Category Archives: Parents

Day 12 of self-isolation – still unwell with 4 kids. What are the positives?

For the past 12 days, I have been living in a complete fog. I have had no energy, high fever on and off, a head that feels like it is stuffed with cotton wool and totally lost all sense of taste and smell, which is surprisingly unnerving.  Thankfully I have no breathing difficulties and my husband and children are feeling well at the moment.

A substantial number of people I know have the virus and sadly some people in my community have already died from it or are in critical condition.  I have tried to only listen to the news in the morning and evening and have barely looked at social media.

I have spent 25 years teaching children and guiding and supporting parents. Families are going to need this support more than ever and when my head is clearer I will try to effectively provide that support.

I am a very positive person by nature.  Despite this being the most challenging time our generation has faced (both health wise and ultimately economically), I wanted to share my personal reflections on the positive aspects of this situation for parents with children at home.


Children are certainly learning a lot about how to cope with setbacks and when things don’t go their way.  Mine have lots of disappointments that they need to accept such as: A levels being cancelled, no opportunity to celebrate their 17th birthday with friends or have that first driving lesson, 2 years of complex orthodontic treatment will completely regress. Yet this is nothing compared to the difficulties some are facing and every day we focus on what we can be grateful for.


There is so much time to work on being independent and developing important, practical, everyday life skills like: cooking, washing, cleaning the home, sensible food shopping & decluttering. Genuinely contributing to the running of the home has always been important for children but now they have more time available to do so and can begin to truly appreciate everything involved in running a household


There isn’t anything happening anywhere, so nothing to be missing out on!

(I think this is the best bit – no chauffeuring the kids around).


Parents often complain about their children being entitled (mine included at times).  Now the children would massively appreciate even the most simple of things like being able to go outside for a walk or see their extended family and friends face to face.  Absolutely everything they took for granted has new significance.

Study skills

My children have been sent a mountain of work by their schools and so far I have felt too unwell to help them set any structure to their day or ensure it gets done. Nevertheless they are working on vital life skills such as: time management, perseverance, procrastination, organisation, self-discipline, adaptability, focus and staying motivated. These skills are way more important in the long run than learning content from the school curriculum.

Passion for learning

Finally children have the time, space and opportunity to follow their passions and develop an interest in learning for the sake of learning, not because it’s part of the national curriculum or exam syllabus.


There is more opportunity to develop skills in areas such as art, dance or music.


After this I don’t think children will ever complain they are bored.  Ordinarily for many children, if they aren’t at school, out doing an activity, on a play date or in front of a screen, they are at a loss as to how to keep occupied.  Many parents are working from home without childcare, so kids have to come up with creative ways to keep busy without relying on adults.

Emotional intelligence

This is an opportune time for emotional meltdowns; both parents and children.  We will all gain lots of practice at managing and articulating difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety, frustration, boredom & overwhelm.

Family time

What an absolute blessing to have so much time enjoying our children.  Full time working parents can be there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never need to miss putting their child to bed.  In fact spending time at home with your family is the recipe to reducing the number of deaths.


Myself and my children have spent way more time calling relatives and friends. I have spoken to my own parents and siblings for much longer and more regularly than I ever normally have time to.


Absolutely no need to waste time worrying about what we look like, where to go or what to buy. The only think we shop for is basic food, stationary, household and cleaning products.


There have been so many great initiatives to support the wider community. As I’m ill, we have been in total self-isolation so as to protect others. If it turns out that my family is immune, we can work on ensuring the elderly and those who are particularly vulnerable with underlying health conditions can be supported.


To be honest, I am being far more permissive than usual with screen time restrictions.  I’ve noticed that my children are choosing to have real conversations through a great array of apps such as Zoom, FaceTime & Houseparty rather than just using Snapchat and WhatsApp messages.


The situation we are in is crazy and at times it feels like the world is falling apart but somehow it really helps that for the last few days the sky in London is consistently blue, the trees are flowering and the birds are tweeting.  Rather than looking out on grey skies and rain, even if we can’t yet go for walks outside.  Nature is helping to lift my mood and the environment is certainly less polluted.


