How to Raise an Optimistic Child


Some people are naturally more optimistic than others, and some people have good days and bad days. It’s perfectly normal for adults and children alike to doubt themselves from time to time, but its also important for parents to help their kids overcome these hesitant emotions so that they can tackle life’s obstacles with a smile on their faces. A private school near London have prepared the following advice for parents on how to raise an optimistic child. 

Help your child see the positive aspects of life as much as possible. Talk to them regularly about what they are grateful for and what they are looking forward to, so that they learn not to dwell on the bad stuff. Lead by example by sharing some of your own little wins each day, like a lovely colleague making you a cup of tea or a delicious meal you have planned for that evening. 

Give your child lots of encouragement as much as you can, but especially when they’re having down days. If they have an argument with a friend, let them know that it’s a normal part of life to have disagreements with people but they normally always work themselves out in the end. Perhaps share an example of when this happened to you. If they accidentally break something in the house, let them know that you are proud of them for owning up to it rather than telling them off for breaking it in the first place. The trick is to put a positive spin on things where possible.

The same applies if your child fails a test or gets a bad grade on their homework. Rather than punishing them for not performing well, praise them for how hard they tried and remind them that we all face setbacks sometimes, the trick is to learn from them for next time. This will help them develop a growth mindset, rather than giving up before they’ve even begun.

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How Does Moving Schools Affect Your Child?


Lots of children are faced with the challenge of a new school. Perhaps their parents have to relocate due to work commitments or separation. Regardless of the reason, moving schools can sometimes have a detrimental impact on the child and lots of additional support will be needed. I have teamed up with a prep school in Bristol to offer some advice for parents to help their children deal with this transition effectively.

When starting at a new school, there are so many things your child will have to get used to: a new building, new rules, new uniform, new classmates, new teachers. All this uncertainty will become normal eventually, but for the first few weeks or even months, it will take some time for your child to settle. They might feel anxious and on edge, so they will need lots of encouragement and a positive home life to help them get through it. Talk about the change using positive terminology, remind them how great it will be to make new friends and join new clubs. 

Help them build new friendships by arranging a playdate with other parents at the new school, if possible. This will allow your child to interact with their new peers in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable, rather than lost and confused. This will allow them to be more themselves and friendships should form more easily. It may also help to allow your child to keep in touch with their old friends. If you don’t live near anymore, perhaps you could arrange a video chat.

Be patient with your child when it comes to their education during this time, as it may take some time for them to adapt to the new teaching style and possibly different curriculum. Perhaps consider hiring a private tutor to help your child get up to speed with the rest of the class and generally just find the confidence they might have lost as a result of all of the changes. Keep in touch with their teachers in the early days for regular updates on their progress. 

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Aloo Keema (Lamb Mince & Potato) Recipe

aloo keema recipe

The Major Ingredient - The Lamb!

If you don’t remember the last time you cooked lamb, then I must remind you that you’re definitely missing one of the important ingredients you should include in your diet. There has been a shift in lifestyle, particularly in individuals under 35 who live in North Western European countries such as England, where they hardly seem to purchase or cook lamb nowadays.

Lamb Try it, Love it

The EU funded Lamb Try it, Love it campaign has enabled people to discover the unique flavours of lamb at their convenience. This Lamb Mince & Potato recipe is a popular South Asian protein-packed dish which is perfect for a midweek meal. The high quality lamb produced by European farmers follows sustainable practices and is a major contribution to local economies. Lamb is often used as an important ingredient in my kitchen, and I feel it's a really exciting ingredient to cook and test in different recipes.

aloo keema recipe

Variety of Cuts of Lamb

Being a versatile ingredient, lamb can be used in lots of different recipes and is available in various cuts. Incredible lamb dishes can be made using affordable lamb cuts like mince and steaks. However, don’t be afraid to try lamb cuts like chop, rump, neck, leg, shank, breast, loin rack, and shoulder. Many lamb dishes can easily be cooked in only 30 minutes and are packed with flavour.

