Category Archives: Guest Posts

Posts for guest bloggers or features

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

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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.

 

Little Chickie’s Top Five Baby Gift Ideas

              Are you looking for the perfect gift for a newborn or baby shower? It’s so tough to find that perfect baby gift, especially when you know that the new parents have been doing lots of new baby shopping!  

For some inspiration, here are our top 5 ideas for that perfect baby gift. They’re all from boutique brands, meaning they’ll be something unique, great quality and super gorgeous! At Little Chickie we believe that the perfect gift is something that not only looks great, is an essential item for any parent but also brings the baby joy!

Baby Hand & Footprint Keepsake

Nobody can resist squidgy baby feet, so why not send this fabulous, great value hand and footprint kit. It is easy to use and comes in a lovely tin and gift box, a gorgeous keepsake to remember just how cute and tiny their baby’s hands and feet were!  

Take a closer look here: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/baby-hand-and-foot-print-kit-3046/

 

Play time!

Visual stimulation is so important for a baby and what better way to do this than with these super cute rattles. The high contrasting colours of Mr Tiger Stick Rattle and Sir Panda Ring Rattle are eye-catching and great for baby! They are by Nature Zoo of Denmark who have a whole range of beautifully hand crocheted items from rattles to mobiles. They are all made from supersoft bamboo fibres, free from nasty chemicals and very high quality.

Find Mr Tiger and more of his friends here: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/mr-tiger-rattle-stick-3074/

 

Cute & Cosy Bathrobe

Bath time is such a precious time with a little one. Once the fun of bathtime is over it’s time to wrap up and have lots of snuggles and cuddles. A robe and slipper set is the perfect thing to do just that… We love this cosy hooded bathrobe with a cute bear design with matching bear slippers from British brand Nature’s Purest. It’s made from soft organic cotton so is kind to baby’s skin and comes in a lovely gift box making it the perfect unisex baby gift. Click here to take a look: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/hug-me-bear-baby-bathrobe-and-slippers-gift-box-3134/

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Super Soft Baby Grow

You can never have enough baby grows and we love the brilliant range from Bob & Blossom.  They’re a great British brand with cool style, cute designs and slogans.This Sunshine Yellow Baby Grow has a gorgeous yellow bunting print running through it and comes in a matching gift pouch making it an adorable unisex gift for a new baby. https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/sunshine-yellow-baby-grow-with-matching-gift-pouch-3157/ 

 

The Must Have Baby Muslin

No mum can survive the first year without a good supply of muslin cloths. They don’t have to be boring either, many come in lots of fun and cute designs to make an ideal gift. Our favourite is Nature’s Purest Tiny Bunny and Muslin Gift Set. The gift box contains a super cute little bunny toy as well as a natural cotton muslin square, which is very gentle on the baby’s delicate skin. Alternatively, how about this fun, Cherry Swirl Muslin which looks good enough to eat! A great unique gift and affordable too. https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/gift-set-tiny-bunny-and-muslin-3045/

 

I hope we have provided you with some inspiration for the perfect baby gift. If you like the look of these items, have a look at www.littlechickie.co.uk for more gorgeous boutique gifts and clothes. Also, you can get 10% off of your first order by signing up to the newsletter on the website!

 

 

 

 

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

Go Local for Independent Retailer Month: Guest Post from the Dressing Room

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It’s JULY! And at The Dressing Room (http://www.the-dressingroom.com/), this is one of our favourite months, not only because it means Summer is well and truly here (well, so we hope in the UK!), but it’s also the month that celebrates Independent Retailers.

We’re proud to be part of Independent Retailer Month again this year; a nationwide annual campaign which celebrates the small businesses that together, contribute significantly to the UK High Streets.

 

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Having been around for 11 years now, The Dressing Room is an independent fashion retailer focusing on personal service, attention to detail and the personality behind the business; everything that makes Indies unique. From fashion boutiques to coffee shops, we love independents that offer something more individual and bespoke. We plan to highlight how special and important Independents are, and hope you join us throughout July (and always!) in celebrating all that small businesses have to offer.

Here are a few things we’ve got planned:

  • Double Loyalty points every Saturday throughout July, in store and online. Starting on Saturday the 2nd be sure to treat yourself and earn those loyalty rewards even quicker!
  • An insight behind the scenes at The Dressing Room. We’ll be talking about everything that makes The Dressing Room, from the team behind it to the inspiration that fuels it, and more!
  • It’s all about you! Our customers are at the heart of everything we do here at The DR, and we want to know what you want! Tell us what you would like from us – anything goes! Drop us a line via email, comment on our social media, or even pop into store and let us know – we’d love to hear how we can improve for you.

It’s an exciting month ahead, with lots planned! Keep your eyes peeled and be sure to follow us across our social media channels and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know about what we’re up to!

Deryane & The Dressing Room Team xx

 

Get more The Dressing Room faboulousness, here:

https://www.instagram.com/thedrstalbans/

https://www.facebook.com/TheDressingRoomStAlbans

https://twitter.com/dressingroom1

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheDressingRoomTV?feature=watch

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.

Guest Post: Are “Running Clubs” Just for Professionals?

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Everyone’s heard of their local running club, or has that one person on Facebook who seems to be forever running marathons up and down the country; but are running clubs just for seasoned pros, or can anyone get involved?

We think the latter – the more people who get fit and active the better! And St Albans Half Marathon agree. Race Director, Katie Foweraker, says “We have over 6500 people taking part in our event each year, and the majority of them have never run a Half Marathon before! We are a community event and so our focus is on getting everyone in the area active and putting on a fun-filled community event to raise money for local charities”.

“We got some feedback after last years event that many women wanted to participate but just couldn’t get into running. The intention was there, but they didn’t know how to start, where to run or how to progress past a 60 second jog”.

Following this, St Albans Half Marathon started a Ladies’ only running group, Athena. About to launch their Spring Groups, which will be the second cohort since they started in January this year, Athena meets throughout the week with trained leaders to help the ladies progress reach their running goals.

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“The Spring Groups are a perfect time to start.” Says Katie “We will take the Athena ladies right up to the St Albans Half Marathon on 12th June 2016, where they can join ‘Team Athena’ in any of the races and reach the finish line together with their new found friends!”

The St Albans Half Marathon also has a Walking Half Marathon and 1.5k Fun Run so there’s something for everyone. And with a free ice lolly at the finish line and Athena ladies at your side, you will be smiling to the finish line!

As it’s a big community event, there will also be food and drink, children’s sport activities, face painting, arts and crafts plus inflatable fun, so you’re sure to have a great day, enjoying the sunshine and being active with the family!

Why not come along and get involved? Visit www.stalbanshalfmarathon.co.uk for more information on St Albans Half Marathon and Athena. Or if you’re not local, why not start your own beginners running group?! Just gather a few friends and set off with a St Albans Half Race as your motivational goal. Remember – a little run is better than no run!

“Be that person on Facebook sharing your finish line photo with your ice lolly in one hand and your medal in the other – you can do it!”

If you’d like to run the St. Albans Half Marathon then use code MUMSNET for 10% off all races – valid for the first 50 people only!

Post written by St. Albans Half Marathon staff writer.