The Invisible Face Of Mental health

Yes you are strong, yes you are resilient and you’re so capable of overcoming anything which life throws at you. But you’re also human. It’s ok to say, I’m not ok! It’s ok to scream “I need help”. I have suffered with anxiety, I battled with depression! I’m living proof that you can overcome it! There are days when getting out of bed is a struggle.. communicating your feelings seems pointless. There are days when putting a brave face on for your children or the world becomes to draining.

You have tried tirelessly to keep it to yourself because the stigma attached to mental health is both ignorant and so far from the truth. Enough is enough, it’s time for us to support each other through these chapters of our lives, it’s time to talk. Not only have I battled my own demons I have been on the receiving end of some one close taking their own life because they couldn’t see the way out of the storm. This will NOT be you! We are here for you, we care about and we LOVE you. Please check on your close ones. Because the truth is, everyone is going through something. “To the women of the world”

So last week as part of my mental health and emotional development series I focussed on developmental disabilities. “Walk a mile in my little shoes”. This week my focus is on mental health in the context of depression and suicide. There are an abundance of mental health illnesses, however I have chosen to focus on these two elements as I hold them extremely close to my heart.

The invisible face of mental health

She was 5’4 with the biggest brown eyes and the most beautiful smile. Always full of wisdom and inspirational words, the epitome of grace. She had a vision for her future, one which others couldn’t understand because it was ahead of her years. She was 18 years old with a partner and an amazing future ahead of her. When I looked at her, mental health wasn’t something I associated with her. Because the truth is, sometimes mental health is invisible.

Our final conversation

We both commenced a new chapter in our lives, university. We giggled and joked about all the things we would get up to at freshers week. We spoke about that pair of shoes she really wanted and as usual I talked her into getting them “treat yourself you deserve it”. We spoke about our future aspirations and what we hoped the next 5 years would look like. I told her I was overwhelmed with this transition to adult life and as always she comforted me with her words of wisdom.. Our last conversation was so positive and left me with a warm heart!

The call that revealed the invisible truth

Receiving that call to say my cousin had passed away was one thing, but to be told that she took her own life was something I found so difficult to comprehend “No not my cousin, she was happy!! she told me”. My hand released the phone and my body felt weak, as though I was no longer in control! I waited patiently to wake up from this nightmare, I called her number, I checked her Facebook.. I hoped that the “RIP Angel” comments on her page were just some sick jokes that we would all look back on and laugh at one day. They were real, it was all real! I endlessly rationalised with myself, “it wasn’t your fault, there’s nothing you could have done P”. Guilt was my enemy.. like a whispering voice telling echoing “you could have saved her”.

The 7 stages of grief

No-one can prepare for the death of a loved one, however I can only describe Suicide as a “death like no other”. It often leaves families feeling heartbroken, confused and guilty. Although it happened in 2010 I still don’t have the answers or closure that I need to move on.. The re occurring questions will stay with me until we meet again.

It is unfortunate that societies perception of suicide is often very negative and the stigma attached often leaves the family members battling to justify the actions of their loved ones while seeking answers themselves. Many people have their opinions and thoughts on the topic of suicide, however I feel that many people failed to delve into the Mental health aspect of it. Research suggests that’s 90% of people who die by Suicide have a psychological disorder. Now I’m not saying that every single case of suicide is linked to depression, however in these particular circumstances this was the case. So before you describe suicide as “selfish” or ask “why they didn’t get help” please please please do your research!

What people don’t tell, you is that when you are a family member of some-one who has committed suicide you then become a survivor. With this title comes an abundance of support and help. Please utilise this as you will need it. You’re not alone, you do not have to isolate yourself.

What can WE do

If you feel that some one close to you may be feeling Suicidal:

  • Please use the helpful contacts I have provided below.
  • Take warning signs seriously. Please evaluate the immediate danger. If you require help please call 999 if in the UK.
  • Do not keep it a secret, please seek help from a trained professional who can direct you urgently in regards to next steps.
  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Encourage them to speak about how they’re feeling.
  • Ask open ended questions to ensure you’re reducing accurate information.
  • Please look after yourself, being in such a situation can be emotionally draining.

