Monday, 29 July 2013

@EastKentMum meets Charles & Camilla

Royalty and a Reading Fairy in #Whitstable!

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall came to Whitstable this morning. After visiting the harbour and Whitstable Lifeboat crew (to celebrate their 50th anniversary), they enjoyed stories and activities for local children. It was quite an audience for my first public storytelling session for my new business Reading Fairy. When we sang "12345, Once I caught a fish alive", I was amused when Prince Charles said he recognized it. I snatched a rather cheeky moment to suggest he will probably get to know the rhyme even more now (in his new role as grandfather). I wonder if he and Camilla will sing it to Prince George? Of course they will - it's a classic!

Here I am storytelling with other local mums and friends.
(Thanks Rebecca for the photo!)
The Duchess of Cornwall & charity Beanstalk

I'm delighted that The Duchess of Cornwall took the time to come and hear the stories and rhymes the local children were sharing with me. Singing rhymes and reading to young children is critical in forming a strong foundation for learning to read. As co-founder of new business, Reading Fairy, spreading the word about the importance of learning to read and loving reading is core to our mission. Although we didn't speak about it, I know The Duchess of Cornwall is also passionate about children's reading. She is patron of the charity Beanstalk, which arranges for reading volunteers to go into schools and help children who have fallen behind with their reading.

With 1 in 6 children leaving primary schools in Kent unable to read and write to the required basic level, Beanstalk has launched the "Get Kent Reading" campaign. If you're interested in becoming a reading volunteer locally or want to know how you can fund raise or donate visit

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is patron of
Apologies to local families who came for Beach Hut Tales 

I'm really sorry that the Beach Hut Tales were cancelled today between 12-2pm due to circumstances beyond my control. The plan had been to run from the storytelling event at the yacht club to Westbeach for 12-2pm today but there were delays due to the royal visit. I will be storytelling for Reading Fairy at The Beach Hut Tales Tuesday and Wednesday this week and hope to see you there.

Local author Cassie Stafford will be reading from her new book on Thursday and Friday. I hope to see you there (and apologise in person!). Or you may see me and the boys crabbing at around 4 pm today.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

#Whitstable Oyster Festival 2013

My family and I are preparing for this year's Whitstable Oyster FestivalYou can follow me on Twitter @EastKentMum for updates as I enjoy the festival with my family and friends. 

Prince George's grandparents are coming to Whitstable

Prince Charles and Camilla.
Photo found via Google search.
I've just read via The Canterbury Times that Prince George's grandparents, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall will be attending the festival on Monday. One of the key reasons is that it's the 50th anniversary of Whitstable Lifeboat Station. Happy Anniversary Whitstable RNLI!

There's a Reading Fairy in Whitstable too!

I've just launched Reading Fairy with reading expert Charlotte Raby. We help parents, grandparents and carers support their child's reading from birth to starting school.

Reading Fairy will be storytelling at this year's Whitstable Oyster Festival for different age groups at The Beach Hut Tales. It includes Sensory Storytime for Under 1s at 12:30pm. Check out times and details on the Reading Fairy website. 

If you're interested in giving your child the best foundation for reading then take a look at this infographic about Reading Fairy, courtesy of In a Nutshell Studio. Pre-school classes coming to Whitstable soon! 

And finally, an apology ...

Finally, apologies for my lack of blogging. I'm in the process of launching a new site, so this blogspot will slowly disappear. More on that soon ...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Gaming & Education at #GEEK2013 #Margate #Kent

Should video gaming play a part in our kid's education?
For over a decade now I have followed with interest debates about whether or not new technology should play a part in children’s learning. We have seen the influx of millions of pounds of hardware and software into schools, heard the debates as to whether or not handheld devices should be allowed in the classroom, questioned the effectiveness of computer suites versus classroom computers, and much more. Most recently, educationalists like Sue Palmer have written about the negative impact television and video gaming has on children’s well being and development. And neuroscientist Professor Susan Greenfield has suggested that digital technology may be damaging our brains. This last point has since been challenged in a report by Nominet Trust (2012), a charity dedicated to widening internet access. The debate continues.

Addressing concerns about children and new technology
As a mum of two little boys, daughter of a primary school teacher and publisher of print and digital books, I regularly hear concerns raised by parents and teachers about new technology. The question is, how can we address these concerns? One option is to ignore that a digital revolution has taken place and is continuing to evolve, thereby not equipping our children with the key skills and knowledge required for a safe and prosperous future. Another option is to ignore concerns about internet safety and the impact violent games have on children’s social and emotional development. I plan to engage with the facts and allow digital technology to be a part of my life and my children’s lives in a safe and fun way – and one which equips them for the workforce of the future.

Just the other day, I was delighted to be tweeted by a GCSE Geography class from a local school asking whether or not I would like an airport to be built near Whitstable. They had set up an online survey where I could post my opinions and vote for or against the airport. This was a simple and brilliant way of using social media to engage pupils with a topic they were studying. At this point, I imagine most people reading my article feel quite comfortable with the idea of new technology being used by a teacher in the classroom. But what if I were to suggest teachers use gaming in their lessons? What do teachers and parents think about that?

Gaming: The Future
The Horizon report (2011) predicts that augmented reality and game based learning will be more widespread in education over the next few years. Pearson Education’s report (2012) highlighted a call for a reform of the education system – one which reflects the media-rich, ubiquitous world our children inhabit. There is also a move to not only demonstrate the motivational outcomes of using game based learning in education but to demonstrate real learning outcomes. Could it be that our traditional curriculum, and, in particular, our testing regime, push us away from the benefits of digital technology? These are truly interesting times and I look forward to thinking about, challenging and discussing these issues whilst playing at GEEK2013, Margate, UK.

Click GEEK2013 to find out more about this amazing event!

Join the debate:
I will be speaking at the GEEK2013 family event on Sunday 24th February and look forward to you joining in the debate on the use of new technology and gaming to support children’s learning in the home and at school.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out:

About me, Emily Guille-Marrett
I have commissioned and published print and digital products for some of the biggest global companies and imprints in the publishing industry including Pearson Education, Penguin Children's Books and Oxford University Press. I am a graduate of the University of Kent and have recently moved to East Kent to set up a publishing company.

Please note:
This article was written to accompany the GEEK2013 magazine. Look out for it in local KM newspapers and at the event.