Siblings will have ample opportunity to spend time together to practise managing conflict, sharing, respecting each other’s privacy and boundaries, handling teasing etc.  They may even begin to appreciate they have someone at home to play with and are actually lucky to have siblings.


Life is so precious and we all now truly understand how important good health is.  It should never be taken for granted.


I have often wished we could go back to the days pre -technology but now I appreciate how fortunate we are to have it on so many levels. To be able to connect, stay informed, learn, shop remotely & protect ourselves.


This is a perfect opportunity to role model, emphasize and talk about the values that are most important to us as a family such as: kindness, empathy, honesty, work ethic, self-discipline & independence.  The number one way to get through this period is through kindness, compassion and supporting others.


What else has ever united the entire world in quite the same way? This virus crosses borders, religion, ethnicity and culture.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do.  Every country is working together to collate information and support each other.  Every single one of us has had to make adjustments to our lives.


For as long as I can remember and even before having children, I haven’t been able to sleep past 6am!!!  My body seems to know there is no rush to get up, or perhaps it’s just the virus wearing me out.  My kids are catching up on so much sleep by not having to wake up early for school.


There is time to work on any hobby that can be conducted at home. You can teach yourself almost anything online.  (Between feeling ill, managing work the kids and the house, I’ve had no time for hobbies or reading but my kids have!)

This exercise of looking for the positives and what I can be grateful for has actually made me feel so much better.  It’s worth brainstorming with your kids.

What positive outcomes have I left out that you could share?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Talking to Kids about CoronaVirus

Coronavirus is becoming a reality that we as a society are needing to prepare for and cope with.  Every newspaper has a headline warning of the danger.  The news is spending the majority of the airtime covering it.  We talk about it with partners and friends.  It is easy to forget that our children are also processing this medical crisis.

Parents and carers need to take the lead by managing this conversation and the information our children are trying to sort through.  Here are some important criteria to remember when talking to our children about Coronavirus.

What Do They Know Already?

Children’s minds are like sponges.  They are absorbing information from the media, the school and their friends and trying to process reality.  Assumptions will be made on their part based on half- truths and reality.  My own child came home very upset because he knew that he would never be able to fly on an airplane again due to coronavirus. Start the conversation by asking them what they think they know already.  This way, you know where to fill in the gaps.

Keep Calm and Be Appropriately Honest

It can be very easy for children to jump to catastrophizing.  For adults, we can often go there as well when nothing seems confirmed.  Your children are looking to you as the example for how to react.  This is a time when we need to hold our own emotions, to be there as a conduit for emotional regulation for our children.  When children ask about the illness and whether people die, it is important that we are honest.  However, for the younger ones, less can be more.  Let them know that most people who get the virus feel ill and then recover.  Let them air their fears and use your emotion coaching skills to share information at an age appropriate level.

Implement Prevention Measures Together

Health authorities are giving information regarding hygiene and hand washing.  Take some time to practice this together.  Review hand washing technique.  Wash hands together whilst singing before mealtimes.  Remind them to sneeze and cough into a tissue and make sure the tissue makes it into the bin.  Teach the “cough like a vampire” technique by making sure they cough into their elbow (it looks like a vampire holding up his cape over his face).   Your children learn how important this is by watching how often you implement these techniques yourself.

Manage Media at Home

I start every day with the news.  However, this has started to build anxiety in my daughter.  Just this morning, she panicked over whether or not we have enough toilet paper to get through the next month.  For now, starting her day with the news is not providing her with the best start to the day.  For now, I’m reading the news on my phone and putting on an audiobook whist we get ready.  This is not a permanent intervention.  However, until her anxiety is managed, I am reducing the stimuli which allows her to focus on learning and being a kid.  It does not mean that we avoid the subject.  It means that I am controlling the amount of exposure from outside sources until we get back to feeling safe and confident.

Keep Communication Open

As with most areas of parenting, this is not a one- time conversation.  This is especially true in the case of coronavirus as the story is unfolding before us and guidelines are changing.  Let your children know that you are keeping up with what is going on and that you will update them with the practicalities.  Also, let them know that if they learn new information, you would like them to share it with you.  This way, you can add truth to rumor.  You may also learn something new.  Anxieties will change with the news.  Have a check in every few days to see how things are sitting with them. This way, you can catch a worry before it turns into an anxiety.