Health Benefits of Lamb

High quality lamb produced by European farmers is naturally rich in protein and contains several natural vitamins and minerals’ (please refer to this blog post for the health benefits). If you haven't mixed lamb in your everyday diet, give it a go. Once you try it, you're definitely going to love it! For more information on lamb and the Lamb Try It, Love It campaign, click here.

aloo keema recipe

INGREDIENTS:

5 tbsp oil
2 medium sized, finely sliced onions
1 large, sliced tomato
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
500 grams lamb mince, cleaned & washed well
1 tsp turmeric powder
1½ tsp red chilli powder (levelled)
Salt, as required
4 whole cloves
6 whole black peppercorns
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
2 cardamom pods
2 slit green chillies
4-5 medium sized potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 cup water
Fresh coriander, julienne cut fresh ginger & chopped green chillies, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Turn on the stove and add the oil. 
Add sliced onions and sauté until they turn brown. 
Once done, add the sliced tomatoes and sauté well. 
The next step is to add ginger and garlic paste. 
Add lamb mince in the pot and cook until it turns from red to light brown. 
Once the colour of the meat changes, add turmeric, red chilli powder, salt, cloves, black peppercorns, coriander powder, cumin powder, cardamom pods and stir well. 
Add green chillies and potato cubes. 
Add 1 cup water. 
Cover the lid and leave to cook on low heat until lamb mince and potato cubes are fully cooked (this can take up to 15 minutes). 
Turn off the stove and garnish with fresh green coriander, julienne cut ginger and green chillies. 
Serve hot with roti (Indian flatbread/naan bread) or with boiled or either zeera rice.

aloo keema recipe

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 individuals

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Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe - National Curry Week UK

Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe

Talking of the National Curry Week, it brings a lot of excitement for me because I am myself really fond of curry, and I cook it quite often at home. This year, the 22nd annual curry week falls between the 5th - 11th of October. 

The first National Curry Week, that was founded by Peter Grove took place in October 1998 and the idea was not just to appreciate the Indian restaurant industry but also to raise funds for charity. Curry is one of the favourite takeaways in the UK, and people's love for curry is growing stronger which is increasing the importance of the curry week each year. 

You can also get involved in the National Curry Week - by hosting a curry night at home, by eating out or by simply getting some from a takeaway. Below, I am sharing a Pakistani classic curry recipe called Lamb and Okra curry that can be enjoyed as a main course with some Chapati (Indian flatbread) or Naan bread. It's quite a simple recipe that can be cooked without a fuss. The combination of cubed lamb pieces and vegetable makes it a hearty meal for all!

Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe

The Major Ingredient - The Lamb! 

Lamb is a versatile ingredient, lamb is loved by people from all cultures and walks of life. The numerous recipes that can be created by using different cuts of lamb make it a perfect ingredient for everyday meals or for special occasions.

Lamb Try it, Love it

The idea behind the EU funded Lamb Try it, Love it campaign is to encourage people to identify the unique flavours of lamb and to add more of it to their diet. Lamb and okra curry can definitely be one of the best midweek meals for the entire family especially because the premium lamb produced by the European farms using sustainable practices ensures a protein-rich diet. There is absolutely nothing like fresh lamb, and we should appreciate the contribution the farmers make to the local economies with all the hard work they do on their farms. 

Variety of Cuts of Lamb

Being quite a versatile ingredient, lamb can be used in various recipes, with curry being one of the most popular. Although lamb has various cuts which are used for different recipes, it is not necessary to use the premium cuts all the time. Even the economical cuts do justice to the curries and boneless lamb pieces are perfect, especially if one's cooking for a family meal. There are several other curries which can be conveniently cooked within 30 minutes for an affordable dish that is full of flavour!

Health Benefits of Lamb

High quality lamb produced by the European farmers is naturally rich in proteins and also contains several natural vitamins and minerals’ please refer to this blog post for the health benefits. If you haven't mixed lamb in your everyday diet, give it a go. Once you try it, you're definitely going to love it! For more information on lamb and the lamb try it, love it campaign, click here.

Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe


INGREDIENTS FOR LAMB & OKRA CURRY:

5 tbsp oil

2 medium sized, finely sliced onions

2 large, sliced tomatoes

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

500 grams lamb cubes (leg), cleaned & washed well

1 tsp turmeric powder 

1 tsp red chilli powder

Salt, as required 

4 whole cloves

½ tsp coriander powder

2 cups of water

300 grams whole okra (fresh or frozen)

2 slit green chillies

A pinch of garam masala powder


Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe


INSTRUCTIONS:

Use either a pressure cooker or a normal pot, turn on the stove and add 5 tbsp oil. 

