Letting go of the challenges of parenting.

Being a parent can be hard. It’s exhausting, relentless and it can be, dare I say, boring. Although being a parent is wonderful most of the time, I think every parent at some time or another has wished for a sunny beach, peace, quiet and preferably a margarita in hand! But I’ll tell you a little secret that parents of little ones don’t know or even have time to think about….it does change and get easier; almost overnight and then you will miss those challenges with all your heart. The hurdles that we face as parents are only stages in our lives and we need to let them go to fully appreciate the parenting journey. Because of course, a journey always has its ups and downs.

I vividly remember my son going through ‘the yelling phase.’ Basically, he yelled in the night when he wanted something! It could be a drink, a biscuit,  a cuddle, a story, a banana (yes, really!) a new toy….just anything so that he could get our attention. The thing was totally irrelevant but because we had another child that we were frightened would wake up, we tended to go into his room as quickly as possible. This meant one of us was ‘on stand by’ throughout the night and we were exhausted. Of course, we could have left him to cry and yell but for an easier life and because we were not entirely sure he was awake half the time, we got up and went to him. He was only about 2 after all. This became part of my night time thing and I used to dread it. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly be this tired and still function. It was awful. And then, one night, it stopped. He slept through without the yelling! Could we be this lucky and have a whole nights sleep? He never yelled out in the night again and this phase in our parenting journey was over, just like that.

When my daughter was about 6 she would not want to go to sleep. We tried the usual stories, milk, teeth, bed routine that had always worked. We tried extra cuddles, we tried rewarding her with a sticker chart and we tried telling her off. Nothing seemed to work. There would always be a reason for her coming down….’ur I can’t sleep….I need a drink….mummy can I just tell you something……ur can I have a grape?’ The ‘Can I have a grape?’ became a family joke but this stage went on for about a year. Yes, a whole year of her coming down in the late evening as she couldn’t get to sleep. Then one night,  it stopped. As quickly as it began, it was over.

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I think what I’m trying to say is that the challenges you are facing right now will soon be done. The ‘problem’ that exhausts you or makes you despair will one day be over. Whether it be a fussy toddler that makes you cry with frustration because they will only wear red or the child who lives off fresh air because they never seem to eat a meal. Whether it be the child who refuses to sleep in their own bed or the child that will not settle in the morning at school. These are all challenges at the time but one day, they will stop and life moves on. Children grow and change whilst us parents try to adapt to the changing direction that parenting takes us.

So when your son asks you not to get stressed when he accidently breaks the window of your Greenhouse by launching a hockey ball down the garden, pause, take a breath and smile. He doesn’t remember the 3 DS games, the new Hoover, the car radio or the countless TV remotes that he broke as a destructive toddler. Those were our challenges as parents so let them go and move on. One day, I shall remind him of the Greenhouse window and hope it will become a family story to remember and retell rather than a challenge to overcome.
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Does your child know they are on Social Media?

More than 80% of 2 year old children have an online presence 
This figure is shocking isn’t it? I was shocked but not surprised to be honest.

This is going to be a controversial post and I am writing it fully aware that many readers out there will disagree with me. I do not want to offend people but I’m offering my views to the world. Take them or leave them. Debate with me. Let’s discuss….

I see myself as lucky. I have 2 brilliant children who are growing up to be brilliant adults. I also see myself as lucky as my children were born before social media really took off. I did not take millions of photos on my phone when they were babies and toddlers as I couldn’t. I took photos on a camera every now and then to document how they had changed or when we were on holiday. I enjoyed seeing them grow and change and I cherish these photos now as I can look back and smile at what they did and how they were. I sometimes wish I had taken more photos but do I wish I’d shared more on Social media? No I don’t and here’s why.

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Does your child know they are on Social Media?

As you share that cute picture of your little one covered in chocolate from their first pudding, think this…..who will see this image? Why am I posting this image? Can this image be shared? and most importantly, will my child want this image to be shared? In a modern world shaped by our online presence, will your child welcome this image online forever? That’s the real question isn’t it? Will my adult child want this image of themselves online forever? Because we all know that online posts create a digital footprint that can last beyond a lifetime.

