Xplora XGO2 Smartwatch Review

1 June 2021

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Disclosure - We were sent the product below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

The Xplora XGO2 is designed to be your childs first Smartwatch.  The XGO2 focusses on safety for your child and control for you.  The watch itself is availble in four colours with Black, Blue, Green and Pink available to choose from.  The XGO 2 has a premium feel to it, and although a little chunky has been designed for small hands to be able to use with ease. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

The user interface is pretty straightforward, with button presses, screen taps and swipes enabling you to navigate the menus within the basic setup.  The XGO2 is able to make calls and send messages using a SIM, and the watch will then have its own phone number that can be used.  Most sellers ship the XGO2 SIM free so you can choose your network and pricing structure.  With a built in microphone and speaker both making and receiving calls is pretty straightforward. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

With a focus on safety the XGO2 makes use of GPS, Wifi and GSM triangulation to provide a reasonably accurate idea of where your child is.  Using the parental app, you can track your child's movements to be sure where they are, and you can also set up 'Geofences' or 'safe areas' where your child can move within.  If they move out of these preset areas you will be notified straight away. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

The watch can also be set to 'school mode' which limits the user to watch display only for the during of the school mode time.  Using the parental app you can still track your childs movements and Geofencing will still be active.  There is also an 'SOS' mode which can be used in the event of emergency to contact you. This will remain active even in school mode

XGO2 Smartwatch

For the children the watch can be used as a step counter which has proved popular here, and these steps can then be converted to Xplora coins which can be used to play games on the Xplora website.  Sometimes there are also competitions for highest scores on games to be able to win prizes.  The current prize is based around Fast and Furious and Tom and Jerry with prizes available for steps and gameplay scores. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

There is a small front facing camera for taking selfies, which can be saved and viewed, however the watch has no internet browser or social media apps, which could be positive or negative depending on your point of view.  The camera is sufficient for children to take a quick picture but at only 0.3 Megapixel, you are limited on quality. There is a flashlight built in which can be accessed from the user interface quickly and easily. 

Finally, the included charging cable is magnetic, which makes it easy to attach and disconnect, however the battery life on the watch means you will need to charge at the end of every day in order to be sure there is sufficient charge to last the next day in full.  

XGO2 Smartwatch

Its important to remember that the focus for this watch is on safety and peace of mind for parents and carers and this watch does deliver in that regard. Whilst there is no internet of built in games the watch doesn't try to hide that fact and looks instead to reward your child for moving around. If this is something you are looking for then the XGO2 is a great choice. 

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Exploring Chester With the Kids

26 May 2021

Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links. 

The best days out we have had as a family are the ones we didn't expect to have. With the various restrictions in place we have been very limited to places we can visit however I feel it has opened our eyes to what we have closer to home that we may have missed if the restrictions were not in place. We love being out and about planning days out as a family so we recently visited Chester and realised that there is so much more to do there than we had realised. Although we went with an idea of what we were going to do, we ended up doing so much more. Here is our guide to exploring Chester With The Kids. 

Chester Town Hall

Chester City Walls

Chester City Walls
Elevated above the city you can take in the views of Chester as you walk along the city walls. Standing for almost 2,000 years the defensive walls are the oldest and longest in the UK. You can't miss the walls and they are easily accessible from 4 main gates, Northgate, Eastgate, Watergate and Bridgegate. There are opportunities to join from other points along the way including steps and accessible ramps. 

Chester City Walls

The route is free of charge and is approximately 2 miles long. The duration will depend on your speed and also whether you stop to look at the beautiful views of the city, the river, the cathedral and other places of interest.

The Roman Gardens

The Roman Gardens

The Roman Gardens

The Roman Gardens can be spotted from the City Walls Walk or if heading down towards the river from the city centre. The gardens feature lots of pieces of important buildings and baths. As well as the history to see and read, the gardens themselves are well maintained with beautiful lawns and cherry blossom trees.

