Category Archives: General

Parents Step Out of Screen Time Comfort Zones

As the ‘new normal’ means the home is increasingly becoming a technological hub for UK families

Children are spending more time online than ever before – and it’s not all down to home-schooling!  UK parents admit they are relying more on digital devices to keep their kids entertained and reveal they have become more lenient with the amount of time their children are spending online!   

According to a new report from Kaspersky, 46% of UK parents said their children have been spending more time online in the last year, and a third (33%) of parents believe their kids are spending more time online in the last few months.  One in five parents said their children are using apps they’ve never used before like Zoom and Class Dojo.

The report reveals 81% of UK households have at least one device always connected to the internet, while more than half (56%) of UK households always have multiple devices connected to the internet.

Despite parents being more lenient about time spent online, parents are not comfortable about stepping out of their ‘digital comfort zone’.  48% of parents worry about the safety of the technology their kids use, and only half have very strict rules about keeping their kids safe online (49%).  27% confessed they don’t know how to keep their children safe online, and 32% agreed their kids are more grumpy after gaming sessions.

Dr. Berta Aznar Martínez, expert in family and child psychology, says:

Families are going through a lot of different changes in their dynamics due to the amount of technology appearing in their lives; this new dimension triggers various changes that are shaping family relationships and require some adjustments. Parents worry about children spending time online and struggle to find a balance between time online and offline. Especially since lockdown, parents fear that their children could be missing out on other activities that are beneficial for their development, such as playing with other kids or doing some sport. Parents are afraid as well of their children becoming somehow addicted to new technologies. Parents’ worries also include those related to the use of social networks or the access kids have to digital spaces that are not appropriate for them. Besides the comfort that security software gives to parents with this regard, all these perceived dangers should be seen as an opportunity to talk with their children and reach consensus; all family members can benefit from communicating openly about all these issues and strengthen bonds among them.’

The following tips have been created to help make sure your devices and personal information remain protected on the Internet:

  1. Take your online privacy seriously and don’t share or permit access to your information with third parties unless absolutely necessary, to minimise exposure of it falling into the wrong hands.
  2. Keep your services and applications up to date by installing the latest patches and updates.  This way, your device remains protected against the latest threats.
  3. Ensure you always check permission settings on the apps you use, to minimise the likelihood of your data being shared or stored by third parties – and beyond – without your knowledge.  You might end up giving consent by default, so it is always worth double checking before you start using an app or service.
  4. There is no substitute for strong and robust passwords.  Use a reliable security solution like Kaspersky Password Manager to generate and secure unique passwords for every account and resist the temptation to re-use the same one over and over again.
  5. To find out if any of the passwords you use to access your online accounts have been compromised, use a tool such as Kaspersky Security Cloud.  Its account check feature allows users to check their accounts for potential data leaks.  If a leak is detected, this will provide information about the categories of data that may be publicly accessible so that the individual affected can take appropriate action.

The full report More Connected Than Ever Before: How We Build Our Digital Comfort Zones, can be viewed here.

 

How to make the most of online education

Most children have now been out of school for months. And while the summer holidays stretch ahead, it’s still unclear what school will look like in September. Many of us have turned to digital teaching to fill the gap — but online classes are a new experience for children, parents and teachers too. If you’re new to the world of online learning, here are six tips to help your kids get the most out of online courses and activities.

1. Make space for learning

If you’re working from home at the moment, you’ve probably already heard this tip. It’s easier to concentrate when you have a clean, quiet space that is devoted to work. This helps to put you into the right mind-set.

However, it’s not always easy to find space, especially in a busy family home. So if you don’t have enough home office space to accommodate everyone, what can you do instead?

The key is to create a learning atmosphere. Experiment with different ways of signalling that this is “school time”. Some children find it easier to focus when they go through the process of putting on school uniform and arranging their school books. Others might prefer visual clues, like setting a clock for the duration of study time, or putting up a sign. In my house, my sister puts a stuffed dinosaur on guard outside her door when she wants to concentrate!

If your child is very active, or likes to learn by doing, then you can try creating a learning space with a warm-up activity. This is when you have a ritual that always signals the start of study time. You could do some deep breathing exercises together or a quick burst of jumping jacks. Younger children might enjoy a “study song” with actions.