As our children grow, they are brought up in a household with a set of values and beliefs that shape that family. It may be as simple as the children wearing a particular football shirt or it may be about religious/political beliefs. A child has no say in this but as he or she grows up, those values are embedded within them and are carried forward into adulthood. Those values, together with other cultural and social experiences, become part of the mindset of that adult. As adults, we expect to be able to raise our children in the way we see fit. I agree with this entirely however I believe that by putting images of children online for all the world to see, we are taking away their ability to grow and change in private. A 6-year-old child may want their image online of them in a Christmas jumper because they relish the attention they get from it. Ask that same child at 13 and I can guarantee that they wouldn’t want to be on one of those laugh, click-through sites in their Christmas jumper! By creating an online presence for your child have you not crossed the line from being a responsible parent to invading your child’s right to privacy?

This is a subject where the consequences are unknown as those first children who had their entire childhood documented online are not quite adults. Yet, this is happening now and as an Early Years educator I have noticed a real difference in parents today when compared with parents only 5-10 years ago. Many, many parents stop their child and document everything. And I mean, everything. Their child’s first day at school, that dress up day photo to show Grandma, ‘smile…oh look you have lost your first tooth!’ I see parents taking photos of their children and children posing with their hands on their hips saying,  -‘is this cute?’ I hear children talking about putting that on Facebook at aged 6. It’s a little crazy. It’s almost as if the fun of the event is overshadowed by the chance to get the perfect shot to put on Instagram. Lets play perfect life when in fact, you’re missing that part of your life by trying to record it!

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Does your child know they are on Social Media?

I understand why people post pictures of their children online. I have done this too. In fact, I did this when my children were younger without thinking too much about it but now, I rarely share their images as they would prefer that I didn’t. There is a reason why there aren’t many photos of me aged 13 with that stupid hair cut! Thank goodness that was never shared online! Perhaps sharing family pictures to your friends and family is the only time to connect, especially with families living far away from each other. I understand that too because that is my situation. But is it right? Should we be asking our children’s permission to post things online? I think from an early age, that is exactly what we should be doing. Or at least asking children how they feel about it. Giving them the choice or perhaps be the adult here and hold back until they are old enough to decide for themselves?

I think when our children are born or when they are tiny, we don’t quite get that they are people. That they are their own self, even from birth. As parents, creating an identity for them online is not our job. It is our job to nurture them and keep them safe. It is our job to help them become responsible, happy and fulfilled adults. Can we be sure that we are doing that when we are not respecting their privacy?

Interestingly the government have been debating this too in a new Data Protection Bill which you can read about
here

I wonder if this new bill will help in protecting a child’s right to online privacy?

If that is the case perhaps you should consider the legalities of posting that photo. It just may land you in court one day when your adult child objects to the photo you innocently shared today. Just a thought.

Perhaps you have never considered this at all. Perhaps you have and still post pictures online because you disagree with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Words of Wisdom from Experienced Moms and Dads.

A Guest Post by Claire Adams

I was approached by a fellow blogger and writer, Claire to see if she could write a post for me. Claire is personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development as a regular contributor at highstylife.com.

I am thrilled to introduce Claire’s post for my readers and hope you love it as much as I do!

Words of Wisdom from Experienced Moms and Dads

We live in the age of the Internet, parenting books, chat rooms, classes, information wells only a few clicks away, but as disturbingly contradictory or simply different as some of it may be, new parents and parents-to-be yearn for knowledge. And it makes sense – your thirst is driven by the desire to be the best parent you could possibly be, without sacrificing your relationships or neglecting your professional development.

However, few things related to parenting are black and white. It’s a beautiful journey, the adventure of being a parent, but it makes for a stressful one on those who decide to embark on it in this day and age. And as such, you could use some real-life advice from moms and dads who’ve been in your shoes and can help you prepare and enjoy as much as possible.

Let go of perfectionism

Whether it’s a messy t-shirt, a room filled with toys, or the fact that you’re wearing a puke-covered hoodie after 36 sleepless hours – you soon realize that the reality of parenting doesn’t even resemble those dreamy ideals. On the contrary, your baby will disrupt your lives beyond recognition, both in marvelous and less marvelous ways.

Your priorities will change, and so will your sleeping schedule, and the notion of what passes for “presentable” will alter. As they grow up, you will also realize that “she will never throw tantrums in public” or “he will never get hooked on watching TV” are also far-fetched, as every child has their own way of perceiving the world. The best thing you can do for your child’s peace of mind, as well as your own, is to abandon any perfectionist notion you’ve had thus far.

