoga practice and the closeness it will bring between you, your partner, and your baby. This provides the best possible foundation for happy healthy birthing and parenting.

After the birth you may wish to attend mother and baby yoga classes. The benefits of baby yoga are countless, including physical and emotional rewards for you and your baby, which you will gain together and individually.Although you cherish your baby, you may come across physical and emotional adjustments which can be draining. Yoga will uplift you, restore you and make you feel more positive about yourself and your role. It is a support on days when you are low and days when you are high. Most days we feel mixtures of both!

Baby yoga also brings mutual contact and interaction that increases mother and baby bonding. Baby yoga will bring you pleasures from small and personal moments with your baby, such as mutual activity, togetherness and smiles. You will gain “time out” to focus on each other. 502e120c-5e99-47b4-a2b1-64590bc80c87

Baby yoga uses massage as a means for you to explore your baby. Touch is a positive way for you to get to know each other and has extensive benefits – such as a higher degree of trust, less fractiousness on the part of the child and less anxiety for you the parent. You will communicate with your baby during massage – babies can be seen looking at the mother and the mother makes the facial expressions of the baby. Through touch, mothers learn to read “cues” such as changing expressions, yawns and turning of the face or body.  Through these cues we learn to interpret our baby’s needs.

Joining a baby yoga class also allows you to benefit from the friendships and support networks formed with other mothers.

Contact Clinic8 for more information: http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire/fitness-wellbeing-other/523781-clinic8-studio-for-yoga-and-injury 

Julie is our pregnancy yoga instructor she has over 15 years experience and is a published author  of ‘Breathe your way through birth with Yoga’. 

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References

1    Field, T. (2011). Yoga Clinical Research Review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 17: 1-8.
2    Beck,  (2004). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Due to Childbirth. Nursing Research, 53 (4): 216-224.

How to Burglar-proof the Family Home

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How burglar-proof is your property? If you’re worried that your household may be vulnerable to break-ins, here’s a quick guide to staying safe and secure. We’ll touch on the security upgrades you can make, and explain how you can change your habits to ensure a burglar-proof home.

Invest in Security

Keeping your home burglar-proof isn’t just about avoiding potential theft – more importantly it’ll help you feel safe and secure in your own space. That’s definitely worth investing in. So consider some of these security upgrades to burglar-proof your home and help you sleep sounder at night:

  • Burglar alarms: Not just the preserve of wealthy householders, intruder alarms are an excellent (and affordable) way to burglar-proof your home, sending a clear and visible signal that you are on top of your home security. There is a wide range of different alarms to choose from, and you can opt to cover just one area of your home or the whole house.
  • Safes: Keep your valuables locked up and out of sight, so that burglars don’t have easy pickings. A safe is worth considering for sensitive or personal documents.
  • CCTV: Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Now you can be the one doing the watching. CCTV is a valuable tool to help you monitor your property, and it’s one that will be a definite repellent to any potential intruders.
  • Smart security systems: Modern technology now lets you burglar-proof your home with the aid of your smartphone. Check out your CCTV footage wherever you are, and set your alarms at the touch of a screen. Smart security is a great option if you’re away a lot.

Think like an Intruder

As a (mostly) upstanding member of your community, you probably don’t have what it takes to be a criminal mastermind. But turning your mind to more nefarious thoughts can help you see any security vulnerabilities from a burglar’s point of view.

  • Open windows. Surely it won’t do any harm to leave that upstairs window open while you pop out for a few minutes? Sadly, it’s a really bad idea. To a passing opportunist with the right mindset, it’s a tempting invitation – you’re almost making it too easy! And if you do it regularly at similar times, someone observing your property will notice the pattern and be ready to slip in and out quickly. While burglar-proof windows and doors are important, the most robust locks on the market are no use unless you use them.
  • Shady spots. Dark, shady spots outside your property make easy hiding places for intruders – so make your exterior as hostile as possible to those wanting to remain unnoticed. Gravel driveways, outside lights and visible security alarms are all great ways to help burglar-proof your home.
  • Keys under the mat. Or the flower pot. Or attached to your letterbox! These are all classic places to keep a spare key, but to a burglar they’re as obvious as a password set to 1234. Avoid keeping your keys anywhere accessible to strangers, but consider giving a spare set to your neighbours so that you have one available in an emergency.

