10 signs it is the almost the end of the school year

It’s the end of another school year and everything is rush, rush, rush!

You know it’s the end of the school year when:

  1. If someone asks you for anything, you lose the plot…literally. Do NOT ask me for one more thing! Triple this for teaching parents…..
  2. The kids look like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards. Their shoes don’t fit, trousers up to their ankles and hair needs a cut. If your child is in Year 6 or 11, times this by 10. Then they want your child to look “smart” for the end of term assembly. Hmmmmm
  3. The school send home “stuff.” It seems that every picture and book has been hiding in some drawer has been released and brought home in the customary plastic bag (so that’s what that huge plastic bag was for!)
  4. Talking of drawers….your child tidies their school drawer and finds several pound coins (oops that was the charity hair day money), 20 hair slides, 4 erasers, 16 chewed pencils and a party invitation from Sam dated 4 months previously.
  5. You keep getting emails from Mrs Organised for money for Mrs Teacher, Mr Head and Mrs Lovely the TA. In the end, you forget to give money to Mrs Organised and end up getting chocolates from the garage.
  6. Pack lunches get really, really boring as you haven’t had time to go supermarket shopping for 3 weeks.
  7. Your child’s teacher looks like she/he may pass out with tiredness or has the “I’ve only got Johnny in my class for 10 more days” look of glee on their face.
  8. Even the Headteacher looks like they need a stiff drink or a hair brush.
  9. You have overslept every morning for the last week.
  10. You realise that in less than 2 weeks, you have the children at home for 6 weeks…..and you’ve spent all your extra money on those gorgeous shoes….

So there we have it!

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Happy Summer everyone! I will be taking a blogging break at some point in the next few weeks so have a safe and relaxing break!

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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.

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Waiting in the dark for you to come home.

When you were a baby, I would feed you in the dark so that you could learn the difference between night and day. I didn’t want to wake your dad either so would tiptoe across the carpet to get a clean nappy. You would dreamfeed, all snuggled up against my skin, safe and secure in my arms.

When you were a toddler, I would tiptoe across the landing to your baby brothers room in the night to feed him. I would always check in on you. You would often sleep upside down with your bottom in the air! Or you would be smuggled down with your Dutch dolly called “Lovey La-La,” thumb in your mouth. You looked so small in your new “Big Girl” bed. You would often be surrounded by books. I would move a blond curl from your little face.

As a little girl, you would often tiptoe into my room, press your face up to mine and ask me if there were robbers at the door. I would take you back to bed and tuck you in reassuring you that no one could get in. Your little imagination would run riot. You didn’t like the dark and would insist on a night light. Your teddies and soft toys were positioned carefully on your bed so that they could keep an eye on you. Little soldiers guarding you from nightmares and frights.

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Now, I’m waiting in the dark. I’m awake you see as you are not yet home. I know you will always text me to let me know that you are safe. You are a good girl like that. But you are not in bed. You are not home. You are where you should be, out with your friends. But I’m awake waiting in the dark. I offered to pick you up but it’s easier, you said to stay with a friend. It’s all planned. That’s ok. I love that you are organised like that. It’s just that, I will always be your mum you see and I will lie in the dark thinking of you, even when you are not here. Have fun. Stay safe. My little girl.

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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.

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Pinterest. Take a look at my Educational Boards for young children.

I love Pinterest, don’t you?

I discovered Pinterest a few years ago now but have only just learnt that I can share these ideas on my blog too!

This board has lots of ideas for using play dough in different ways. Play dough is awesome!

To make play dough, mix 2 cups flour with 1 cup salt and 2 cups of water in a saucepan on a low heat. Add one tablespoon of cream of tartar (this is the magic ingredient!), one tablespoon of oil and any extras.

I have written an old post about play dough here

Here are some fabulous arty ideas for all those crafty kids.

I’m a big fan of the outdoors!

I have written a great post about outdoor ideas for your family here 

These ideas are great for pre-school children.

Did you know that without strong muscles in a child’s arms, hands and fingers, they will find writing tricky? Here are some great ideas to help build those muscles in a fun and playful way.

I have many other boards on Pinterest that you may love. Why not pop over there to take a look and feel free to rePin any you like. Of course, there are garden pages too!

Thanks for reading!

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10 things nursery rhymes teach babies and young children.

Do you know traditional nursery rhymes? Do you sing them with your baby or young child?

If you do then that is awesome! If you don’t then you really should! Why? Here are the main reasons.

  1. They teach children about language structure, rhyme and alliteration.
  2. They are your child’s first stories.
  3. Nursery rhymes develop your child’s vocabulary.
  4. They instill a love of books in your child.
  5. Your child will be a better reader as nursery rhymes introduce phonetic patterns.
  6. They are traditional and should be shared as a link to the past.
  7. Nursery rhymes often have finger plays too and connect the sides of the brain enabling your child to develop.
  8. They are great at improving your child’s memory.
  9. Nursery rhymes are social. We can all join in together.
  10. They are fun; they introduce fun and interesting words that can be manipulated.
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A baby enjoying books.

Some interesting Nursery rhyme facts:

Did you know now Humpty Dumpty was a cannon?

Did you know Ring O’Roses is about The Plague?

Baa Baa Black Sheep is from a tax system in 1275 and yes, the black sheep was the master (We sing Baa, Baa pink sheep at school!)

Jack and Jill were possibly Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Baa Baa Pink Sheep

Baa Baa pink sheep,

Have you any spots?

