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Is My Child Ready for Nursery?

If you are trying to decide whether your child is ready to go to nursery, but you need a bit more information before you make up your mind, then hopefully this blog will help.

Some parents choose to send their child to nursery because of work commitments and some simply want their child to start developing their social and learning skills, before starting school.
Whatever your reason, deciding when is the right time to start nursery is always difficult for parents.

To help give you some guidance, here is some helpful advice from Riverside Nursery Schools

What is the right age for nursery?

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Most nurseries accept children from the age of three months to five years, however some pre-schools or playgroups, may require children to be over two. It is best to check the admission requirements with your local nurseries. Trust your instincts when deciding the right age. If your child has started to try things on their own, become more curious and developed an interest in other children, then these are all good signs that your child is ready to start nursery.

How do I choose a nursery?

When to begin nursery is very much down to your individual circumstances, however it is important that you make plenty of visits to find the nursery most suited to your child’s needs. Before you visit, make a list of all the things that are important to you and any questions you may have. It is also a good idea to take your child along to see how they interact in this new environment.

What questions should I ask the nursery?

To understand exactly what a typical day looks like at the nursey, be sure to ask about meal times, activities and nap times (if required). This will help you to determine if their schedule will suit your child’s current routine. You may also wish to ask questions about what is provided by the nursey, for example, will food and drink be included or will you need to provide a packed lunch? What about nappies or a potty?

What if I am still unsure?

If you are still unsure, but would like to test the waters, you could look into local parent and baby groups. These groups will provide an opportunity for your child to socialise with other children and learn through activities such as music and dance, while you are still close by.

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The Importance of Pastoral Care in Schools

Pastoral care helps to support the physical and emotional welfare of each student. This is why pastoral care is one of the most important responsibilities within a school.  Pastoral care duties are usually shared between school staff and teachers, but it should extend to the whole school.

An effective pastoral care programme ensures the success and personal development of all children, so they can thrive academically and socially. It should also encourage pupils to respect each other and celebrate diversity.

To get a better understanding of why pastoral care is so important, an independent school in London   has shared the following information…

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Pastoral care practices are often integrated into lessons. For example, children are taught about bullying, mental health and sex education, as well as road safety and online safety. Many schools have their own Pastoral Care Manager who is in charge of monitoring and supporting children’s emotional and behavioural needs, as well as assisting with learning difficulties.

From playground injuries to sickness bugs, pastoral care covers the many procedures schools need to deal with accidents and illnesses. If your child’s school offers immunisation programmes, this would also fall under a pastoral care duty. A Pastoral Care Manager is also responsible for liaising with parents and carers to ensure that children are protected from neglect, abuse and exploitation.

Ensuring the school premises are safe and secure also comes under the pastoral care system. This is usually assigned to a caretaker to oversee. They will check all school boundaries are secure and that the fire alarm system is tested regularly. School security also ensures that everyone visiting the school is signed in and closely monitored.

Pastoral care at boarding school is supervised by the boarding staff. They need to be on-hand to provide additional support for children staying away from home. These children may need additional help with certain household duties, transport or making arrangements for cultural and religious celebrations.

 

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Exploring Moral Values with Your Child

Morals help children to understand the difference between right and wrong behaviour, which is why it is so important for parents to role model honesty, kindness, good manners and respect. 

Exploring morality will also help children to understand how to treat other people and allow them to develop key social and communication skills for their future.

To help you explore moral values with your child, here are some great tips from an independent girl’s school in Buckinghamshire

Setting a good example

Children learn from their parents, which is why it is so important to be a good role model.  Show kindness to others, be aware of how you talk to people and always demonstrate good manners for your child to replicate. 

Listening to others

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Teach your child to be polite and explain the importance of listening to others, especially when they are speaking. This is particularly important in the classroom. Help your child to understand that it is respectful to listen to their teacher and follow their instructions.

Showing kindness

Teach your children to always be kind and to value other people’s ideas and opinions. Encourage the idea of treating others as they wish to be treated and helping those in need.

Acknowledging mistakes

Give your child space to work things out alone. Disputes with friends are common at school and learning how to resolve these issues is an important life-skill. Furthermore, if you make a mistake or have a disagreement with your child, be sure to apologise. This will show that you value and respect their thoughts and feelings. By apologising to your child you will also be teaching them how to treat others and how to accept responsibility.