The Roman Gardens

There are benches around the gardens which slope down to the river. Perfect for stopping for a picnic lunch, a break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre close by or just to sit and enjoy the views. 

There are steps leading down to the river but also an accessible winding path. 

Cruise on the River Dee

Cruise On The River Dee
There is a buzz in the air as you arrive at the banks of the River Dee. The Chester Boat River Cruise offers sailings throughout the day on the Dee so you can enjoy the views from the river. The half hour cruises sail from 11am-5pm each day with ticket available to book at a discounted rate online or at the quayside.

views from the River Dee

Prices start from Adult £7, Children £2.50. Concession, family, disabled and disabled carer rates are available and children under 5 go free. 

man and boy on motor boat

Drive A Motor Boat
If you want something a little different , just next to the Chester Boat River Cruise you can hire a motor boat. The motor boat is easy to use and would comfortably fit a group of 4 or 5. 

views from the river dee

It's a lovely way to travel along the Dee, looking at the views on both sides of the river.

To hire a motor boat it is £25 plus a £20 deposit for 30 minutes. If paying by card they take £45 and return your deposit in cash.

Boy eating an ice cream

Enjoy An Ice Cream On The River Bank
Alongside the River Dee there are plenty of ice cream kiosks selling various ice cream treats and snacks. Just opposite the Chester Boat you can purchase a Cheshire Farm Ice Cream cone. We recently visited the Ice Cream Farm and loved all the flavours to choose from. The kiosk on the River Dee has lots of flavours to choose from too so you will be sure to find one you like.

Eastgate Clock in Chester

Eastgate Clock in Chester

Take A Photo Under The Eastgate Clock
The Eastgate Clock stands at the original entrance to the Roman Fortress. It towers over the city centre shopping area and is also part of the City Walls walk. It is a precious landmark within the city of Chester and is rumoured to be the most photographed clock in the UK after Big Ben.

Chester Cathedral

Visit Chester Cathedral
The Chester Cathedral is a church of England cathedral and is located in the heart of Chester. As well as being a beautiful Grade 1 building to admire and explore it opens its doors throughout the year to host special events.

Between May 17th - July 1st you can enjoy a free exhibition of the very popular children's book The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr. The exhibition is family friendly and includes a life-size model of the Tiger.

Boy holding a treasure map

Treasure Map Trails
Chester is full of history and things to see so what better way to explore than with a Treasure Map Trail. Choose a city local to you and your map will be delivered to you first class, then you are ready to go on a treasure trail. 

Chester has two maps to choose from or you could do both. They are bright, colourful, easy to read with road names and buildings illustrated on the map and are ideal for children aged between 5-12. 

boy climbing an elephant statue

The maps are a great way to encourage your children to look around the city trying to solve the clues and find all the different statues, signs and other treasures. 

Each map costs £5.99 each or you can purchase more of the same maps if you have more than 1 child starting at £8.99 for two copies of the same map. 

We are part of the Treasure Map Trails affiliate scheme and can offer our readers a 10% discount if you use the code PLAYDAYSRUNWAYS or follow this link

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Comments - I love reading your opinions and thoughts - Have you visited Chester or planning a trip?  Leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought or what you have planned. 

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Where To Stay At The Alton Towers Resort

24 May 2021

We have been visiting Alton Towers for as long as I can remember. In the past 15 years we have visited Alton Towers at least 3 times per year and have watched as it has grown in to the resort it is today. Originally Alton Towers was a day trip which you could enjoy with your family or friends but now it is more than that. It's a UK holiday resort with a theme park, a waterpark, mini golf and a wide range of accommodation to choose from and there are lots of reasons to stay over at the Alton Towers Resort. We have been lucky to stay in most of the resorts accommodation over the years and can tell you which hotel to stay in at the Alton towers Resort to suit your needs. 

