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

Recognising the impact play has on learning ability.

  • By Jon Alexander
  • 06 Sep, 2016

More schools are attempting to shorten the day by cutting break and lunchtimes, but what implications will this have on children's wellbeing and learning potential?

For me, rushing across the playground at break was the only time my imagination really came alive. It was a moment of freedom, when I could recreate the worlds I had read about in class.

However, a recent BBC report  found that not all schools in England value this free time. In fact, many are sacrificing playtimes and lunch to make the day shorter. This is happening for a variety of reasons; in some schools it’s to reduce local congestion, while others have made the change to bring teaching time in line with Department for Education guidelines. Elsewhere, playtime is being reduced to make more time for lessons.

A report from the Nuffield Foundation found that schools have been cutting breaktime since 2006. Anthony D Pellegrini, professor at the University of Minnesota, also reports that many school authorities are attempting to “maximise instructional time and minimise unstructured play time”.

As Dr David Whitebread of the University of Cambridge acknowledges in his report  The Importance of Play , “‘Play’ is sometimes contrasted with ‘work’ and characterised as a type of activity which is essentially unimportant, trivial and lacking in any serious purpose. As such, it is seen as something that children do because they are immature, and as something they will grow out of as they become adults. However… this view is mistaken. Play in all its rich variety is one of the highest achievements of the human species, alongside language, culture and technology. Indeed, without play, none of these other achievements would be possible”.

In 2012, a review of more than 40 studies  highlighted the relationship between play and creative problem-solving, cooperation and logical thinking. Research by Edward Fisher also found that play can enhance early development by anything from 33% to 67% by increasing adjustment, improving language skills and reducing social and emotional problems. This has positive implications for both educational development and everyday intellectual life.

Play keeps children fit, too. A study by Nicola D Ridgers, at Deakin University in Australia, found that longer playtimes were associated with higher levels of physical activity. And as the number of primary school children leaving school obese increases , cutting playtime could deprive them of a valuable opportunity to get the physical exercise they need. The modern child spends a lot of time indoors – children aged 5- 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise – and for some the only real opportunity to physically exercise is during the school playtime."The main difference from the 1990's is that then TV and magazines were the main ways for connecting kids to the media; now they have different devices from tablets, mobiles, games consoles and they have a much higher screen time," said research executive Matthew Nevard.

Getting together outside of the classroom also enables young people to develop social skills. In fact, playtime may be the only opportunity some children get to interact with other young people in a safe environment. The government’s Play Strategy , published in 2008, defines play as “children and young people following their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons.”

Children establish a sense of self through play which is particularly important at a time when “value” in primary education is increasingly being determined by test scores rather than personal development.

Too often young people choose to lose themselves in the instant gratification of gaming on a screen. But in computer games, as in Sats tests, they are scored on their performance, consolidating the idea of competitive hierarchies. Real-world play provides them with a space in which to entertain themselves using their own resources of mind and body, while nurturing a sense of self-worth.

If we don’t cut playtime, what can we do to reduce the school day? I would argue against the idea of cutting school time at all. Presumably parents have been persuaded in favour of reduced hours as only break and lunchtimes are being cut, with no cost to classroom learning. But we must recognise that play is a learning process in itself. A balance of work and letting off steam is necessary for a healthy educational environment.

Many of the reasons for reducing the school day come down to convenience – less congestion and a quicker journey home, for example. But this is often for the benefit of adults, not the children.

Play needs to be preserved in the school routine, so that children can appreciate it as part of the learning experience. 

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