That Friday Feeling!

There’s quite a bit of reading tonight – apologies.

Aaron in P7 has written this amazing poem during Good Mental Health Week and was happy for me to share with you. I could certainly identify with the emotions and I’m sure you will, too.

Anxiety and me 

A storm is brewing. My fingers are tense and it’s hard to breath. My heart is racing- 

What is happening to me?  I don’t like this feeling! Make it go away. I’d do anything not to feel like this again. How do I make this stop?

To laugh 

And play without a worry! Not to wear a mask and to feel free again,

like a bird that flies in the sky.

CHIP+ charity has been an amazing support for families and professionals over the years. I love how it has been rebranded as Thriving Families – so much more positive. It has undergone a ‘make over’ and a relaunch:

After almost 28 years as Chip, today we are absolutely delighted to relaunch our charity with our new name Thriving Families. We’re all living through an incredibly difficult time and charities like ours have never been more needed. We felt a new name that better reflects what we do everyday would help us to reach more people. Our goal is to become the ‘go to’ organisation known for improving the lives of families in the Highlands, by giving you confidence, empowering you to know your rights, know what questions to ask and have your voices heard. Onwards and upwards we go!

Chair of the Thriving Families Board Ann Darlington said:
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work done by CHIP+ over the last 28 years, and it is really exciting to be launching the charity into a new era as Thriving Families. I know that our brilliant team will build on past successes, rise to new challenges and reach out across the Highlands to offer support that will improve the lives of families.”

Our up-to-date contact details are as follows:
Phone: 07514 120288
Coping with lockdown and homeschooling
Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash
Being in lockdown, it can be really hard to stay positive and not worry about what is happening now and in the future. We are feeling the pressure of trying to help our children with their school work along with juggling our jobs, home life, paying the bills and maybe worrying about the health of family and friends too. That’s a lot of juggling.

The First Minister’s announcement on Tuesday of a phased return to schools from 22 February gives us some hope and a feeling of progress in the right direction, but it’s been a long slog and we are all weary. 
In the way that we are kind to other people, it is really important to be kind to ourselves too. We are human and things will not always work out the way we would like them to. Give yourself a break as you are doing the best you can.
Try not to be hard on yourself, it is absolutely understandable to feel anxious and struggle at this point in our lives. It’s fine to ask for help too. Take time for yourself where you can, even a wee walk can be good and try not to compare yourself to Facebook friends who seem to be managing it all – they won’t be.

If you have worries about the way your child is learning (or not) during lockdown, school staff can chat to you about this and help reassure you.
At Thriving Families we are here to help so please get in touch and let us know how you are getting on. We can be contacted by email or 07514 120288 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:30am to 4:00pm. There is information on our website that was put on during the first lockdown but still relevant. We also post regularly on our Facebook page.

Our Information and Support Officer Catherine recommends the following sources of help and information:

During lockdown bumps2bairns have a daily e-mail with lots of ideas and suggestions for play, learning and having fun with young children. Parent Club also have lots of information on their website and social media about ways to support children, young people, parents and carers. BBC Bitesize have ideas and tips for learning at home too. 
Seasons for Growth have written an amazing guide to self-care and well-being during times of uncertainty to help children and their families. We’ve shared an excerpt below and highly recommend this resource.
Highland Council psychological service have information to help families on their website and you’ll find some really helpful resources there too.
Clear your head highlights practical things we can do to feel a bit better and help us take care of our mental health during the pandemic. They also list organisations in Scotland which can help.

Apologies for not getting the survey out in time for this week. We will use the information for next week and the following Thursday and Friday. (Monday 15th – Wednesday 17th there will be no school or home learning – February weekend and the Wednesday is an in service day where all staff will be working from home. There will be no new grid for 18th and 19th February) Click here for the survey.

A message from the Highland Council that we have to put out to you all:

For the attention of parents and carers in Highland

On 2 February, an announcement was made in the Scottish Parliament by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, about remote learning and the future return to face-to-face learning in schools.  This message includes the key information that children, young people and their families need to know.

The key points are as follows:

  • The remote learning offer, alongside support in-school for vulnerable and key worker children and young people, will continue until Friday 19 February.
  • From week beginning 22 February, there will be a partial return to schools as follows:
    • Full time attendance for Early learning and childcare children, and for children in P1-3.
    • Part-time attendance for young people in the Senior Phase who need to attend in order to complete practical work that is necessary for the completion of national qualification courses. 
    • Further clarification about future plans for the re-opening of schools will be shared by the Scottish Government on 16 February.
  • There will be a roll-out of testing for some workers in educational settings and pupils in the Senior phase, which will help to ensure that the partial return to school is as safe as possible. This is in line with national guidance.

