The Beauty of Children

Children aren’t born to discriminate, they are not born to be prejudiced.  It’s taught.

Children are born with beautiful souls and beautiful minds, that are inquisitive about the world around them.

Social education for parents is often about behaviours and boundaries within their society, but it’s deeper than that. Discrimination stems from naivety of our differences, predominantly from the adults around us making presumptions and stereotyping. But it’s our differences give us our individuality.

It is our job as parents to teach our children the power of our differences, educate them in understanding others, and consequently, as I found out this weekend our children will naturally want to learn more about the people around them.

I am blessed my daughter; Little Miss 5 has proved her kind self this weekend, she made a friend named  ‘I’ at the caravan.

‘I’ is a beautiful girl, well mannered and full of charisma, she has a smile that could light up the world, and such a contagious laugh that made your own belly hurt just from hearing it! This same beautiful girl, also has a brain tumour and is severely visually impaired.

However, nothing can came between this pair’s friendship.

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They laughed together, danced and sang together, played together, shared toys and swapped toys together.

 

Little Miss 5 showed great patience as she taught ‘I’ to play snakes & ladders (large scale), while the young girl taught my daughter the true meaning of laughter, fun & friendships.

Little Miss 5, found a caterpillar and realising ‘I’ may not be able to see it, she picked it up and placed it on ‘I’s hand, ‘I’ giggled as the caterpillar crawled over her hand and said she’d never felt one before. What a lovely experience for the girls to share, one I hope they both will remember forever!

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The girls were inseparable for the entire weekend and have even swapped addresses, ‘I’ says she’s going to write a letter in Braille to Little Miss 5 (to be translated by her teacher) & Little Miss 5 will write a letter to ‘I’ (which her mum or Nana will read to her).

Little Miss 5 now wants to learn Braille too! She has her first basic braille book. 🙂

I cannot even imagine the journey ‘I’s been on over her short little 6 years, I hope one day I get to meet the mother of this truly courageous and inspirational young girl.  Meanwhile, we wish her all the best for the future and look forward to hearing from her soon!

Hopefully I can rest in the knowledge that I have given Little Miss 5 a good understanding of equality and that instead of discriminating continues to naturally embrace the learning opportunities that arise from her social interactions, to enable her to build wonderful relationships with all who cross her path as indeed she did this weekend!

So proud of both these kind-hearted souls ❤️

Jack and the beanstalk

Today we woke up to a letter from the giant:

Little Miss 5 was so excited, the letter was huge, from floor to ceiling , her face was a picture.

This is how it came together:

I filled mini bags with jelly beans and simply printed a label that said ‘edible magic beans’, I did enough for all her friends at school as Jack and the Beanstalk is their current core story.

I had bought new gardening tools for her, as well as beans to plant and pots-I put dots on the beans which corresponds to the numbers I put on the pots I made golden eggs by painting foam eggs I bought from a craft store, I found the paint went on easier if I papier-mâchéd them first, I also papier-mâchéd a ballon too for a large golden egg-which cracked dramatically under the great British heat we’ve had over the last few days! Luckily I managed to patch it up!

I had purchased a plastic ivy plant from Amazon, plastic golden coins as well as chocolate coins (I couldn’t resist), made a harp & large footprints out of cardboard, there you have it!

So we set to work on the giants requests straight away, as the magic bean treasure was irresistible!

we planted the beans.

we had an outdoor puppet show, where little miss 5 was able to retell the story-we used the same props. She even wanted to make us tickets

Little Miss 5, then measured her toys against the giants foot prints

There is so much home learning that can be done, just by knowing what core story your child is reading at school, and it’s not ‘boring’ or ‘homework’ as such, just quality learning experiences, in a fun way, but mostly it’s about spending quality time together!

Needless to say, we ended the day with a Jack and the Beanstalk tub-time and quite simply moved the props to the bathroom! Obviously reading the story several times too!

Little Miss 5 has a splashing time!

Digesting headlines

How much attention do your children pay to the news?

Do you think it’s important?

Growing up, I was never really interested in what was going on in the world, but as a parent I think it’s important that some news stories are relevant for our young ones.