5 reasons why we should be kind to others

  1. What glistens isn’t always gold, Just because you see some one smile everyday it does not mean they’re happy. Be kind because your gesture could be what it takes to get them through the day.
  2. What does a person with mental health even look like? There isn’t a generic face. So be kind because your bad day could be amazing in comparison to that person sitting next to you on the train.
  3. Being kind to others actually makes us happier. Let’s be real, we’ve all done something kind that has made us feel happy inside, it’s a natural human instinct. It costs nothing to be kind.
  4. Being kind to others will inevitably open up any opportunities and possibilities for social interaction and collaboration.
  5. Kindness is often reciprocated, if you’re kind to others then they more likely to want to help and support you in your time of need.

UK based Helplines

NHS Choices – Suicide

Samaritans

Mind

ChildLine

YoungMinds

Papyrus

End note: My intention was for this to be short and sweet. Through this post I endeavoured to raise awareness regarding the invisible face of mental health. We aren’t always aware of the journey people are travelling. Behind every face we pass on our daily travels holds a story. Sometimes this story is one which is coming to an end due to pain, struggle and the inability to continue with life.. Please be kind to others, you could be that very influence that encourages a story to manage the next page.

With love from P ❤️

 

Walk A Mile In My Little Shoes

DISCLAIMER: This post may make you cry!!

As you’re aware, last week my blog post was focused on mental health and emotional development. So for two further weeks my aim is to raise awareness on both topics. This week my focus is developmental disabilities. I am featuring 4 amazing and incredibly courageous mothers and their sons to help others step into the shoes of their children who’s behaviour often gets misinterpreted for being “naughty” or inadequately disciplined. It’s so easy to walk past a parent and their child in the supermarket and pass judgement. However, moving forward I want you to take a second to consider that this child may have a disability.

As a Children’s Services Practitioner I work with children and adolescents who require a tailored intervention to support, safeguard and empower them to make pro-social decisions. Many of the young people I work with have developmental disabilities and are often labelled as “disruptive, naughty and rebellious”. It is my role as a practitioner to advocate on their behalf to ensure they’re receiving the appropriate medical intervention and support from the relevant agencies including Child And Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS) and Young Minds. I am by no means an expert in this field, however I am passionate about raising awareness on such topics which is why I am so excited about sharing this post with you.

SPD is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Some people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. The light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin”. (Moni, Psychologists) Blog & Instagram

Demand avoidance disorder or PDA ie Pathological Demand avoidance is a behavorial trait or profile that is seen in some individuals on the autism spectrum. This demand avoidant behaviour is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control. Most cases of PDA cause a heart murmur (an extra or unusual sound in the heartbeat), which a doctor can hear through a stethoscope. A chest X-ray may also be necessary to see the condition of a baby’s heart and lungs”. (Moni, Psychologist).

ASD is a developmental disability which affects a persons ability to communicate socially and therefore relate to others. It is a lifelong disability and is a spectrum disorder commonly referred to as Autism. It impacts how they view the world and requires a formal diagnosis as it impacts their development and learning. (Gurpreeti K, Trainee Psychologist) Blog & Instagram

M, Age 8 (Sensory Processing Disorder, SPD)

Inside my head is a funny place. I don’t think it’s the same as inside my friend’s heads. Sometimes it is hard for me to say what is happening inside my head and what I think and how I am feeling.

You see, the world is sometimes a bit too loud for me. It can be a bit too hot for me, there can be too many people. Big bangs and loud noises when I don’t expect them make me want to scream and cry. They don’t seem to annoy other people like they annoy me. Other people think they are funny or don’t worry. They make me want to run away and hide, or stop what I am doing and cover my ears.

I don’t like it when there are too many people around me, and it’s hot, noisy and busy. It makes me feel scared inside. My mummy says a lot of people feel this way, but it is worse for me. We have a secret code for when I have had enough of a place that is too busy. I go to her and I squeeze her hands really tight. She knows this is me telling her I am done and we need to go. Sometimes she works out I need to leave before I have and helps me to get away.