    The alton towers hotel

    The Alton Towers Hotel

    The Alton Towers Hotel is the original hotel and usually our first choice when booking a stay. The hotel is themed around the explorer Sir Algenon who landed at Alton Towers and made this hotel his home. The hotel is beautifully decorated inside and has gorgeous gardens and features on the outside. 

    The hotel main entrance is on level two and consists of the reception area, a small shop selling gifts and snacks and a small Costa Coffee. Here you will be able to check in and out, book your restaurant reservations, find out information regarding opening times and predicted weather for the duration of your stay. You will find the entertainment board providing you with a schedule of the entertainment available that evening. 

    Rooms and Suites are located on every floor of the hotel. You can choose to take the lift or enjoy the views from the stunning staircase. 

    Level 1 has the arcade and toilets. The arcade at the Alton Towers Hotel is only small however there is a larger arcade in the adjacent hotel Splash Landing

    On the ground floor you have the Dragons Bar, The Secret Restaurant and Atrium which provides evening entertainment for all the family. 

    While at the resort you can also enjoy a visit to the Spa which is located in the Alton Towers Hotel.

    The Rooms
    There are a wide variety of rooms and suites to meet your needs and budget with each room type having a different theme. 

    The Explorer Room - This is your standard room at the Alton Towers hotel. It consists of a double bed and usually a set of bunkbeds. The theme is based on Sir Algenon's travels and are decorated with maps, compasses and flying boats. 

    We have stayed in the Explorer Room many times and it has everything you need for an overnight stay for up to a family of four.

    The Moon Voyage Room - This room is themed around Sir Algenon's visit to the moon and is space themed. The room is very similar to the Explorer Room except the children have their own area to sleep, watch tv or play XBOX. 

    We have also stayed in a Moon Voyage Room and the children's separate area was a hit with the boys especially as it is equipped with a TV and XBOX. These rooms are great for families who need a little extra space and entertainment in the room. 

    Artic Explorer Room at Alton Towers

    The Artic Explorer Room - This is usually our first choice when it comes to booking a room at the hotel. The Artic Explorer room is based on Sir Algenon's travels to the artic and has a snow themed decor. 

    We have found that there is more floor space in these rooms and they are usually located on a the main entrance floor. The room has a double bed, a single bed and a truckle bed which is pulled out from under the single. We prefer this room setup than those with bunk beds.

    These are the main three room types within the hotel however you can choose to book a suite especially if it is a special occasion. There are a number of suites available all with a different theme including The Chocolate Room, The Smiler Room and The Coca Cola Room. 

    The Coca Cola Room

    The Coca Cola Room

    Suites - We have only stayed in the Coca Cola Suite so can't comment on the others however we absolutely loved the room and it was the perfect way to celebrate a birthday. 

    The Coca Cola room is themed around the brand and features a double bed, a set of bunk beds and a pull out double sofa bed so can comfortably sleep six. As the room is a suite you can expect lots of floor space and special features such as a fridge full of complimentary Coca Cola and a game console in the room. You will also be treated with celebration balloons and chocolates on arrival. 

    The room and extras are a lovely treat to head back to after a day in the theme park however the rooms are costly an we would probably only stay in a suite for a very special occasion as you don't really get much time in your room as you are so busy enjoying the resort. 

    Why Stay At The Alton Towers Hotel?
    The Alton Towers Hotel is the perfect base for you to explore the resort. It's the original hotel and unlike other accommodation around the resort this hotel actually feels like a hotel with its gorgeous decor, beautiful features and ambience. 

    The Secret Garden restaurant is the ideal place to enjoy an evening meal or breakfast with some tables having views over the beautiful gardens towards the back. 

    There are more room choices within the hotel to suit all needs and budgets. We also find the rooms to be bigger than Splash Landings Hotel.

    If you do want to explore what Splash Landing hotel has to offer you can always take the indoor walkway which connects the two hotels. 