Valuing school

Finally, try to encourage your children to value their own learning and success. They can demonstrate this by being on time to school, working to the best of their ability, completing homework and being polite to their teachers. If your child’s school has a list of core values, it can be helpful to read this together with your child.

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How to Take Control of Family Finances

If your finances have taken a bit of a battering over recent months, you’re certainly not alone. Belt tightening has almost become a national pastime. One we hope won’t go on for too much longer.

On the positive side, it’s first class motivation for finally sitting down and sorting out your money: where’s it coming from, where’s it going, and how you can keep hold of it a bit longer.

No Complicated Tech Needed

It doesn’t come much simpler than a pen and notebook. Armed with a recent bank statement (one for each of your accounts if you have more than one bank account) you can start right now getting to grips with spending and saving. Unless you’re a whizz at mental arithmetic, a calculator might come in handy too.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you firing up the computer and opening a spreadsheet if that’s how you like getting things done. But, if you use a small notebook you can carry it around with you and jot down purchases as you make them.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll need five columns with these headers for the information they’ll contain:

  1. Date: The date the transaction took place. It might be a cash or debit card purchase or a direct debit or standing order. If you run a credit card, make a separate sheet for this, then note down the repayments to that card on this main sheet that’s tallying your main bank account.

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    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  2. Item: What you bought, be it grocery shopping or coffee and cake with friends.
  3. Income: Record where income came from. Salary, for example.
  4. Cost: How much was it?
  5. Balance: At the very top of this column, write your current bank balance from your up-to-date bank statement. Now each time you make a purchase, subtract the amount from the current balance and write the new balance in the column. When you’re recording income, add it to the balance.

You can have a new page every week or create a fresh page at the start of every month. Write your bank balance from the previous month or week at the top of your balance column to get started. Don’t forget to add direct debits or it’s easy to think your running balance is bigger than it is.

 

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Is online learning the future of education?

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The world of education—like so many aspects of life—has completely transformed over the last 20 years. With the emergence of mobile devices, improved connection speeds, and increasingly smart artificial intelligence (AI) applications, the world in 2020 is almost unrecognizable from that back in 2000.

The virtual worlds allowed by computers and technology are increasingly merging with the real world, and are providing a vastly enhanced user experience and considerable advantages to most areas of life. Here are a few reasons why online learning might replace traditional practices.

Technology and education 

Education, too, has seen considerable changes over the last two decades. Where once computers were a rarity in classrooms and lecture halls, these days, laptops and tablets are an everyday part of learning. 

However, it’s the developing world of online learning that holds the most intriguing promise. Purely online courses, such as those provided by https://online.bankstreet.edu/, offer the perfect mix of convenience and affordability that is simply not possible in traditional learning experiences. 

Online learning has proven so successful over recent years that there is convincing evidence to suggest the future of education may move fully online sooner than we think.   

Online education is cheaper than its real-world counterpart

In almost all cases, learning online is cheaper than attending real-world classes—and is always considerably less expensive than one-to-one learning. By structuring lessons online, course designers can think about featuring reusable content that can be used repeatedly to achieve the same goals (for example, pre-recorded tutorials or interactive assignments). These considerable cost savings can then be passed on to the student.

Also, real-world learning comes with an inherent cost overhead—the price of the lecturer’s time, rent and rates for space, utility bills for lighting and heating, etc. In addition, students will also likely incur travel costs to get to college or university. With online learning, everything becomes considerably cheaper.  

There is a vast range of courses available

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Partly because of the reduced overhead—partly because of the diverse nature of the internet itself—there is a far wider range of course subjects available online. As well as online versions of existing courses, there are also programs designed specifically for web-based students—everything from music creation to astrology or quantum physics. If you search hard enough, you’ll likely find the course you’re looking for already exists. 

Online education is flexible

Traditional, fixed lesson times simply can’t compete with the flexibility offered by online learning. For many people, taking further education is a juggling act trying to fit study around existing family, social life, and work responsibilities. With online learning, both students and teachers can schedule lessons at a time that suits both. Furthermore, many classes and assignments are pre-recorded, meaning learners can view them anytime, anywhere. Students are far more likely to engage positively (and learn more) when they can work at a pace and time that suits them. 

Learning online is more immersive and collaborative

Learning online means having access to the internet’s vast library of media and resources including photos, maps, videos, 3D models, Google Earth, etc. Moreover, improved connection speeds and technology can mean students can take part in virtual debates with fellow class members—or work on projects together using collaborative work platforms. 

