Low Expectations….left with Great Impressions!

mnberksGreat Expectations by London Contemporary Theatre

I was invited to the theatre at South Hill Park, Bracknell to watch the opening performance of Great Expectations by the London Contemporary Theatre group who are celebrating their second birthday!

I have to admit I haven’t been to the theatre in a long time and I wasn’t sure Great Expectations would really be something I’d enjoy. I have never read the book and I am sure I have seen one of the films somewhere many years ago but couldn’t tell you the story at all. So I decided to take someone along who would know all about it. My awesome Mum!

South Hill Park Arts Centre is one of my favourite places to go just to walk around its beautiful grounds and lake, take my kids to the sandpit and enjoy the nearby play park. Before the show Mum and I enjoyed a peaceful drink listening to some live music whilst sat outside overlooking these beautiful grounds. It set the scene for a lovely evening.

great expectationsWe went into the theatre which is a really nice size. It’s not massive so where ever you are sat, I think you’d have a good seat. But we were lucky to have our tickets in the middle. The stage was already set up with actors on it with a woman in a wedding dress laid dead on the stage. This sparked anticipation in me immediately. When the show started I was immediately drawn in to the story of a young Boy called Pip and the relationship he was to form with the cold hearted Estelle. I was so drawn in that when there was a break in the performance I was really disappointed so consoled myself with a nice ice cream.

The changes of scene were done to the sound of a clock along with music and the actors & actresses used dance to to move across the stage ready for the next scene to start. I thought it was really cleverly done. Great Expectations (or this version of) was a modern version, set in modern times and I felt it adapted well. I was able to follow the story line which I thoroughly enjoyed. I only got a bit confused near the end when the parents of Estelle were revealed. There was also a suitable amount of humour to break up from the seriousness of the story.

I have to say I was incredibly impressed with the cast. I thought the chemistry between Pip and his Mum was great and the portrayal of Miss Haversham was brilliant. Estelle was also portrayed brilliantly. I hated her but I could also see why Pip would fall for her and I was excited to see whether or not they would end up together! The performance was about 2 hours long which was just about right with the interval too.

I’d really recommend going to see Great Expectations by the London Contemporary Theatre. I can’t wait to see their up and coming versions performances including one by Roald Dahl. My tickets were free but this in no way influences the reviews I give.

Great Expectations is currently touring in the UK now. to find out more you can visit the website http://www.londoncontemporarytheatre.com/Greatexpectations.html

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Tips for choosing a toddler activity class by Sport4Kids

mnberks

There are so many toddler activity classes  on offer to parents. However, choosing the best activity classes can be a challenge, with options ranging from local clubs to professionally run classes. It is often the case that classes can be badly organized, inconsistently staffed and poorly run. This can ultimately lead to toddlers becoming disengaged with the activity and forming a negative association with the hobby.

Sport4Kids have provided the following five key tips for parents when selecting a toddler activity class…

1. Is the class tailored to your toddler’s stage of development?

Tots Small 5

When introducing your child to any toddler activity, it is vital that the class pitches itself at the correct level for the children involved. Take a look at what the toddlers are being asked to do – is the aim of the game understood? Do the children in the class have the capability to learn the skills needed to play the game? We would expect most toddler activity classes to need parental assistance at this age, but it is important that the toddlers are able to grasp the concept of the game so that they remain enthused.

2. Does the class give your toddler a fun time?

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Fun is the precursor to engagement in terms of toddler activity. If a toddler is not having fun, they will not be engaged with the class – no matter how much the parent can see the benefit! Is your toddler laughing and smiling with their peers and coaches or teachers? Do they babble about wanting to attend the class during the week when you are at home? Do they perform little actions that mimic the class content around the house? These are all signs that your little one is having fun –oh and of course beaming smiles during the class!

3. Are the teachers of a quality that you are happy with?

Most classes will advertise that their coaches are DBS registered and qualified to coach or teach the toddler activity that you have chosen. This is a good start and should not be overlooked. However, this does not provide an overall picture of the teacher. Is the teacher good at communication with the toddler age group? For example, in the instance of toddler football classes , a large number of coaches claim to have FA recognized qualifications. However, the FA courses provide no information on toddlers or indeed children under the age of 5 years. Can we guarantee that a FA qualified football coach would be suitable for a toddler class? Not at all! Qualities to look out for include…How caring the teaching team is? Are they trained in a child-centric approach to toddler teaching?   Are they well turned out and looking as though they take care of their appearance and therefore the appearance of the organization? Without respect for their appearance and the organization they represent how can we be sure they will respect your child – well the answer is we can’t.