    Outside the Splash Landing Hotel

    Splash Landing Hotel

    The Splash Landing hotel is themed around the Caribbean. Everything about the hotel from the fixtures, furnishing, restaurant and rooms have a calypso feel and is ideal for those who would like a hotel stay to remember. 

    As soon as you enter the hotel on level two you feel like you have just stepped on to a Caribbean island. As well as the reception, small shop selling snacks and gifts on this level you will find Ma Garrita's Bar. Ma Garrita's serves delicious cocktails as well as beers and soft drinks with a tropical themed terrace or windows overlooking the waterpark. It is also home to the Calypso Crew kids club who provide entertainment throughout the day and evening for the kids staying at any of the resort accommodation.

    On level one you will find toilets, a large arcade and Flambo's restaurant. Here you will enjoy your breakfast or if you are staying for an evening meal they serve grills, burgers, salads and a kids menu all in a tropical surrounding with some tables overlooking the waterpark below. 

    On the ground level you will find The Waterpark. The Waterpark is an indoors Waterpark with an outside area too. It boasts a Master Blaster Coaster and Lazy River and has a Bubbly Wubbly pool and flumes outside. Make a splash in Lagoona Bay, head to the interactive Wacky Waterworks or little ones can paddle and play in Little Leak.

    The Rooms
    Splash Landings Hotel offers the choice of three rooms to suit your requirements and budget. 

    Beachcomber Room - This room is a standard room that lives up to your Caribbean expectations. Brightly coloured bedding, pineapple shaped lamp and sand and water patterned carpet. 

    Rooms sleep up to 4 and consist of a double bed and a set of bunk beds. Cots are available on request. 

    When staying at Splash Landings this is the hotel room we choose every time. It's comfortable and always clean.

    Pirate Room - Inspired by Mutiny Bay, the pirate room is a must for little adventurers. You will be staying in the Captains Quarters filled with Pirate themed decor and hidden treasures. Can you crack the code to unlock them?

    The Pirate Room is spacious offering room for up to 6 people. The children can enjoy the XBOX console that is available in the room and also a mini fridge filled with complimentary water. 

    Ice Age Room - Despite Ice Age being removed from the theme park years ago Splash Landings hotel still offers an Ice Age Themed room for fans of the movies. 

    Designed and themed around the Ice Age you can cosy up under fur blankets in your own artic den with ice berg walls.

    Each room sleeps up to 6 people with an XBOX console and Ice Age Game and a mini fridge filled with complimentary water. 

    Why Stay At The Splash Landing Hotel?
    Splash Landing is perfect for guests who want to be submerged in to the Caribbean theme and feel like they are actually on a tropical island once inside. The temperature is always warmer in this hotel so you usually find guests walking round in shorts and flip flops even during the colder months. 

    The entertainment has always been more child friendly at Splash Landing with games and fun throughout the evening shows. We also prefer the larger arcade in this hotel too. 

    Although all guests can access The Waterpark, it is just down a few steps once you have finished breakfast or before checking in. 

    It is also closer to the Monorail which takes you to the theme park.

    The CBeebies Land Hotel

    CBeebies Hotel

    CBeebies Land Hotel 

    Even though we are regulars to the resort and staying over throughout the year we have never stayed at the CBeebies Land Hotel. It's aimed at littler ones and the boys were too old when it opened. We have however visited inside and looked around and it would be the perfect choice for CBeebies fans. 

    When the hotel was designed and built they definitely had children in mind so you can expect bright colours, CBeebies theme running throughout the whole hotel, interactive features and entertainment exclusive to hotel guests. 

    The Windmill Restaurant has lots of yummy food for the kids to enjoy including fish fingers, pasta dishes and burgers. 

    There is a gift shop inside selling lots of CBeebies merchandise. 