Educating Matters are offering a webinar for corporates to help parents prepare for what may come as the impact of the Corona Virus grows.  Here is the outline of our webinar. 

Get in touch for more information, should your company want to offer this valuable information to parents and carers.


Apps that Set Parents up for Success

Getting more organised is a common New Year’s resolution.  When you are managing your life and the lives of members of the family, the task can feel quite monumental.  Coordinating schedules, goals and needs can become so overwhelming that you feel like you are drowning in information that cannot possibly be kept in your head.  I like to refer to it as the ‘mental load’.  With four children in my own family, I have often felt consumed by trying to keep data and information in the right places.  (I have been known to forget a dentist appointment or lose a permission form in my time.)  But how do you go about making the information accessible to all?

Fear not!  At Educating Matters, we know more than most the importance of this task.  Below are some of the apps that we use or recommend to others to help systemise information and alleviate the stress of managing the lives of those in your family along with your own.

Calendar Apps for Parents & Families


Cozi is an amazing app for households to organise their busy lives. Each family member is given a colour to provide a visual cue as to who needs to be where.  This app is shared across devices so that each member of the family (depending on age) can see what is going on.  In addition to calendars, you have shared to-do lists (great for chores), shopping lists and a place to store recipes.  My favourite part of the app is the family journal.  You can share pictures and videos so that no member of the family has to miss out on fun moments from baby’s first smile to a teenager’s awards ceremony.  There is a free version and a paid add free version of this app.

2 Houses

2houses is designed to help separated parents communicate and organise co-parenting  their children.  This app has helped reduce the need for uncomfortable conversations in person which can become heated.  The synchronized calendar allows parents to set custody schedules, input events such as school plays or doctor appointments and even request to swap time for special events.  There is a finance section that shows where a child’s additional financial needs are and who is responsible for paying and when.  The messaging section is especially good when there has been a break down in relationship between parents.  It has end to end encryption and can be shared with an attorney or mediator.  Keeping all communication contained in this space allows information to be shared and provides accountability which helps to keep the tone civil.  There are many other features that help make co-parenting efficient and inclusive.  There are monthly and yearly plans for this service.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is great because it is free and easy.  All you need is an email address and you are good to go.  Google’s colour coding options make it easy to identify tasks and activities.  You can also share calendars which makes life much easier for families with older children.  You can also set permissions for who is allowed to add or delete events.  One of the features I like about this calendar is that it automatically inputs directions to appointments when a location is entered.  Whilst it does not have all the bells and whistles of other apps, it is a fantastic tool for organising your family’s busy life.

Apps for Chores and Rewards


Rooster Money is my favourite app for managing pocket money. I also like this app best for teens and tweens chore rewards. This is an app that grows with your family.  It teaches your children the value of the effort they put into actions.  You can set their currency to either cash or stars.  Small children can use it as a reward chart for brushing teeth or even potty training.  As your child grows, you can choose to change the currency to GBP from the Bank of Parents.  As they become more responsible, there is even a debit card they can have that you control.  They see how much they earn and track their spending.  It helps them understand the value of money and to think before making purchases.  There are free and paid versions of this app.


For younger children, this is a fantastic app.  It takes the old time paper charts and digitises them to make them fun and exciting.  You set up daily and weekly chore charts that when completed, lead to stars and trophies.  Many parents like that the rewards are not monetary.  It is very visually appealing to children with many themes and the ability to choose a picture or an avatar for their screen.  The parental screen is kept separate which means that parents are in complete control.  There are free and paid versions of this app.

These apps are only a sample of many that can help with the organisational needs of your family.  Whatever app you choose, the most important factor is consistency.  Choose your apps based on what makes the most sense for your family’s particular needs AND what you feel you will remain consistent in your usage.  This will help you become successful and alleviate your stress from managing your busy family.

Educating Matters includes in their many corporate seminars “Organising Matters”.  This hour is jam packed with useful and achievable information to help working families organise the chaos which leaves more time for family bonding.  Please click here to find out how your workplace can take advantage of our expertise.

New Year = New Parenting Approach

At the start of a new year, people across the globe will be setting new resolutions and goals for 2020.  Whether that’s relating to areas such as work, family, friends, physical or mental health.