Online course content is customizable

As most courses are built in digestible modules or sections, students can mix and match the particular skills they want to learn. Moreover, entirely new classes can be constructed that are aimed at specific levels of ability or the individual skills needed for particular vocations. Real-world learning simply can’t compete on the same level in terms of customization. 

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5 Ways To Save Money While Driving That You Can Start Today

As families, we are always looking to save money on daily costs –  mainly so we can put it towards things that are more fun, such as days out and taking family trips together. Driving is usually a significant cost, both when it comes to buying a new car, maintaining it and paying for fuel and wear and tear. The good news is, there are lots of ways to save here and there on the cost of motoring. Some are large savings, others small, but taken together they can add up to a decent amount.

Use A Cashback Card To Buy Fuel

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If fuel is a regular outlay of a set amount for you, then it could be well worth hunting down a cashback credit card. Use the card to purchase fuel but avoid debt by setting a direct debit to pay it off promptly each month. Even though it’s only a small amount, this method can get you something back each time you drive, and over time it really adds up. Some supermarkets also offer loyalty card points when you refuel with them, so you can double up and get even more for your spend.

Assess Your Driving Style

You can learn to drive more economically in order to save fuel. Things like accelerating rapidly then having to come rapidly to a complete stop obviously consume more fuel than more measured driving. Some insurance policies will provide you with a ‘black box’ or sometimes a mobile phone app that monitors your driving style and can give tips on driving more safely and economically.

Shop Around For Car Insurance

One of the biggest money mistakes you can make is staying with the same car insurance provider – it’s one scenario where loyalty definitely doesn’t pay! Always shop around yourself or use price comparison sites to find the best deals, especially if you have more than one vehicle to insure. You will still be able to keep your no claims discount and benefit from introductory savings as well.

Make Sure Your Tyres Are Properly Inflated

It’s a simple fix, and yet it’s something that not many of us remember to do regularly – but keeping your tyres inflated to the correct pressure can really help reduce fuel consumption. You can get a tyre inflator to use at home or go to a garage or petrol station. Even the minimal difference of tyres under-inflated by just 15psi can use six per cent more fuel! That means on a 60 litre tank, you’d get 26 more miles of fuel. So it’s easy to see how that can quickly add up over time.

Find Cheaper Parking

Parking is an often overlooked cost that can also add up. If you’re going on a trip or driving to the airport, try pre-booking parking as that can often be significantly cheaper. Using apps like Parkopedia can also help you to identify much cheaper places to leave your car securely than the most obvious car parks you see driving into a city. 

 

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Three Ways To Fund Your Wanderlust

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Travel is one of life’s luxuries, a way of experiencing new ways of life almost endlessly, and the opportunity to take a holiday somewhere new is always an attractive possibility. While there are some lucky people who have managed to visit every country on the face of the Earth, most of us have barely scratched the surface, and have plenty of destinations left on our bucket list.

The thing about that bucket list is that there are probably some reasons we haven’t already crossed off every place on there. Primary among those reasons is that it costs money to travel, and although you might fancy spending a while experiencing the wonders of Iceland, actually funding that trip is another matter. So if you really want to travel more, there is going to be the question of how you pay for it. The options below are a few potential answers.

Work your way around the world

If you’re relatively footloose and fancy-free, then you can see some of the world by working within the travel industry. While training as a pilot might be a little drastic, you can look for openings as airline cabin crew, which offers the opportunity for layovers in new places – but might limit what you’re able to see and do. Alternatively, you can move from place to place at a more leisurely pace if you know how to find a job quickly wherever you land; bar work, tutoring and construction crews are possible options if you have the right documentation, and allow you to spend longer in each place.

Save towards a target

It’s not always easy to save money, but if you are determined to find your way to a new part of the world there is a lot to be said for having a devoted “travel savings” account. You’ll need to be incredibly disciplined, put aside every penny you can and potentially even sell a few personal possessions to reach your target. It depends how much you want to see a certain place, of course, but if you have a travel itch you are desperate to scratch, you’ll do what you can to move that savings total towards its destination.

Look for every alternative source you can

We humans are so busy that we often don’t realize the range of options that are out there: chances for new experiences, acquaintances and opportunities. Keep turning over stones and you’ll be surprised by what you find; if you ask questions such as “Should I take a TEFL course?” or “What is Debt to Success System?”, you’ll find new income streams (and ways of saving) which can pay for trips abroad. Be active in your pursuit of passive income, because once you have found a way to diversify your income, you’re likely to find some others too.

