Everything You Need To Know To Prepare Your Kids For School

Everything You Need To Know To Prepare Your Kids For School

Starting school can be a tough time for kids; they might be anxious about this big change in their lives, what they’ll have to do, and the people they are going to meet. This is why doing your utmost to ensure that your kids are prepared for starting school is a great idea. You’ll reduce nerves and anxiety and they’ll feel better prepared to learn and make great friends.

Read on to find out what you should do to prepare your kids for school:

Discuss Their New Schedule

Your kids may be anxious because they aren’t sure what their days are going to be like anymore. Discuss their new schedule with them. Tell them when they’ll be at school, the breaks they’ll have, food, and what time they’ll get home. This could ease their concerns that school is going to be like a prison and they’ll be there all day long. The days actually tend to fly by!

Attend An Orientation Session Together

Attending an orientation session gives them a chance to meet teachers and other kids, and allows them to get a feel for the lay out of the school and what to expect. This is an important step before sending them off for their first day.

Organise Playdates

If you can, organise playdates with kids you know will be going to your kid’s school. They won’t have to worry about making friends so much this way, and they’ll be glad to see a friendly face. Being a kid that nobody knows can be tough!

Talk About Their Feelings

It’s important that you open up a dialogue about your kid’s feelings, and make sure you don’t invalidate them in any way. Even if their concerns sound a little silly to you, you should never say that in front of them or make them feel that way. Listen to them carefully, and then address their concerns in a way that helps to ease their worries. Maybe they feel like they won’t make any friends, or that they’ll miss you too much, or they have a worry about something completely abstract. Let them know that you’re there to speak to them whatever their worries might be.

Highlighting The Positives

Always talk about school in a positive way, and make sure you highlight the positives of school to get them excited about going. You can talk about subjects that they are already interested in, playground equipment, and other things that you know will ease their fears about school.

Reassure Them

Make sure you reassure your kids that if anything does happen that they are unhappy about, you will do your utmost to rectify it.

After School Activities

If your child loves gymnastics, books, or something else, you could see if there are any after school activities available for them to join. This is another great way to help them to make friends and build their confidence, not to mention learn to love a learning environment.

Properly preparing your kids for school will give the whole family and easier and happier life!

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How can you extend learning outdoors past the classroom?

When you think of a classroom, what springs to mind? Most likely it is a room, indoors, with desks and chairs facing a whiteboard on the wall. It’s important to remember, however, that this isn’t the only environment that a child can learn in and, as research has shown, it may not be the most effective.

Many children are going home after school and spending time on their tablets and devices instead of playing outdoors like previous generations. Introducing outdoor play at school provides them with an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and engage with nature.

Together with Infinite Playgrounds, creators of sensory playgrounds, we look at the benefits of learning outdoors and how to adapt lessons to teach outside.

What are the benefits of learning outdoors?

In addition to encouraging children to appreciate the outdoors, there are many benefits of learning outside of the traditional classroom.

One benefit is the opportunity for children to exhibit some physical activity that wouldn’t be possible indoors. In the school yard or in a sensory playground, there is lots of space for the children to run around and play — raising their heartrate and keeping them active.

Another benefit is the encouraged use of imagination. There is plenty for children to discover outdoors; from plants they may not have seen before to minibeasts that catch their eye. Before the children learn what these are, they might use their imagination with their peers to guess what a certain animal is or what one of the plants is called. This stretch of imagination will become useful when they begin to write creatively or during drama exercises.

When children are learning about how plants grow, for example, it will make the lesson much more memorable for them when they can touch the plants and the soil. 92% of teachers surveyed said that their pupils were more engaged with learning when they were outdoors.

85% of teachers reported that they saw a positive impact on their pupils’ behaviour when they were being taught outside. This could be down to the children finding more enjoyment in outdoor classrooms — 92% of pupils said that they preferred their lessons outdoors.

It is possible that the introduction of outdoor classrooms could improve school attendance rates, too. If children are enjoying their lessons more, it is likely that they will have more motivation to come to school.

How can you adapt classroom teaching to the outdoors?

Teaching outdoors does not have to massively disrupt your curriculum, there are many ways that you can alter your lesson plans so that you can take them outside. The main thing about outdoor teaching is that it shouldn’t be overly teacher-controlled — it is important for children to be aware of the safety hazards outdoors. But apart from this, they should be encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones.

There are many new resources that become available when a lesson is taught outside, as well as all of the extra space. Teaching outside can be beneficial for the teacher as well as the children, 90% of staff found that outdoor teaching was useful for curriculum delivery.