If you are a parent or responsible for caring for a child, you may be making similar resolutions year after year but nothing really changes. 

Here are some popular parenting resolutions……

  • Shout less
  • Remain calm
  • Be more empathetic
  • Spend more ‘quality time’ with your kids
  • Be on top of what’s going on at school
  • Reduce screen time for all
  • Teach your child to be more independent
  • Say yes more often
  • Be more patient
  • Be more loving and positive
  • Be more playful and fun
  • Take care of yourself
  • Improve the bedtime routine, morning routine, homework routine, mealtimes, teeth brushing etc


You may have read numerous books, online articles and blogs, chatted to friends but not found solutions to create real, long lasting change.

Being a parent is probably the hardest job you will ever have but no one really teaches you how to do it and just making resolutions certainly won’t help and can actually make you feel worse!!! 

Without real support and being fully conscious of your thoughts, approach and daily interactions, it can be hard to make effective change.  The vast majority of parents give up by February and go back to their old ways.

I don’t believe anyone gets it right all the time – (I certainly don’t, even with 25+ years of experience in the field of coaching parents and having 4 children of my own to practice on).

It’s far more realistic to aim for ‘good enough’ rather than perfect.

I do however know some brilliant, tried and tested, practical techniques that make a huge difference to family life and work most of the time.

Why not strive for real change and join our ‘Positive Parenting’ course?

If you are unsure, get in touch to ask more or attend a free trial taster session any Monday evening.

  • Help your child thrive
  • Improve your relationship and connection
  • Learn how to self-regulate and manage your own emotions
  • Parent with more empathy and understanding
  • Less shouting, repeating, nagging, justifying, reminding and bribing

Educating Matters are always here to help you reach your goals.

Wishing you a calmer, happier 2020 with your family.

How can children make sure they are in control of screens rather than screens being in control of them?

I love my phone and laptop and I think I probably spend more time in the day using it than anything else. On the odd occasion when I don’t have my phone  with me or it’s run out of battery, I feel a bit lost as if I’m missing something.  How can I make sure as I get older that I control screens rather than them controlling me?

Extract from an ‘Ask Rachel’ article in a national publication.

You are not alone.  Most parents complain about how much time their kids spend in front of screens whether that’s gaming, scrolling through social media or aimlessly googling.  The truth is in many households, parents spend just as much time as their kids, if not more, glued to their phones.  So many of us get sucked in by that dopamine high that screens provide.  The software on screens is designed to be hard to ignore.  Just look around you on the tube or in Starbucks, where the vast majority of people whether they are alone or with others can’t resist the temptation to regularly glance at their phone, iPad or laptop.  I believe this is having a big impact on our relationships, be that with friends or family.  It can create considerable stress and tension.

There are so many wonderful benefits to online connectivity but getting a healthy balance and learning to be in the moment is a life skill.

Here are some practical suggestions:

  1. Discuss openly with your family and friends, what you like about screens, what bothers you and how you would like things to be different.