    Keeping the kids entertained is a priority at the hotel and the team provide non stop entertainment throughout the day. Join in with the Ubercorn disco to burn off some energy and dance away to some of Ubercorns favourite music. Meet some of your favourite characters with Meet and Greets. Join the Spot Bots on screen as the CBeebies Land Hotel team help you with some of the Spot Bot puzzles. Just before bedtime enjoy some stargazing on a comfy beanbag.

    The Rooms
    There is a huge range of rooms and suites in the CBeebies Land Hotel to suit family size, requirements and budget.

    Bugbies Room - Although this is your standard room choice it will not feel like it once inside. The room is decorated and themed around CBeebies Bugbies characters. It's brightly coloured and features and double bed and bunk beds. 

    The children have their own sleeping area which features an interactive play wall. 

    The room can sleep up to a family of 5.

    Themed Rooms - Similar layout and features of a Bugbies room the themed rooms are deluxe and are themed around some of your favourite characters. Choose from Octonauts, Postman Pat, Swashbuckle, In The Night Garden and Something Special.

    Suites - As I mentioned earlier the suites available at the Alton Towers Hotels are perfect for larger families, those who would like a little more floor space or if celebrating a special occasion. 

    The suites at The CBeebies Land Hotel sleep up to 7 people and there are a variety of themes to choose from, Postman Pat, In The Night Garden, Swashbuckle or Something Special. 

    Why Stay At The CBeebies Land Hotel?
    The hotel has children in mind so its bright, fun, interactive and themed around CBeebies and the CBeebies characters. Entertainment and Meet and Greets are scheduled throughout the day to keep little ones busy when they are not at the theme park. 

    Toddler friendly features available including cots, baby baths, children's toilet seats and steps for the bathroom sink. 

    Entertainment is exclusive to CBeebies Land Hotel guests and Early Ride Access at CBeebies Land is included. 

    Woodland lodges

    The Enchanted Village

    The Enchanted Village is like a fairytale with woodland lodges and luxury treehouses amongst winding pathways with twinkling lights. The Enchanted Village is set back behind the hotels and is furthest from the theme park. 

    The Enchanted Village has its own reception for check in to the Woodland Lodges. There is a small gift shop within the village, children's play areas and small arcade machines. 

    The Crooked Spoon Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed atmosphere. 

    Woodland lodges

    Woodland lodges

    Woodland Lodges
    Woodland Lodges offer you the privacy of your own log cabin within the Enchanted Village. Each cabin sleeps up to 5 people with a double bed and a separate sleeping area for children featuring bunk beds and a truckle bed. 

    Each Woodland Lodge offers free wifi, TV and an outdoor decking area to relax at after a long day at the park. 

    Luxury Treehouses
    There are five luxury treehouses within the Alton Towers Resort. Each treehouse offers luxury accommodation for up to 8 people. 

    The Treehouses have their own private decking with a hot tub overlooking the Enchanted Village. You can access exclusive in-resort takeaway service or make use of the kitchenette with crockery and glasses for up to 8 people. 

    The treehouse will be equipped with a 50" Plasma TV, PS4 and family friendly games. 

    You will be given VIP parking, an earlier check in time of 2pm with a Costa waiting for you on arrival.

    Stargazing Pods 
    The stargazing pods are the newest addition to the resort offering budget accommodation. Each pod consists of a double bed and two single beds. The pod does come equipped with lighting and heaters however it is similar to a camping experience where you access to communal toilets, showers, baby change facilities located in another area of the camp. 

    These are perfect for families who want to enjoy a stay over at the resort without the great expense. 

    Why Stay In The Enchanted Village?
    The Enchanted Village offers a unique experience and is perfect for those who enjoy the idea of having their own personal lodge, cabin or pod. 

    In the evening it looks magical with the twinkling lights guiding you through the dark pathways. The Crooked Spoon restaurant is at the heart of the village and is within walking distance from the lodges. 

    Anything Else?