It is important to remember that all of our Highland schools will be closed for the long weekend (Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 February are holidays, and Wednesday 17 February is the In-Service Day).  During those days our school buildings will be closed and there will be no provision for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. 

We are currently working through these guidelines and are planning for the week beginning 22 February.  We will continue to keep parents, carers and families informed.

Further updates about free school meals will be issued next week.

Meanwhile, the current remote learning situation continues, with the continued emphasis on following guidance from the Scottish Government to protect the NHS and save lives.  Thank you for your patience and support.

Just before we relax and look at the photos this week (by the way, how impressive: a family can not only get the children engaged in learning but Barney the dog is on the google meet!) I just want to continue to encourage you and your family in all that you are doing. I’m a bit fed up with the media talking about ‘the lost years’ in learning and how much the children are going to be behind. Yes there will be parts that your child will have forgotten and will need to be picked up again at school. Their social skills will need a bit more practice. Their confidence in going outside might need a bit of encouragement but it’s also really important to acknowledge the hard work you are all putting in with and for your children. Every time you expect them to help around the house and garden are learning opportunities. Every time you sit together and chat or walk together are clear bonding times for you as a family. Enjoy these bonus weeks when you can hold your children dear – this is anything but the lost years – it’s an opportunity for family time and acknowledging just how much this is to be valued. When many of you are beginning to struggle as the time is going on, just ‘reboot’ and relax. Turn chores into games (who can match the socks from the basket the quickest? Can we unload the dishwasher and dance to our favourite song together at the same time? Take photos of before and after cleaning the garage and turn them into a chatterpix, etc) and plan for things in your day together.

As you hit that Friday Feeling (woohoo! This is how teachers feel every Friday!) focus on the difference you are making to your child’s life in the long run rather than panicking about what they are missing at school. Leave that to us when we are back together safely.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Cleaner’s Challenge

This week Brenda and her glamorous assistant Emma show us how best to use a vacuum cleaner…will you get a Star Award this week for trying? Make sure an adult says you can have a go!

First video

Second video

Virtual Walk around Venice! (A wee change from Culloden Woods)

We can’t get out and about together for our termly walks but we will not be defeated! How about a virtual walk? The world is our oyster!
These virtual walks are really relaxing.
If you would like to join us on Tuesday 9th February at 2.30pm  please email and I will send you the link

Apologies – these photos were missed off Friday’s gallery.

Scottish Government’s announcement today means that hopefully all of our early years setting and P1, P2 and P3 will be back at school from 22nd February. P4-7 will remain at home until further notice. I will give further information once I have had an opportunity to look at what this means for the rest of the school, targeted children and children of key workers.

Please stay safe and let’s keep following the advice to beat this virus.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Positive Mental Well-being Week

What are you going to do to keep up your spirits this week?

Some of the children in P5/6, P6 in school today watched the video “Lucy’s Blue Day”, then made self-portraits of themselves with blue hair and shared their ideas of things they can do to lift their spirits if they’re having a “blue day”. This lead to us talking about Positive Affirmations. So the children made hand prints with an affirmation on each finger. They can use these when they need to “Take Five”, to remind themselves of their positive qualities and encourage positive self.

January’s End

Hard to believe we are at the end of January but the lighter nights already are proving that the seasons are changing as normal.

We’ve been asked to share this with you by the area office:

Households in the Highland who are on low income and experiencing fuel insecurities as a result of COVID-19 can apply for a Fuel Support Fund from The Highland Council. The £270,000 Fuel Support Fund has been set up by the Council using Scottish Government funding which can be used flexibly to alleviate financial insecurities.

Low income households within Highland experiencing fuel insecurities can apply for a non-repayable £60 grant. Full details including online application

The council’s Welfare Support Team provide free, impartial and confidential support to claim all entitlements including the Fuel Support Fund. Call free on 0800 090 1004 or email

In our community we’re also very fortunate with local people willing to give back to their neighbours. The GOODness project, led by Becky Wilson who is employed by The Barn Church and King’s Fellowship together has let me know about a fantastic gift for families.