Add sliced onions and sauté them until they turn brown.  

Once done, add the sliced tomatoes and sauté well. 

The next step is to add ginger and garlic paste.

Add cubed lamb pieces in the pot and cook until they turn from red to light brown.

Once the colour of the meat changes, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, whole cloves, coriander powder and stir well.

Add 2  cups of water.

After the lamb is cooked, add okra in the pot.

Add 2 slit green chillies

Cover the lid and leave to cook on low heat until the okra is fully cooked (this should take 10-15 minutes, but do not close the lid tightly -  just place it on top of the cooker). 

Once both the lamb and okra are cooked, sprinkle a pinch of garam masala.

Turn off the stove and serve hot with roti, either Indian flatbread or naan bread).


Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe


QUICK COOKING TIP:

It is advised to fully cook a batch of lamb cubes (lamb cut: leg) and store it in small boxes in the freezer as this would greatly help in reducing the total cooking time. Perfect idea for quick midweek meals! 

The lamb will cook much quicker if a pressure cooker (15 minutes) is used instead of a normal pot (1-1.5 hours).


Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes in a pressure cooker 

& up to 2 hours in a normal pot

Serves: 4-6


Lamb & Okra Curry Recipe

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Top Tips for Ensuring Your Child Gets Accepted Into University


As a parent, its your responsibility to guide your child in the right direction and offer your support and advice throughout their childhood. As they get older, they might not always accept your input, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop providing it, especially when it comes to something as important as university. I have teamed up with a  senior school in Bath to offer parents some top tips when it comes to helping their children secure a place at university.

Consider the Entry Requirements

Firstly, it’s worth noting that every university and each of their courses will have different entry requirements, which have huge variations. These requirements ensure that your child has the right skills to successfully complete the course, so it’s important to be realistic when it comes to the likelihood that your child will be accepted. In other words, don’t encourage them to apply to a university if it’s improbable that they will get the required grades, for example.

Of course, your child will need the relevant qualifications, but they will also have to demonstrate their interests and experience. Some universities require students to complete an admissions test and an interview, so help your child look into this so that they can prepare accordingly. 

Help with the Personal Statement

When applying to universities through UCAS, your son or daughter will need to fill out all of their personal details and submit a personal statement, which you can help with. This is an essay of no more than 4,000 characters that essentially lets the tutors know why your child thinks they would be an asset to the university.

From a young age, it’s important to encourage your child to pursue extra-curricular activities, such as clubs and classes, community work or even work experience. In doing so, your child will be able to demonstrate through their personal statement that they have the right personality to take on the challenges of a university course and the life that comes with it. 

Support Your Child Through their Exams

Securing a place at university relies heavily on your child achieving the relevant grades at a level. It’s important for your to encourage and support your child during exam period and avoid putting too much pressure on them. Ensure that they are taking regular rest breaks from their revision so that they don’t overdo it, as it’s important that they still get enough sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. 

Remind your child that you will be proud of them no matter what happens on results day and that there are other options if they don’t get the grades. If they know that they have your full support no matter what, they will likely feel less stressed.

Of course, there’s a lot more to it when it comes to getting a place on a university course, but the above tips should get you started. It might be that your child isn’t actually suited to university and an apprenticeship might be a more appropriate option. Do your research and figure out what’s best for them and their future.

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A Parents’ Guide to A Levels


A Levels are qualifications taken by students between the ages of 16 and 19 (Year 12-13). If your child is planning to apply to university, A Levels are a crucial qualification, and they are also looked highly upon by many employers. They are usually graded through coursework and exams, but some subjects will involve a practical test as well (e.g. drama or art). Here’s some further information from a top A Level College in the UK

The A Level subject your child chooses will have a huge influence on the direction of the next few years of their life. For that reason, it can be a challenging experience for young people and they will need full support from their parents and other family and friends. It’s worth sitting down with your child and talking to them about their options. Encourage them to choose subjects that they both enjoy and are good at, otherwise they won’t achieve the best possible results. You should also take your child along to open evenings at their school so that they feel they are making an informed decision. They will be able to ask the teachers plenty of questions and get as much support as they feel they need. 