    Most short breaks at Alton Towers are based on Bed and Breakfast. You need to add on theme park tickets to your booking to gain access to the theme park unless you are a merlin pass holder.

    A complimentary pass to use at the Extraordinary Golf is included in overnight stays.

    Check in is 3pm (unless otherwise stated based on your accommodation) and check out is 10am.

    Car Parking is free and some accommodation offer VIP parking. 

    Tickets to the Waterpark can be purchased at the time of booking.

    Early access to the theme park is included however this does not include special events such as Scarefest. 

    Restaurant bookings can be made prior to your arrival using the email link in your booking. 

    Free WIFI is included throughout the resort. 

    If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

    Comments - I love reading your opinions and thoughts - Have you stayed at Alton Towers or planning a stay soon? Which accommodation did you choose? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

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    Helping Your Child Become More Resilient | AD

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    Resilience is a skill that helps children to adapt well to challenging situations. Children who are encouraged to have a resilient attitude will not only feel more confident, but they will also be better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs. So how do you help your child to become more resilient? Here are some great tips from an independent school for girls in Surrey.

    resilience spelt out in scrabble letters

    Always Look For The Positives
    Children are always watching their parents, so it is essential for you to think about how you react to stressful situations. Try not to complain in front of your children. The more you complain, the more likely it is that your children will too. Always try to look for the positives, even when you are frustrated. For example, “I know it is disappointing that the shop was closed, but at least we discovered this new park”.

    Encourage A Growth Mind-Set
    Discuss what ‘resilience’ means with your child and help them to understand how they can practice a ‘growth mind-set’. A growth mind-set is really useful for children because it will support them through many challenges and setbacks. Children with a growth mind-set believe that their abilities will improve over time, which motivates them to keep trying. 

    person spraying a work top

    Give Your Child More Responsibility
    To help your child cultivate a resilient attitude, you will need to give them more responsibility. Letting your child do more things on their own will not only help them to learn, but it will also make them feel more confident. You could allocate household jobs to your son or daughter, such as feeding a pet or doing the washing up. This will increase their feelings of competency and give you a helping hand around the house.

    Allow Your Children To Learn From Mistakes
    As a parent, it is tempting to protect our children from failure, however sometimes they need to be allowed to make mistakes. Letting your child make mistakes will help them to learn where they went wrong and it will also help to build resilience and confidence when doing the same task again.

    Help Your Child To Manage Their Emotions
    Sometimes the key to calming your child’s emotional outbursts is simply acknowledging their feelings. Let your child know that you understand how they feel. You can also help your child to recognise these feelings by labelling their emotions. For example, “I know you are disappointed that you can’t go to your friend’s house” or “I can see you are angry that your brother took your toy”. This will help your child to learn that all emotions, even the bad ones, are okay.

    We have always tried to help the boys be resilient. Do you have any other tips?

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    How to Motivate Your Child To Do Their Homework | AD

    22 May 2021

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    It can be a battle for parents to motivate their children to do their homework; but homework doesn’t always have to cause a war at home! In fact, there are lots of ways you can make homework feel fun and less of a chore. Follow these helpful tips from a Nursery & Pre-Prep School in Romsey to help motivate your child to do their homework.

    boy doing homework
    Make A Routine
    As parents, we understand the importance of helping children to develop a routine. That applies to homework, too. Teachers recommend that children should try and do their homework at the same time, in the same place and on a regular basis, so that starting homework becomes a part of their daily routine.

    Create A Desk Space
    To help motivate your child to learn, you could create a special desk space for homework, reading or art and crafts. Add some storage, new stationary and books to make the idea of homework seem much more organised and fun. You could even stick some educational posters to the wall and decorate the area in your child’s favourite theme.

    Learn With Your Child
    You could try sharing homework time with your son or daughter. Sit together in the same space as your child while they complete their homework and use the time to enjoy a favourite creative hobby or take an online learning class. This will not only mean that you are close by if they need your help, but it will also make homework time feel special.