Seeing more of the world is going to take some financial outlay, but if you make travel a priority you can enjoy the kind of experiences that only true wanderers can. It’s well worth the effort.

 

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How Anyone Can Travel More

We tend to think of traveling as something that we only get to do once in a blue moon. We don’t, after all, have all the time and money in the world, and thus can’t travel whenever we please. However, just because it’s unlikely that you can travel every week, that doesn’t mean that you can’t explore the world more than you currently are. There are ways to increase the frequency of your trips. In this blog, we’ll look at a few useful tips that’ll have you packing your bags with more frequency.

Small Trips Nearby

While you might have grand ambitions to explore places on the other side of the world, if you’re just waiting to visit those places, then you’ll be waiting a long time between trips. Instead, why not look at nearby places to explore? There’ll be more than you realize available to you. While you can take a true staycation and explore your own town, another option is to look at the places that are nearby, and visit them. You might be one or two hours away from a city that you’ve never been to before. And the best thing? These trips only require minimal planning. 

The Money Situation

Sometimes, it’s time that stops us from going away. But at other times, it’s money. We’d all move a lot more freely if it was more affordable. It’s important to remember that there are always ways to ensure your travels don’t impact your finances. The first is to improve the amount of money you have. Most people have access to more cash than they realize. You just need to know how to access it! An IRS debt forgiveness program will reduce the number of expenses you have, and you can also think about asking your employers for a raise. Another method is to reduce the costs of your trips. You can always spend less; you just need to look again at where you’re eating, staying, and doing — and the types of places you’re visiting. There are affordable destinations that are just as good as the expensive options!

Make the Most Of Your Time

Most people go on trips when they have one or two weeks of free time. But they don’t roll around too often, do they? Instead, you can consider making the most of all of your time. For example, if there’s a three-day weekend, then that’s more than enough time to pack your bags and go on a trip. If you can schedule the flights well, then you’ll also find that a weekend is enough time to visit somewhere, especially big cities that are designed to be enjoyed in just a couple of days

Make It a Priority 

Finally, sometimes you have to look at yourself, and make sure that you’re making your travel trips a priority. They will happen from to time on their own, but if you really want to travel more, then you’ll need to force things through. Commit to traveling more, and you will! 

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When Should I Call for Emergency Heating and Cooling Service

The last thing you want is for your HVAC unit to break down in the middle of summer. That’s why preventative maintenance is so important. But even the most well-maintained units can sometimes start acting up.

So when should you call for emergency heating and cooling service? Watts Heating & Cooling has plenty of experience helping people get out of emergency HVAC situations. Here’s when you should call a technician.

Your System Stops Working

It may seem obvious, but you should call for emergency service when you have a malfunctioning system. If your AC stops running on a nice, breezy day, you may think you can open a window and put off calling an emergency technician for another day. But weather conditions fluctuate. While the weather may be nice today, things could start heating up tomorrow. During months of extreme weather, you should call for emergency service as soon as you notice something is wrong with your system.

Your AC Shuts Off Suddenly or Stops Cooling

If your unit turns on but shuts off on its own and doesn’t cool your home properly, it could be short cycling. This is a sign that something’s wrong. If you haven’t cleaned your air filters in quite some time, this could be the source of the problem. Try checking your system’s air filters to see if they’re dirty or clogged with debris. If so, you can change them to see if that fixes the issue.

However, if your filters are clean and the problem persists, then you may be low on refrigerant or have a compressor issue instead. Call your HVAC technician to assess the situation and get your system back up and running.

Your Unit Is Making Noise

Have you noticed that your system is making a strange buzzing or humming sound? If so, it’s a sign that you should call for emergency heating and cooling service as soon as possible.

There are a number of reasons your system could be making these unusual sounds. To narrow down what the cause may be, listen carefully and determine exactly what type of noise is coming from your unit.

For instance, a loud humming noise could be a sign that’s something loose, such as the wiring or unit parts. It could also be caused by circuit breaker overload or a failed condenser fan motor. Since these types of issues can cause further damage to your HVAC system if not addressed in a timely manner, it’s best to call your HVAC technician right away.

If you notice a hissing sound, on the other hand, then your ducts may be leaking. A loud whistle signals that you may have a refrigerant leak or internal pressure buildup. Another noise that’s less disruptive but equally problematic is the sound of dripping. This signifies that you may have a leak. Whatever noise you are hearing, if it sounds unnatural or is highly noticeable, it’s likely an issue that requires prompt attention. Don’t hesitate to call your HVAC technician.

