Talking to your child about school

The Heads Together organisation, which is backed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has published its top 10 tips for talking with your child. The help sheet had been drawn up in partnership with charities Young Minds, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and Place2Be, and is designed to encourage your child to share their worries and concerns with you. The full article can be found at

Here are the tips:

PREPARE FIRST: pick the right time and place and get into the right frame of mind
to have these important conversations.

* Asking questions such as Q&A competitions encourages children to talk: Colours of the rainbow? Best bits of your day? Name five birds? Most difficult part of today?

* Share your own stories to show that you have had similar feelings.Make it a two-way conversation.

* Tell stories by each writing a letter/email about yourselves to a relative or friend. Be positive about your child’s suggestions: ‘Yes tell them that, it was so funny!’

* Focus on making the cake…and chat. Walk the dog…and chat. A focus on something else can take the pressure off hard conversations.

* Get things into perspective. Explore together the lives of children of different generations or countries. What changes have other children faced?

* Give them space to question and time to absorb information.Children may not open up straight away, so check in with them from time to time.

* Imagine yourself in their shoes. Let your support be guided by what they might be feeling and thinking.

* Be a role model. Showing how you cope with difficult feelings will help your child cope themselves.

* Have a supporting cast. Parenting can be stressful, so have someone you can turn to for support.

* Remember nobody is perfect and we all get upset or angry sometimes. Tough times can help us develop the skills and resilience that will last a lifetime.


This week you will find a leaflet for parents entitled ‘Helping your child to develop good language and communication skills’ in your child’s bag. We have created this leaflet as a source of strategies, games and advice which could be of benefit to ALL children in developing listening and attention skills, a wider vocabulary and in building good social skills.

Language and communication skills are a vital part of children’s development. They influence their learning and social development including relationships with their peers and adults. Sometimes the difficulties children have with aspects of language are not obvious and can be mistakenly put down to learning difficulties or poor behaviour.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this leaflet or your child’s specific communication skills.
Jeannie Newhouse 01732 453944 or [email protected]

Download (DOCX, 40MB)

Please see below two events for parents of children with ASD/Asperger’s (either with a diagnosis or where this is pending):

Supporting Communication – some ideas and examples
Sheryl Bunyard (Assistant Headteacher & Director of Inclusion at Ifield School) will talk about some ideas and examples of different ways to support communication, including the use of technology.
When: Wednesday 18th May at 6.45pm to 8.45pm.
Where: North Kent College, Oakfield Lane, Dartford, DA1 2JT
To book: Contact Lois Spearing at: [email protected]

This is part of a series of evening talks arranged by the Multi-Agency Autism Group to help parents, families, carers and professionals learn more about autism and to gain confidence in managing children in their care.

ASD Parent Drop-in for Sevenoaks
Please come and talk with experts in confidence or just have a chat with other parents.
When: Wednesday 8th June from 1.00 to 3.00 (come for all or part of this time).
Where: Hope Church, Mill Lane Centre, 128 Seal Road, Sevenoaks, TN14 5AX
To book: Just turn up!

Dyslexia awareness

If you would like to find out more about dyslexia or literacy difficulties, Dyslexia Action is running a drop-in session on Wednesday 27th April from 10 am to 1 pm in Tonbridge. Specialists will be available to answer your questions and talk about how children (and adults) with literacy difficulties can be supported. There is no need to book and the advice is free.

Where: Tonbridge Learning Centre, First Floor, Bridge House, 97-101 High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1DP.
When: Wednesday 27th April 10 am to 1 pm.

For further information:
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01732 352762

The importance of developing early language skills

Some of you may have read recently about research which shows that children with poor language skills at age five are significantly more likely to struggle with maths and literacy at age 11. Conducted by the Institute of Education on behalf of Save the Children, the study analyses progress data from 5,000 children and showed that 23% of children who struggled with language at age five did not reach expected levels in SATs in literacy at age 11, and 21% didn’t achieved the expected grade in maths.

The study indicates that children who start school without being able to tell a short story, express feelings and communicate easily with a wide range of adults will be strongly disadvantaged, regardless of family background.

I am currently compiling some information to show how you can support your child with their language development at home, including improving attention and listening skills, broadening vocabulary and cultivating better social communication. This information will be available on this site as well as in the form of a leaflet.

Wellbeing and mental health

Last week I took part in training on how to use the new Wellbeing Toolkit for schools. This is a comprehensive pack looking at developing the wellbeing and mental health of a whole school community as well as providing assessment, support and interventions for those children who may have specific, or more complex, difficulties. Together with our Parental Support Advisor/Play Therapist, Jane Smith, who has been attending Mindfulness training, we will be introducing these concepts to the whole staff in the next few weeks. More information will appear on the website shortly with a view to running some parent workshops later this year. Please could you let me know if there is anything you would particularly like information about?

Independent advice service for parents

If you have a child with special educational needs or disabilities and would like some independent support or advice you can contact Information Advice and Support Kent (IASK). The service offers confidential and impartial advice and information and could be helpful in the following ways:
• give you time to discuss issues and explore your options
• help you put across your views and concerns
• give you advice about SEN support in schools
• provide advice about education law
• support you during the Educational Health and Care needs assessment process
• help you write letters and complete forms
• help support you at meetings
• provide support with appeals
• explain disagreement resolution processes
• help to manage mediation
• provide information about other agencies
You can contact IASK by phone on 03000 41300 or by email on [email protected]
Leaflets containing more details about this service are available in school.

What is new in 2016?

We’ve hit the ground running this week with all interventions starting from the first day of term!

In 2016 we will be involved in a number of special projects or research initiatives. These include co-leading research into different ways of using pupil premium funding to support learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. Details of this will shortly be available under the pupil premium section.

The eighteen-month Language for Learning project (we were one of six schools selected to take part in this area) will soon be coming to an end. This has involved training staff and developing awareness and resources to support all pupils in developing attention, processing instructions, vocabulary and social communication skills. As an extension of this we will now be working towards the Balance for Schools award, part of which will involve helping parents to know how they can support their children in developing these skills. More information will follow later this month.

Just arrived! A range of books specially developed for older readers with a slightly lower reading age. These books are well known titles from good authors but have been adapted to be more accessible for children with reading difficulties such as dyslexia.