  1. Build up a realistic picture of how much time you spend on screens and what for.  You could keep a diary for a week of screen use or just get an app on your phone that logs it for you and breaks usage down into categories.  It usually ends up being far more time than you anticipated.  Once you have done this, decide where you might need to cut back.  Are you getting enough sleep, time to complete school work, really connect face to face with family and friends, physical activity and time outdoors? What’s appropriate use also really depends on what else is going on in your life.  If you are in the midst of GCSEs and need to focus on revision, that’s quite different to the middle of the summer holidays when there is far more time available.
  2. Making small changes is so much easier when you enlist the help of others. Set some clear boundaries at home as a family.  You could potentially be a good role model to your parents!! For example, establish screen free zones: no phones during a family meal, in bedrooms at night or in the car.  Don’t be embarrassed to suggest the same thing to your friends. How often do you gather together at someone’s house or go out for a meal and spend time looking at your phones, as opposed to actually talking to each other?
  3. A recent study showed that teenagers who spend more than four hours a day on screens were 3.5 times more likely to get poor sleep.  It’s been well publicised that the blue back light interferes with the production of melatonin, which is a natural sleep hormone. Agree as a family to switch off at least 1 hour before bedtime and leave phones outside the bedroom.  Just seeing it lying on the bedside table (even if it’s switched off), can induce anxiety or excitement.
  4. Be mindful and conscious about what you are using your screen for and for how long. Set yourself specific tasks and time slots. If it’s to write an essay or complete a homework assignment on ‘My Maths’ then just use it for that and don’t allow yourself to wander mindlessly over to YouTube.  If you are using Snapchat to arrange a time to meet your friend, then just do that and don’t start looking at all the other messages you haven’t read yet. If you are watching Netflix, decide before you start how much time you have available and how many episodes you are planning to watch.  Give yourself mindful, realistic boundaries and see if you can stick to them.  Constant multitasking, flicking from one thing to the next, can lead to brain overwhelm, distraction and stress.
  5. Pouring over screens can give you a headache, sore eyes, back ache, affect focus, concentration and give a feeling of tension and anxiety.  Be aware of this and schedule time for a range of other activities that don’t involve a screen such as going for a walk, going to the gym, talking to your family, meeting up with a friend, completing homework, playing an instrument, meditating or engaging in a hobby.
  6. Actually brainstorm what you can do that doesn’t involve a screen, if you are at home or on the bus and really have nothing to do.  Again discuss ideas with family and friends about what you could potentially do together. Perhaps get out some board games, make a cake or clear out your wardrobe.
  7. In our family we have one screen free day at the week-end to detox. It provides a genuine opportunity to deeply connect with friends and family. It’s amazing how when the option to use screens is not even there, we can find other fun things to keep us occupied.

It’s not easy to resist that urge to pick up a screen. Make small tiny changes to daily habits, one step at a time. I guarantee your physical and mental health and your relationships will benefit enormously in the long run.  It’s much easier to start establishing these good habits now when you’re young.

5 Questions to Ask about ‘Special Needs’

The first weeks of school are packed full of so many new revelations for our children and for us as parents.  Moving up a year brings new academic and behavioural expectations.  This next level can often show gaps in our children’s ability to follow a typical curriculum.  Most teachers will have the SENCO into their classroom for an observation.

As a parent, it can feel like the rug was pulled out from under you when you learn that your child has additional needs.  This is new territory fraught with conflicting information and far too many opinions.  It is so easy (and completely normal) to feel overwhelmed and under resourced in how to help your child succeed.  Don’t worry.  It’s all a part of the process.

The best source for initial information will be the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator).  This is the teacher that has the training and the resources to adapt the learning environment for your child’s particular strengths and weaknesses.  Like with any resource, you need to know how to utilize their abilities for you and your child. 

Here are 5 questions to see you through the first meeting with the SENCO:

What policies are in place to help Special Needs Children?

Whether it is the Local Authority, Academy Trust, Community Partnership or Private Educational Institution, there is a legal obligation to have specific policies in place that are accessible to parents.  The road to supporting and advocating for your child will be a long one.  You may need to refer to these policies when in meetings or making sure your child is receiving the interventions they need.

What Special Needs did you notice in my child?

It is important to know that most children have a school persona and a home persona.  It is perfectly normal for some behavious to be seen in one environment and not the other.  Needs vary from place to place.  Some needs are academic.  Some are social or behavioural.  It is important to know what the teachers are seeing at school.  It is also important for the school to know what is happening at home.  For example:  Many Special Needs children are quiet at school, but come home and explode.  This is a coping mechanism.  The opposite can also be true.  Share the whole picture and ask that this be reciprocated.  This way, you can have consistency with the interventions that are designed to help your child succeed.

What Community Resources are available for our family?

Support groups, socialisation groups, carers groups and counselling are only a few of the services that may be available to you and your family.  This may also include your neuro-typical children.  Whilst you may not be ready to access these services immediately, you will benefit from them eventually.  The SENCO will be able to sign post you to many of these.  Take advantage of the information.  Trust me.

What accommodations and interventions are in place to help my child?

Children identified with Special Needs are legally entitled to “reasonable adjustments” to the curriculum.  This should be more than just moving their seat.  There are many research-based interventions that can help your child succeed.  Have the SENCO document these interventions.  Also, ask how often they will review their effectiveness.  Make sure you leave with a copy of these so that you can refer to them later.