So there you have it – a few simple steps you can take to make your home more burglar-proof. If you want to know more about which products to invest in, the Which? website has lots of impartial information on home security.

Kevin Carloni is passionate about providing the best help to home and business owners in need of security solutions. For more information, contact Kevin on 0800 052 0922 or 07976 359 552. Alternatively, send him an email at info@fortlocks.co.uk or visit the Fort Locks website.

REVIEW: Spooky Fun at Kidzania London

When I learned I’d be taking our family to Kidzania I was super excited. I’d only heard good things about the Westfield location and the concept of giving your kids access to real-life experiences, like becoming a pilot or a dentist, within a secure learning environment is fantastic. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so each part of the journey for our family was a surprise.

IMG_5712 When you arrive at Kidzania, it’s like you’re arriving at Heathrow. The entrances, signage, and all the airport-like escalators take you to a ticketing booth as if you’re ready to board a plane to Spain. I admit, you also sort of get the same anticipatory, holiday feeling, too.

 The British Airways-esque welcome offers all paid visitors a security bracelet, a map, and of course, kidZos, the local currency. Each child starts with 50 kidZos with which they can use to purchase something in the department store or to be better put to use with one of the 60 activities on offer. Some you earn a salary, some you pay to experience. There’s even a bank and a debit card on offer for those that earn enough kidZos.

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 So, once you’re checked-in you’re ‘transported’ to a fabricated city for kids. As one who’s been to Las Vegas, the setting is similar in style to the indoor shopping cities of one of the big hotels. Shop fronts, offices, and cafes line the road, the ceiling a painted sky. The faces of my starry-eyed children were of something you’d see in Disneyland.

That was, however, until the zombies arrived. Yes, it was a Halloween-themed session. Zombies were on the run and the only way to get away from them was to play along and wave your hands at them. This was a fun little addition to the day for the older children, but many of the younger children did get a bit scared. To be honest it was the only negative in our experience. It took 30 minutes to settle one of our children because a zombie spooked her.

However, once the realization set that these so-called zombies weren’t real, my four year old had a great time. She absolutely loved learning about and making ice cream, chocolate, becoming a dentist, and plaiting hair at the hairdressers. Despite her always being one of the younger children in the groups of eight or ten, she fit right in. Listening to the leaders, participating, and surprisingly well behaved! We spent the ride home discussing how chocolate is made and how you read an x-ray. SubstandardFullSizeRender

All in all I’d thoroughly recommend experiencing Kidzania for kids of all ages. Your four year old will have an entirely different experience than your eight year old, but again, there is positive benefit for inspiring and exploring for both. There’s even a soft play and colouring on offer for the under-threes; and a parents’ area to sit, have a coffee, and wait while your kiddos run safely-a-riot. I’m sure we’ll return again when our kids are older and may try one of the many other international locations, as well.

Six Tips to Being Confident with Outdoor Play

Philippa Statter, Environmental Education Officer for Groundwork Hertfordshire, has delivered a variety of outdoor play activities with parents and their children.

It’s taken me 10 years of working with children to fully realise that humans were born to play – whether young or old. When playing, some of the best learning happens. There’s pressure for parents to buy the best toys or electronic gadgets for their children but there is already a whole world of natural toys out there waiting to be explored. Children and adults love nothing better than to explore…

I grew up by the coast so was extremely lucky to have the beach on my doorstep but my fondest childhood memories are of being out in the garden. I was never happier than when I was outside in my little den in the compost heap, making mud pies. I was particularly proud of creating a red hair dye for my Cindy doll and I’m sure my parents got fed up of finding the leftovers of my flowery perfumes festering on the shelf! Things don’t change; I now work with parents and children to spread the word about outdoor play and its many benefits.