My son has been receiving The Week Junior, for about a year now, it really simplifies news for them and great if your child is into fascinating facts! It is easy to read with plenty of pictures and entertaining headlines too.

This was our favourite article this week so to celebrate this great discovery we made Oreo penguins!-so simple (although ever so unhealthy)

1) dunk your Oreo in melted chocolate

2) stick on a large white button for its tummy, some edible eyes & half a skittle for it’s beak.

3) place in the fridge to set

4) Eat & enjoy!!

Making news fun……….and digestible!

The Little Red Hen

Shorter days, dark evenings, orange leaves, can only mean one thing-Autumn! 

With Autumn, comes Harvest! How many of your children are learning about Harvest at school? Generally Harvest is about thanking the lord for crops and so forth, however, I am not religious, but I do see it as a good opportunity to teach my children about counting their blessings and recognising all things good in our lives! 

Anyway…..

For Miss 4, we read The Little Red Hen (lots!), we have a couple of versions with different endings, our favourite being the one where the Little Red Hen shares her bread with the baker and the miller as they helped her, thus showing kind morals. 

This year I decided to really ‘topic’ it in our family home and yes, it started with a tub-time! A little bit of red food colouring in the water to emphasise the colour.

Foam letters are brilliant for story titles & repeatitive refrains, supporting early literacy skills, if you don’t have any, craft foam is amazing! A couple of bunches of corn to add effect, and to add a sensory approach. 

Laminated copies of relevant pages, enough to prompt the story sequence. A few Schleich figures of the animals from the story, so Miss 4 can retell the story. Laminated story characters (an alternative to Schleich figures) and of course, the book. 

Needless to say, little Miss 4 did not want to get out the bath!! 

We then took a family trip to Bircham Windmill in Norfolk.


 A lovely, family run windmill, with tea rooms, shop, farm animals, 


dairy, interactive museum, not to mention the scrumptious smell in the bakery!! 


But the main reason for us visiting, is the opportunity for children to bake their own loaf of bread, a great, realistic experience for a 4year old to understand that bread and cakes, and milk and cheese do not just come from Tesco’s! 

A fantastic, educational but fun day out and quality time together as a family!! 

Our bedtime read that night, you guessed it, was the Little Red Hen. 

Having a daughter, that is very much into her drama, the laminated characters I used for Miss 4’s bath previously, I then backed with a lollipop stick to turn them into puppets, low and behold, being one of our favourite stories, little Miss 4 was able to retell the story using her puppets. She made us tickets from scrap paper and we even had to ‘buy’ popcorn! 

Laminated puppet theatre-Such a simple, yet effective way, for children to develop their attention and recall skills! 

I then found a simple bread recipe, (with pictures so Miss 4 could follow the directions)

 and together we baked some bread rolls for her friends at school, as it just so happens to be the book they are reading at school for Harvest too!

I love little Miss 4’s enjoyment when we bake together, measuring the ingredients, mixing & kneading, so much learning, whilst having great fun, not to mention dancing to the radio! 

Huge, huge learning opportunities from just one story! 

Many of my posts mention learning and development aspects, I am by no means a ‘pushy’ parent, I strongly believe children learn from the interactions their environment presents to them, as a parent you have so much control over this and I merely aim to show you how easy it is to make it fun, so children don’t even realise they are learning! In the process you have fun too! 

Children are sponges so feed them as much as you can whilst they are still little. It’s not about them being the cleverest in their class, it’s about them recognising their abilities, consequently gaining confidence to explore, make mistakes and find their ‘niche’. 

So….what’s the story?

World Book day!🌍📚

I know, as a parent we can be extremely busy, & as much as I’m all up for making costumes, I respect this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

However, it’s world BOOK day, so before you go out and buy a random costume off the supermarket shelf, think about the books you actually read with your children, the ones your children know well!

Some children don’t even enjoy dressing up-keep it simple, there’s no competition for parent of the year award, best homemade costume etc, it’s about your child & installing a love for books. 

Bought costumes can get expensive, especially with multiple children, look around at household items you could use, and papier-mâché is the cheapest most valuable resource you could ever use! 


This was my son a couple of years ago as R2 D2-an adults white t-shirt, a few felt tips & a plastic mixing bowl! Cost=nil! 

