Term and Holiday Dates 2017 - 2018

Autumn Term: Mon 04 Sept '17 - Fri 20 Oct '17
Autumn Term: Mon 30 Oct '17 - Wed 20 Dec '17
Spring Term: Thur 04 Jan '18 - Fri 09 Feb '18
Spring Term: Mon 19 Feb '18 - Thur 29 Mar '18
Summer Term: Mon 16 Apr '18 - Fri 25 May '18
Summer Term: Mon 04 Jun '18 - Tues 24 July '18

(Use as a guide only. Dates may differ between regions, please check you local area here).

By Jon Alexander 12 Dec, 2017

Plenty of things change as we get older. Our taste in food, the way we think, and of course our physical ability – and that’s just the adults. And with such fast development in the childhood years, it’s understandable that the way children play goes through several phases as they grow older. However, play should also challenge them in different ways. Read on as we explore how play changes through the childhood years.

 

The first movements

Play and movement is important from day one for babies. It begins with reflexive movements, such as when babies jerk their arms and legs. Hardly an intense workout, but it’s the start of their slow journey towards controlled movement. As they develop, infants become more aware of their movements, and begin to work with their motor skills when they play:

·        Gross motor skills involve large muscle groups like arms and legs

·        Fine motor skills involve smaller muscle groups like the fingers and toes

Gross motor skills are essential in all the landmark moments for infants – sitting up, crawling and walking, while fine motor skills allow them to play with smaller objects, exploring new shapes, textures and colours.


Moving through childhood

As toddlers becomes children, their play becomes a lot more physical. They want to run, jump and even swing. There’s more to this that first meets the eye though. Physical activity is at the core of children’s social development. It’s how children meet new friends, and learn to cooperate and compete. With the right kind of physical play, young children can learn important behavioural skills like reciprocation, turn-taking and following rules, while also improving their physical fitness.


Adolescent “play”

It’s not just mood swings and growth spurts – when children become teenagers, play is important in keeping them active. Whether it’s team sports or individual activities like yoga or climbing, it’s essential for teenagers to have the space and facilities to stay active. They may not refer to it as “play” any more, but this activity is also a great stress-reliever – and we all know how essential that is in the teenage years.

Looking forward, adolescent play lays the foundations for adulthood. It’s no secret that an inactive lifestyle is a factor in a wide range of health complications, so it really is essential for teenagers to make physical activity a part of their day to day life.

 

Providing the right space for play

Whether it’s sensory play for infants or sports courts for adolescents, it’s important that children have the right space to play throughout their childhood years. At Playcubed , we provide a wide range of play areas, active play facilities and sports surfaces across London and the South East.

Covering survey, design and installation, our comprehensive service makes it easy for you to get the perfect facilities for your school or public space. Get in touch today to discuss your needs with our team.

By Jon Alexander 29 Nov, 2017

As much as children might think otherwise, schools are more than just lessons, textbooks and homework. Yes, while these are three of main reasons teachers lose sleep, there are so many more. Another big task for schools is developing healthy habits for their pupils. But is your school doing enough? This post explores the best ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle.


Get it in early

So, why is it that schools need to instil healthy habits in children? Quite simply, the earlier children learn it, the more natural it becomes. Like languages, maths and… anything really – learning healthy habits at an early age is much easier than adopting them later in life. It makes it much simpler to carry these habits into adulthood.

 

Five a day – and more...

Top of the list when it comes to healthy habits is a well-balanced diet. It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise, which is being carried into adulthood increasingly nowadays ( read more on that here ).

The solution? Teach children about a balanced diet as soon as possible – and put it into practice. That’s not just five fruit and vegetables a day, but ways to get learning about lean proteins and complex carbs – and how to get these into your diet.

We’re all guilty of pigging out from time to time, but it’s also useful to introduce children to eating in moderation. Children don’t have to have the sweet stuff locked away, they just need to know when and how often they should eat it. Like us, really… It’s also important to know when you’re full. Teaching children about these simple things stops them overeating, as well as steering them clear of the unhealthy boredom snacking habit.

By Jon Alexander 15 Nov, 2017

In 2015, the Government found that 1 in 5 children were obese, with 1 in 3 obese or overweight. Yes – really! Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. What does that mean? Well, it spells an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties. That’s not mentioning the potential impact on children’s mental health and self consciousness.

It also means more unhealthy children growing into unhealthy adults, with the development of serious diseases more likely as time goes on. But what can schools do? A great deal, actually! Here are four simple steps your school can take to tackle childhood obesity.

 

1.   Get out and play!

Exercise is essential for any person’s health – child or adult. Even if someone eats well or is the “ideal” weight, a lack of activity can have a negative impact on muscles, organs and joints. In addition to PE, which is required on the national curriculum, schools can encourage active play during break times too. Lucky for us, children love playing! They just need the right space and facilities to do so.

 

2.   Promote cooperation and friendship

Getting children to play can be a problem if they feel isolated. Schools should encourage children to make strong friendships. Here are some ideas:

·        Icebreaker activities to introduce children from day one.