If your child does plan on attending university, it’s a good idea to have a look at some of the courses they’re interested in and what their entry requirements are. This might help your child come to a conclusion regarding which A Level subjects they would like to study. It’s worth noting that A Levels are quite a big jump from GCSEs, so the subjects they’re breezing through now might not seem as easy when they start Year 12. With that said, it’s worth looking into the type of work that will be expected of your child and if it’s appropriate for their skills.


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Teaching Your Child to Give Back to the Community


Community involvement is a fantastic way to help your child with their personal development and there’s no time like the present to get started. Teaching them the importance of “giving back” will help them with various key skills and might even influence their decisions as they grow up. You might be wondering where to start, so I have teamed up with a private school in Essex to give you some advice. 

First of all, it’s important to bear in mind that your child may have different interests to you, so they might be drawn to different types of community work than what you are. For instance, they might have a friend at school who has Autism and therefore have an interest in companies and charities that help with special educational needs. Alternatively, they might have a relative who is battling cancer, which might draw them to charities like Cancer Research UK or Marie Curie. Try not to force your child into helping a cause that they have no connection with, as it will not have the desired effect. 

There are lots of ways they can get involved with the community and many of the options will depend on their skills. For instance, older children might be able to apply for a job volunteering in a charity shop. If they’re younger or you’d prefer them to stay at home, you could consider downloading an app that allows you to donate for meals and other basic necessities. 

Even encouraging your child to sort through their old toys and clothes and taking them down to the charity shop rather than throwing them out is a great way to teach your child about giving back, while also encouraging them to appreciate how lucky they are. It will allow them to understand that not everyone is as fortunate as they are, teaching them to be empathetic and more open-minded. 

Do some research into your local area and find out if there are any upcoming charity events or other activities that you and your family could get involved in. It might also be worth contacting your child’s school to see if they know of anything appropriate. It’s a great way to get your child to spend their time productively and learn some valuable lessons along the way.


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Helping Your Child Connect with Friends During the Pandemic


Encouraging our children to socialise is a key part of their overall development. It can help them become more confident and allow them to develop their sense of self, but unfortunately social interactions must be kept to a minimum during the global pandemic. With that said, parents need to find other ways to help their children connect with their friends at this time, as explored below by a junior school in Blackpool

Virtual Play Dates 

There are so many options when it comes to video calling (Zoom, Skype, Facetime etc.) that you shouldn’t have a problem getting this set up. If they find it awkward and don’t chat as much as you’d hoped, maybe you could set up some sort of quiz or game for them to play, where they win a prize at the end. 

Movie Nights 

Netflix Party is a new system that allows people to watch movies with their friends. It involves a monthly subscription but essentially it will allow your child and their friends to synchronise the video playback and message one another in the group chat to discuss the film. 

Letters 

Encourage your child to work on their written communication skills by going old school and writing letters to their friends. Teach them how to write an envelope and work on their handwriting. They’ll probably find it really exciting waiting for a reply in the post and they can keep the letters to reminisce on when they’re older. 

Social Games 

There are lots of apps you can download onto a tablet or smartphone that allow social interaction, like Roblox, for example. While you may not want your child to spend extended periods of time playing on their technological devices, it will help them stay connected and socialise. Keep an eye on their screen time and be sure to balance it out with other activities. 

Now that schools have reopened, socialisation for children isn’t as big an issue, but many parents are wary of letting their children play with their friends outside of school hours. With that said, the above ideas might be a good way for you to counteract this problem and keep your child’s spirits high during this challenging time.

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Is my Child Old Enough to be Home Alone?


It’s a rite of passage isn’t it? The first time you feel comfortable enough to leave your child unsupervised at home. Some children will be ready for this level of responsibility before others and it’s important to gauge your child’s feelings on the subject before actually leaving them alone.

The law is somewhat grey – it’s not legal to leave a child in a situation where they can encounter danger but there’s no specification on how old a child needs to be. The best way to look at this is to consider your home environment and your child’s skill levels. For example – most 14-year-old children are mature enough to be left alone for some time, but not in a situation where they’re responsible for smaller children and animals for a lengthy time period.

