October 20th-21st saw Potential Plus UK at the Ken Stimpson Community School, Peterborough, for our annual Big Family Weekend.  Thank you to everyone who came and everyone who helped: we enjoyed sharing time with some fantastic children, young people and their parents.

During this weekend we arrange workshops for children and talks for their parents, and, as usual, a great variety of activities and talks were on offer.  STEAM, School of Noise, creating train tracks with Network Rail and mixing up a batch of slime were just a few of the things that the children got up to at this year’s Big Family Weekend.  A definite favourite was CSI – I don’t think any burglars stand a chance against the participants and there may be some parents now regretting signing in their child to knife skills with PowerWood – whittling can be very addictive!

Joshua Seigal signing his poetry books at Potential Plus UK's Big Family Weekend, 2018

Joshua Seigal signing his poetry books at Potential Plus UK’s Big Family Weekend, 2018

We were lucky to have two authors with us this weekend.  Katherine Hetzel http://binkbooks.bedazzledink.com/authors/katherine-hetzel/ who took us to tea with a tiger, and Joshua Seigal https://www.joshuaseigal.co.uk/ who made some monster poetry and explored identity.  Joshua also gave us a great lunchtime poetry session, very much appreciated by everyone who attended – there was quite a queue to buy his poetry books afterwards!

Enigma Challenge for ages 12-16 got up close and people-centred with design – and learned how to survive on Mars. Family Activities included trying out the Science of Sport and – a regular event at BFW – the Chess Club. While the evening’s activities had to include a few Beetles! (Beetle Drive).

It’s always great to know that the networking and special friendships formed at the Big Family Weekend apply to parents as well as children – as witnessed by photos on Facebook of the last few parents finally winding down at 2.00am. What was even more amazing was they all made it up on time the following morning to the Sunday sessions!

Our Keynote Speaker this year was psychologist Bradley Busch.

Bradley Busch and Julie Taplin at Potential Plus UK's Big Family Weekend, October 2018

Bradley Busch and Julie Taplin at Potential Plus UK’s Big Family Weekend, October 2018

His address, entitled The Science of Learning was a humorous, interactive and informative exploration of how we learn things – and why we forget them!

Bradley drew on research to recommend strategies for successful study and revision and how best to judge our level of ‘mastery’ in an area. He also underlined the importance of creating the right balance of challenge versus support to build resilience,  a critical skill many children with high learning potential can only develop if they are provided with appropriate understanding and assistance.  Innerdrive, Bradley’s company, have a free resources page of infographics and videos at: http://www.innerdrive.co.uk/resources/.

You could tell how well his talk went down by the number of extra people who switched to his workshop on understanding the teenage brain in the afternoon!

Staff members Julie, Andrea, Rebecca and Caroline all ran parent sessions for us  – we will be making the slides from their talks available as soon as possible – and we were very grateful that members such as Sue and Andy Smith, Rowan Bendall, Nicky Speranza, and trustees Michael Speranza and Jason Buckley agreed to run sessions for parents and children.

Michael also took the photographs of our sessions in the slideshow. If you have any photographs or an anecdote or thoughts from your children about our Big Family Weekend that you would like to share, then please send them to Focus@potentialplusuk.org