26/10/2016 11:04 BST | Updated 26/10/2017 06:12 BST

How To Survive Half Term

It's half term.

* pause for breath *

Aaaaaaand, carry on.

This life-shattering news is generally greeted in one of two ways by the parents of young children;


And....where's the wine??

Whichever overjoyed camp you fall into, it's best to be as prepared as you can be to survive this week - armed with a list of activities to get your kids out the house and entertained (or at least quiet!) for a couple of hours.

The recent drop in temperature and high likelihood of rain - can make the usual holiday outings a big no - zoo, play park, etc - leaving many parents slightly at lost with what they can do.

And what may you ask is my number one suggestion for your child - a trip to the cinema!

This may be a slightly surprising suggestion to some - but there are actually a lot of benefits to introducing your Little Ones to the big screen.

The difference between watching something in a cinema or at home is huge. For a start, to go to the cinema they're getting out of the house. If you walk or cycle there, they're getting exercise. Win!

Socially, it's a completely different experience. Instead of watching alone in the living room, your kids will sit in a huge cinema full of other children, watch how they behave, talk with them, and learn a lot about how Life works.

Developmentally this is really important. We know that children spend ever more time in isolation, or not engaged with their surroundings - sort of...zoned out. Watching a film in a cinema means total immersion, focus and presence.

It's also much better for their concentration - instead of plonking them in front of the TV and then going off to empty the dishwasher (or, erm... go on Twitter, like me....) leaving them to be distracted by the cat, the ipad, their toys and so on, in a cinema it's just....them and the screen.

That's it. So they can concentrate much better.

Parents have to be there too, which might sound like hell on earth, but really it forces us to sit WITH our children, share the experience, and then go home and talk about it. This, in parenting and family terms, is invaluable.

This realisation that introducing pre-school aged children to the cinema can have a positive impact on their social and cognitive development has inspired Little Screen - which launched this weekend.

And what, you ask, is Little Screen?

Little Screen is basically your children's first trip away from the TV and into the wonderful world of cinema, perfectly tailored to the developmental, emotional and practical needs of 3-6 year olds.

(This is very different to most of our first cinema experiences. Remember yours? I do. My mum took me to see Snow White, and to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever recovered from the shock.)

To help this engagement and focus even more, there's a presenter at Little Screen showings to talk with the children, ask questions about what they've just seen, and keep them entertained between episodes. There's also an interval for that all-important toilet and popcorn-refueling break.

So find your nearest Little Screen, get on down there with your Little Ones, and introduce them the world of the big screen.

You might even enjoy it too.

And then there's always the congratulatory wine in the evening! ;)