Here’s a very simple example, and I apologise in advance because it’s a bit of an earworm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN1Cyr0ZK9M

2. Create your own schedule

Just because children go to school from nine till three, that doesn’t mean they’re sitting at their desks studying all that time. They have breaks. They travel between classrooms. They spend a truly astonishing amount of time getting out their books, sharpening pencils, looking for their coats and squabbling about where to sit.

So you should absolutely not be aiming for a solid 6 hours of learning a day. You also don’t have to stick to standard school hours. If your child is always full of beans in the morning, or likes to read in the evenings, use those natural tendencies.

I spoke to Sarah Jewitt, founder of The Imagination Shed, which offers hands-on courses and online tutoring in literature and creative writing for kids. “Find your own family schedule,” she recommends. “It’s always best to find a way to get on board with your kid, instead of making them hop on board with an arbitrary schedule.” She suggests giving children a choice about when they want to study, so that they feel empowered to learn on their own terms.

3. Mix high and low energy activities

On-screen videos and games have an amazing ability to catch, and hold, children’s attention. But one of the difficulties with online learning is that it doesn’t reflect a normal class.

Over the course of a normal lesson, teachers will try to vary the activities on offer. This is especially true for small children, who can usually concentrate for about 15 minutes before they need to change things up. Back in the classroom, their teacher wouldn’t encourage them to watch a tablet for a few hours. Instead, they’d alternate reading time with outdoor activities, hands-on projects, games and classroom discussion.

The same thing is true for older children and teenagers. Although their attention spans are a bit longer, they still need variety and a mix of high and low energy activities. So they could alternate watching video classes with taking notes, trying practical experiments or building scientific models, getting some exercise between lessons, and explaining what they’ve learnt to someone else.

If this all sounds a bit abstract, try thinking of it in terms of the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Ideally, your child should use every one of those senses over the course of the day — for example, listening to an online class, using their hands for a craft activity, reading a book, and tasting or smelling a science experiment in the kitchen. Don’t worry if you don’t take in all five senses every single day; this is just to get you thinking about how to vary activities and keep your kids interested.

Here’s an amazing list of multi-sensory play ideas, plus some educational science experiments you can do in the kitchen.

4. Avoid screen fatigue

Learning with all five senses is a nice idea; but, in practice, a lot of online learning depends on watching videos and attending video calls. How can you make sure your child is getting the most out of those sessions?

Video classes present several challenges. First of all, there’s no teacher in the room to call your child to attention or keep them on task. Children are also just as vulnerable as adults to “Zoom fatigue”, and they may find it difficult to sit up at a screen for long periods of time.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help. Many children find it easier to listen for long periods if they have something to do with their hands: try giving them a Rubik’s cube, a heap of LEGO bricks, or a pencil and paper. While they are doodling or building away, their minds will still be working on the content of the lesson. Older children and teens will also benefit from this trick. If they don’t like the idea of toys, they can take notes or draw mind maps while they listen.

You can also help children by putting their classes into context. For example, if you want to work on reading skills, choose books which are relevant to the summer holidays, your child’s favourite activities or surroundings. Let them learn about science in the context of helping to cook dinner, or watching wildlife in the park. “Learning is everywhere,” says Sarah. “Children don’t separate work from play” — so every activity is an educational opportunity.

5. Keep going

Once you’ve found a schedule that works for you and your family, try to stick to it. Most young children like to have a routine or be told the plan for the day. What’s more, consistency and repetition are an important part of learning.

We’ve all met a child who likes to watch the same film over and over again, read the same story every night, or sing the same song until it drives you crazy. One reason for this is that they’re learning. Even if you’re sick of Baby Shark, rest assured that your child is getting something valuable out of it.

If you want to encourage your child to remember or use something they’ve learnt, try to encourage this kind of repetition. Ask them to draw a picture about what they’ve read, explain the lesson to you or tell you a story about it. This works for older kids and teens too: challenge them to explain a new idea to you or make an explainer video about it.