4. Will The Toddlers Learn Something?

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All toddlers behave differently and will ultimately develop different interests. Some like to draw, others like to bang a tambourine and others will love kicking a football – the crucial part of any toddler activity class though, is that the toddler learns something. Whether this be learning new colours, shapes, sounds or movements, one of the primary focuses of the class should be that every child takes something away…along with the expected smile!

5. Does the class have an ongoing development path?

Many toddler activity class teachers will pitch up and make a set of routines up for the class for the day on the spot. These individuals possess great talent – the ability to entertain children at the drop of a hat is hard enough for parents, so to watch another person do it often leaves us in awe. The only issue with this approach is that it often fails to consider the developmental trajectory of the toddler. It is important that the organization that you select for your child follows a curriculum based approach, with clear milestones for your toddler to develop over time. Toddlers are little bundles of senses, but psychologically and physically they are always developing and need to be challenged. Many organizations also offer classes beyond the toddler years, meaning that if you find a trusted provider for your child’s activity, you can pursue it with them and watch them grow throughout childhood. Ask your provider about the structure of classes and why they are structured this way – the absence or inclusion of a curriculum based approach will soon become apparent!

We encourage all parents to pursue taking part in some form of activity with their toddler. The best providers will always offer free taster sessions for parents and this will allow you to check out all of our tips in person!

Dr Mark Gould

Dr Mark Gould is an innovator of child sport, entertainment, learning and development.  He has a PhD in Psychology and is a champion of women’s sport, with over 10 years coaching experience.

This post was sponsored by Sports4Kids.

To find out  more about toddler activities organised by Sports4Kids please visit their website http://sport4kids.biz/activities/toddler-activities and visit http://sport4kids.biz/classes/s4k-tots for information on football for tots.

Pubs with children’s play areas in Berkshire

We all love a nice cool drink in a pub on these warm, sunny days. But with children, it’s often a bit of a hassle as there is no entertainment for them and they don’t sit still. So you speed eat your food and don’t always relax. Well over at Mumsnet Berkshire, I’ve been asking you to tell me your favourite pubs that are child-friendly and have children’s play areas. Below I have listed a few and will add them as and when I discover them. If you know somewhere great that isn’t on here, please let me know Berkshire@mumsnetlocal.com

 

1) The Fox and Castle – Old Windsor

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241311-pub-with-childrens-play-area

Great food, great atmosphere

2) The Elephant & Castle – Hurst

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241315-family-friendly-pub-with-play-area

At the heart of the community with a lovely enclosed outdoor play space for the little ones.

3) The Cow & Plough – Bracknell

http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241333-pub-with-childrens-play-area

lovely play area so children can play whilst adults enjoy a nice summer drink

4) The Jolly Farmer – Cookham, Maidenhead

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241345-pub-with-kids-play-area

5) The Crown Inn – Slough

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241580-family-friendly-pub-in-slough

The restaurant serves excellent fresh food, great ales, wines & more. It has a beautiful garden with a kids play area and friendly roaming chickens.

6) The Palmer Arms – Dorney, Windsor

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241585-family-run-pub-with-a-family-play-area

We are family friendly and have four young children ourselves. Our large garden is a great place to eat on a warm day and we have just added a children’s play area.

7) The Six Bells – Shinfield, Reading

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241588-outside-play-area-for-kids

A Greene King pub with an enclosed garden and play area.

8) The Running Horse, Bracknell

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241592-childrens-outside-play-area-in-a-pub

A Greene King Pub with children’s play area. Also great if you fancy a walk at Lily Hill Park before or after – same car park. http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/parks-playgrounds/230583-green-flag-award-winning-space

9) The Craven Arms Newbury

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241593-family-friendly-pub-with-play-area

Outdoor play space based in Enborne Newbury

10) The George – Slough

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241772-hungry-horse-with-play-area

 

11) Weather Vane Bracknell

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http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241775-pub-with-indoor-softplay

Indoor softplay area perfect for the kiddies

12) The Rifle Volunteer

the rifle volunteer

http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241778-nice-pub-garden-with-play-area

A local pub with nice outside garden with play area too.

[embe11d]http://local.mumsnet.com/berkshire/pubs-bars/241593-family-friendly-pub-with-play