Another year he was The snail & The Whale-must dig out those photos, absolutely phenomenal use of paper mâché!

This year Mr 8 (a huge book worm!) is Frodo Baggins from Lord of The Rings, and yes, he has actually read the books! (I hang my head in shame as I have not!)


A cheap eBay costume, with made accessories-paper-mâché feet with artificial hair. Homemade sword, again, paper-mâché & tin foil. 

Miss 4 wants to be Matilda, no it’s not a book she’s read herself, but it’s a book we read together of which she has a profound understanding and passion for. 


This costume was by far the most simple, I didn’t choose for her to be Matilda for the simplicity of the costume, in fact, that’s my point, I didn’t choose at all-it came from her. I simply assisted in putting the costume together.

So ask your children, what they would like to be for World Book day? What is their favourite book? Who’s their favourite character? 

Early literacy is so important, how often do you read with your child? Enough? How often is enough? 

I never read growing up, didn’t enjoy it at all, still don’t particularly, however as a mum and a nursery manager I recognise & understand the importance of reading with children. I’ve therefore always made a concerted effort to read to my children at least once a day, and as my first born got into Roald Dahl, so did I! 

Both my children could read and write pre-school, both my husband and I are busy people, work full-time, & not really readers, so why? I genuinely believe it is because I’ve read to them daily from the day they were born! 

So, if there’s one thing to do with your child on a busy working day-Read together.

World Book Day is almost like a religious festival in our house, don’t leave it until Wednesday night, get organised, make use of February half term-after all paper-mâché takes time to dry! It should be a fun occasion to share with your children not stressful! 

Valentines fun

I used to think it’s a bit strange celebrating ‘valentines’ day with children, but now I’ve grown to think of it more as a day for sharing love and kindness ❤️! Educating my children in recognizing their words & actions have an impact on the people around them.

I begin on the 1st of Feb until the 14th I put a heart post-its on my children’s bedroom door, with reasons why I love them!

Breakfast on the 14th normally consists heart shaped pancakes & lots of red fruit!

Followed by a couple of little activities to get my children thinking about their actions…….

 

…….and words…..

Let the children squeeze a tube of toothpaste or tomato purée onto a plate……

……then ask them to put it back in the tube….. after a while talk to them about unkind words and explain that like the toothpaste, once they have been said they cannot take them back.

 

Then, to end the day, needless to say a heart style tub-time…..

Plenty of different sized foam hearts, and plenty of red food colouring!! To get the bubbles looking pink, you simply dilute the red/pink food colouring in a water spray bottle and spray them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bath Paints

Shaving foam and red, pink and purple food colouring.

-go easy on the food colouring, depending on the product they may stain your child.

 

 

This was quite a mathematical bath, using a lot of shape, size, numbers, counting, colour and positional language during Miss 3’s splashing!

Screen time-A barrier to communication??

A huge debate I find interesting is screen time, and how parents manage it, not just for their children, but for them too.

In my blog ‘School Ready‘, I mentioned about my research with some local primary schools and the majority of EYFS teachers had stated that many children are now starting school with limited understanding of social interactions, communication skills and struggle to follow basic 2 key word level instructions, and the general reason for this is thought to be that children AND PARENTS being exposed to too much ‘screen time’.

Technology is everywhere and I do not dispute the fact that children need to be healthily educated to use it in the appropriate circumstance, in fact it came in very handy when my children where going through the ‘why?’ stage, we just ‘Googled’ everything!! To some extent I was also educated in many subjects I had never thought to question before, but the inquisitive minds of a 2 or 3 year old is mightily fascinating.

At this stage we only owned a very slow laptop and my husband and I had smartphones, (but not for the children)

It wasn’t until Mr. 8 started school 4 years ago and was going around friends house to ‘play’ that my niggles and fears began, I’d ask him what he’d played at their house and his reply ‘play station’ *gasp* ‘You’ve been there 3 hours and only played on the Playstation??!!!’ or, depending on the friend it may have been ‘X-box’.  Either way it filled me with despair and dread, I didn’t even know what games they were playing, were they appropriate? what did a 4/5/6 year old need with a Playstation anyway??!!  What happened to imagination? Exploring? Den building? Board games?