6. Take the pressure off

Finally, don’t forget that we are in the summer holidays! You and your children deserve a break. Don’t worry too much about catching up on missed schooltime: everybody’s in the same position, after all.

If you’re spending time together and enjoying lots of different activities, then your child will still be learning new skills and taking on new information. “Children are good at knowing instinctively how to learn,” explains Sarah. “Children want to learn!” So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that the kids will be all right.

Corinna Keefe is a freelance writer and former teacher specializing in education, technology, digital marketing and online media. Discuss this article with her on Twitter.

EMF WELCOMES AUDIENCES BACK FOR SUMMER OUTDOORS!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: Thursday 27 August – Saturday 29 August 6.15pm and 2.00pm (Saturday matinee)

Gnora the Gnome’s Daytime Disco: Monday 31 August 3.00pm

Romeo and Juliet: Monday 31 August 7.00pm

Following the latest Government announcements, the team at the EM Forster Theatre, Tonbridge, are delighted to welcome audiences back in August with some special summer outdoor performances. The performances will take place in the grounds of Tonbridge School and measures have been put in place to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all the performers and audiences, including limiting audience capacity and clustering households and social bubbles.

Local group The Talentz were due to perform their adaptation of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s multi award winning global hit Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the theatre in April. They have been busy rehearsing online during lockdown to create a special socially distanced version and can’t wait to perform in the Library Gardens at the end of August. Tickets for this dazzling show are £18 and £15 concessions and are available through the box office [email protected] or 01732 304241

For the last 3 years environmentally sustainable outdoor theatre company The Handlebards have entertained audiences in Tonbridge with their unique hilarious, energetic and chaotic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. With three of the company’s actors living together in lockdown they quickly adapted repurposing old costumes and props and rehearsing a three-hander version of Romeo and Juliet and a new children’s show in their living room.

Co-Artistic Directors Paul Moss and Tom Dixon said: “We’re excited to get on the road and offer the UK some much needed entertainment. Whilst these shows aren’t our usual 4-hander cyclepowered offer, they will be as irreverent, charming and family-friendly as always. We’re particularly excited to showcase our first ever children’s show for under 10s, Gnora the Gnome’s Daytime Disco, which we co-produced with Green Submarine Theatre. It promises to offer classic disco tunes and gentle fun to help ease your little ones out of lockdown.”

Gnora the gnome, and her brothers Gnorman and Gneville, have all been stuck underground for months. Now that they can get back outdoors, they’re going to have a disco to celebrate – and you’re invited! With smash disco hits and lots of dancing bits, Gnora the Gnome’s Daytime Disco is fun for all the family, so come and join us for a boogie! Tickets £13 for Under 12’s and one free adult ticket with each child, bookable online or through the box office.

Three actors cooped up together during lockdown. Fuelled by cabin fever and with a bookshelf full of Shakespeare, they did what they do best and created an unhinged and bonkers, laugh-out-loud version of Romeo & Juliet.

With music, mayhem and more costume changes than you can shake a spear at, expect the HandleBards usual irreverent, charming and hilarious style to come bursting onto the stage.

Forget the tears and tragedy, pack a picnic and get ready for some socially-distanced, live and wired Shakespeare as you’ve never seen it before. Tickets £18, Under 18’s £10 and Under 10’s Free bookable online or through the box office.

Visit our ‘What’s On’ Page for performance details

Box Office 01732 304241

Book online: www.emftheatre.com

 

The 2020 BITESIZE HEVER FESTIVAL 18th – 30th August 2020

‘The West End in the Garden of England’ a visit to The Bitesize Festival at Hever Castle is an unforgettable experience.

Following the recent change to the government guidelines Hever Festival Theatre are delighted to be opening to the public for live, open-air performances next month.

Having postponed the full 2020 Festival the team have been busy producing an all-new fortnight of festival favourites. Keeping the wellbeing of artists, audiences and staff at the forefront of their work, they have developed a socially distanced programme for everyone to enjoy. To create this intimate, ‘bitesize’ season the festival are working with a small number of their favourite artists on smaller shows (with no less bite!), on shorter performances without intervals and with a smaller audience capacity.