I don’t like being touched, or people hugging me, or being sweaty, or too hot. I don’t like strong smells, and places that are dark with lots of noise and light make me very worried. I find it hard to go on the trains, and hot and busy buses make me very upset. I find it hard to switch my brain off. Inside my head can feel very busy and noisy even when it is quiet around me outside my head. This makes it hard for me to concentrated sometimes and I get frustrated. It makes going to sleep very hard. If I have had a very busy day or been to a new place, or tried a new thing, it can take a long time for my brain to stop me thinking about that.

I am often very tired after school because even though I like school and my teachers and friends, I find a lot of what goes on hard for my brain to work out. It can be noisy and busy and hot, and I have to work hard to be able to move from one task to another, and if I am not finished something I often feel sad that I can’t and have to stop. I like to play games and work with other people and my friends but I want them to stick to the rules and play nicely and I get very sad and upset when they don’t. When I come home I feel safe so I often cry or get cross because I am tired and it has been a hard day, and my Mummy has to help me calm down. Sometimes when I am feeling tired or worried, my tummy hurts and I feel sick. I try to tell grown ups, but they often don’t understand. My mummy knows that if I say I feel sick, that it doesn’t always mean I have a tummy bug, but that I am worried or need to talk about something in my head.

I don’t like big changes or things not being the way I am used to them, and it can make me frustrated and angry, or very sad. I try to understand but sometimes I can’t. I like it when things are explained and people stick to the plan. I am learning to tell someone when I am upset by a change in a plan but sometimes I can’t. Inside my head is a funny place. I wish more people could see that I am not being naughty or bad, but sometimes I just can’t find the right words to explain, so I hold it all in. Holding it all in is hard. I wish I didn’t have to, and sometimes I forget to. I wish people could understand and see inside my head a bit more, and see.

My mummy says that my brain just works harder at some things that other people’s and makes things work a bit differently and that it makes things harder for me. I like being me, sometimes, but sometimes I wish I didn’t have to hold it all in.

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Little bear, 8 (Autism)

Hi there, my name is ‘Little Bear’, I’m 8 years old and have been diagnosed with autism. For those of you who don’t know what autism is, it’s a lifelong developmental disability that affects how I communicate and perceive the world around me.

Autism has taken my voice away and I struggle on a daily basis to communicate with those around me.

Imagine waking up every day wanting to talk to your loved ones and share in their conversations but not being able to. Imagine waking up feeling sad and not being able to tell someone that you had a nightmare last night and were scared during the night. Imagine wanting to tell your family how much you love them but not being able to get the words out. Imagine wanting something so badly but not being able to tell someone what it is you want. You try so hard to get the words out but no matter how hard you try they won’t come. You start to get so frustrated and angry with yourself because the things you want are so close yet so far because no one understands what you’re trying to say.

I get so frustrated that I have no control over my emotions or my body and will scream and cry in anger, I will start hitting things and often hurting myself because my body has been completely taken over by my emotions that I very often don’t understand. People will stare at me and judge me for my behaviour, all too often labelling me as being a child whose parents have not disciplined, a child who has no manners and is very naughty.

When you give me that disapproving stare it hurts my parent’s feelings, they try their best to keep me calm but all too often I find my environment too overwhelming and will react the only way that I know how to communicate my emotions. Please don’t judge me when you see me in the supermarket and I’m crying and screaming, the lights are too bright, the noise is too much, inside my head it’s like I have 100s of tabs open and they’re all playing videos at the same time but yet I can’t close them.

There are so many people around me that I start to feel anxious and my world feels unsafe and unknown to me as I’m no longer in my home where I can shut all these things out. I might behave very differently to other children around me but inside I am exactly the same as all the other children. I have the same wants and needs as them, I love to run, jump and play just like any other 8-year-old child. I still want to be able to play with children my age, but I don’t quite know how to approach them, my eyes light up with excitement when I go out to play and I want to run around with the other children, but they don’t understand me, and I don’t understand them.

The world can often seem like a scary and unknow place to me and this makes it hard for me to be out and about so please be kind and patient with me as I make my way around learning how to cope with the world that I so struggle with.

Always remember that different is by no means less.

