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WIN A DAY OF SPECIAL TREATS! Nectar is celebrating the launch of its Savvy Shopper Search by offering Mumsnetters the chance to win a fun-filled or luxurious treat with an eXhilaration Choice Voucher for Her – plus 20,000 Nectar points! Click here to enter and find out more.

Hello Mumsnetters...

Given that we've had a zombie plan at HQ for many moons now, we're hardly going to let a mere pandemic stand in the way of our holidays (even if it is a threat to the whole of humanity). And so we're delighted to bring you our spanking new Travel content. Drool over our long-haul destination guide, get the camping lowdown and pick up some frequent-traveller tips from the experts – that's you – on everything from choosing a holiday to packing for it to getting to the blinking place without decking each other. And to celebrate, Luxury Family Hotels are offering a family break at one of their fabby venues. Just send us a review of your holiday to enter.

But if you're more of a hunker-down-with-your-facemask type of Mumsnetter, there's always our Book Club to entertain. Next month will be chosen from the Orange Prize shortlist: do take a peek and vote for the one you think will be the juiciest read for May. 

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Early learning goals to be watered down: Young children should do more playing, with less emphasis on learning goals, the biggest review of primary education in a decade will say when it is published this week. Sir Jim Rose, a former head of Ofsted, says current requirements for four and five year olds to write simple sentences and to use punctuation are "overly ambitious". He says he won’t scrap the goals, which only a third of children achieve, but wants to underline that they are aspirations and not targets. He also believes children need more support during nursery, reception class and year one, and his report recommends greater co-operation between teachers across the different phases. (Times 30.04.09)

Genetics link to autism: Genetics play a key role in autism, scientists said this week. A study from the University of Pennsylvania, reported in the journal Nature, said tiny genetic changes that affect the connections between brain cells have a strong impact on the likelihood of developing autism and related conditions. The scientists said many genes were likely to be involved in autism, but they highlighted one common variant which, if cut, could reduce autism by 15%. (BBC Online 28.04.09)

Other stories in brief

PROTECT YOUR CHILD ONLINE AND WIN AN IPOD TOUCH CyberSentinel needs 50 Mumsnetters to test its e-safety computer software. Endorsed by Dr Tanya Byron, the software allows you to monitor and limit your child's internet use and even receive emails with screen grabs if there's a problem. The product test is Open only to PC users (sorry no Macs) with children aged 6-15, testers will get a year's free use of the software, plus the chance to win an 8gb iPod Touch. If you'd like to take part, click here

Hot threads 

Competitions

This week's prizes are:

It's easy to enter (and keep an eye on winners' corner to see if your name has come out of the hat). 

CHILDREN'S COMPUTER GAMES SURVEY Please take a minute to complete this survey about children's computer games and have the chance to win £150 of vouchers for the store of your choice, plus £100 of computer games credit at Metaboli. The survey's open to anyone with a child who plays computer games (on any PC/Mac, or console but not DS/PSP). Good luck.

Quote of the week

AustinPowers on why she won't be keeping her children off school because of swine flu: "At home 24 hours a day, they'd be in more danger of being murdered by me."

Looking for somewhere to take the kids? Mumsnetters say try:

Find more Mumsnetter recommendations for great days out near you in Mumsnet Local

Aitch's TV round-up: Endgame, Monday 4 May, Channel 4, 9pm
Hands up, I haven’t seen this, but I will be watching on the 4th, so I thought I’d bring it to your attention. It’s a political thriller: apparently, the true story of secret talks between Thabo Mbeki (at that time director of information for the ANC), self-interested British business and the South African government– talks which, in time, started the dismantling of apartheid. Check out the cast list: William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jonny Lee Miller, Clarke Peters, Timothy West (and, presumably, some women, too)...

Blog of the week: Three Good Things Happen Every Day
serenedays paints an (almost) positive picture of life in the House of Chickenpox: "Son 2 does not like being calamined. He is a fast, sure, controlled mover and we are no match for him. Son 1 returned with a paintbrush. I felt the bristles. 'No, you can’t use that on his spots. It’s too rough. I'll find you a make-up brush.' 'I like this one,' said Son 1. 'It’s blue.' When I came back, Son 2 was standing naked in the sunshine on the window seat, dabbing his own spots with a wodge of cotton wool, while Son 1 coloured in the rest of him..."
Why not join the MN bloghood yourself?

Recipe of the week: JackBauer's Banana Cereal Bars
Easy-peasy flapjacky treats that'll use up those browning bananas the kids won't touch. And, as it's basically all just mash, mix and bake, your little ones could make them with you. Great for a May Day picnic - or, perhaps more realistically, a perk-em-up nibble in the rain.

That's all, we're off to find a campsite for the Bank Holiday weekend...preferably not on a pig farm.
Love,
Mumsnet Towers

AWAY WITH THE KIDS - The Independent Travel Directory for Families. A carefully selected collection of child-friendly holidays in the UK. Accommodation varies from fun farm stays, award-winning hotels, contemporary cottages, scenic youth hostels, cool camping sites, and welcoming bed and breakfasts; all with an emphasis on providing you with the basis for fabulous family holidays.

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