As well as the ever-popular Last Night of the Hever Proms (Sun 30 Aug) and the Ronnie Scott’s Quartet (Sat 22 Aug), The Simon and Garfunkel Story have created a new ’unplugged’ performance just for the festival (Sat 29 Aug). Charles Court Opera return with a celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan (Sun 23 Aug) and the Kent based Night Owls Productions bring The Dolly Parton Story (Fri 28 Aug). For Shakespeare lovers the extremely energetic, charmingly chaotic and environmentally sustainable HandleBards perform Romeo and Juliet (Tues 18 Aug) and the ingeniously imaginative The Three Inch Fools play A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tues 25 Aug). Hever Festival’s first ever Bitesize Stand-Up Comedy Club features Javier Jarquin and Gary Tro and is compered by award winning stand up, and ‘Live at the Apollo’ star Laura Lexx (Fri 21 Aug). For families the fabulous Illyria return with The Wind In the Willows, amongst the trees on Anne Boleyn’s Walk (Wed 26 Aug).

‘It has come as a happy surprise to us all that we are able to hold events this year and we can’t wait to share the 2020 Bitesize Festival. The theatre tent is not available, so we have the joy of performing with a castle view and are delighted to be returning to the loggia. As many of our audience members will know the loggia was the home of the festival theatre for many years, it’s good to be back.’ Ailsa Molyneux Festival Director

Ticket are available now at www.heverfestival.co.uk. Prices reflect the fact that performances are not undercover with all tickets £20 and family shows £12.50. Bring your own cushions, blankets, chairs. Picnics are, as ever, strongly encouraged!

BITESIZE! 18-30 Aug 2020

 

                                        Romeo and Juliet – Tuesday 18th August, 8pm                                       

Bitesize Stand-Up Comedy Club – Friday 21st August, 8pm

The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars – Saturday 22nd August, 8pm

A Gilbert and Sullivan Evening – Sunday 23rd August, 8pm     

                     A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Tuesday 25th August, 8pm                    

The Wind in the Willows, Wednesday 26th August, 2pm & 4pm

                The Dolly Parton Story – Friday 28th August, 8pm                  

                   The Simon and Garfunkel Story – Saturday 29th August, 8pm                   

 Bitesize Last Night of the Hever Proms, Sunday 30th August, 8pm

BOOK ONLINE – WWW.HEVERFESTIVAL.CO.UK

Classroom News
New Beginnings
By Jane Chappell

The start of this impending academic year will be like no other. As a teacher, the start of any
new term sees me giddy with a mix of excitement and nerves; this year, I expect those
feelings will be heightened for us all – teachers, parents and children alike. Many parents will
be glad to see the back of ‘learning from home’, but I imagine most will reflect and be
thankful for the opportunity they had to experience it. Many of us have been gifted with a
fascinating insight to the complexities of the curriculum and how much support our children
need to get through it unscathed. Regardless of how we feel, one thing is for sure – we all
learned a lot! Lockdown or no lockdown, “Parents are the first and most enduring educators
of their children.” *(QCA Early Learning Goals) It is clear then, we will still be pivotal in our children’s educational development when lockdown is a dim and distant memory. What a relief it will be though to take on the role of supporting actor once again, instead of lead, director, producer, head of props and cleaner rolled into one!

I trained as a teacher after I’d had my children, and (in the process) I learned so many things I wish I had known before – it would have made my life so much easier! I remember, when I trained, I was knocked sideways by the depth and breadth of the curriculum. I recall my qualified colleagues reeling from a recent curriculum overhaul; it was fair to say the new curriculum had shaken the profession to its core. They were grappling with an influx of new targets and assessment criteria. I was struggling with the lot – old and new. If I was
struggling, I wondered what it must have been like for the children… No wonder so many of them were stressed and overwhelmed! How could we expect parents to support this learning? I remember being acutely aware of a chasm that was opening up between the school desk and the kitchen table. Those feelings never left me, and (a few years ago) they inspired me to write a book – Staffroom Secrets: a teacher’s guide to your child’s primary education. I was compelled to share the secrets I’d discovered and go some way
towards closing that scary, ever widening chasm. *(QCA Early Learning Goals)

Reflections…
Reflecting on the early days of my training, I thought about how parents must be feeling in
lockdown: overwhelmed and drowning in a sea of unfamiliar language and teaching
techniques. Impossible demands bombarding them from all directions, not enough hours in
the day, and no end in sight. I remember all those feelings, all too well! I know from friends
and family that many are feeling pressure to perform well as teachers and achieve good
results despite the obvious lack of preparation, training, resources or time! For some,
children are returning to school, but many will continue to juggle family life, work and
‘teaching’ for the foreseeable future. It’s no surprise many parents find themselves drowning
in a perfect storm!