Maths

Depending on the age group of your class, there are many ways that you can teach maths outdoors. For the younger children, consider bringing shapes and counting outdoors and asking some of the following questions: How many petals does this flower have? How many circles can you spot? How many legs does the picnic table have? You could take pictures of the shapes to have a look at when you get back into the classroom.

For an older age group, encourage them to measure each other doing the long jump or provide stop watches and let them time each other running a certain distance. When you get back to the classroom, teach the children how to plot these numbers on a graph.

English

For English, consider allowing the children to explore the area around them and draw some minibeasts that they can see. When you get back to the classroom encourage the children to write down a short story involving their pictures. For younger children, they could colour in the pictures when they get back and talk about a made-up story.

Science

There is lots to do with science outdoors. You can teach children how plants grow and even allow them to plant their own seeds, visiting them regularly and explaining the scientific processes behind the plant’s development. Children can also learn about heart rate through exercising outdoors.

It appears that most lessons can be taken outdoors and the benefits are hard to ignore, the next time you are planning your week ahead consider taking the class outdoors and allow your pupils to push their boundaries.

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Hiring The Right Childcare For Your Family

Hiring The Right Childcare For Your Family

When it comes to your children, you will always want the best for them. This sometimes means making sacrifices for them. We are quite lucky at the moment that I have been making enough from my blog and freelance work for me to work around the kids (thus attending all parent evenings, assemblies, clubs) and enabling Steve to work part time.

However we want to move out of the house we are in now as it is only two bedroom and Olivia needs her own room as Jack’s room is just too small for her to move into. Unfortunately the house prices around here are much more than what we are currently paying but we can’t move as Jack is far too settled at his school – and it is one of the best around for miles. The alternative? Steve and I both go back to work full time. But then that leaves us with a problem – childcare.

I had Jack at home until he was just over 3 – he then went to preschool for 3 hours a day Monday-Thursday and then in the September went to the nursery attached to the school. Olivia is a lot younger than Jack was when he first went into childcare and I obviously don’t have much experience in choosing it so I’ve compiled a few top tips on choosing the best childcare for you and your family.

Check, check and check again

Whether you are using a nursery or a private caregiver, you will of course be doing checks. When it comes to nurseries, check the Ofsted ratings – not just the most recent rating either. You want to know if they have gone downhill over the years or if they have improved dramatically and why these things have happened. You want to ask friends and family who have prior experience with the place what they felt.

If choosing a private caregiver, you will of course be choosing someone registered – but using an online background checking service is a good idea. Any caregiver should be DBS checked and registered with the relevant authorities. Again, ask around to see what other people have experienced with them.

Follow your child’s lead

It’s all well and good if you feel comfortable – you obviously do want to be comfortable leaving your child somewhere but it is your child who should have the ultimate decision. I am not saying ask your child outright where they want to go – that’s silly – but you will know if your child feels comfortable or not in a caregiving setting. They may be really unhappy at the nursery but prefer a childminder – once you’ve done your research, are you really going to ignore your child’s feelings and put them in the caregiving setting they dislike? If Jack had ever shown any signs of being uncomfortable in any childcare he had been in, I would have taken him straight back out. It is so important to follow your child’s lead when it comes to things like this.

Check your budget

Don’t promise yourself and your child the world when you may not be able to afford it. There are a few different care options in our area – a nursery, a pre school and various childminders. I know who or what we would be able to afford budget wise and would then work out which is the best for my child accordingly. Interestingly the most expensive option is the one I would least likely to send Olivia too for various other reasons and not the money!

How do you pick childcare for your family? Do you do these things above?

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What Type Of Mum Are You?

What Type Of Mum Are You?

Have you ever wondered what type of mum you are? No two mums are the same but plenty of us mums share some distinct features. I believe me and my friends have very different parenting styles but sometimes our ideas do align – they are subtle but visible.

There’s a great tool out there by Sunlife; a quiz where each question is designed to seek out your mum features and find out which mum group you most relate to. I took the ‘What type of mum are you?’ quiz myself and found out that I was apparently ‘The Sharp Mum.’

A sharp mum is described as an idealistic mum who is always looking for opportunities to help your kids learn and achieve their goals. I would say this is true – I’m not pushy but I will encourage Jack to do the things he is good at. He loves golf and is okay at it for his age so we got him some junior golf clubs for his birthday; he loves writing and we recently went into school to see his learning journals – he had written a poem which, even though I suppose I am biased, was brilliant for a six year old – so I have encouraged him to enter some writing competitions. However, if he doesn’t want to do them, I won’t force him – only if he really wants to do them himself.