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Z, Age 5 (Autism)

I am 5, I’m not like other 5 year olds. For one I don’t talk to you. I may make noises and can repeat things and read anything but I won’t talk to you and I won’t acknowledge you unless I really know you. When we go out with my friends sometimes everything gets too much for me, the noises from children screaming, the background noise including the radio playing, and it all gets to me, the only thing I know how to do I throw myself on the floor, this means I get removed from the noise and into quiet. I like quiet. This is why I don’t really like to go anywhere new. I don’t play with my friends like they play with one another, but I enjoy watching them. I like to laugh at them and run, I love it when they chase me but can’t catch me because I’m faster than them all.

I’m not like the other 5 year olds I can’t ride a bike, I can’t kick a ball and I don’t know how to play games with them. Sometimes other children look at me funny, they laugh at me until recently I was still in pull ups and was called a baby. I’m not a baby I can do my numbers even my 17 x table and I can even spell xylophone. Babies can’t do that can they.

People always look at my mam when I run away and she is shouting at me, it’s not that I can’t hear her, but the water is so much fun, it doesn’t matter that I have to run across the car park first I don’t see danger only what’s in front of me and when I have my mind set on something I have to do it. I don’t understand why I can’t go for a paddle in the river.

Everyone always takes notice of what I can’t do, but no one ever notices what I can do because I don’t tell them because I don’t like to speak to anyone, just because I don’t talk doesn’t mean I’m stupid though.

Any where new… this is because I like to know where things are, what the chips taste like because when they are served in the same dish they are the same and I know I like them. I’ve gotten to know the place. New places can be louder and brighter, the chips are not the same and I don’t like things not being the same.

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R, Age 12 (Autism, with demand avoidance traits)

I woke up this morning feeling unhappy. My sister is going away on a European Trip with the school.  I don’t understand. It’s the weekend and she should be

with her family at home.  I don’t understand. I went to the school to see her off.

There were lots of people there all looking excited.  Why are they excited? I don’t understand. When I get home, it is quiet and I have my mummy and daddy’s full attention.

I don’t want to go to bed because it doesn’t feel right.  I shut the outside world out and cocoon myself in my own little world.  It’s safe in here, it’s predictable. What are those voices that are trying to invade my safe place?  Daddy sounds different. Who is he telling me that I’m ignoring him? I don’t understand. Mummy is talking to me but her voice is really quiet.  I have to listen hard to hear her and that means coming out of my safe place.  I don’t want to do that! My bedroom is my place so I’ll take myself there. At least then the voices will stop.  Now I’m on my own and my sister enters my head. I miss my sister. She should be here with her family, with me. Why did she want to go away?  Why has she left me? I don’t understand.I feel sad and worried.  I want my sister home. What happens if something happens to her?  Why do people want to go far away from their family?

I don’t understand. My mum has come into my room and is talking to me.  Why has she come into my safe place? I just want my sister home.  Why have things had to change? This doesn’t feel like my safe place anymore because things have changed.  I don’t know what to do so I don’t do anything. I don’t feel in control.

I wrap my arms around myself and start rocking.  The movement is familiar and comforting. I feel odd and my mum tells me that it’s ok to miss my sister because that shows that I love her.  Of course I love her, she’s my sister. Why has she gone away? I don’t understand. How can I go to sleep when things don’t

feel right?  My sister is missing and it doesn’t feel right. I don’t understand. I can’t do the things that I know I should be doing.  Everything sounds so loud that it hurts my ears. Things just don’t feel right.  There is no order. Without my routine I feel lost, I feel out of control. When I’ve felt like this before, adults have been angry with me, they tell me that I’m naughty.  How can I be naughty when things don’t feel right? I don’t understand.

Why do people do things that are wrong? Going away from your family is wrong. Not sticking to the rules is wrong.  Why do I get into trouble for trying to tell people to do things right? Rules are rules.  People should follow the rules. Night time is a scary time for me. I don’t like the dark because I can’t control it.  I’m not in control of my dreams and that makes me anxious.  At least that’s what mummy tells me. I just know that I don’t feel right.  I don’t want to go to sleep. When I’m awake I’m in control of my thoughts. I know that mummy and daddy want me to go to sleep but I just can’t.  I hope that my mummy and daddy understand that I’m not being naughty. I just don’t know how to be any other way.