Well, it was here that my husband and I decided, that despite Mr. 8 wanting one for Christmas, there’s certainly no reason for us to buy one if he’s accessing one regularly at his friends houses!! Secondly, how anyone affords them in the first place is beyond me!

So that Christmas we bought him a child’s tablet with one games app (I think it was Angry birds at the time), and inside the box were  ‘rules’ from Santa, such as; not to be played with before school, always ask mummy and daddy to play with it’ etc.   He loved it, and I can honestly say, he’s had a lot more use from it than he would of a Playstation/X-box. He was able to use Google, You Tube and Spotify too!  Parenting success! 🙂

As of September 2016, Mr 8’s homework was computer based, with a super slow laptop and a child’s tablet, I’m not sure there’d be much ‘home’work going on, so that Christmas we upgraded to a family computer for us all to share.

January 2017, saw a family meeting discussion on the new house rules including our ‘screen-time sticks’, pictured below.

Red are Miss 3’s and green are Mr 8’s, for each chore they complete they are allowed a screen time for the number of minutes on the stick.

Screen-time can be computer or TV it’s their choice.  Screen time is only allowed after spellings, reading and homework are completed. There is no screen-time before school.  Clear boundaries for both aged children to understand.

Weekends are more flexible as we may have film nights together etc.

This is currently working really well, although I’m finding Mr.8 is enthused to do everything, while Miss 3 has little interest in any sort of screen time but still wants to help make dinner :).

So if that’s the children, what about us parents?

Do you have concerted screen down time?

MASSIVE MASSIVE PET HATE ALERT!!!!!!

It really frustrates me when a child who has been at school all day comes running out, excited to see their parent who has a phone 3 inches from there face and their thumb going at a rapid rate of knots-for if they don’t send that most important text, or like their friends most important post on Facebook the world will end, and clearly parents are finding these things more important, than face to face interactions with their child!Grrrrrrrr!!

I know it’s hard! I have to make a concerted effort, to put (& leave!!)my phone in the kitchen while, I help the children with homework, read, spellings and have a little play together.

Screen-times at meal times??-how do you eat yours??? Ours is most definitely a screen-down-time rule and absolutely NO exceptions (my husband finds this hard).  We all eat together as often as we can (hubby works shifts and I work late some evenings).  We talk together about our day, what we liked, didn’t like and so on .  It sounds like a cliche, but it works for us and I can honestly say it is more than valuable.

So before you have more social interactions with your 200+ Facebook ‘(sort of) friends’, than you do your own child, think twice before reaching for that screen, and you need to be honest with yourself!

Listen to your child and more importantly value their conversation.

Children spell love T….I….M….E!!

P.S I’m writing this while my munchkins are in the land of nod xx

School Ready

So, I just happened see some new uniform being hung in the store. 

Partly wanted to avoid and yet the organised parent in me only went and made a purchase. 

Miss 3, (4in a couple of weeks!!!) my youngest, doesn’t start school until September, but time flies and it gets expensive to buy all at once, so today, I bit the bullet and made the first (of many) school uniform purchase.

I took it to the counter, a tear trickled down my cheek as memories of the last 4years raced in my head. It honestly, truly feels like yesterday, when I held her for the first time. 

Where does the time go?

 I don’t really understand the emotions, I’m not sad that she’s starting school, I’m excited for her, proud of her and can confidently say she is more than ready!

Working in a pre-school myself, I send children to school every year, the phrase used by professionals is ‘school readiness’, this is an interesting topic….

I see it daily, how many parents feel that their child is ‘school ready’ because they know the alphabet and can count to 20. 

However, school readiness is much more than this, through a bit of personal research I did, many schools stated:

Children are lacking independence, basic communication skills, and emotional understanding. 

Lacking independence-this was things such as toileting, feeding & clothing themselves. Basic self care skills.

Communication skills-struggling to take turns in conversations, struggling to understand at more than 2word level, & unable to take direction. 

Emotional Understanding-sharing, recognising that their actions impact others, expressing their needs. 

Many teachers believe that screen time is a huge barrier for communication, not just the children using it but parents ‘ignoring’ children because of the infamous screen. 

How do you manage screen time in your house? 

Do you have screen-free times? 

Is your child starting school in September? 

Is your child school ready?