When can we meet to review?

It will take some time to decipher your child’s particular mixture of interventions for success, especially in the beginning.  The school needs to review regularly to make sure the gap in skillset is closing.  You will want to meet with the school to check on progress and share relevant information from home.   Ideally, you will meet again within 12 weeks.  This gives enough time to see what is working and what needs to change.  This does not mean that there will be no contact between meetings.  It simply is a good time to schedule for review.  Scheduling now will make sure that diaries don’t get too crowded later.  It will also put your mind to rest knowing that you will be a part of the team working towards your child’s success.

Getting through the first few weeks of identification feel like survival mode.  Remember that this is temporary and you are not alone in this process.  Take advantage of the resources that are available to you.  Starting work with the SENCO in an open and professional manner will pave the way for your child to succeed.

Should you have any concerns and not be getting the answers you need, we are very lucky to have Gwen Jones on the Educating Matters team. She is an experienced SEN teacher and mother of SEN children herself. She is available to provide 1:2:1 consultations to talk through any issues and also delivers a great series of sessions for corporates.

How to choose a tutor for your child

Since so many parents ask me how to go about finding a tutor for their child, I invited the founder of a tutoring agency I know well to share her thoughts.

The start of the Autumn term is always a time for change and often, with change, comes panic. With your children starting new school years, schools and subjects, the September thrills of reuniting with friends, buying new school bags and showing off new hair cuts can quickly give way to feelings of uncertainty and trepidation. Worries about school work and progress are common. Tutors can address your anxieties about your child’s target grades, their new teachers,  new subjects or sometimes children simply benefit from learning in a one to one environment for a confidence boost or a reminder of their ambitions to do well. Calling on the help and support of a tutor is many parents’ first port of call in the Autumn term and we have had a very busy start to September as we help parents and children recalibrate and acclimatise to new challenges.

The right tutor can support school work, guide a student through homework and coursework and also boost confidence, morale and foster a “can do” attitude. But with more tutoring agencies and individual tutors around than ever, the choice can be overwhelming and also intimidating. Where to look? Who to trust? What criteria should you use when selecting the right person with whom to entrust your precious child’s precious education? The below tips should help guide your choices:

1. Qualifications

Many tutors will claim to be “qualified tutors”. This is a contradiction in terms- there is no qualification required to be a tutor. This means that tutors might have no formal teaching experience and other than attending school themselves as a student, may have little idea of how school life and pressures actually operate. But why does this matter? Schools, subjects and exams change all the time. Usually at least every 5 years to be precise, especially at GCSE and A Level, although this year one of the Independent Girls’ Consortiums have totally revamped their entrance exam system and format. Therefore, if tutors are not in the system themselves as teachers, they will usually not have much more of an idea than you have of exam expectations. Ideally, you should look for a teacher with current or recent school teaching experience and or examining experience – a great perk for GCSE and A Level tutors. These qualified teachers will be far more au fait with current syllabi, exam requirements, school work loads and marking criteria. While your next door neighbour might have a very helpful daughter/ nephew or friend to offer you who charges less, you will get far more value per lesson from a professional teacher who can guide your child with expertise and certainty. At Strive Tutors, all of our tutors and admin staff are qualified, experienced teachers and many of us are also 11 plus assessors and GCSE and A Level examiners so really know what is required and how to teach it. Do your homework on your tutors’ teaching backgrounds.

2. The Chemistry

The dynamic between a tutor and student has to be right. You cannot expect your child to enjoy or benefit from spending an hour a week with someone who they do not like or feel comfortable with. I would always recommend speaking to a tutor on the phone to see how you like the sound of them and how they respond to your queries. Agencies can be useful here as good ones will be able to brief you in on a tutor’s background, success rates and approaches and guide you to the very “fit” for your child. Scheduling a trial lesson to see how your child and the tutor click should be the next step and assuming all goes well the rest should be straightforward. Do not expect rapid leaps to be made after the first hour – progress is not always linear- but over time you should see your child’s confidence, attitude and grades improve.

3. Reliability

Always secure a regular slot with the tutor to make sure that everyone knows where they need to be when. While life changes for everyone from time to time, make sure that the tutor gives you notice and is also willing to accommodate your schedule changes. It is a two way street and respect for their time means that they will respect yours.

