Half Term Fun

If there is something we can all agree on it is this: a half term spent in front of the television whilst the sun is shining is a half term wasted. So if you’re stuck for ideas about what to do in the West Sussex area this half term then here are a few ideas that may help.

Tulley’s Farm provides unique entertainment experiences for families all year round. There is no entry fee to the farm and this half term your children can enjoy a giant slide, mini tractors and trampolines for as little as £2. For a more chilled out afternoon you can also enjoy the tea room and the animal patch http://www.tulleysfarm.com/events/detail/half-term-fun

The Kings Centre in East Grinstead offers a fantastic holiday club for children between the ages of 5 and 13 throughout the half term week. From team games to table tennis, bouncy castles to badminton, roller discos to arts and crafts, swimming to soft play, your children will definitely not be bored here http://www.placesforpeopleleisure.org/centres/kings-centre/

The Bluebell Railway is a fantastic day out for the whole family. They run preserved stream trains through the beautiful Sussex countryside. They also travel through a sea of bluebells which is a particularly breathtaking sight. The Bluebell Railway only charges £1 for a child to travel so this is definitely not something to be missed this half term http://www.bluebell-railway.com

Of course, these are just a few ideas of places to visit this half term but if you don’t get around to it you can always visit them in the summer holidays.

Small Steps – Giant Leaps

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”
I’d like to offer another take on Neil Armstrong’s epic statement as he made the first moon landing. Small steps taken by your child, day by day, can result in giant leaps in ability and understanding.

There is absolutely no doubt that, in almost every case a gentle, certain movement forward, regularly achieved, always produces results. You have a child reading a little very day, with encouragement and at the right level, and – one evening – he or she will suddenly be rocketing through page after page. I have been working with a young boy for a year on Verbal Reasoning: starting well below his age on a book for 7 – 8 years old and progressing gently upwards. I noticed two things: as we got higher up the level, he did not need to do every exercise in the book and, once we started the actual 11+ paper, there was nothing he could not tackle with confidence. Continue reading

Performing Arts Schools

Performing is a dream for many. It may be a dream from a very young age or it may be something you develop a passion for later in life. Whenever it takes your interest there are always opportunities for you to pursue your dream. Below is a summary of three well-known performance schools which all specialise in their own field of performance.

Dance – The Royal Ballet School is one of the greatest schools in the world for classical ballet training. It is often assumed that one has to be wealthy to attend The Royal Ballet School, this is a myth! They accept applicants on talent alone and do not take any other factors into consideration. Many of their students rely on financial support to attend the school. They take students from the age of 11-19 and their dance studios are spread across two campuses based in London. Over the years, this school has produced some spectacular talent including Darcy Bussell, Jennifer Elision and perhaps more surprisingly Debbie McGee. http://www.royalballetschool.org.uk/ Continue reading

The Roaring Twenties

When the musical, Showboat opened in December 1927, it signalled a new ‘grown-up’ era in Musical Theatre.

Previously, theatre going audiences had various choices.

There were the light, frothy musical comedies such as Lady Be Good by George and Ira Gershwin (1924) starring the by then famous singing and dancing team – Fred Astaire and his sister. They were fun and enjoyable – featuring star actors and actresses, big dance routines, popular songs, choruses of dancing girls, family friendly humour and above all a romantic plot. Often it would be a rags-to-riches story where a poor working girl met a rich aristocrat whom she eventually married or a swashbuckling adventure story with a romantic twist. The plots left much to be desired but they were fuelled by wonderful songs written by a young generation of brilliant composers – Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern and others. Many of these songs have endured – Tea for Two, Birth of the Blues, Fascinating Rhythm, Someone To Watch Over Me, I Got Rhythm, Look For The Silver Lining, Shaking The Blues Away……the plots have disappeared in the mists of time. Continue reading

Taking Kids To The Theatre

matilda-musicalIf you have ever been to the theatre you will understand what a mesmerising experience it can be. Even if you’re not a theatre fanatic there is usually some aspect of a performance that you can enjoy, whether it be the actors, the musical score, the set design or the lighting.