·        Group activities in lessons.

·        Team games in PE lessons.

·        Change around seating plans to get children talking to different classmates.

 

3.   Food education

They say you are what you eat – and, to some extent, it’s true! Even the most active child will not be healthy if they aren’t eating the right food. As well as offering balanced meals and healthy snacks, schools should look to educate children about food so they make the right choices at home and in future.

Worried about squeezing it into the already-jammed timetable? Try incorporating it into other lessons, like maths, science and art.

 

4.   Mental support

Being overweight can affect the mental wellbeing of children. But it can also work the other way . If a child doesn’t feel supported, they’re less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle. And where do kids look for support? Adults, of course. Make sure children are supported at school by offering them the chance to talk about any issues and reinforcing positive thinking.

 

Providing the means for a healthy lifestyle

You can’t force a healthy lifestyle on children, but at school you can give them the knowledge and means to pursue it themselves. At Playcubed , we provide tailored play areas and facilities to schools across Greater London. Covering consultation, design, presentation and installation, our service makes it easy for your school to get the perfect play areas and facilities. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

By Jon Alexander 16 Oct, 2017

EduKent EXPO & Conference is Kent’s leading event for the promotion and development of effective school leadership, management, learning and teaching featuring a high-level conference, inspirational workshops and a comprehensive exhibition of leading suppliers of services to schools and academies.

In November 2016, the fifth EduKent EXPO & Conference brought together hundreds of education leaders from across Kent and neighbouring counties - to share best practice and new ideas on managing and developing education in the region.

Continuing to build upon previous successes, the 2017 event will take place on Wednesday 8th November at The Kent Event Centre, Kent Showground, Detling ( view on maps ).


Free-to-attend

This free-to-attend event is Kent’s largest exhibition and conference for the county’s Head Teachers, Finance Directors, Bursars, Business Managers, Governors, Local Authority education leaders, PTA’s, IT Managers and school leadership teams from the state, academy and private sectors.

Delegates benefit from a unique opportunity to meet key suppliers in the market and attend a wide range of free conference sessions - hearing directly from senior figures who set education policy and strategic direction across the national and local education agenda. High-quality content provides practical advice on how to achieve outstanding results through strong leadership, excellent teaching and effective management systems.

Breakfast, lunch, refreshments and parking are all free-of-charge for all delegates!


The place for quality education support services

EduKent has been developed by Kent County Council in response to the rapidly changing educational environment and is designed to meet the needs of schools and academies by providing education support services, all in one place. By building on the success of Kent Services for Schools and by combining such established services as Schools Personnel Service, EIS and Schools Financial Services with the newer service providers, EduKent offers high quality, competitively priced services delivered by experienced staff, to assist in improving outcomes for all pupils.


Come and see Playcubed at Stand 229

We will be exhibiting at Stand 229. Be sure to drop past to meet the team and discuss any outdoor developments at your school.

CLICK HERE  to book your free place and make sure your school is represented.

By Jon Alexander 09 Oct, 2017

Learning the senses is a key part of a child’s primary education. Ask most young children and they’ll be able to list sight, sound, smell, touch and taste (or close enough anyway). But what about learning through the senses? Sensory play engages children, helping them explore and discover the world. Read on to explore how sensory play helps children learn, in more ways than one.

 

Getting touchy

Speak to most people about sensory play and they’ll assume you mean touching and feeling. They wouldn’t be wrong – touch is one of the senses, and is an essential part of sensory play. But it’s also important to engage children with sights, smells, sounds and even tastes. Colourful, aromatic plants, sensory panels and textured surfaces are just some of the ways to ensure children are using all of their senses.

 

Two types of motor skills

Running, walking and climbing help children improve their motor skills. Or, more specifically, they develop their gross motor skills, dealing with large muscle groups for dynamic activities. But what about their fine motor skills?

No, we don’t expect kids to fix a faulty gearbox. This applies to smaller muscle groups, essential for things like writing and shoe-tying. Yes – all the things you want children to master in their early years. Sensory play absorbs children with activities involving fine motor skills, exploring things like squeezing, pinching and lacing.

 

Language skills

As any parent or teacher will know, language is essential to children’s development. It’s how they understand the world around them and express ideas and emotions. Can sensory play help? 100% yes! When you’re learning new words and ideas, the touch, sound and smell of objects can bring them to life.

Point at a picture of a tree and explain it to a child. They’ll probably learn it eventually. But when they can see it up close, feel the rough bark and smell the fresh leaves, it suddenly becomes more real, memorable and easier to understand.

How about concepts and comparisons? Try explaining smooth and rough objects to a child without letting them feel them and experience them. It’s almost impossible for them to understand. With sensory play providing a range of colours, textures and smells to children, this comes naturally.

