August 21, 20200

Could sKids be your new Buzz?

“There’s no better time to get involved in this highly resilient and rewarding industry”, says CEO Dawn Engelbrecht.

The global pandemic has caused financial struggle for many families, resulting in reduced hours and redundancies. While the effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for some time, it has also created new opportunities. If you’ve been affected by Covid-19 or are looking for a new direction and you love working with children, sKids could be the exciting next step in your career.

About us

Safe Kids in Daily Supervision (sKids) is a before and after school programme for children aged 5-13. It also offers holiday programmes and a range of innovative programmes including music, sport, and cooking. There are 70 sKids franchises operating 170 centres at schools around New Zealand.

No better time

During lockdown all franchisees went the extra mile to support their clients and families, as well as using the time to upskill staff, said sKids CEO Dawn Engelbrecht. As a result of their dedication, every franchisee has kept their business running and has come back better than ever.
There’s no better time to get involved in this highly resilient and rewarding industry, says Engelbrecht. You’ll be able to take control of your future by being your own boss, with franchise opportunities in a number of parts of the country. “As New Zealand gets back on its feet after Covid-19 and people get back to work, the demand for sKids out-of-school care will grow even more.”

Make a difference

People from the tourism or hospitality sectors, and people who enjoy working with children, make great sKids franchisees. If you love working with people and children, and you’re ready to make a difference within your community, then sKids offers a fantastic opportunity from as little as $35,000.  The company’s aim is to provide programmes and activities that parents can clearly see will be of benefit to their children’s education, health and wellbeing. “These give expanded opportunities to our franchisees, and present parents with something of value rather than just an ordinary after-school care service,” says Engelbrecht.

A proven business model

This has gained sKids an international following based on its innovative programmes and determination to have a positive impact upon children’s lives. It’s also a business model that has stood the test of time, having been in operation since 1996 and is recognised by the Ministry of Social Development as providing an essential service.
If you’re looking for a great business opportunity with low fixed costs in a growing industry, which brings joy to children and their families, sKids could be for you.


July 3, 20200

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein knew the value of reading. It’s true that much of a child’s learning is done through books, but the benefits span far wider than this. Reading transports children to other worlds, develops their imagination and a sense of empathy, helps them process their world, and is essential for clear communication skills. 

So as we approach the school holidays, what could be better than curling up with a great book? To give you some inspiration, co-owner of Wardini Books in Hawke’s Bay, Louise Ward, has come up with her list of best reads. Among these current titles you’ll find something for every age and interest, along with adventure, fun, humour, and surprise. 

Let’s get reading!


  1. Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Reading age 4+

At school Selina is teased and called mophead for her frizzy hair. One day, celebrated NZ poet Sam Hunt visits her school and Selina sees herself in his mad hair and love of words. As a result, she decides to let her hair out and embrace her differences. A finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards, this is a story about being labelled, finding out who you’re supposed to be and celebrating diversity.


  1. The Bomb by Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan

Reading age 5

Winner of New Zealand’s Book of the Year in 2019, this quintessential lKiwi summer story follows the journey of a young boy who dreams of pulling off the perfect bomb into the water. While everyone has an opinion about how it should be done, he discovers his own way to do his perfect bomb. 

A great book to share as a family when children aren’t quite reading yet.

  1. Rabbit & Bear by Julian Gough and Jim Field

Reading age 6+

Bear wakes during hibernation to find her store of food has been stolen. As she sets out to find it she meets a grumpy rabbit and tries to get him to help her.

Humorous, fun and educational. 


  1. Hattie by Frida Nilsson and Stina Wirsen

Reading age 7-8

Hattie lives in the middle of nowhere and is desperate to start school so she has someone to play with. At school she meets a little girl who becomes her best friend and the story follows all of the mischievous things they get up to. 


  1. Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker

Reading age 9+

If your child is a quiet introvert, this is the book for them. Ware is meant to stay with his grandma for the summer but after she has an accident he is instead sent to a summer programme, where his parents hope he will have meaningful social interaction.  Ware instead meets tough, secretive Jolene at the churchyard next door and the two develop a close friendship. 

A book about finding out exactly who you are and being comfortable with that.

  1. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk

Reading age 9-12.

Set during the Great Depression in America in the 1930s, Ellie’s family have lost everything and moved to Echo Mountain. Ellie navigates their new life on the mountain’s tough terrain, while getting to know the people around her and going through personal challenges.

Dark, full of adventure, danger and children making moral decisions.