Yes sir, yes sir,

Lots and lots!

Some on my fingers,

and someone my toes…

and some on the end of my little pink nose!

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How can I provide stimulating play opportunities for my young child?

Since I wrote my post on Helping my child learn to read here
I am aware that I should also write a post about developing other skills through play.

I remember when a Health Visitor told me that because my son wasn’t crawling and went straight to standing and walking, he would not be good at Maths. What?? I then spent months trying to get my son to crawl! Well that didn’t work! He was so heavy that it was just easier for him to stand up and walk. All he wanted to do was run! I have read about the benefits of crawling and how it is a vital stage. see more here but I’m not sure about it just being good for Maths! I understand what my Health Visitor was trying to say but I did worry for a while which was not needed.

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A child crawling.

When my children were young, I noticed a difference in the way my daughter and son played during the toddler years (aged 18 months to 3 years old). My daughter enjoyed putting things in bags, my son would line things up whilst they both loved to push wheeled toys and prams. These differences were clear to me as I am a teacher with a specialism in the Early Years but many parents think of these differences are just part of their child exploring or of their child’s gender. However, there is more to these behaviours that you may think! They are called Schemas and it’s useful to understand them so you can understand your child better. In this post, I will give you lots of play ideas to link to each schema which you could try with your toddler at home.

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Little children love playing in the sand.

What is a Schema?

Schemas are described as patterns of repeated behaviour which allow children to explore and express developing ideas and thoughts through their play and exploration. The repetitive actions of schematic play allow children to construct meaning in what they are doing. Knowing about schemas can really help educators and parents discover what a child loves to do and challenge them using what they love. By understanding schemas, parents can recognise and support these urges and developments. It is also helpful to know that your child is not necessarily being naughty when they throw their food all over the floor!

Lining things up or taking lids on and off things.

This is known as a Connecting or Containment Schema.

Give your child lots of different sized pans, pots with lids, spoons and spades in the sand or water. With supervision, try a tray of lentils, pasta or dried peas for variation. They may also like shape sorter toys, handbags of different sizes, boxes of different sizes to put themselves or toys in, painting boxes around shapes and drawing around objects, their hands or stencils. They may enjoy threading ribbon in the fence or using thread to connect things together.

Wrapping things up, getting into small spaces (this is the one where you find things in your dishwasher or CD player!)

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Some children love small spaces.

This is called an Enveloping or Enclosement Schema.

Try den making, providing different sized boxes and blankets to play with. Add soft toys of different sizes so that your child can add these in their beds etc. Dressing up clothes for themselves or for their dolls/teddies. In my experience, the dressing up clothes that are adult sized are the best (oh! and shoes!). Being able to paint themselves (use coloured water!) or try hand/feet painting. Children may also like to cover their paintings in one colour after they have painted it! This is typical behaviour and they are not “ruining” their picture! They may also like to bury heir hands and feet or hide their faces.

Throwing things, jumping off things or pouring and filling objects.

This is called a Trajectory Schema.

This can be a hard one as the child likes to throw things whilst they investigate forces! Take them outside and let them throw pine cones and balls. They would love a slide or hill to run down. Set up targets or play skittles. Invest in a trampoline (with a net guard) and let them bounce! Play in the bath or with a garden hose pouring water and letting it dribble between fingers and toes. Play with water or sand wheels in a tray of water or sand. Dribble paint all over a page. Play with guttering and old pipes outside in the rain or mud.

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A child playing in the sand.

Pushing prams, buggies and wheeled toys. Taking toys from one place to another.

This is called a Transporting Schema.

This is a very common one. Let children push prams around (boys too! This is nothing to do with gender) or wheeled toys. Toddlers love to transport things from one place to another. It could be anything, so keep jigsaw pieces or more precious toys packed away! Let them have a box of “bits and pieces” like soft toys, blocks, real spoons, natural materials like stones (not too small for fear of choking), pegs, plastic cups, plastic fruit and vegetables. Let them transport these from place to place. Make it imaginative by adding places such as the supermarket, a car wash…whatever your child likes. Let them play with diggers, buckets, spades in the sand tray.

Rolling down hills, spinning, winding things up.

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Children love to spin.

This is called a Rotational Schema and again, can be a tricky one.

This is a little more unusual. Your child will like to spin on the spot or continually wind things up. Invest in some cheap wind up toys and have a basket of them. When I led a Nursery, I would find old watches or real items and have a box of those! Again, best to get them outside and ride bicycles or wheeled toys. A wheel barrow is another good toy for this schema. Take them to the park and they would love the swings or roundabout. Try roller painting with giant DIY rollers (again, you can use coloured water if you can’t stand to have paint in your house!). The painting rollers are also great fun with water on a dry wall and this action is fabulous for developing arm and hand muscles!

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Some children love the sensation of swinging.

Mixing sand and water, playing with food and making mud pies

This is called a Transformation Schema.

Transformation schemas can be messy! They are when a child likes to mix things together to see what happens. This may be paint, mud, food, water, sand….poo. It’s our job to help a child find the things that are more acceptable! Let them experience cooking, the elements (like rain on their skin), make mud pies, petal potion, mix sand and paint, glue and glitter. Plant seeds. Dig holes. Make paint messes and let them use their fingers to feel the paint.

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Toddler playing in the sand box.

I hope you have found this post useful.
This site is amazing….click Here for more ideas.

I have lots of other ideas on my Pinterest pages which you can found at Sophie (oldhouseintheshires)

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

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