4. Cost

Frank Sinatra might have claimed that the best things in life are free but this is certainly not the case with private tutoring. However, it is not always the case that the most expensive tutors are the best and the line between being ripped off and underpaying must be navigated carefully. Tutors in London can command anything up to £250 per hour depending on exactly what is being taught but the average range seems to sit between £40-70 per hour for students in Key Stage 1-5 and you usually get what you pay for. All of my team will come to your home for lessons but it is worth asking a tutor if their hourly rate includes travel and if they offer any discounts. We know that often families with multiple children might need multiple tutors and we offer quantity led discounts on monthly spends to ease the financial burden.

5. Extras

Tutors might also be able to offer specific targeted support and it is worth checking their Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) training and experience. If your child has a learning need that requires a specific and  targeted approach, ask tutors about their relevant experience and of course, for examples of when they have worked with similar needs with success. All teachers with QTS will have SEND training and most will have relevant experience. My team of teachers at Strive can all work with SEND in a targeted, paedagially sound and sensitive manner and we would always encourage parents to share Ed Psych and other reports to ensure that the tutor is fully briefed on the student’s learning history. Equally, it is important to ask tutors if they can collaborate with school teachers as and when needed. Sometimes children benefit from tuition more when their tutor and school teacher are working in tandem to support their learning and progress. We often work with schools, subject teachers and Heads of Year to support individual students and find that this can really benefit the student as well as the teacher. Remote tutoring has also become increasingly popular and many opt for tuition via video call with on screen back up to make notes and write essays and answers. Again, check with the tutor that they can accommodate your child this way and ask what technology they use. A taster session can usually make your child feel more at ease and this method of teaching has become increasingly popular with parents all over London, the UK and the rest of the world.

I hope these 5 tips will help you pick the best tutor for your child and should you need any more guidance or help please contact or look us up at We work with some of the best teachers in the UK and cover all key stages and subjects. Good luck with the start of term!

Helping children manage stress during exam season

The summer term has started, and so has exam time so we are looking at helping children manage exam season stress.  Children in years 2 and 6 are taking the controversial SATs, secondary-aged children are sitting life-changing GCSEs and of course those older children whose future education is hanging on their A-Level performances.  The effect of these tests and exams can resonate through whole families.

Let’s get down to how parents can actually support and help their children deal with stress during the exam period. It’s totally normal to feel some nerves before exams and this can be motivating and help zone in on the task in hand.  However too much anxiety means one can’t think clearly, reason, plan well and make good decisions which impacts on studying and exam performance.

When anyone is stressed the amygdala kicks in. We tend to become emotional, angry, fearful or frustrated.  The pre- frontal cortex is the part of the brain that distinguishes humans from animals.  It’s what tells the amygdala to calm down so we can cope with stress.  It helps to regulate blood pressure, heart rate and glucose levels which all influence how we feel about a situation.

Here are some very practical tips to quieten down the amygdala and enable the pre-frontal cortex to function: 
  • Talk to your child regularly and try to understand the cause of their anxiety so they feel heard and understood. Is it feeling unprepared, pressure from parents, teachers or peers, unrealistic expectations, overwhelm with too much to do and not enough time? Don’t dismiss them or try to just make the feeling go away.
  • Ask your child to spend 5 minutes listing all the things that take up their mental space and energy. Look at every item and place them into two categories: control and concern. Control are things you can actively do something about and concern are things you have no influence over.  People who handle stress well, minimise stuff in the concern circle and spend energy on addressing the things they can control.
  • Have a longer term study timetable but then focus on one day at a time. Help them prioritise, break tasks down into manageable chunks and set small, realistic, achievable goals.
  • Engage in physical activity which helps to boost energy levels, clear the mind and work off excess adrenalin so they can feel calmer.
  • Eat little and often, avoid too much caffeine or sugar which affects concentration. Keep hydrated as water helps the electromagnetic activity in the brain.
  • Get enough sleep which can still be regarded as study time as the brain processes information taken in during the day.
  • Learn, model and share stress management skills such as relaxation, breathing techniques, mediation mindfulness, massage, yoga, EFT and  visualisation
  • Schedule in some unstructured downtime, ideally with a social component.
  • Remember your child’s strengths and passions – encourage some activities that they are good at which involve laughing.
  • Limit screens and access to social media as this swallows up hours of precious time. Also steer clear of peers who make them feel more stressed.
  • Having a positive attitude and the right mind set will determine how motivated they feel, how much they learn and ultimately how well they do. Athletes, for example work on their mental state as well as physical and use psychologists to ensure peak performance.