I am autistic with demand avoidance traits and I see the world differently.  I have an anxiety based need to be in control. If I don’t have that control, my anxiety takes over and I panic.  Please understand, I’m not naughty, I don’t want to be naughty. I don’t understand the world the way that you do.  Please help me to cope. Please give me choices so that I can have control of my world. Please don’t judge me and don’t judge my parents.  They understand my need for control. They are not letting me be naughty, they are just picking their battles in a way that helps me to cope with the world.

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We Parent Review And Giveaway

REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

When you think of MENTAL HEALTH what’s the first thing that pops into your head?

Do you ever think about children under the age of 8?

Research suggests that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age 5 so why are there such a lack of resources to support children’s mental health to ensure that they thrive into healthy adults? As a Children Services Practitioner and a parent, one of my main observations was that there was a lack of emotional development mental health interventions for under 10’s to support parents and carers.

“The years from 4-8 are the most important when it comes to a child’s emotional development. We really should focus all our efforts on our child’s developing emotions and sense of who they are at this age.”(WeParent)

As my son is due to start the transition to a new school In September, this resource has come at the perfect time to equip him with self awareness, social skills and the ability to manage potentially difficult situations within his own environment. Therefore, I am extremely excited to be reviewing this amazing parents guide to mental health for children. EVERY parent should have access to this resource not only are you investing in your child’s mental health but it acts as an early intervention for parents who maybe struggling with elements of their child’s development.

Why is your child’s emotional development important

As children grow, they are exposed to varying situations including the transition into school. Therefore having the ability to regulate and manage emotions is imperative as situations they encounter will become more complex. The way children are supported to manage emotions at a young age will significantly influence the way in which they cope with life experiences.

SO WHO ARE WEPARENT

“A psychologist in your pocket”

What I love about the founders of the WeParent is that one has 40 years of experience working as a clinical psychologist, and the other is a father which I think is the perfect recipe for a successful collaboration. Knowing that the co founders have an understanding of how challenging it can be to be a parent coupled with the expertise of a clinical psychologist is invaluable.

WeParent are committed to positive mental health. Everyday our children face challenges that will test their coping skills, and as their parents, you want to know you’ve done everything possible to help them. Mental illness is on the rise, but you can do something about it for your own child by giving them the skills they need to deal with their emotions, cope with stress and be happy in their own skin. The best time to start is during the mid-childhood years. WeParent’s mission is to give you the tools to be the best parent you can be. We are your psychologist in your pocket”

GETTING STARTED

We parent has an online module library which comprises of 6 categories with 33 modules in total. They also offer a ‘MODULE OF THE WEEK’ which changes on a weekly basis.

⁃ Preventing bullying

⁃ Emotions

⁃ Friendships & social skills

⁃ Independence

⁃ Positive sense of self

⁃ Sibling rivalry

⁃ Dealing with Grief “module of the week”

Once you have selected a topic, the site will give you an overview of learning outcomes and what is expected within the module. What I love is that each module is broken down into small sections making it easier to progress through the module. I also found this simplified the way I was able to work with my child. I chose to work on one section per day which allowed for reflection. Each module provides “fun facts” and “quotes from parents” which helps bring the topic to life.

After receiving the learning outcomes you then progress onto “GO TO STRATEGIES” which offers you a holistic tool kit for parents to utilise when talking to their child about ‘bullying’ for example. The beauty of this segment Is that is has two key components:

1.WeParent “Top tips” – offers parents advice on how long they may spend on a topic and how to question and discuss sensitive topics with your child.

2.WeParent “Road block” – Road block considers difficulties that you may encounter as a parent. For example in the ‘bullying’ section it supports parents to engage with their child who is being bullied.

As this is an online portal you literally do have a “psychologist in your pocket” making it easier to work on modules from the comfort of your home, coupled with ability to refer back to a module as and when required.

I have been working on the topic of bullying with my son for the last 2 weeks and I can honestly say that I have observed an increase in his ability to be assertive. Not only that he has been able to identify in his own words what he thinks bullying is, he has even transferred his skills by giving examples from his nursery experience. My sons ability to be assertive and deal with challenging situations is something that I have worried about naturally as a mother. However the tool has been absolutely invaluable.

In approximately 3 months time I will be doing a follow up review of all the topics so I can offer a holistic review of each module.