That is why taking young people to the theatre can be so beneficial for their development, it is a unique way of learning. Not only is it a fun way for a child to understand a story line and see it being brought to life, it also combines a number of topics like history, comedy, language and culture making it a very enriched learning experience. Continue reading

Free Schools

schoolFree schools were an idea introduced by the coalition government. They can be set up by many different bodies including parents, teachers, and universities, religious or voluntary groups among others. They are non-profit organisations and are exempt from teaching the national curriculum. This does not mean that they are also exempt from teaching standards and are subject to the same inspection regimes from Ofsted.

Free schools can set teachers’ salaries, school terms and length of school days themselves and are not obliged to adhere to state-controlled systems. However, free schools are funded by the government on a per pupil basis. Existing schools can also become academies or free schools and many have. Continue reading


fairy-castleThe question every writer meets in a story is when to stop. How much do you need to tell the reader? How much needs to be explained? You should leave your reader satisfied, but wanting more.

Length of story comes in here. A short story is finished when you reveal the twist. A novel should finish at the point where the goal is achieved and you’ve tied up the loose ends.

A literary novel might end ambiguously, but genre readers want things neatly sorted by the end. In Romance, you’re allowed a wallow with the lovers: the HEA – happily ever after. An extended final scene exchanging vows of love ties up the loose ends. A series novel, of whatever type, still ends when the goal is achieved, but a few loose ends may be left, along with a hook for the next book. Continue reading

Women As Composers

composing-music2014 was a landmark year for women in the world of music. When American conductor, Marin Alsop, was chosen to be the conductor of the Last Night of the Proms for 2014, she was the first woman to take that role in its 118-year history.

In July 2014 English composer, Judith Weir, became the first woman Master (should that be Mistress?) of the Queen’s Music – the equivalent of Poet Laureate in the musical world.

Two great achievements.

It seems the old taboos against female composers and conductors are finally disappearing.

Throughout the 20th century more and more women took the stage as well known composers. (For singers, we have the lovely songs of Betty Roe, Madeleine Dring, Rebecca Clarke, Elizabeth Poston – to name a few.)

In earlier times, however, this was not a path women could follow easily. The opinion of society in general was that composing/performing was an unsuitable profession for a woman and outside the bounds of respectability. Continue reading

Find Your Child’s Strengths!

story-houseHow is it possible to take a very unwilling young person, faced with a project to research and write up, and help him to create something which he really enjoys? Even better – he gets high marks, lots of praise and is told the project is the best in the class?

The answer is simple: work to the strengths. Many teachers know that they should always try to work to the strengths of their pupils but perhaps parents are not so aware. In fact, one can go further and say that parents are probably inclined to emphasise the weaknesses in their children’s work!

What do we mean when we speak of strengths and weaknesses? Well, if your child has problems with spelling, one would call that a weakness. If your child loves writing, one would call that a strength. This child loves building and constructing things. He is very good at it! It is definitely a huge strength. Continue reading

Children and Pets

child-with-a-petAs a kid I was surrounded by cats, dogs and a variety of other animals. It seems it’s a natural thing for most children to want a pet. Some people think that having a pet will teach them responsibility and others that they will get bored and you will end up looking after it.

So should your child get a pet? Overall pets are good for kids to have around unless of course they have allergies which might prevent close contact. It will teach them respect for other creatures and more often companionship. With very young and younger children you will have to accept that the pet will be your responsibility and in the first instance it may well be a pet for all of the family. It would be difficult to set unrealistic expectations that they will look after it. As they get older they may want one of their own and though you may want them to take the lead, you will still have to be prepared to ensure that it is properly looked after. The animal’s welfare is paramount in any such arrangement. In fact it may be often best to start off caring for the pet together and then see how it goes with the child taking on more of the care themselves. Continue reading