This is open to any family who is not entitled to free school meals or any other supports but is just above that threshold i.e. families who are struggling but not eligible for usual funds. GOODness wants to give those families a food voucher and activity pack for the February break. Don’t be shy in coming forward. If you would like to be considered for this please contact me so I can get the number of vouchers that are required.

As we head into the last weekend of January I still can’t thank you enough for your patience, your juggling skills and your words of kindness. No wonder we have such lovely children whose manners improve daily and who are kind and thoughtful if the models they see at home are their parents. Assembly was about saying sorry today. There’s a time to forgive and a time to ask for forgiveness. I daresay as we’re all cooped up at home there will be times when relationships are not always perfect. Be humble and admit to your mistakes within your family. I know I have to go home today and say sorry for being grumpy (I know, hard to believe) last night. Take a good break from screens this weekend if you can and enjoy each other’s company. Sit back and have fun looking at the photos from around the classrooms and homes this week. Kim the cleaner is loving her new fan base as both kids and adults are sending her messages! Look out for Miss MacDonald’s sink – before and after- watching Kim’s video…Delighted to see the nursery polytunnel has arrived – we’ll be having home grown veggies soon! Lots to see from nursery to P7. Feet up, relax and view….

Aileen Mackay, HT

Weekly Survey

Thank you as always for taking time to complete this – you know it makes a difference.

Remember to nominate your child if deserved (!) for a star award and also if any have attempted to wash sink taps in your home.

End of January is fast approaching and we are seeing new life in the garden. Stay positive and reach out to others for support. We all need it at times – it’s never a failing to need help and also to be there for someone else.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Cleaning Challenge

The cleaners normally decide which class has been kept clean and tidy the best over the school week. Now that most are learning from home, we have decided to post cleaning tips for you! The cleaners will take it in turns to post a wee video that explains how they clean an area of the house. Perhaps you could award your child a star award for cleaning a sink this week either the way Kim has shown us in her video below or if you have a particular way of doing it yourself. Obviously you will decide if they are watching you do it, helping you or whether all you need to do is supervise based on your child’s maturity.

Thanks, Kim! Click here and here to get the first part…second video to follow for how to rinse it all off!

We have another session tonight with the counsellor that is in our school area that I’ve mentioned before. Come along if you can just to hear what is on offer. We have a few parents and young people already who have signed up for advice and sessions with her as we know waiting lists for primary mental health advice can mean a bit of a wait at the moment.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Fun in Learning Inside and Out

The engagement with learning both inside and outside in the snow and in the community has been terrific. Get any better and I’m going to have to classify you as staff and start paying you! Your children’s teachers are creative in what they are suggesting and it’s good that they have all been able to take turns in coming into school and nursery. My thanks, as always, to everyone working hard both at home, nursery and school. For those of you juggling work and childcare at home I’m just checking in with you all – it’s so hard, isn’t it? Remember the most important thing is to stay positive within your relationships as a family so if you are getting frustrated with anything learning is less likely to take place. Stop. Close the books or the technology. Play a game, go outside if you can or make a meal together. (Mr Speakman and P3 baked the other day and had a ‘coffee morning’ together eating and chatting. Lovely idea!) If you are finding bedtimes are all topsy turvy – you’ve been here before so you know that school routine will kick in when we are back together. In the meantime, find a new routine for you as a family..just try and make sure you register each child as close to 9am as possible.

Rose from our Family Team has created a presentation which has handy tips to help with routines and staying calm at home. I will put on the school website next week under the ‘Parent Help’ section. Thanks to those who came to the video meet the other night for it’s first sharing. If anyone would like a non judgemental chat with someone please contact me or your child’s teacher first so we can allocate someone who is available from the team.

Primary One enrolment starts on Monday which is all done online. I’ll send out the link for ease for you here on Monday.

Please stay safe. Keep washing your hands and enjoy each other’s company – virtually.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Managing Positive Relationships in Lockdown

As I mentioned in the blog post on Friday, Rose is going to lead us at 6.30pm tonight with a short presentation and then discussion around keeping our relationships positive and we can share some tips in keeping our children and ourselves behaving well towards each other! Join us using the code below.

Please remember to register your child/children with each teacher either by dojo, on the class stream (the children can do this one themselves) or if you are having technical issues phone the school office. The law remains: if we don’t hear from you each day it gets marked as an absence and three days in a row I need to come to your door and do a welfare check. I appreciate you are juggling so much but please do register to let us know you are all well – many thanks.

Looking forward to ‘seeing you’ all tonight.

Aileen Mackay, HT