Twitter

10 Things to ask when Looking at Daycare Nurseries

on Nov 20, 2020

10 Things to Ask when Looking at Daycare Nurseries Finding a good daycare nursery makes for a much smoother return to work for parents. While painstakingly visiting nurseries may not be top of everyone’s maternity/paternity bucket list, doing your homework to find a gem where your child will flourish is priceless. You wouldn’t want that first luxurious uninterrupted coffee break to be marred by worries that your little one is not in good hands. So what are the key questions to ask when visiting a daycare nursery? What is the staff to child ratio? While there are strict guidelines in place on that topic (for under 2s, it’s one carer for three children; for two- to three-year olds, one for three), some nurseries have even better ratios, especially in the older age groups. The child-to-teacher ratio has an enormous impact on language and social development in the early years so it...

What to expect of the 4+ assessments?

on Nov 15, 2020

Competitive independent schools in London are so oversubscribed these days (up to 10 applications for every place) that the vast majority have now moved to assessment for entry at 3+ or 4+. Although such early assessments are far from conclusive and mostly assess the “teachability” of a child at that particular age, the shift, inevitably, is causing considerable angst among parents; especially those with their mind irrevocably set on a particular school. Thus, many autumn open days are spent trying to suss out exactly what will be expected of the children in the assessment. Purpose of the assessment For clarity, let’s first review the purpose of these assessments. What the schools are trying to determine is not whether your child might win the next physics Nobel Prize. Instead, they are looking for signs that your little one is ready to learn in the environment of that school and to...

Five tips to sail into Reception

on Sep 15, 2020

Fretting about what to do this summer to ensure little Rosie sets off confidently in the autumn? It’s not what you may think. Leave the workbooks and phonics flashcards to gather dust while you focus instead on the essential social and physical skills a child must conquer to make the most of Reception Foster independence Your little one should be able to dress without help, a skill best practiced over the summer when mornings are –shall we say- more leisurely. Lay clothes out in the evening and let your child get on with it without intervening at the first hurdle. Practice zips and buttons too unless you want the first tonsillitis to knock them out before half term. Teach importance of expressing emotional and physical needs Whether your child needs the toilet in the middle of a lesson or feels lonely at playtime, he/she should be able to say so. But remember the classroom is a...

Making Music Exams Work for You

on Dec 8, 2019

As far back as I can remember, I have always sung. As a child, I sang because I simply couldn’t help it. It nourished me, elated me and grounded me. I sang as others speak, dance, run or write. As a teenager and then an adult, I kept on singing, eventually becoming a professional opera singer. Today I am also a mother and a singing teacher. The combination of these roles has led to my appointment as resident dinner party expert on all things music. Parents who approach me have all have the same burning question: when should their child start his/her formal music education? My answer often startles them: much later than you think. Most professional musician friends of mine who also teach children share the same view. Many argue that before the age of 4-5 is too young. While many of us may harbour the hope that they’re raising the next Mozart, the reality is that music geniuses are...

EQ vs IQ – How to nurture a child’s Emotional Intelligence

on Sep 28, 2017

One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is to help them become ‘emotionally articulate,’ i.e. able to recognise, express and manage their own feelings. This is a skill developed over time, as the terrible twos –when tantrums are often caused by a child’s frustration at not being understood or listened to—give way to increasingly mature and reasoned behavior around the age of 3 and 4, when the 4+ assessments for entry into selective independent schools take place. As a mother of four, I have been through this developmental stage with my own children several times. I know first hand they won’t have all reached the same level of emotional maturity at that age and may thus react very differently to meeting new people in an unknown setting where they will be expected to follow instructions and rules. As a former teacher who used to conduct 4+ assessments at a top prep school, I...

Talking Heads: Mrs Cooke of Henrietta Barnett School

on Mar 13, 2017

Mrs Cooke has been Head of The Henrietta Barnett School, a top-performing grammar school for girls 11-18 in North London, since September 2014.  For the previous 7 years, she was Head of an independent school in Surrey. What attracted you to this position as Head of Henrietta Barnett? I started my career in the state sector and I was very keen to return to it at some point. It’s a great privilege to be leading such an extraordinary school. I say extraordinary because schools right at the top of league tables are usually very intense and highly pressurised. At least that was my experience at the time. So when I was first rung up by the recruiters about the position I declined, saying I didn’t believe in teenagers being pressurised and so had no interest in such a high performing school. They laughed and said I really needed to visit it. Eventually they wore me down and I am so glad they...