I wondered what I’d say to myself if I could go back in time. With the benefit of hindsight,
what advice would I give to myself when I was struggling to weather my little storm, global
pandemic aside! Perhaps surprisingly, here’s what I settled on: celebrate not knowing stuff!
It’s an absolute gift. Not knowing the answer is a superpower! To genuinely share learning
something new with a child is magical. When we learn with children, with a smile and
curiosity, they learn to do the same. When they see us struggle to get our heads around
something but persevere with an upbeat approach, they’ll learn to do just that in the
future. When they see that we are enthusiastic, resilient learners, they become resilient
learners too, and they’ll be mentally healthier for our efforts… If we don’t judge and shame
ourselves because we are struggling with a new concept, they’ll learn not to judge and label
themselves or limit their potential. If we demonstrate that learning is part and parcel of life,
something adults and children alike have in common, we are teaching them so much more
than A,B,C… We are teaching them to be confident, curious, life-long learners who don’t
doubt their ability but strive to discover the world around them. What a gift that is…not
knowing is a blessing.

If your children are really little or you already know about the subjunctive, adverbials,
determiners, unit fractions, Singapore bar method, quotients, the Tudors, Dickens and wavecut platforms etc., I heartily recommend that sometimes you pretend not to know… I can tell you from experience, it works a treat!

My second piece of advise to myself would be to wait… Be patient and wait for the right
moment to teach the tricky stuff. Don’t force anything on a Friday afternoon! Children only
learn when they are ready to. This ‘lockdown’ has been very strange for us all. Children
regress when they feel unsettled; they can’t learn when they are in fight, flight, freeze mode,
so you might as well just wait. Creating the right environment in which children feel safe to
learn and (more importantly) fail is crucial to their progress.

Failing, struggling, grappling with concepts and making mistakes is what learning is – all the rest is demonstrating what is already known! If workbooks, printed sheets and formal ‘learning time’ at the table causes tension, simply step away. You will achieve nothing if you carry on regardless – except maybe a headache. I had to wait for the children in my class to get used to me, to get comfortable with me and trust me before they could really kick into learning. When they did – they blew my socks off! I did my utmost to make learning what I firmly believe it should be: child’s play. I’d advise everyone to do the same. Play as much as possible… The playful stuff is what they remember, not the worksheets! My book is full of playful ideas. It may say teacher on my C.V but I reckon high-end children’s entertainer is a more fitting description! Teaching is not about grilling children or hothousing. On the contrary, it’s about nurturing and supporting progress (and curiosity) through play and the use of helpful language. At home, our place of sanctuary, we need to focus on the importance of short, quality, playful interactions to support learning. Home is not school. Lockdown and learning from home isn’t homeschooling…all of this has been bonkers! Be kind to yourself
and your children and try to muddle through in as playful a way as possible.

I wish you all well on your return to school – whenever that  may be. I imagine many of us will have new shoes and haircuts, tray labels and pencils to look forward to. We’ll all have grown too – the children, upwards; the teachers, outwards! Oh, the curse of the lockdown fridge!

Staffroom Secrets: a teacher’s guide to your child’s primary education is available
from Amazon or direct from staffroomsecrets.co.uk, where you can use the 15%
discount code: grapevine until the 7th September.

The Lockdown Doorstep Portrait Project
by Lucy McKenzie Photography
Supporting Widowed and Young

It has been, and continues to be, an unprecedentedly strange time! Lockdown has challenged us all in many different ways: we will never be quite so complacent about buying toilet rolls; the happy birthday song will forever be associated with hand washing; we’ll appreciate teachers, postal workers, rubbish collectors, shop workers and, of course, NHS workers so much more; and we will never again take a hug for granted.