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Go with Frank

Mr. Frank Sinatra has spoken many a wise word through his music, but one universal truth that affects parents as much as it does every other aspect of your identity would be simply doing things your own way. That doesn’t mean rejecting any piece of advice you hear (solicited or otherwise), but still being able to have your own opinion in the chaos of other parents’ voices.

Every child is different, and while one parent will successfully potty-train their youngster with the help of training-pants, another might prefer to try a reward system. This extends to all behavioral patterns in life, so listening to others can sometimes point you in the right direction, while sharpening your own parenting “gut feeling” is equally important. No parent knows you own child like you do.

Go with Frank

Finance wisely

On a more practical, forward-thinking note, parenting could use some financial structure that will ensure your own, as well as your children’s security later in life. While a majority of employers often carry a family friendly health plan that includes various types of insurance, new parents could also think about writing their will, and a college fund that can be re-purposed if needed.

Keeping an eye on your retirement policy and other related plans for the future may seem over the top while you have a baby to care for, but the sooner you reach for the reins, the safer you’ll be if any problems crop up. The same goes for choosing the right guardian for your kids and setting up a contingent trust that allows you a reasonable amount of control over the funds when your kids finally come of age.

Finance wisely

Invest ahead

Some kids learn fairly quickly and adapt easily to new environments, both socially and cognitively, while others struggle with different challenges. As parents, we can sometimes be prone to misjudging our kids’ abilities, either perceiving them as flawless, or underestimating their potential. In both scenarios, it may seem impossible to relinquish some of our parental power over to teachers, psychologists and other professionals, but it could be necessary for the sake of their success later in life.

Sometimes that means tackling a speech impediment early on, or ensuring tailored high school tutoring for improving their performance in those subjects that are particularly problematic. Either way, there is no shame in recognizing a problem and handling it with the help of professionals.

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Don’t forget you

As soon as you become a parent, your children occupy almost your every thought. At first, this may serve as a mechanism to adapt to your new role as a parent, or anticipate and solve problems along the way. But if you continue neglecting your own needs, and pushing aside your identity, your parenting enthusiasm will also dwindle.

New moms and dads should work on learning to remember their preferences, nurturing their relationship and tending to their needs. As Elizabeth Silk, a New York psychotherapist working with moms put it wisely: “The happier you are, the better parent you will be.”

Adams, Claire 2017

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The Working Parents dilemma

I love my job.

I have said this before. I’m a teacher and I really love my job.

What I don’t love are the hours; the paperwork and the time commitment needed. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to be a good teacher and a healthy mum/partner. So many teachers are leaving the profession before they have really started. The holidays help but when you are working such long hours in the term time and don’t engage with your own children, something is very wrong.

So, here I am working more and finding myself at the same crossroads whether to work part time or full time. How did that happen, again?

Let me tell you a story….

Once there was a great teacher who worked hard at her job. She loved it. Then she had 2 young children of her own. Suddenly, there was the immense guilt of not always being there for her own children. She had an amazing partner but she wanted to be there for her children when they needed her. The teacher was also very committed to the children in her charge and would worry about them as if they were her own. She juggled and juggled and was promoted to a management position which meant more money but more juggling was involved. She was good at her job and because of that she was given more work which she juggled some more without complaint. The teacher went to university to study for a Masters during this time throwing more into the mix yet still she juggled. As her children grew they became involved in sports at the weekend so she couldn’t rest at the weekends as perhaps she should. But she was a working parent and that is what we do…until….

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The teacher looked up and realised that not all was well with her family. She realised that her family needed her at home. She also realised that she was unhealthy both physically and mentally and in order to sort out all of this, she needed to stop. Stop and breathe. Stop and live. Stop and take a pause from teaching.

After a whole year of being at home, the teacher began to enjoy life again. Her family healed and she felt present in all of their lives. A new fur baby arrived with a gorgeous brown nose which allowed her to get outside for long walks and to feel the fresh air for the first time in ages. She reconnected with nature; her first love and realised that this was living. She reconnected with friends lost due to having no time. The teacher began to exercise again and found that she needed it.  However, soon teaching called to her to return and she threw herself back into what she loved but what made her unhealthy. The reality of full time teaching had been forgotten and the same stresses returned. The teacher recognised this and luckily was able to work part time.

