Saturday, 18 November 2017

Free night of fun and specialised childcare for parents of SEND children

An email arrives offering something more valuable than gold, as far as most parents are concerned - time. To whit, time to spend with their partner, time to themselves which - when one is a parent of a child with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities - is doubly difficult to find.

A charity is offering the parents of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities children a night of all expenses paid fun and specialised childcare. Its asking members of the public to nominate parents they think deserve a night out, and will pick at random three families from across the UK.

But hurry! Nominations have to be in by this coming Monday (20th November). Click the link below to find out more.

About Nasen

Nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs) is a charity organisation who have been operating since 1992. Nasen is a membership organisation who support thousands of practitioners by providing relevant information, training and resources to enable staff to meet all pupils’ needs. Working with dedicated education professionals, their aim is to ensure that practice.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Parents are heroes... introducing Roxi!

'Being a parent is the hardest job in the world,' the man says. So here comes Roxi to the rescue!


Monday, 6 November 2017

God Save the Queen

On this day, in 1975, the Sex Pistols performed for the first time, supporting a band called 'Bazooka Joe', apparently. Wonder what happened to them?

Anyway, on THIS day, this one now, in 2017, we learn that the Queen (to whom we pay our taxes) is numbered among the many thousands revealed by the #paradisepapers to be... what? avoiding? evading? To be doing whatever the term for legally getting round paying her own, or some of her own, tax liability.

I find that ironic, given some of mine goes (in the form of the civil list) to her.

And if, for a moment, we can just at least raise a slight question about the monarchy (I've got battle scars for this having been denounced by the Daily Mail for doing so) might I just make one point, which is this. It seems awfully unfair to collect them, be paid a stipend from them, and not fully pay them. Doesn't it?

I know, I know, she's a wonderful lady, an inspiration, did great things in the war and no, I don't want an elected president and I DO think the tourist dollar is vital (not that they'd stop coming if the Queen wasn't Queen-ing)... Let's keep the monarchy, I say. But let's not pay for it.

And while we're about it, ma'am... let's make sure we all pay our way, shall we?


Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Babysitter's Survival Guide

New on the book shelf this month come two of the most useful titles I think I’ve ever had to review. The Ultimate Slumber Party by Jamie Kyle McGillian and The Babysitters Survival Guide by Jill D. Chassé, both from Sterling Children's Books.

First, the dreaded 'slumber party'!

I say 'dreaded' more from the possibilities than reality. Those we've had, in the past, have been reasonably successful. But there's always the nagging doubts together with the fear of hearing the question, 'can I have a sleepover?'

But fear no more. What this comprehensive guide to throwing the best slumber party doesn't contain by way of ideas for themes, to icebreakers, games, recipes and crafts probably isn't worth knowing. It's even got punch-out invitations and pages of stickers for truly professional party planning!

Next, babysitting. How can a babysitter entertain a fidgety kid, lull a toddler to sleep, or comfort a child who’s feeling sad or upset? Whether you're in the business of babysitting yourself or need a babysitter, this book has all the advice you’ll need. It's billed as 'the ultimate babysitter's helper' and filled with recipes, activities, strategies and essential advice for emergencies. But it's more than that - as a parent, having this to hand when the babysitter arrives could be a godsend.

How to Throw the Ultimate Slumber Party
Invitations, Games, Crafts, and More!
By Jamie Kyle McGillian
9781454925194 – Paperback – £12.99 – Sterling

The Babysitter's Survival Guide
Fun Games, Cool Crafts, Safety Tips, and More!
By Jill D. Chassé
9781454923183 – Paperback - Sterling Children's Books – £12.99

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Why parents should work with their children to tackle online security

Social media: love it or hate it, you can’t avoid it, and that goes for our children, too. It is everywhere. So, what can parents do to help kids stay safe online?

The first thing is not to fight against it. This is how the world works now. When we say social media is ‘everywhere’, we mean everywhere. Instagram has recently trumpeted about reaching 700 million users, while Twitter has now claimed to have active user numbers in the region of 328 million. Meanwhile the leader of the pack, Facebook, has soared to over 2 billion active users as of June 30, 2017. The list goes on.

It’s hardly a flash-in-the-pan, either. Facebook boasts a whopping growth rate of 20 million active users per month, while Pinterest’s monthly active users went up to 175 million earlier this year. Another popular platform, Reddit, is thought to have added 16 million users to their platform. The world has never been so connected. You’d have to be a social media hermit to avoid it.

It’s easy to explain its popularity. Devices, phones, accounts and apps are everywhere. It’s never been simpler to stay in touch, to upload, share, tag and like.

But there’s a catch. And it goes back to the numbers game that the platforms themselves play. Because although we like to teach our kids to share and share alike, you can share too much. And they can get caught in the numbers game of seeking more and more ‘likes’. And then there’s cyber-bullying and the sinister world of strangers appropriating your online information.

There’s also the time-factor, too. It’s easy to let devices devour whole days, especially on weekends and during school holidays, leaving homework as well as straightforward social interactions, books and good old ‘playing’ lagging far behind.

Like any parent, I’m concerned. But for me, banning phones, blocking access without explanation and building cyber-walls won’t work. I’m tech-savvy but I know my kids will soon outstrip me in the wherewithal to wheedle their way around any restrictions I put in place.

As ever, education is the key and talking to your children, discussing the issues with them and preparing them for what lies in store will go a long way to helping them steer a safe course through the social media seas. It’s basic parenting, after all.

But just as teaching children to cross the road safely can’t eliminate the danger caused by a reckless driver, no amount of open and honest discussion and education is going to completely close off all risks.

Which is where products like Kaspersky’s Security Cloud come in.

Kaspersky’s solution is much more than a way of keeping kids safe online. Kaspersky’s Security Cloud is a service which provides privacy protection, password encryption and even a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for ultimate protection across devices. It guards against malware and viruses on laptops and android devices too.

It also allows parents to see if a child tries to access an unsuitable site, giving them the chance to veto a child’s choice. And that, for me, would be the starting point to a discussion. In answering the question ‘why?’ (‘why won’t you let me watch/access/play that?’) this is where the serious business of online education begins.

Parents should always let their children know that a device is being monitored and what steps are being taken to keep them safe. Open, honest and age-appropriate discussion is as important than any technological solution. But when used alongside Kaspersky’s Security Cloud, that discussion can begin before any damage is done.

The software can be set up to link up to 20 devices via the main MyKaspersky account (which you must install in order to get started) all of which then need the have the Kaspersky Safe Kids app installed. You can tailor the restrictions to suit and a traffic light system of levels makes it easy to assess what is and isn’t going to be suitable.

Not, of course, that that should be an end of the matter.  My advice would be to prepare to justify your decisions and reason with your children. And prepare to be wrong! Not all unknown online content is going to be bad. Let’s not forget there’s an awful lot of ‘good’ out there as well.

After all, over 2 billion Facebook members, 700 million Instagrammers and over 300 million Twitter users can’t all be wrong!
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