All being well, we will never experience anything quite like this again. It will be something that we reminisce about when we’re older and that our grandchildren will struggle to believe… “You mean you didn’t have to go to school for months?!”

To mark this unique moment in time (and as possible proof to those future disbelieving grandchildren!), Lucy from Lucy McKenzie Photography is offering families the opportunity to enjoy a Doorstep Portrait Photoshoot: quite literally, a photoshoot on your doorstep. From the compulsory 2 metres away, she will capture photographs of you and your family.

You can use it as a (currently very rare) opportunity to dress up or you can fully embrace lockdown with photos in your pyjamas; the furry members of your household can be included; or your beautifully drawn rainbow pictures… it’s entirely up to you!

There is no fee for the session or for the images, which will – in line with the current climate – be delivered electronically. Instead, professional photographer Lucy is asking for a donation to the nationwide bereavement charity, Widowed and Young (WAY).

As we are all well aware, Covid-19 is indiscriminate, and there will be many people who have suddenly and unexpectedly lost their partners, and in a time when we cannot put our arms around each other. WAY is supporting those who need them with information online, local support groups and a 24 hour helpline.

This charity has personal significance for Lucy, who turned to WAY after her husband died in a motorcycle racing accident, when she was just 32. Their baby daughter was 6 months old at the time.

Lucy has seen first-hand how hard it is for most of us to talk about bereavement: as a community we just don’t know how to approach it, what to say, what not to say, how to help and, our fear of doing the wrong thing often renders us too fearful to do anything at all.

WAY is a peer-to-peer support group operating within a network of volunteers who have been bereaved at a young age themselves, so they understand exactly what other members are going through.

When she first met another local WAY member, Lucy said that sharing the emotions, the experiences and the grief together was very powerful: “we didn’t have to explain anything to one another as we had a common ground, and it made me realise how exhausted I was trying to hold so much inside. We shared tears and concerns about being both mum and dad to our young children, but also ideas and ambitions: encouraging each other to explore what was possible within the new perimeters of our lives.” The result of Lucy’s explorations became her dream business photographing babies and families: Lucy McKenzie Photography.

Lucy hopes to help families celebrate the positive part of the lockdown experience with her doorstep portrait sessions. “It seems right that I support WAY by doing the very thing WAY gave me the strength to achieve” she concluded.

If you would like to be a part of the Lockdown Doorstep Portrait Project, and help WAY volunteers support young widows, widowers and their children across the country, then visit www.lucymckenziephotography.com or Lucy McKenzie Photography on Facebook

Donations to WAY can be made via the Just Giving page: 

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lucy-mckenzie-photography

If you have lost a partner and are under the age of 51, please visit WAY for further information about how they could help support you. www.widowedandyoung.org.uk

“Estate agents – Go back to the office and sell homes!” the Government said!

Well it came as a big surprise on the Tuesday evening but because we are a family business we were able to respond and react extremely quickly.

The same evening, I went to the office to make sure the heating was on (our office is north facing so very cool) and prepared the office for working Covid-19 safe, implementing the guidelines for clients and staff.

So, at 08:30 Wednesday morning, while other more corporate companies were having meetings about how and when they could/would open, talking to staff, moving desks etc. We were in the office ready and raring to go!

As an owner run independent we are always able to move fast with decision making, which can often keep us way ahead of our competitors.

With respect of the property market going forward — We can say with great conviction that is definitely busy with enquiries on most properties, there are more coming on and more going under offer. That’s the here and now. Going forward – as a straight-forward and genuine agent, all I can say is – who knows!? We are in uncharted waters.

So, all we can do is make hay while the sun shines! We are ready and very keen to sell homes of all sizes in all areas and are currently taking on new members of the team to help with this.

Please contact us at [email protected] or visit www.kmjproperty.co.uk

David Johnson
Managing Director
KMJ Property

Uh Oh Milo! Picture Books by Kate Wogan

We’re thrilled to have the first three books in this fantastic series to give to one lucky winner!  To be in with a chance of winning, visit our Competitions Page for more information.