    Visit A Museum
    If your child is studying a particular topic at school, you could help to make their homework more exciting by organising an educational day out to a museum. Museums allow children to engage more in what they are learning about. Furthermore, a fun family day out will create many lasting memories.

    Show Your Support
    It is important for parents to remember that the more supported a child feels at home, the better they will perform at school. Help your child to value their education by taking an interest in what they are learning about. Ask questions about their school topics and show your support by helping to gather information for their homework. 

    boy on his scooter

    Finally, don’t forget to make time for fun family activities when they have completed their homework! Rewarding your children with a much-needed break from their studies will help them to do better academically in the long run.

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    The Benefits of School Uniform for Children | AD

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    Most schools require children to wear a uniform. The school uniform usually includes the school emblem or particular colours that represent the school. Some schools insist on a formal uniform, where a blazer and tie must be worn at all times, however most schools adopt a more casual approach; like a T-shirt with the school logo. There are many reasons why a uniform is important at school and you may be surprised to learn that a school uniform offers a number of benefits too. I have collaborated with an independent school in Taunton to explore some of these benefits.

    children running in to school

    School Uniform Improves Safety
    One of the main reasons that schools require children to wear uniform is student safety. A uniform helps teachers to easily identify their students on a school trip or spot an intruder on the school premises. In addition, school uniform reduces the risk of students becoming victims of crime when wearing expensive designer clothing or jewellery.

    School Uniform Supports Learning
    Many educational experts and studies agree that having a school uniform policy helps to create a better educational environment. This is because it helps students to focus on what they are learning, instead of being distracted by what others are wearing or bringing into school.

    School Uniform Reduces Bullying
    Allowing children to wear their own clothing to school can lead to bullying. However, when all children are dressed in the same uniform, there is less competition about who has the best outfit or who is wearing the most expensive brand. School uniform helps children to focus on character rather than appearance.

    School Uniform is Cost Effective
    School uniform helps parents to save money by not having to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Families typically purchase uniform for their children at the beginning of each school year. This is because school uniforms are made to last, using durable materials that can withstand daily wear and tear.

    School Uniform is Time Saving
    Having a school uniform helps to reduce the time it takes for your children to get ready for school. If they had to choose a different outfit every day, you would have a lot of late mornings! A uniform not only reduces stress for parents, but it also helps to reduce the pile of washing you have at the end of the week.

    School Uniform Builds Team Spirit
    Finally, when students go on school trips or visit other schools, they are representing the school they belong to with their uniform. This creates a sense of pride. By encouraging children to wear a school uniform it will help to build a strong team spirit.

    I actually can't believe we will be buying September uniform soon. I feel like they haven't even been back that long.

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    How to Be More Efficient at Work | AD

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    If you want to be more efficient at work you don't need to make huge adjustments to your routine. There are ways to get more done by simply cutting out distractions and making small changes to your work space. Sometimes, even the smallest changes can make the biggest impact. For example, turning off social media notifications on your phone or simply having a tidy up. Here are some tips to help you be more efficient at work.

    tidy desk space

    Prioritise Your Work
    Start each morning prioritising your work load. This may sound really simple, but we all know how easy it can be to do the things you enjoy first and put off the more complicated tasks. Try and categorise each task and sort them into high, medium and low levels of urgency. Start with the tasks that need to be done by the end of the day, and once these are completed you can focus on the less important ones. This will help you to feel less stressed about meeting important deadlines and boost your productivity.

    Tidy Up Your Work Space
    One of the easiest ways to improve your efficiency at work is to tidy up your desk. Clear your workspace and get yourself organised. A clean work space will not only improve your productivity, but it will also help to clear your mind. Give your computer files a clear out too. Delete old files and create new folders to organise your files more effectively. You should also try to get into a routine of putting your work away and cleaning up your desk at the end of the day.

    tidy desk space

    Limit Those Distractions
    Smart phones are one of the biggest work distractions. So be sure to switch off your phone, or at least your notifications during work hours. This will prevent you from checking your phone and help you to stay focused on your to-do list. The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media channels on your work desktop, you should stay logged out of your personal account to avoid those distracting little ‘pings’.