Pros

1. WeParent focuses on early intervention.

2. It is supported by psychologists

3. It is an online toolkit that can be used on the go.

4. WeParent is extremely user friendly

5. It focuses on real life situations that your children WILL face in their lives.

6. The guide can be adapted by the parent dependent on age and ability

7. Although this resource is for 4-8 years old this can easily be adapted for older children. Particularly for those who may have additional learning needs.

8. The website is bright coloured and very inviting.

GIVEAWAY

So to celebrate this amazing site I am giving away 10 FREE 12 Month Subscriptions.

To enter all you need to do is comment on my blog post what you would like to use ‘We Parent’ for? For example:

Mental Health

Anger management

Bullying

Emotional development

Confidence and self esteem

Terms & Conditions

  • The giveaway ends at 12am on 20/07/2018.
  • Winners will be chosen at random.
  • Worldwide entrants encouraged

You can keep up with WeParent on the following social media’s.

Instagram

Facebook

WeParent Website

Cosy Angel Review And Giveaway

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Teaching Road Safety With The Children’s Traffic Club

ATTENTION Parents and Carers

“Every 3 minutes somewhere in the world a child dies in a road related incident”

Ask yourself these 3 important questions!

  1. Is your child under 5
  2. Does your child have a good understanding of the implications of poor road safety.
  3. Have you had a near miss with your child when it comes to road safety.

Being both a parent and a children’s Services Practitioner, road safety is a subject I hold so close to my heart, as all it takes is one second for everything to go wrong. I have been that mother who watched in slow motion as my overexcited 3-year-old ran towards oncoming traffic. The range of emotions that ran through my body are ones I never wish to experience again.

That being said, I’m so honoured to have the pleasure using the THE CHILDRENS TRAFFIC CLUB programme (CTC) which is a fun and interactive programme aimed at teaching children under 5 the important elements of road safety.

Why is road safety so important for children under 5

In their early years of life, children require assistance in identifying risks associated its road use as they they are not yet equipped with the level of maturity required to ensure their safety, therefore adult supervision and road interventions are paramount for the safety of our children on the roads.

Age 0-5 is a pivotal learning period in a child’s life which is why teaching road safety should be an integral element of your child’s development. In an age where many children are transported by car, it is crucial that children have an understanding of road safety when they’re exposed to the world around them.

SO! What is THE CHILDRENS TRAFFIC CLUB (CTC)

CTC is an award-winning road safety travel education programme, specifically for children under 5. For over 25 years road safety for children has been at the forefront of their campaign. During this time over 3 million children have benefited. CTC continue to positively influence children’s long term behaviour and reduce casualties through the implementation of this augmented reality active travel and road safety programme.

LET’S GO: “A multi-sensory and augmented reality active travel and road safety education programme for under 5’s and their parent/carer”.

What do you get as a member

1. A durable ring bound activity and learning book.

2. A FREE downloadable augmented reality app (AR)

3. A pack of hard wearing flash cards, separated into 4 sets.

4. Fun sheets – access to activities and certificates online.

My initial reaction to this programme was that it was extremely learner friendly. I love that the the programme is multi sensory and engages more than one sense at a time. My son is a kinaesthetic learner which means that he learns through conducting physical activities. However this programme encouraged him to utilise all his senses.

Secondly, “it does what it says on the tin”. As soon as my 3-year-old set eyes on all of the resources, he was instantly intrigued and extremely engaged by the bright colours and the use of everyday scenarios included in the activity and learning book.

Activity & Learning Book

The learning book allows both children and parents to work through activities including short stories, interactive scenarios and pictures. 6 different animated children tell stories which is segregated into different categories of road safety. Something I noticed immediately was how multi cultural the animated characters were which encourages diversity. My little boy was so impressed by the fact that their was a little boy who looked like him and had the same hair as him. The scenarios within the activity book are extremely relatable to everyday situations . My 3-year-old was able to identify different vehicles in the road on page 17 which kept him engaged through out activities. The extremely bright colours and smiley faces throughout the book meant that my son associated the activities and learning experience with positive connotations.