As two brand new picture books in the Uh Oh Milo! series launch we caught up with author, Kate Wogan, to find out more about her motivation for writing the books. Kate told us:

“My books are all based on my children and our experiences together. They are both older now and pretend they find it a bit embarrassing, but I know they are proud of the books. Milo and Mary are based on them but their grannies, my own wonderful Mum and my Mother-in-law are far more glamourous than the granny in the books.

Milo and Mary’s granny is actually based on my mother’s mum, my Granny. She was quietly awesome and had a way of making everything seem magical and fun, even on the dullest of days. I don’t remember her ever being flustered or cross.

Each book features a different Mischief Maker, based on a mythological creature, who gives Milo, Mary and Granny a different childhood challenge to tackle. I had great fun thinking these up and was inspired by a fairy stories book I’ve had since I was a little girl.

The first three books explore table manners, politeness and playing well together – three things I’m sure most parents can relate to and might need a light-hearted bit of help with too.

Finally, I think it’s really important to bring fun into stories for pre-schoolers, so you’ll see burps and pants and more in the series. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them and seeing them come to life!”

For more information on Kate and the Uh Oh Milo series of books you can visit www.uhohmilo.com

LOCAL AUTHOR SCOOPS TWO BOOK AWARDS FOR DEBUT CHILDREN’S NOVEL

Local Sevenoaks children’s author Jemma Hatt has won two book awards this week for her debut novel.

The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle was announced as the winner of the 2020 Children’s Selfies Award during an online ceremony on 30th March, with a prize of £1000. The judging panel was made up of Jill Coleman, director of children’s books at BookTrust, author Ken Wilson-Max, and Moon Lane Ink CIC bookseller Meera Ghanshamdas.

Additionally, The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle won the top prize Gold Award in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, in the books for ages 9-12 category. The award was judged by children across six primary and secondary schools and was announced on 1st April.

The first book in The Adventurers Series follows cousins Lara and Rufus, their Border collie Barney and friend Tom in a hunt for ancient Egyptian treasure hidden in Cornwall’s Kexley Castle.

“It’s an absolute honour to win two very different awards,” said Jemma, “one judged by industry professionals and the other by young readers. Publishing The Adventurers Series has been one of the greatest adventures of my life so far and it has been wonderful to receive such amazing recognition and support. I’m also grateful to the many local children who have read my books!”

“I’m very fortunate to have worked with my cover designer Andrew Smith who has illustrated beautiful covers for all three books in the series so far, and with my editor Amanda Horan who helps polish my story ideas into the best that they can be.”

Since becoming a published author, Jemma has run local writing workshops for children, as well as holding a book signing event at WHSmith in Bluewater. The Adventurers and the Cursed Castle and its sequel The Adventurers and the Temple of Treasure are available now. The third instalment in the series, The Adventurers and the City of Secrets, will be released on 7th April.

Jemma’s website: www.jemmahatt.com
Facebook: @jemmahattauthor
Twitter: @jemmahatt
Instagram: @jemmahatt

Tigeropolis, by R. D. Dikstra, is an acclaimed series of fun books for children, following the adventures of a family of vegetarian tigers running a vast wildlife reserve in the foothills of the Himalayas.  Children can now join the adventure in the new tigeropolis app game!

The game is available for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and is free on the App store with a recommended age of 4+ years.  The game takes about 20-30 minutes to play through, during which players have to help tiger cub Bittu get the word out that “the tigers are back in Tigeropolis!”

There is only one way to get the news out to the waiting world.  Bittu has to get some tourists to take a picture of him at a famous viewpoint.

Sounds simple … but the game starts with Bittu at home, snug in the family cave with his mum and sister.  He needs to get out, learn to roar, find out where the tourists are, have a scheme to get them to follow his tracks, oh and and make sure they have a camera ready to take that all important picture (they don’t).

For more information have a look here on youtube, and dont’ forget to visit our Competitions Page for your chance to win a signed copy of the latest book and a tigeropolis activity pack! (Closing Date midnight on the 30th April 2020 – T&Cs apply)