It’s hard for parents to find the balance between spending the time you would like to with your children and how much time you actually have. Outdoor play is free and you only need a little bit of time and a patch of green space. Most of us have access to the outdoors, whether that’s your own garden, a park or a grassy area with a bench! Of course the number one priority is that your children are safe and the best way of ensuring this is to make time to go out and play with them.

Okay, what do you do with just you and your children and some grass?

Using a cardboard tube as a telescope

 

Top tip 1: Let the children lead the way (but also lead by example yourself).

Observing what your child enjoys doing is the best way of tailoring the activities you do with them. Leading by example is also really important. My midwife friend told me, “A child is only born with two fears: a fear of falling and a fear of loud noises. All other fears are learnt.”

So when your child spots a spider scuttling away or a bee feeding on a flower, encourage them to enjoy the moment!

 

Top tip 2: Use simple everyday household items.

Free or low cost items make great toys. Empty yoghurt pots and sticks mean you can mix potions and kitchen roll tubes make great telescopes. If you have a pestle and mortar (or a bucket and a rolling pin!), you can make natural paint by crushing leaves or berries and adding water. (See top tip 4 for more info.)

Children love collecting things don’t they? Give them an empty egg box, yogurt pot or plastic bag and see what interesting things you can collect together… Encourage them to look for nature’s rubbish – things that nature doesn’t need any more, like fallen leaves, seed cases and berries. The best bit is that at the end, everything that’s been collected can just be thrown back into nature!

Father and son get stuck into creative play with sticks and string

 

Top tip 3: Let your children get dirty!

If they can relax into playing and exploring without needing to worry about mud or grass stains, it’ll be a lot more rewarding for everyone. If you need more convincing, read this interesting article from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-greenfield/germs-kids_b_4951388.html

 

Top tip 4: Focus on what is safe rather than what’s not!

When you’re in a public space it’s always worth giving the area a quick sweep with your eyes and feet to check for any hidden undesirables.

Once you’ve done that, you can concentrate on having fun. If you’re worried about what is safe to pick, here are some pointers:

Berries that are red, orange or yellow are a natural warning sign. Only pick berries if you definitely know what they are. Blackberries, hawthorns, elderberries and rose hips are all good. Keep your eyes open for prickly leaves. If your child does get stung by a stinging nettle, it’s not the end of the world.

Nature’s rubbish on the ground indicates what nature does not need any more so that’s a safe bet – you can pick it up without damaging the plant or animal that shed it!

Of course, this is all with the caveat of taking the necessary precautions to avoid triggering any specific allergies that your child has.

Top tip 5: Be risky in play.

If your child wants to climb a tree, roll down a hill or jump from one rock to another, then reward their courage and support them with the challenge! We have to deal with risk in life and, as a parent, you can manage this best for your child. Children grow up fast and being more adventurous with choice is an advantageous skill for later in life.

 Climbing - a bit of risky play

Top tip 6: Be prepared for all weather.

We are naturally more engaged with the outdoors when it’s warm and sunny (a rare occurrence in this country, I know!) Remember the expression, “There’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothes.”

Your child will be happy out in the cold air if they are wrapped up warmly or out in the rain splashing in puddles if wearing wellies and a waterproof. For more fantastic ideas as to what to do in wintery weather check out the Wild Weather Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield.

Now, I hope you feel inspired to grab your coats and wellies and explore the outdoors through your child’s eyes!

Groundwork Hertfordshire is the community charity with a green heart. We are committed to changing places and changing lives. We work to improve people’s prospects, create better places, and encourage greener living and working. Visit www.groundwork.org.uk/east for more information.