    Update Your Office Technology
    Updating your office technology can really have an impact on the way you work. For example, investing in a faster computer or getting the help of managed print services can make a huge difference to your business. This is because managed print services allow you to create a bespoke printing strategy that fits around your business. This will not only help to save you money, but it will also improve productivity.

    Do you have any tips on how you have been more efficient at work?

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    Bookkeeping Tips To Help You Save for Holidays | AD

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    Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration

    Accounting and bookkeeping rightly belong in the realms of business, but not exclusively. The skills and applications needed cross into personal finance too. Whether you’re in business or not, money management plays a big role in financial wellbeing, so we’ve put together some solid tips for everyone trying to save money. 


    Take Your Cue from Business
    Just as business owners might make financial decisions after collaboration with staff or advice from an accountant, personal financial decisions are stronger if all the family is on board and can have a say. Saving for holidays is a great way to introduce children to budgeting, for instance. 

    Budgeting means informed planning of your expenses balanced against your income, and preferably putting some kind of time frame on the plan. Having a time frame gives your goal some structure and helps keep you focused, especially if temptations to overspend crop up, which can happen in business just as easily as in family finances.

    Informed planning comes from understanding spending patterns and trends. You might think you know exactly how you spend money, but until you break it down and study it a bit you can’t be sure you’re not missing savings opportunities.

    Here’s how to dig into your spending habits.

    Track Your Expenses
    If you do any kind of business operation you should be doing this anyway, but it’s just as important for personal finances. Similar skills and methods apply to small business accounting, just on a deeper, more complex level. If it can work for business, it can surely work for families.

    Tracking your household spending is relatively easy with nothing more complex than a notebook or simple spreadsheet. If you take the spreadsheet route, remember to get a receipt for everything so you don’t forget a purchase when you’re at the computer. Once you’ve recorded the information on the receipt, you can get rid of it - unless you want to save it as a proof of purchase.

    Create your tracker with just four columns, giving them the headings of ‘Date, ‘Cost’, ‘Item’ and ‘Balance’. Start the balance off by jotting down the amount currently in your bank account. Remember to include direct debits so your personal records tally with what’s going out of your bank.

    Start a new page at least every month and keep your records up to date so it only takes a few minutes now and then. It doesn’t have to be a daily task unless you have a lot of daily expenses to track.


    Delve Into the Numbers
    Once you’ve got a few weeks of records, you can start figuring out where you can make the most savings. The mistake many people make when they’re trying to increase savings is to start by cutting out leisure or pleasure purchases. This isn’t the best way of cutting down on spending as you’ll soon give up if you start feeling deprived.

    A better way is to figure out ways of spending less on necessities. You’ll find categories of spending in your ‘Item’ column, and that will tell you where you’re spending most money. You can shop around for better deals, switch to zero interest credit cards, or look for better terms on utilities. 

    It might also throw up some surprises. Maybe you didn’t realise how much take-aways were costing each month, or how much you were spending online if all your purchases were small ones. It can be shocking to see how little spends add up over a month.

    Seeing the amounts in black and white can be a bit startling, but they also empower you to take control.

    This isn’t a complicated system, and just about anybody can put it into action. It’s a far better way of figuring out how to save than randomly trying to cut back.  One of the reasons there’s sometimes more month than money is because the thought of tracking spending can feel overwhelming. 

    Maybe like us, you’re saving for something special like a big holiday, or maybe you just want to manage money better so you can have a few luxuries or days out. Keeping a close eye on your spending in a simplified accounting system means you always know what’s going on with your money, and you can choose to some extent how you spend or save it.

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