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Walking in the woods

Part time teaching is what the teacher needed and this worked out well as her children grew around her. However good teachers get asked to work more and being the sort of person who loves teaching, the teacher accepted all the new work given to her. However, full time work is bringing back all the same feelings and she feels at a crossroads again in her life. Will there be a time after her children have grown that she feels she can work full time or should she stay as a part time teacher? Part time teaching is not the career she imagined but perhaps is the career that she needs.

What is the answer? I honestly don’t think women can ‘have it all’ and survive!

What works for your family and do you have any tips?

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Could our children be anxious because of us?

There seems to be more children with anxiety in our society than ever before. This is something that I have been reading quite a bit about recently and the facts are quite staggering. In fact the research shows that as many as one in six young people in the UK suffer from anxiety. To look it another way, one in five teenagers in an average class will be suffering from anxiety (anxiety.org.uk). This is a frightening statistic frankly and it got me thinking about why this is happening.  As a mum, I know that there are many pressure of our teenagers which I have written about Here.

As a teacher and a mum I come across many, many children and their parents. I’m not a mental health expert and I’m only offering my opinions gathered from my experiences in this post. I certainly wouldn’t want to offend anyone but I wonder if the way we parent is adding to the anxiety that our young people are experiencing? In being such caring parents perhaps we are not helping our youngsters?

 

Here are my thoughts:

1. Perhaps by always telling our children that they are amazing at things, we are creating anxiety?

As parents and teachers, we want to praise our children for the things that they have done but I think the words we use are so important. Telling relatives that your child is going to play for a county team because they are amazing at sport actually creates tension, as your child is then expected to make that team. We’ve all done it; I know I have but labelling your child as ‘really good at maths’ creates a pressure for your child to always be really good at maths when their flair for maths may just be a stage. We want our children to enjoy what they enjoy or are motivated by, not become burdened by adult expectation.

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2. Do we overplay a ‘blip’?

As parents, we worry when our children get a bad grade in science or stick on a reading level but we really shouldn’t. All children plateau with their learning as that is the nature of learning! I’m often dismayed to hear that children as young as 6 years old are having tutor support because they received one poor maths grade. It may be just that they need to consolidate what they have learnt and then they will start making progress again. Tutors are great for children who need a little confidence or who have a barrier to learning such as dyslexia but all children will plateau at some point. This does not mean that they need extra tuition. If our children think the ‘blip’ is important enough to need support, they become anxious about their performance. Learning is a process that is complex and children must feel confident in their own abilities to make those next steps.

3. Do we overplay friendship issues?

One moment of unkindness is not bullying. Seeing you get upset when your child is working through a friendship issue will make them think the issue is more important than it really is. It really isn’t. All children have friendship woes, it’s a normal part of growing up. We need to help our children talk about their worries but not add to them by making small issues bigger than they actually are. I’ve noticed in my career that more and more parents are rushing in to talk about their child’s friendships when they should be allowing their child to figure some things out for themselves. Many, many children hit, scratch, kick, bite, pull hair and say unkind things. We need to teach our children tolerance, kindness and how to say sorry and forgive. Holding a grudge about a certain child that once pulled your child’s hair will also add to your child’s anxiety. They need to learn to get along with their peers and this anxiety about another child will not help them.

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4. Do we hide our feelings from our children?

I do this. I find it tricky to show my children if I’m sad or worried by something. I think that this is not healthy though. Obviously we shouldn’t be sharing things that are not appropriate with young children but if we are feeling sad we could tell our children that. ‘Mummy feels sad today but your smiley face is helping me feel happier.’ I think that children need to know that life can make us feel a range of emotions on a daily basis and that’s ok.

I’ve done all these things as parent at some time or another.
As a teacher, I know that praising effort is more important than praising attainment and I have always tried hard to do this with my own children. It does develop confidence and that is the one thing that young children need to try new things. Try it. Praise your children for the efforts they have made with a new skill rather than praising them when they achieve the end result. This is especially important for bright children when things come easier to them because they need the confidence to push themselves out of their comfort zone and learn that small failures are ok. Resilience to failure learnt young is better than feeling anxious as a teenager when exams hit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Take care everyone. X

 

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The End of the Summer….

As September begins there is a definitely an end to the summer as the children go back to school and a routine emerges once again for all parents. There are packed lunches to be made, children to get up and out within a certain time and bags to be packed. There are no more PJ days when we all hang out until 11am watching TV just because we can. There are no more going to the beach on a whim, days. However, there is comfort in routine and I don’t mind the getting back to three meals a day instead of eating brunch or the definite bed time. I know that many parents will agree with me.

