What skills should your child ideally have when starting school?

Starting school is a big event for the whole family, when your little one becomes a little bit more independent. 

Whilst nurseries and childminders do a lot of work with ‘rising 5s’, there’s also plenty you can do to help ensure your child has the necessary skills for their first day at school. 

Take a look at the questions below. If you can answer ‘yes’ to most of the questions and ‘sometimes’ for the rest, your child should do just fine!

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Computershare named in Top 30 Employers for Working Families

Computershare named in Top 30 Employers for Working Families

We’ve sponsored the Employers for Working Families Benchmark and Award since 2011. It’s something very important to us, given that providing childcare vouchers to help families with their childcare costs is one of our most popular salary sacrifice schemes, and we strongly believe in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. So we felt that it was about time we benchmarked ourselves against other companies, and we’re delighted to have been awarded a place in the Top 30 Employers for Working Families.

How does it work?

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CVS makes a sporty delivery!

It has been an amazing year for sport in the UK, creating a fantastic opportunity for families to get more active and try out new things together. To mark the occasion, at CVS we launched our very own ‘Summer of Sport’ campaign and we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response it has received.

As part of the campaign we have been running a special competition on our Facebook page, giving families the chance to win £250 worth of sporting equipment (enough to keep even the most active child entertained for some time!).

We’re delighted to announce that we now have our lucky winners.

In the under-3s category it was water baby Florence from Long Eaton in Nottingham.

CVS sales director Iain Williamson dropped by to deliver the huge pile of toys and equipment, which was an early birthday present for the toddler who will be two at the end of October.

Mum Kate opted for the swimming-related prize package after saying how much Florence loves the water and enjoys her weekly water baby class. She has even more reason to want to stay in the pool now, after receiving everything from a ride-on whale toy, to a pool noodle, swim jacket and socks, poncho and special UV suit.

The Batchelor family from Rugby were the lucky recipients of the prize in the 3-16 years old category.

Joe, aged 7, and Katie, aged 6, watched excitedly as their prize arrived, containing everything from a football to a swing ball set, a bike, pogo stick, racket and balls, and a scooter. We just couldn’t hold them back from getting stuck in to all the toys straight away.

Thanks to everyone who entered and remember to check back in with our Facebook page regularly for more fun competitions, play ideas, inspiration and information. www.facebook.com/computersharevoucherservices

The benefits of baby massage

Relaxation is really important for mum, dad and baby and using baby massage techniques is one way you can promote this, while also being a chance for some quality bonding time together. According to the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), the benefits of baby massage include helping the long-term emotional health of a child, the development of body awareness and coordination, reducing post-natal depression and improving mother/baby relationships.

There are also lots of other benefits, from helping circulation, digestive and nervous systems, to stimulating growth hormones. It can also help manage and relieve the symptoms of teething, colic and colds.

And it’s not just for mums – dads may find introducing a regular massage routine helps them feel closer to baby, especially if they are spending time away at work.

So what is it?

Baby massage involves the gentle and rhythmic stroking of a baby, generally moving from the legs to the arms, hands and body. It can also include the gentle manipulation of joints, such as fingers and ankles. It is done with the hands and you may choose to use baby moisturiser or similar to help your hands glide smoothly.

What do parents say

Before I had my own children I taught the IAIM technique of baby massage to new parents. Along with all the other positive outcomes it is a great tool to enable parent and baby to communicate, by taking time out from a busy day to concentrate on what he or she is trying to tell you.

Babies are born ready and very willing to communicate as a survival skill, but signs can get lost or misinterpreted. Dads can also often feel at a loss when mum is breast feeding, so this gives them a specific task and makes them able to ‘do’ something.

In my own family the massage time has had importance with each successive child, as protected one-to-one time with each specific child. We have adapted the moves as they have got older and they also do it to each other now, which is lovely.

Want to find out more

Check out what baby massage clinics are taking place in your area. A good place to start is to contact your doctor’s office or to ask your health visitor.

Guest blog provided by Beverley Squire, a health visitor and mother of three from Devon

A tall tale for one little bookworm!

Earlier this year we launched a special ‘Let’s Get Kids Reading’ campaign, designed to help parents motivate and inspire their children to read.

We had a fantastic response from families, especially to a competition we ran on our interactive Facebook page.

Hundreds of parents entered and one little bookworm from Hampshire is now going to be kept very busy, after receiving a special delivery of his height in books!

5-year-old Jake was delighted when the pile of over 200 children’s books arrived, after mum Jeni Wareing was named the winner of our competition.

The precious cargo of books was personally delivered to Jake by CVS Sales Director Iain Williamson and team member Lucy Osbaldeston, who coordinated the campaign.

Jake was delighted with his prize and mum Jeni remarked: “They should keep him going for a while! Jake just loves reading and now our only problem is going to be choosing which book to read next!”

From astronomy and pirates to Roald Dahl classics, The Gruffalo and even Spider Man, when stacked up the diverse pile of reading books reaches just over a metre in height.

Congratulations Jake and well done Jeni! And don’t worry, if you weren’t the lucky winner this time around remember to keep checking our Facebook page, as we’ll be running another competition soon.

If you haven’t visited us on Facebook yet, we’d love you to stop by and say hello. You’ll find us here: www.facebook.com/computersharevoucherservices

An award for Vicki as pupils benefit from ‘reading buddy’ scheme

An employee at Computershare has been honoured with a special award in recognition of her dedication and efforts in helping local primary school children improve their reading skills. Vicki has been managing our Computershare Reading Buddy scheme, which sees employees volunteering to visit local primary schools for half an hour each week to listen to pupils reading.

Since becoming the reading buddy coordinator in 2010, Vicki has taken the scheme from strength to strength and has helped to more than triple the number of volunteers taking part.

The reading buddy initiative is part of a series of structured volunteering opportunities run by a charity called Ablaze. Last year over 800 volunteers donated more than 21,000 hours, impacting over 4,500 young people and helping to motivate children to develop an enjoyment of reading independently.

Ablaze has been so impressed by Vicki’s efforts that they have honoured her with a special award, which she received at a recent ceremony attended by charity representatives, volunteers, business leaders and young people from across the region.

“I think the buddy scheme is a fantastic project and I was delighted to get involved with it,” said Vicki. “The feedback from volunteers and the schools is amazing and we hope to grow our bank of volunteers even further this year, so we can help even more pupils with their reading.”

Here are some of the fantastic comments we have received from the schools:

Miss Emma Drew, head teacher at Fairfurlong Primary School, said: “Well done Vicki! We have always been really pleased with the support provided for us by the Computershare volunteers.  Most of the children we select for support are children who are below the correct levels for their age.

“Through the support of Computershare volunteers, the children learn the importance of practising their reading with an adult, get some "special" time with an adult that is about them, and make progress with their reading. Just 30 minutes a week does have a massive impact for the children at our school.”

Mark Lacey, head teacher at Parson Street Primary School, said: “We really value our partnership with Computershare. We are working hard with our whole school community to raise standards of literacy for our children and the fact that a local business like Computershare is willing to work with us in this endeavour is fantastic. We are so pleased to welcome volunteers here every week - they really make a difference!”

Tony Halloran, head teacher at St Pius X Primary School, said: “The contribution of Computershare reading volunteers to our school is invaluable. They help us to support children who would not normally read with an adult who is not a member of school staff. The children have built strong working relationships and friendship with 'their' volunteer (and they really are possessive about volunteers) and they are really appreciative of the time that is given.  Without the volunteers some of our children would not share or build a love of reading. Long may they come forward.”

Well done to Vicki and all our volunteers!