Best Computer For Your Child

computer-laptopThough we are on the brink of the summer holidays, a new year of school will soon be upon us. Your child may well be starting school or even moving up perhaps from primary to the seniors. You may also be thinking of what computer to get your child next. There is no doubt that having access to computer equipment is important to your child’s education and also their ability to survive and compete in the modern world.

Firstly you should ascertain what the intended school’s policy is on personal equipment. Some schools will allow or even encourage laptops and tablets, others may provide them and others may not allow students to bring their equipment to school.

If your child is going to take their computer to school then you must ensure it has a proper case and that you have insured it against accidents and theft. Make sure it complies with the school rules for equipment which is likely to include no illegal or bootleg software and an installed anti-virus whether it’s a MAC or PC.

When thinking of buying a computer then age is a factor in your decision. Younger children even from two years old can easily use a tablet and touch screen. This would be the best type to get them and will probably last through primary school and up to Year 6. Whether it’s an Apple or Android tablet is a matter of personal preference and also should fit in with the school’s policy on equipment so that it’s similar to what they will be using in the classroom.

As they get older and reach the senior school then they may outgrow a tablet. A laptop is most likely to be more suitable for the older child. I would advise a laptop as opposed to a notebook because it will have a bigger screen, keyboard and more features on it such as a DVD player. It would definitely need to have Microsoft Office Professional as most schools will be using this essential software. The school may be teaching graphics, video editing, programming and other things besides; a laptop will be the most suitable thing for these applications. Also if you don’t want your child hogging the family computer then a laptop is a good idea and it will probably be more useful than a desktop computer to a younger person.

When you buy a computer for your child also ensure that it has a good amount of memory, hard drive and a fast processor. You should spend enough money that the laptop will last for at least two years without needing an upgrade. But overall you should only spend what you can afford. It’s also a good idea to get an extended warranty as laptops do get a lot of wear and tear at home and in the classroom. Spend wisely, consult your child and the school and they should then get the benefits they need from owning their own computer.

computers-kidsGuest Blog by David Evans Bailey

David Evans Bailey has an MA in Digital Media Art. He taught ICT and Photography at Secondary School level for several years as well as being involved in many theatrical and other endeavours. His background is an IT professional. You can see some of his artwork at

A Holiday Musical Challenge

music-sumer-transcriptSumer is a cumen in – famous words from a mid 13th century manuscript.

Famous for being the earliest known example of music written to be sung in parts (or counterpoint), this lively tune, once learnt, never forgotten, has popped up in the most unlikely places in recent years. It was sung as part of the opening ceremony of the 1972 Olympics and even appeared in the children’s programme Bagpuss (1974). It has featured in pop songs and symphonies and is perhaps our best known, medieval piece of music.

You can listen to an excellent performance by the Hilliard ensemble on YouTube. You will hear the first part start singing and when they have finished the first bar (there is a cross over the bar line), the second part commences. They continue singing in a round (as in Frère Jacques or London’s Burning). Meanwhile another part sings the 5th line over and over and another part sings the 6th line over and over. Continue reading

Read The Question (Part Two)

understanding-questionsThis is my second blog on the importance of reading the question correctly. I have already covered some ways which can help: reading the question three times; underlining the important words and recognising which questions are likely to be open to misinterpretation.

Today I want to look at reading the question in Comprehension tasks. There are several types of questions in Comprehension. However, the most important step is reading and UNDERSTANDING the question, no matter what type it is. Some questions are straightforward:

‘What time did the train arrive?’ : ‘Who won the race?’ Continue reading

Timing: Changing The Pace

chair-for-directorContinuing with my series of blogs approaching writing as from the eye of a theatre director, let’s look at timing. First, what is timing?

In theatre, timing is about when, how and where an actor says a line or performs an action. It’s about the impact of pauses, delivery, action and freezes. It’s also about the relative speed of the action. Tension needs slower action; excitement gets faster action; thinking has a pause, and shock will cause stillness. Continue reading

What Is Happening To ICT?

kids-computersThere may well be some confusion in schools and with parents as the National Curriculum has replaced ICT (Information Communication Technology) with a new subject of Computing. New GCSEs have also appeared labelled Computer Science, which may muddy the waters even further.

To try and clarify this situation is not easy as there are no clear guidelines or indications as to which way a school will choose to go. However, the subject of ICT is a broad based subject to impart digital skills and knowledge across a broad spectrum of technology, which includes a number of popular Microsoft applications such as Word and PowerPoint. Computing itself encompasses some of this but extends more into programming and a much more technical knowledge of computers themselves. Computer Science therefore is again even more technical and programming based. Continue reading

Fancy A Good Story?

song-peter-wolfFor those who like a good story, there is a wealth of material in the classical music repertoire for young people to enjoy and explore. Peter and the Wolf by Prokoviev, Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas are all-time favourites.

Further exploration could include Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, George Gershwin’s American in Paris, Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite, Holst’s Planet suite, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.. Continue reading

New National Curriculum

curriculum-subjectsThere has been much controversy in the press and so forth regarding the new National Curriculum which comes into force in September 2014. This document is also much misunderstood in both its purpose and execution. I would like to dispel some of the mystery.

Firstly there has been a National Curriculum in place for many years. It is only mandatory for State Funded schools for whom it is a legal requirement to follow. They must also publish their own school curriculum online. The National Curriculum does not apply to Free Schools or Academies although these must at least teach English, Mathematics, Science and RE. Private schools do not have any obligation to follow any curriculum set by the government. Continue reading

Read The Question

help-with-examIf there is one really useful thing you can do to aid your child in their future career at school, it is helping them to READ THE QUESTION. From SATS through Eleven Plus and School Entrance Exams to University and beyond, this is a vital skill.

In any form of testing it is very easy to lose marks through misreading the question. Here is an example of how easily this is done. The two questions below are worded identically except for one word.

a) Find TWO words, one from each group that are the CLOSEST in meaning. Mark BOTH words on the answer sheet. Continue reading

Schubert – A Shy Giant

franz-schubertIt’s hard to believe that two of our greatest composers, both alive in Vienna in the first decades of the 19th century, probably never met. By the time young Schubert was ready to launch himself onto the world as a full time composer, Beethoven was already quite deaf and, despite being publicly acclaimed, had retreated to the inner world of his composition and very much from the company of men. Schubert admired Beethoven enormously, but apparently was too shy to introduce himself when they passed in the street.

We think of Beethoven as a musical giant, yet Schubert was a giant too, but perhaps a more friendly one.

Schubert was born in 1797 to a poor, but musical, family, who recognized his musical talent early and did their best to give him the opportunities and support he needed throughout his life. Continue reading