Each chapter ends with a sticker page (my son was absolutely over the moon with the sticker activities) which encourages children to find all the stickers and remember their messages. This is an excellent and fun way to reinforce the important road safety messages taught in the chapters. At the bottom of each page there are a list of questions that the child has to answer, again this is brilliant as it maintains engagement and interaction.

Finally, the activity book offers a grown up page, with resources and creative ideas to ensure your child understands the importance of the chapter. Ideas include learning through play and craft ideas.

Free Augmented Reality app

The app is easily downloadable through App Store or Google Play store. There is an ‘How to use’ on (pages 4 & 5) of the activity book which explains how to download the app and how the app can be used in accordance with the activity pack. The app, wow. I thought the flash cards allowed the characters to come to life, however when my son scanned the page with the camera on his iPad, he could not believe that the characters, vehicles and characters and background came to life. His words “Mummy Mummy the characters are popping out”. This is brilliant for the visual and auditory learner as the visuals are very engaging and the app allows you to listen to instructions which is a great resource for the auditory learner.

The CTC app has 2 additional interactive components to encourage learning through play. There are 4 games which correspond with the topics and 4 sets of flash cards provided in the activity pack. “Fix It”, “Snap it” “Match it” and “Pop it”. All of which were very stimulating. My sons favourite was “Pop it” Every time he popped a balloon a road safety message popped up. I couldn’t have constructed a better road safety game if I tried. It’s an absolutely brilliant concept. The AR app is also compatible with the flash cards and can be used to encourage further learning and interaction. The topics are “let’s get active” “what’s on the road” and “safer crossing place”.

What I love is that all the elements of the app work in accordance with the Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS).

Flash cards

These extremely durable flash cards, are colour coded into four sections. Meet the characters, vehicles, safer crossings and fit and fun. I absolutely love the way the “meet the characters” cards provide information at the back making them a lot more relatable. What’s also brilliant is that using the “safer crossings” card features a zebra crossing and a pedestrian crossing, my 3-year-olds words were “mummy, we have one of those by my nursery”. The images provided on the flash cards are so relatable to scenarios and objects they see in everyday life. Each animated character echos 2 important road safety lessons. My 3 year old related well to “Neeta” who teaches the importance of seat belt safety and safety getting in and out if the car. Since using this booklet with him, I have observed a significant improvement in his awareness of getting in and out of the car and his ability in identify the importance of wearing a seat belt. Before I turn the engine on he is the first to confirm that everyone is wearing their seat belt.

At the back of the flash cards are balloon characters. This is a tenuous idea as it is age appropriate. What 5 year old do you know that doesn’t like balloons. The balloon characters supplement the messages taught by the animated character. Neeta’s balloon characters were called ‘Vinny Vehicles’ and ‘Sammy Seatbelt’. We got in the car yesterday and my son said “Mummy, Sammy seatbelt wants to know if you’re strapped In”. At this point I knew that the programme had worked as he was able to transfer his learning to real life scenarios. I was thrilled.

Pros

  1. The initial presentation and packaging of the product is very appealing to the eye. It is glossy and brightly coloured which instantly intrigued my 3-year-old.
  2. The flash cards and learning and activity book are extremely durable, and I believe that the quality will be preserved for when my now 3 month old is old enough to understand.
  3. The FREE Augmented Reality application is extremely user friendly. Although a “how to” guide is included I did not need to refer to this at any point.
  4. As the application downloaded I was just as excited as my 3-year-old at the bright colours and welcome theme tune. We both waited in anticipation to find out what activities were available. The app most definitely didn’t disappoint, it came equipped with pockets of different activities which all focus on road safety. 10/10 for the AR feature on the app. I have never seen a children’s app which provides such versatility to its user. It’s amazing to witness the enthusiasm my child has towards learning about such a serious subject.
  5. What’s handy about this programme is that the flash cards and learning & activity book can be used without the app. However the app compliments them beautifully.
  6. The sticker page.
  7. The animated characters are multi cultural which makes this more relatable to all users as it considers equality and diversity.

Cons

  1. On a few occasions the app froze, however a very quick reboot resolved the issues and it did not effect my sons learning experience .
  2. The app is aimed only for children under 5 which is a shame as it’s a brilliant resource, however I would happily use this app with my nephew who is 6 years old as I feel it would engage him despite him being a little older.

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