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Teachers do this every year. It’s a strange existence in a way. After doing this for 20 years, I still get the same nerves, the same worry about “have I packed my school bag.” It’s the buying of the school shoes (yes, I have shoes that I wear to school!) or the making sure I’ve been to the dentist/hairdresser/optician. It’s like a start of the new year but in September with “this year I will resist puddings at school,” type mantras!

I often make plans in the summer to get fit or to lose weight but it never happens! I enjoy the summer like a teenager (apart from all the cleaning and dog walking!) and make the most of the long sunshine filled days and lazy time with my family. I am lucky in so many ways and I feel blessed. This year was no exception and we have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday. This will be my last year as a parent to two school children as my daughter is in her last year.My last year of watching hockey matches in the cold or enjoying a sneaky hot chocolate whilst we wait for her brother to finish rugby training. I will miss that.

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My funny kids cooling their feet in the 42 degree heat in Seville!

I wonder how I will feel this time next year?

So to all of you making new beginnings, whether it be starting a new job or watching your child go off to their first day at school, I wish you luck and happiness. I also hope that you have made strong and fun memories of your summer to look back on with a smile. Have a lovely September. x

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6 Teen Sayings of the Summer

I read an excellent post by Four Princesses and the Cheese Here

A brilliant post about the things Kirstin’s little children have repeatedly said over the summer. It made me laugh as I thought about what my teenagers have been repeatedly saying over the summer. So here is my version….. thankyou Kirstin for the inspiration!

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1. I’ll do it in a minute…..

Well you clearly won’t though will you?? Whether it be chores (my kids get chores each day) or taking your dirty dishes to the kitchen you won’t “do it in a minute!” You will leave it until I remind you and then get cross because I am apparently nagging you to do your chores! Sometimes your chores need to be done so that I can get on and do mine. For example, I would like you to walk Dottie dog so that I can mop the floors when she’s out….actually hang on, you don’t walk Dottie because that would mean getting out of bed before lunch. Doing it ‘in a minute’ means doing whatever the ‘it’ is when you are ready to do it. Perhaps you should say, “I will do it when I want to?”
2. Is that what we’re eating??

Yes, clearly this is what we are eating! Actually, I’ve decided to lay the table with food that I think you may like to eat but if you don’t I’ll just go and prepare something else…….obviously. We have actually eaten this before as I’m not a cook and I have about 3 things that we eat in rotation. Dad cooks more than me and you know that so yes, this is what I am eating and this is what is being offered to you. Eat and be happy.

3. There is never any food in this house!

Clearly as I let you both starve. Let’s look in the cupboards…..oh look! There is lots of food in there. In fact, there is also lots of food in the freezer. No, we haven’t got any treats/snacks/cereal left as you have eaten all of that in 2 days since I went to the supermarket. Why not eat an apple? No? Try toast then and why not drink more milk! I only bought 6 pints yesterday and I will have to go later to buy more bread and milk.

4. Where is my blue top/black jeans/clean sports socks?

I have no idea. Perhaps the clothing fairy has taken it?? The clothing fairy takes all sorts in this house and will sometimes wash and dry clothes too if she feels like it. Or perhaps it is in the washing basket having been already washed by the washing fairy aka me, and needs to be put away? Oh, that was your chore was it? Ok, well that’s where it will be unless……oh look it’s stuffed at the back of your wardrobe where you stuffed it!

5. You are so annoying!

Yeap. It’s my life ambition to be annoying. I love to be annoying so much that I go out of my way to be annoying, just for you. I’m not particularly annoying to your Dad or friends or even work colleagues. I leave that especially for you. Call me annoying mum! Do all of the things you need to do and I become not annoying mum. She is much nicer and less annoying apparently.

6. It’s only like £50…..

Yes. I also love that top/jeans/makeup brush for “only £50.” It doesn’t mean that I’m going to buy it for you. You’ve spent your allowance/earnings by August 1st? Oh! sorry to hear that! Yes, it’s only £50…a bargain apparently. And no, I won’t lend you the money until next month because you already owe me money and I told you not to buy that make-up/pair of ridiculously expensive socks. Yes, I know I’m annoying, you already said that!