Most parents know that children under the age of about 12 are quite immature still. They lack common sense. But there are exceptions to the rule and some 11-year-old children would be perfectly capable of spending an hour at home alone and remain safe. Use your own judgement. It would be extremely careless to leave a very young child alone at home because under the age of about 11, children lack the confidence to make quick decisions or use their judgement.

Discuss the rules

Make sure your child knows how long you’re going to be away and when to expect you back. They should be informed of who to call in an emergency and have a list of safe adults to contact in addition to the emergency services. Good rules for children being left alone for the first time include the following. 

  1. No cooking 
  2. No leaving the property to visit friends or shops 
  3. No letting anyone into the house

Teach your child what to do if someone knocks on the door unexpectedly. It’s better to tell them not to answer. Let them know that you will be back at an agreed time and stick to it. Children who are trusted at home grow into confident and capable adults. This private school in London believes that responsibility helps children to become effective leaders. Once your child has the confidence to be left for longer periods of time, you and they will both relax more and it will become less of an event.

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A Parent’s Guide to GCSE’s


GCSEs were first introduced in 1988. The new GCSE was thought to be an improvement on the old O Level system as there were more subjects available and the examination process was more child friendly. The grading system is cause for some confusion among parents today. Until 2016, GCSEs were graded on a letter scale – from A to G with a score of C being about equivalent to a C in the old O Level system.

Understanding the new GCSE grading system

Instead of being graded with A* or A, B, C, D etc, papers are now given numerical scores.

9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1. The highest grades being 9, 8 and 7. These replace A* and A. The top 20% of results are those grades 9. 

When do students make their GCSE choices?

This is done at the end of year 8 or 9. Schools generally hold options evenings at this time of year and your child will be able to learn more about the various choices and how each is assessed. This is also your chance to find out more about the various options.

When should my child start revising?

This is usually begun in January but there are a variety of factors to consider. How able is your child? How efficient are they at study? 

When do exams begin?

Usually from May the 14th to June 22nd in years 10 and 11. Your school will keep you informed but it doesn’t hurt to ask in advance so you’re prepared. Results are released in August; usually during the third week.

How can I help my child?

Educate your child on the process so that they feel empowered. Help them to revise by ensuring they have a quiet space in which to work. Ensure they eat a good diet and have a balance of work and play. Stress will not help them get the results they desire. A school with good pastoral care is important during the GCSE years; this independent school in Wellingborough ensures that their pupils feel supported and safe during their time at the school.


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How to Raise a Science Lover


Helping your child to learn to love science should be a fun and fulfilling educational journey.

Science is all around us. In cooking, gardening, art and medicine. It’s found in animal care, music and even dance. The natural environment provides many opportunities for fostering a love of science. This nursery in Hampshire believes that children who are encouraged to spend time outdoors will thrive.

A good way to begin your child’s journey of scientific discovery is to enter via something which your child already loves. Whatever your child enjoys, there will be a route into science which is tied up within the pastime or hobby. Let’s look at some of the opportunities presented by the most common passions found among children of all ages.

Art and Science

Art is a wonderful place to begin fostering a love of science. Most children, especially younger ones, enjoy art. There are many ways in which science is intertwined with art and a number of projects which you could instigate so that younger children begin to understand some of the scientific processes involved. Try experimenting with marbling paper for example, this will help your child learn about viscosity and how different liquids react to one another. 

Sound and Science

Sound is another great place to begin looking at science. Teaching your child about vibration with the use of different objects is not only amusingly messy but also fun. Similarly, filling bottles with different amounts of liquid and showing your child how they will each produce a different note can be an absorbing and fun activity.

Cooking and Science

Cooking is a fun and rewarding activity which can easily be linked to science. Help your child learn all sorts of scientific facts via food. One fun example is making butter in a bottle. Simply half fill a plastic bottle with heavy cream and show your child how to shake it (with the lid screwed on tight!). The fats will separate and butter will form, teaching your child the rudiments of emulsification. Similarly, baking bread can begin to teach children about fermentation. 

Talk about it

Science infiltrates most of our lives – discuss the facts with your child and if they’re particularly interested in an aspect of it, foster that interest by providing books and other learning tools. When a child understands that science is only as complicated as you want it to be, they’ll always have an interest in it.


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