  1. The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Reading age 9-12

Vita is in New York to visit her beloved grandfather who is widowed and has lost his house to a fraudster. When Vita sees the sparkle has gone from her grandfather she decides to get it back. To help her she recruits a crew of kids who all have specialist skills, and who work together to pull off her ambitious plan. 

A story about children being in charge and making decisions that force the adults around them to see who they are. 

  1. Spearo by Mary-Anne Scott

Reading age 10-14

Sean has emigrated to New Zealand from Zimbabwe with his mother after the death of his father. He finds it hard to fit in a school until he meets a boy in his class, Mason, and gets to know his family who are mad about spearfishing. Despite having no experience of the water Sean gets swept up in the family’s interest, and is thrust into a spear fishing competition.

An outdoor adventure full of action and drama. 


  1. The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward

Reading age 12+

Set in Victorian Oxford, young orphan Sin is a petty thief when he is offered the chance to join a covert operations group and become a spy to stop the next Great War. 

Full of gadgets, spies and secrets.

  1. If Only by Adele Broadbent

Reading age 13+

When Kayla tells a lie to go to a party with her friend, it ends up spiralling into a disaster. She

meets a boy involved with project Jonah, an organisation that refloats stranded whales, learns the truth and must make some hard choices. 

Themes of romance, pushing boundaries and the protection of whales.

Louise and Gareth Ward opened independent bookstore Wardini Books eight years ago in the heart of Havelock North village. They chose the name ‘Wardini’ because of Gareth’s background (children’s entertainer, magician and hypnotist) and to reflect the warm, magical environment they have created. Inside you’ll find a fantastic selection of books, and a passionate team of voracious readers who are always happy to help you find the perfect book. 

For more information go to

Co-owner of Wardini Books, Louise Ward




June 5, 20200

Gnudi is a variation of gnocchi with no or very little flour. Often served with butter and sage, I like baking them in homemade tomato sauce instead because it’s lower in fat.
This recipe is healthy, gluten free, simple to make, and absolutely delicious!  You need to use firm ricotta otherwise the mixture tends to be a bit soft. Otherwise you can add breadcrumbs or flour to the mixture to make it firmer, but of course then it won’t be gluten free any more.

Serves 4


500gm firm ricotta
200gm spinach
50gm Parmesan, grated
2 eggs
pinch nutmeg
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 x 400gm tin crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper


  1. In a hot pan, wilt the spinach with a few tablespoons of water and transfer to a tray to cool.
  2. Once it’s cool enough to handle, squeeze out all excess moisture with your hands and chop the spinach finely.
  3. Mix together the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, eggs and nutmeg and salt and pepper until well combined.
  4. Roll heaped dessertspoon amounts of the mixture into balls.
  5. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the sauce into a greased ovenproof dish and space the ricotta balls evenly on top.
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 180°C.
  9. Serve with a simple green salad and crunchy bread.

Print Recipe HERE >>

More about Matt HERE >>



June 4, 20200

sKids has been teaching kids to cook healthy meals since 2016, so we are already sold on the massive benefits learning to cook can have for life long health and wellbeing.  Celebrity Chef Matt Golinski shares his story on how ‘Cooking’ helped him through tragedy.

When the worst imaginable life event happened to Matt Golinski, it was cooking that helped him navigate his way through it. In 2011, the celebrity Australian chef lost his wife Rachel and three daughters in a fire at their home. Matt suffered severe burns in the blaze, and spent the next four months recovering in hospital.

When he got out and started the long journey of trying to put the pieces of his life back together, Matt turned to his lifelong love of cooking. He found getting into the kitchen to create a simple meal helped bring a sense of normality back into his life at a time when things felt completely out of control. In this blog, Matt explains the role cooking has played throughout his life, and the positive impact mental health it can have on anyone. He also shares one of his favourite family recipes for you to try at home.

What role has cooking played in your life?

I decided I wanted to be a chef from a very early age, and 40 years later I still love every day I spend in the kitchen. When you’re lucky enough to choose a profession that you love doing it never feels like work. Through cooking I’ve made hundreds of great friends, travelled all over the world, and had the opportunity to make thousands of people happy by filling their bellies.

How did cooking help you through the traumatic experience of losing your family?

In a time when I was feeling so helpless and most things were out of my control, I was still able to do the thing I loved and that helped a lot. After four months in hospital, the first thing I did was pick up a knife and make dinner so I could at least have that tiny bit of normality back in my life.

What are some benefits of children learning to cook at home and school?

Cooking involves organisation, timing, science, patience and fine motor skills which can all be transferred to other aspects of life, but most importantly it’s an opportunity to be creative and have fun. And the best part is that the end product is something you can eat!

Any tips for parents wanting to get their children more involved in the kitchen?