So there you have it! The 6 teen sayings of the summer thanks to my lovely children. They are great really and I have enjoyed the summer with them but they can go back to school now please. Thank you. 😉

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6 Reasons why your teenager needs a summer job.

Both my children are teenagers and they have both got themselves some work for the summer holidays. I’m really pleased that they have taken this step as it teaches them so much. I remember working on a Saturday and in the holidays to earn some extra money. It was a little different for me because I started working like this from the age of 13. Nowadays, children can’t get many jobs until they are 16 due to employers needing to let the Local Authority know if they take on anyone younger than 16. This is due to child protection issues and makes things tricky for employers. This also makes it much harder for our teenagers to get work during the weekends or during the holidays. My son has some work experience with a family friend and this has worked out well. My daughter is doing some volunteer work this summer which is something younger teens can be involved with. However, whatever summer work experiences your teenager can get, it teaches them really important life skills.

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Meeting new people

1. Meeting new people

I remember working with a whole range of people of all different ages when I was a teenager and I loved it. My daughter worked in a cafe last summer and this meant that she was dealing with the public all day. This teaches teenagers important social skills about how different people communicate with each other. My daughter was quite shy but will now happily chat to anyone. I think dealing with some quite difficult customers has also given her coping strategies when dealing with tricky social situations. Seeing when people are rude can help our teenagers realise that they need to be respectful themselves. It helps to develop empathy and certainly builds character! Having to be away from their phones is also a massive positive in my book!

2. Knowing their own mind and developing a positive mindset.

Let’s face it, most teenagers haven’t got a clue what they want to do with their lives. Having a summer job can help them to decide what aspects of their summer jobs they enjoy and what aspects they don’t! Children can speak terribly to their parents but they wouldn’t dream of speaking in the same way to their employer. I believe this helps to develop a positive mindset in our children. Knowing that they can do a job well helps them to see what skills they actually have and are good at.

3. Developing Confidence

Both of my children have developed more confidence by having summer jobs. Confidence in their own abilities but also confidence when talking with adults. They are naturally quite shy people so learning to cope and being out of their comfort zone has been good for them!

4. Independence

Getting up for work, making their own sandwiches, travelling by bus, making sure their clothes are clean and ready or getting somewhere at certain times. All of these things obviously started at school but having a summer job has really helped my children to become more independent.

5. Developing new skills

There are so many different skills that teenagers learn by having a summer job and it obviously depends upon their job. I think the most important skill that summer jobs provide are to teach teenagers the value of their hard work and this is so important. They are learning that hard work means something and I am hoping that this will encourage my children to keep studying. They are learning about the working world and how hard it is! I hope that this will encourage them to strive for what they love rather than having to take any work to pay their bills.

6. Money Management

This is their motivation! Earning some money. Being a working teen is awesome! You get to spend your own money on whatever you want to. My daughter spent most if her earning last summer on make-up! And why not? You are only young once! My son is eying up some trainers but the difference is that he will look after them if he has bought them for himself as he knows how much they cost in hours worked.

I actively encourage my children to get weekend and holiday work. Do you? Do share your experiences with me.

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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5 Top Tips from a Reception teacher for preparing your child for Big school.

I often get asked how a parent can prepare their child for Reception and starting school. With the end of the school year almost upon us, I thought I would share my top tips to ease the transition for your Preschooler.

  1. Let them meet their new teacher. Most schools have an induction day or Meet the Teacher day. Don’t skip this! This is a really important time for your child to see what their new classroom is like. They will probably enjoy an afternoon or morning in the classroom which will be set up to be very similar to a nursery with lots of free play. The teacher will probably read them a story and like to chat to each child. If your child misses this, they will miss out on knowing what you mean about going to school. Hopefully, this will be an extremely positive experience and they will take that home with them.
  2. Let them practise wearing their uniform and PE kit. Lots of parents forget this and then expect their child to be comfortable on their first day. Lots of schools have uniforms in the UK and these clothes can be very different to what your child is used to. Children of this age can be sensitive to change and I know that my son was ultra sensitive to clothing (it was always too scratchy or zips were in the wrong place!). Make it fun! See if they can change into their PE kit using a stopwatch! Make it a game. Remember, children will have to change into their PE kit on their OWN with very little help so practise makes perfect (most schools will offer help but with 30 in a class….).
  3. Please don’t buy your child lace up shoes or trainers! Your child has to become more independent so help them as much as possible by either buying velcro shoes or slip on trainers/plimsolls (we call these daps in the west country!).
  4. Your child’s teacher will not be wiping your child’s bottom so teach them to do this for themselves. She/he has not got time to do this with 30 children in the class, think about it! If they insist on you doing it, you need to wean them off this. Visit the school toilet if you can do. These toilets can be worrying for some children. On a visit day, the teacher will do make sure he/she shows the children their new toilet.
  5. Do not hang up your child’s coat for them. They are old enough to hang up their own coat and know where to put their bag after a few weeks. Help them become more independent by asking them to do some things at home. Prepare them by teaching them to put their shoes together at home or putting some of their own belongings away. Start small and they can do it. With my own children, I remember showing them how to put their PJ’s under their pillow, put their shoes in the cupboard and making sure they knew where they school bag lived at home. These small things help them to be more independent at school too. Mummy/Daddy doesn’t need to do everything! Remember by helping them to be more independent you are helping them.