Now I’m going to go away and follow this advice for myself between now and mid -June.

Just “chill out mum” as my kids tell me!!!

Reducing the chance of eating disorders

How to reduce the chance of children developing eating disorders

The very word ‘eating disorder’ is enough to strike fear in most parents.  Latest estimates suggest that 1.25 million people have an eating disorder and that adolescence is the most likely time for this to develop.   

What is an eating disorder?

At the heart of all eating disorders is an unhealthy attitude to food.  The most common eating disorders are:

  1. Anorexia Nervosa – characterised by not eating enough and often excessive exercising
  2. Bulimia Nervosa – overeating followed by vomiting and laxatives in order not to gain weight
  3. Binge Eating Disorder – compulsive overeating that feels out of control

There are varying degrees of gravity for all of these and it is not always easy to determine when your child ‘tips over’ from healthy eating to problem eating, and then into a full- blown eating disorder.  The bottom line is, if you feel that food is dominating your child’s life, your best action is to seek treatment, as early intervention gives the best chance of recovery.

Why does someone get an eating disorder?

There is no one over-riding cause to why someone develops an eating disorder; there is a combination of influences such as genetics, family experiences and culture.  Parents don’t give their children an eating disorder, but there is much they can do to help reduce the chances of their children developing one.  

What can parents do? 

Parents’ main role is to create a positive home environment by:

  • Setting the right goals – ensure that the aspirations that you have for your child are not based on appearance and that you do not give the impression that you will love them more if ‘only they ate less’.  This includes paying more attention to what they say and do rather than what they look like.
  • Speaking your mind – we are all exposed to some pretty toxic ideas about body image.  This particularly applies to social media which bombards us with images that can distort our children’s attitude to body size.  We need to educate our children that there is no such thing as the perfect body and that prejudice against people who are overweight is wrong.  Too much time spent trying to achieve unattainable beauty is only going to lead to feelings of failure and is limiting your child’s development in more meaningful areas.  Recent research showed that an intervention for women with eating disorders, that encouraged them to criticise negative media images that associated appearance with self-worth, significantly reduced their negative feelings about themselves. 
  • Being comfortable with your own body shape – the more complete you are as parents with your own body, irrespective of size – the less likely you are to imply that having a less than ideal body shape is something to feel ashamed about.
  • Talking about feelings – eating disorders are a way of coping with difficult feelings, so encourage children to understand and express their emotions rather than placate them with food.  This will give you an opportunity to teach them strategies to use when they are feeling frustrated, angry or sad.  For example, taking a deep breath, talking the issue through with an adult, or even asking for a hug.
  • Being a good role model – you are their biggest influence.  If you pick at your food, criticise your own body and are constantly on a diet, your children will copy these unhelpful behaviours.
  • Not putting them on a diet – dieting rarely works and often affects self-esteem.  Most eating disorders start with a diet.  There can also be loads of other health implications such as stunted growth, osteoporosis and delayed puberty. 
  • Keeping children a healthy weight – overweight teenagers have a much higher risk of developing an eating disorder, but often its symptoms go unnoticed because they are masked by being overweight. 
  • Exercising for the right reasons – exercise is an important part of good health, but if you are spending hours in the gym each day trying to get the ‘perfect’ body then this will give children the wrong messages.
  • Boosting their self-esteem – this is probably the most important factor that protects children from developing an eating disorder.  One of the best ways to do this is by offering children choices, particularly as eating disorders often develop as a way of trying to take control of their lives.  Try offering them an array of healthy foods and let them serve themselves.  Even better get them involved in cooking healthy food.

Not only will these behaviours help to reduce the chances of your children developing an eating disorder but they are also great ways for maintaining a healthy attitude to weight and food for all the family.

Article by Tracey Bennett, specialist in Obesity & Weight Management

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