You Smell Something Strange

Just as with strange sounds, unusual odors coming from your system should be treated as a red flag that you have a serious problem. According to the CDC, 51 percent of American households use natural gas to heat their homes. There are many benefits to using natural gas for fuel. However, natural gas poses some serious safety risks if you have a leak. That’s why if you smell a sulfur-like odor in your home, you should shut down your system, go outside, and contact your HVAC technician immediately.

Even if you don’t use natural gas to heat your home, you should still be mindful of any strange odors. For example, if you smell something like burning plastic then it could be an electrical issue with your unit’s motor or wiring. Neither of these is something you should try to fix yourself so it’s best to call for emergency service right away.

Your Energy Bill Is High

While this may not be a “drop everything and call in the middle of the night” type of emergency, if you notice that your energy bills are persistently high, you should call your HVAC technician to diagnose the problem and find a solution.

There are a number of reasons your energy bill may be high. First, you could have a system that has reached the end of its life span and needs to be replaced. On the other hand, if you’ve had your HVAC system installed recently, then you could be using a system that’s incorrectly sized for your home, or it may have been installed improperly.

According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, heating and cooling equipment that is improperly installed will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels. If you suspect that this could be the reason your energy bills are higher than usual, contact a qualified technician to address the problem.

Err on the Side of Caution

These are a few common instances in which it’s a good idea to call for emergency heating and cooling service. However, there may be other types of situations that warrant a call as well.

If you’re uncertain if you need emergency service or not, remember that it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Some HVAC issues can pose a serious threat to the safety of you and your family. Something as simple as an air quality issue can impact your family’s health.

But it’s important you don’t try to fix your system on your own. Many of these situations we discussed require the work of a skilled technician. Fortunately, Watts Heating & Cooling is available around the clock to help you with your HVAC needs. We use the most advanced equipment so that we are can handle any emergency situation that arises.

So when in doubt, give us a call. Watts Heating & Cooling will always be there to respond.

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Caring for a New Kitten: 5 Essential Tips

If you are planning on bringing a kitten into your home for the first time, it is likely that you are excited, but it is natural that you might also feel a bit nervous. While it is true that cats are more independent than dogs, adding a new kitten to your family is not something that should be done on a whim. You need to ensure you have the time and resources to provide a suitable home for a kitten, as well as preparing sensibly for the cat they will become. Here are five essential tips to help you ensure your kitten gets the best start in life. 

  • Get your kitten kit ready
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Your kitten needs equipment and supplies from day one, so you should go shopping before you bring the kitten home. You will need bowls for food and water, a litter tray, scratching post, toys, and a collar and tag. The collar should be adjustable so it can be expanded as your kitten grows. The scratching post and toys will entertain your kitten and prevent them from clawing at your furniture. You should also get a travel box, basket, or crate to bring them home in and for trips to the vet.

You might want to get a cat bed, but most cat owners will tell you that these are rarely used as cats tend to find their own spots in cupboards, under the bed, on the windows sill, etc. If your cat is long-haired, you should invest in a brush and other grooming supplies.

  • Introduce the kitten to resident pets carefully

If you already have an adult cat or a dog, you need to introduce the new arrival with caution. To give them the best possible chance at happy co-habitation, the introduction should be done in stages with neither being forced upon the other. Find out how to introduce a kitten to a resident cat.

  • Kitten-proof the home

Kittens are notorious for getting into mischief, so it is important that you remove as many potential dangers as possible. This includes choking hazards like cords or string or small toys – basically, anything small enough to fit in a kitten’s mouth should be kept out of reach. Lots of human foods (chocolate, coffee, grapes, raisins) as well as plants, such as lilies, are toxic to cats. Electrical wires should be protected and tucked out of reach. Kittens will also climb into whatever they can fit into, so always check the washer/dryer before turning it on. 

  • Take them to the vet

Soon after you get your kitten home, you need to take them to get their pet clinic vaccinations. The vet will check the kitten over to ensure they are in good health and administer their vaccinations. They will need to visit the vet annually for health checks, vaccination boosters, dental care, and neutering/spaying. 

  • Get insurance

It is important to take out insurance which will cover the costs of unexpected or emergency veterinary care should your kitten get into a fight with another cat or dog, catch an illness, develop a life-changing or life-threatening condition, or get hit by a car. The cost of treatment can reach thousands of dollars, so it is well worth getting insurance as soon as you can.

 

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