Always keep things simple and fun. Choose things to cook that don’t make piles of mess or take a long time. Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious.

More about Matt HERE >>



May 22, 20200

 “There’s nothing better than having an activity like baking or cooking together because it allows you to do something while also allowing you to talk one-on-one.” Dr Sarah Watson, Senior Child & Adolescent Clinical Psychologist

The pandemic has changed so many aspects of our daily lives, including an extended period at home for most families. As children start to return to their schools many parents are wondering how to best support them through this transition.  For many children, the return to school will be a straightforward one. They’re excited about seeing friends, getting back into the classroom and taking part in their regular activities. For others the change will be harder. COVID-19 and measures to contain its spread have disrupted nearly every aspect of children’s lives, potentially fuelling anxiety.
As a parent or caregiver, you can help support your child’s healthy development and relieve their stress, as they return to school. In this blog, senior clinical child and adolescent psychologist Sarah Watson explains how spending time with your children and doing simple activities can make a difference.


One of the most important things parents can do is talk to their children about returning to school and find out how they’re feeling. Some children will be excited, while others may be concerned, uncertain and anxious.
If the latter is the case it’s important to give them as much information as they ask for, says Dr Watson. “What breeds anxiety is often the unknown. So the more information you can get from the right source, the better.”
Regardless of age, children need to know you’re available to listen so ensure you make time for them, which will promote a sense of security and protect their mental wellbeing. “Foster an environment where asking questions is encouraged and non judgemental answers are provided. Children won’t ask parents questions if they patronise or criticise.”

Warning signs

Look out for any extreme changes in your child’s mood and behaviour over an extended period, particularly withdrawal or anger, as this can be a concern, says Dr Watson. The causes of this change can range from bullying to friendship issues, hormonal changes, or the impacts of COVID-19.
Particularly for younger children, proximity seeking is another indication of anxiety. This is when a usually independent child suddenly becomes clingy with a primary caregiver, to gain a sense of security. If your child shows these signs, it’s time to try and find out the origin of their feelings and potentially seek support from a professional.

Have a plan

If your child is feeling nervous about returning to school, think of ways you can help ease their fears. If you can’t answer a question they have, it can also be useful to get in touch with their teachers for extra information.
Find out what is worrying them in particular and come up with a plan together. For example, if they’re worrying about the social aspect of school, you could organise a place where they can meet a friend before school starts so they can go in together. “Often once they get past that first day, sometimes it’s even just the first 10 minutes, they feel a lot better,” says Dr Watson.

Shared activities

One of the best things parents can do to support their children, particularly through this time of transition, is to build a trusted relationship. A great way to do this is to do activities with your child because it creates a safe environment, says Dr Watson. “There’s nothing better than having an activity like baking or cooking together because it allows you to do something while also allowing you to talk one-on-one.”

Children thrive when they feel safe and protected and when their family connections are stable. So spending quality time with your children and regularly checking in on their wellbeing will make them feel loved, accepted and secure.


About Dr Sarah Watson

Dr. Sarah Watson, BA, MA(Hons), DClinPsych, MNZCCP
Dr. Sarah Watson is the Clinic Director and a registered Child & Adolescent Clinical Psychologist at Totally Psyched. Sarah has over ten years experience as both a Psychologist and leader across a variety of settings, all specialising in working with children, adolescents and their families.

Sarah worked for many years in one of Auckland’s Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) as a Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead of teams and led many specific multi-agency ministerial projects. Prior to her doctoral clinical training and having a family of her own, Sarah worked in South London & Maudsley for several years as a Residential Social Worker and Assistant Psychologist; working with children with severe mental health needs who were in residential government care (‘children’s homes’).

Sarah has successfully been in private practice based in the hub of Auckland’s North Shore for over eight years. She is regularly asked for her expert opinion and has appeared on various radio and television shows including The Project, Breakfast, Seven Sharp, The Paul Henry Show and is regularly contributing to the NZ Herald and other media. She is also a speaker at professional development conferences for GP’s, Teachers, Professionals, Social Workers, RTLB’s and Counsellors nationwide.

Sarah maintains a small clinical caseload, working with children, adolescents and families across a variety of areas. She is particularly interested in working with families affected by neurodevelopmental delays (ADHD & ASD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Professional Qualifications
Doctorate of Clinical Psychology, University of Auckland
Master of Arts (Psychology), awarded with Honours, Massey University
Bachelor of Arts (Education and Psychology), The University of Auckland

Memberships to Professional Colleges/Boards
New Zealand Psychologists Registration Board (Clinical Scope)
New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists (NZCCP)
ADHD NZ, Clinical Advisor & Board Member