 

Engaging children with sensory play areas

With clear benefits for children’s learning, sensory play facilities are a superb addition to any educational environment. If you want to add a versatile, engaging sensory play area to your school, Playcubed can help. We provide tailored facilities for sensory play to schools around London and the South East of England. Offering full consultation, planning and installation, we’re the perfect solution to all your sensory play needs. Get in touch today to discuss your project.

More Posts

How outdoor play makes them smarter

  • By Jon Alexander
  • 14 Nov, 2016

There are so many benefits outdoor play brings to students, and so many positive influences it has when classroom teaching takes place. In this post, we explore the 20 top benefits you'll notice.

We've collected 20 of the key benefits you'll being to students by investing in an outside play space. Here goes:

1.  Outdoor play is a multi-sensory activity. 

While outdoors, children will see, hear, smell and touch things unavailable to them when they play inside. They use their brains in unique ways as they come to understand these new stimuli.

2.  Playing outside brings together informal play and formal learning. 

Children can incorporate concepts they have learned at school in a hands-on way while outdoors.

3.  Playing outdoors stimulates creativity. 

Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imagination and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity. Rocks, stones and dirt present limitless opportunities for play that can be expressed differently every time a child steps outside.

4.  Playing outdoors is open-ended. 

There is no instruction manual for outdoor play! Children make the rules, and in doing so use their imagination, creativity, intelligence and negotiation skills in a unique way. They can learn the way that works best for them.

5.  Playing in nature reduces anxiety. 

Time spent outside physiologically reduces anxiety. Children bring an open mind and a more relaxed outlook back inside when they are in more traditional learning environments.

6.  Outdoor play increases attention span. 

Time spent in unstructured play outdoors is a natural attention builder. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks, or sitting still for long periods of times, are significantly more successful after time spent outside. Also, as children are in a world of their own imagination, they must pay greater attention to the actions of those around them to ensure their own behaviour fits in with that of the group. Sub-conscious attention is nothing like as taxing on children, and yet develops the same skill sets.

7.  Outdoor play is imaginative. 

Because there are no labels, no pre-conceived ideas and no rules, children must create the world around them. In this type of play, children use their imagination in ways they don’t when playing indoors.

8.  Being in nature develops respect for other living things. 

Children develop empathy, the ability to consider other people’s feeling, by interacting with creatures in nature. Watching a tiny bug, a blue bird or a squirrel scurrying up a tree gives children the ability to learn and grow from others.

9.  Outdoor play promotes problem solving. 

As children navigate a world in which they make the rules, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what lines of thinking bring success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop. Knowing how far to push the boundaries is an essential life skill, and highly beneficial when learned in a safe environment.

10. Playing outside promotes leadership skills. 

In an environment where children create the fun, natural leaders will arise. One child may excel at explaining how to play the game, while another may enjoy setting up the physical challenge of an outdoor obstacle course. All types of leadership skills are needed and encouraged. This in term contributes to learning how to be part of a team.

11.  Outdoor play broadens vocabulary. 

While playing outdoors, children may see an acorn, a squirrel and a butterfly. As they encounter new things, opportunities continually arise where they can expand their vocabulary in ways it never could indoors. Often descriptive language sees improvement too.

12. Playing outside improves listening skills. 

As children negotiate the rules of an invented game, they must listen closely to one another, ask questions for clarification and attend to the details of explanations in ways they don’t have to when playing familiar games.

13.  Being in nature improves communication skills. 

Unclear about the rules in an invented game? Not sure how to climb the clamber stack or create that beastie hotel? Children must learn to question and clarify for understanding while simultaneously making themselves understood. This also supports working together as a team.

14.  Outdoor play encourages cooperative play. 

In a setting where there aren’t clear winners and losers, children work together to meet a goal. Together they compromise and work together to meet a desired outcome.

15.  Time in nature helps children to notice patterns. 

The natural world is full of patterns. The petals on flowers, the veins of a leaf, the bark on a tree are all patterns. Pattern building is a crucial early maths skill.

16.  Playing outdoors helps children to notice similarities and differences.  

The ability to sort items and notice the similarities and differences in them is yet another skill crucial to mathematical success. Time outdoors affords many opportunities for sorting.

17.  Time spent outdoors improves children’s immune systems. 

Healthy children are stronger learners. As children spend more and more time outdoors, their immune systems improve, decreasing time out of school for illness.

18.  Outdoor play increases children’s physical activity level. 

Children who play outdoors are less likely to be obese and more likely to be active learners.

19.  Time spent outdoors increases persistence. 

Outdoor games often require persistence. Children must try and try again if their experiment fails.

20.  Outdoor play is fun. 

Children who are happy are successful learners. Children are naturally happy when they are moving, playing and creating outside. This joy opens them up for experimenting, learning and growing.

There we have it! 20 reasons how outdoor play directly benefits children's development and attitude to classroom learning. You can read a further article on the 10 Reasons to take Learning Outside . Meanwhile, why not experience these benefits in your own school? Contact us now on sales@playcubed.co.uk or call on 01322 279799 - we'll create an outstanding outside space together!

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