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Academics are less important believe it or not. If your child has basic self care skills, they will be able to access the curriculum with confidence. If they are very reliant on adults for their own care, they will find school more daunting.

If you want to teach some academic skills, my top tips are being able to write their name using lower case letters (my son couldn’t do this but he could make an ace Lego model) and being able to sit still long enough to enjoy a story.

I almost forgot…..don’t show them you are upset on their first day….if they see you upset, they will think they should be upset too and this is very unsettling! Do not linger, explain that they are going to have the best time ever (implanting this idea is very powerful) and that you will see them later. Do not dwell and cry with the other parents at a coffee shop!

So there we have it! I hope these tips are useful to you.

PS. Thanks to Joshua -NAME LABEL EVERYTHING!!!

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10 maths skills a child needs to attain by the age of 7.

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I have written posts on how to help your child with reading here.

I have also written a post about schemas and offering stimulating play ideas for toddlers and preschoolers here

I thought I would share with you the most important maths skills that I think your child should learn before the age of 7. Obviously, each child is different so this is for a typical child. Aged 7 is a crucial time for mathematical understanding in my opinion, especially the understanding of numbers. Your child will have enjoyed at least 2 full years in school and will be moving to Key Stage 2. By 7, those early skills will hopefully have been embedded and your child will be ready to move on. Unfortunately, this can be the age when gaps may appear in your child’s understanding and this can affect their confidence with maths. Helping your child with these early stages may prove beneficial as they mature.

I hope you find this post helpful.

The 10 maths skills

  1. Name one more/less than a given number to 100.
  2. Name 10 more/less than a given number to 100.
  3. Understand the number system to 100 (find any number on a 100 square)
  4. Count forwards and backwards in 2’s, 10’s, 5’s
  5. Sequence numbers out-of-order to 100.
  6. Know what each numeral represents in a given number e.g 45 the 4 is actually 40.
  7. Know all pairs of numbers that make 10 and 20. e.g 2+8=10 so 12+8=20
  8. Find a double or half of any number. e.g. double 6 is 12. Half of 12 is 6.
  9. Understand the principle of multiplication and division. Be able to recite 2,5,10 times tables (and others if they are keen)
  10. Know what a fraction is and find 1/2 or 1/4 of a shape or number.
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Encourage your child to use their fingers to count.

How can I help my child?

  1. Play games in the car. We are all time poor aren’t we? So when we are driving from A to B, engage with your child and ask them questions (if it’s not too distracting!). Learn tables, pairs of numbers that make 10, ask them to name numbers in between, less than, more than etc. I know so many parents who are waiting to collect an older/younger sibling so use this time to engage with your child.
  2. Give them something to count. Food is always great! Use raisins or sweets. Count the group of raisins in 10’s. Group them to practice division.
  3. Laminate a 100 square or number lines to help your child see what it is you are asking them.
  4. We prioritise reading but perhaps leaving 5 minutes for maths each day and 5 minutes for reading may be a better use of our routines with children.
  5. There are so many great Apps and online maths games for children. These can be great in the summer holidays as children do need to practise their maths skills during this long break. I really like Doodle maths, kidsacademy (for younger children) and let’s do mental maths. There are so many with new ones coming out all the time. We use Doodle maths at school and I know other schools use Mathletics. I like anything that children will use regularly.
  6. Make it playful. You can incorporate maths into so many games. Let your child lead to make it fun!

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