They say that a sharp mum is charming, persistent and familiar with the benefits of Google – I’d also agree with this. Jack is only allowed on our devices when we give permission and we do have parental controls but I do often help him with his homework, looking through Google together for information.

When it comes to having to make decisions or sort things out you make a great mediator and your choices are smart and intuitive. The kids know you rule the roost and your explanations never give them any reason to doubt you; they trust you implicitly. Now I would say that Jack does trust me but does test the boundaries a lot – but I suppose that is to do with his age as well. He is getting more independent so he is bound to act out a little more.

I would say this is also true of my own mother from when I was little. She would encourage me – but never force me – and always supported my decisions, even if my father sometimes did not. As I have grown older, I have realised that we are more alike than I used to want to admit and whilst she does drive me up the wall, if I turn out to be half the mother my mum is to me, then I will be happy.

What type of mother are you – have you taken the quiz to find out? Were you surprised by the answers? I wouldn’t have called myself a sharp mum per se but the description given does fit me almost 100%. I’d love to know what type of mum it says you are…let me know in the comments below.

Why do we need to introduce colour into our children’s lives from an early age?

Babies and young children are fascinated by colour. It has the ability to stimulate their mind and grab their attention. A baby is born with monochrome vision and is unable to distinguish the difference between colours, until around 8 months when their colour vision fully develops. By 3-4 years, a child can begin to recognise and name basic colours as frequent exposure can help strengthen this skill.

But, not only is it enjoyable for a child to be surrounded by colour, it is also beneficial to their development. Infinite Playgrounds, educational play area designers and retailers of playground canopies, have provided us with more of an insight.

The significance of colour

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of colour in a child’s life.

As we know, babies do not have the ability to see colour. At 8 months, they begin to notice bright colours and this stimulates their minds. Exposing a baby to different shades of the same colour can help them make important colour connections early on in life rather than surrounding them with the same primary colours. Experts have said that showing patterns to a baby is important as it provides visual and cognitive stimulation for a growing baby as they focus on what they can see.

Having the ability to differentiate between colours is important for a child to get through younger life too. Learning colours allows them to recognise significant visual hues such as red as a code for danger and the meaning behind traffic lights. It is useful outside of the curriculum too — knowing the difference between a red and a blue coloured tap.

The knowledge of different hues of colours can improve a child’s ability to creatively write. Describing an object without saying its colour is difficult! Similarly, when they are exercising their imagination when creating a story, colour is an important part of descriptive techniques.

There has been a large amount of research done on the effects of colour on people and behaviour. Some experts claim that different colours enhance learning in different ways:

  • Blue — a colour that encourages creativity, if overused however, it can bring the mood down in a room. A cool blue enhances relaxation levels in individuals.
  • Yellow — a colour of happiness for children as it is associated with sunshine. This can lift the mood and excite a child due to its vibrant appearance.
  • Orange — this is said to enhance critical thinking and memory.

Teachers have noticed that they are happier teaching in a colourful classroom too. It gives them various colours to refer to when teaching and creating an overall pleasurable place to work. Research has shown that colours are more memorable than monochrome too — a bright and colourful classroom makes new learned experiences stick in the mind.

Add colour to learning

As a teacher or parent, you may be wondering how you can ensure that children and pupils learn the essentials of colour. From decorating your classroom to introducing games based on colour, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate colours into the classroom.

Outdoor learning is a fun way to get children engaging in new experiences. Consider installing colourful playground canopies and parasols. These can sit over areas of a playground, allowing the sun to shine through and create many colourful patterns for children to enjoy. Pupils can trace shadows of the patterns on the floor with chalk and learn how they move throughout the day with the sun.

Bring colour into the classroom by talking about its significance in different countries. Discuss how colours have different meanings in various countries, for example red signifies good luck in China and green is a colour of independence for Mexicans. Encourage children to use colour to create their own national flags and teach them more about the country.

For younger children who enjoy more hands-on play, introduce them to brightly coloured mats, books and toys. Research has highlighted the importance of messy play too — where children can take part in unstructured play and get their hands dirty! Let them play with brightly coloured foodstuff such as jelly and develop their fine motor skills too.

Dedicate part of your week to reminding children about colours. There are many games that you could add onto the end of any lesson too. How about colour eye-spy, colour matching memory games or presenting coloured flashcards and encouraging pupils to name them.

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