Showing posts with label Development. Show all posts

Helping Your Child Develop their Fine Motor Skills

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Many, if not all, of our day-to-day activities revolve around fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the skills needed to use the small muscles found in our arms, hands and feet that can only be developed through practice and lots of play. Activities aim to strengthen these muscles and improve coordination to allow children to develop their own independence.

We have teamed up with a pre prep school in Hampshire to share more on helping your child develop their fine motor skills.


Weaving Wool
All this activity involves is a cardboard cut-out and a reel of wool. You will need to tape the end of the wool to the piece of cardboard and get your child to wrap it tightly around the cut-out until it is fully woven and covered. This exercise offers a great way to get your child to exercise their creativity while getting them to practice their holding and gripping skills. For ease, you might want to choose a shape with a hole to make the process of feeding the wool through easier. This could be a circular or heart-shaped hoop.

Create a Post Box
Another option for getting your child to practice holding and gripping is a post box. This is a box with cut-outs for your child to post items through. These items can be bottle tops, balls or beads. You can just as easily turn this into a lesson on shapes by adjusting the shape of the cut-outs and finding objects to fit.

play dough

Play Dough 
Some may be fearful of play dough and the potential consequences for their carpet, but it can greatly help children in their development. All the squishing and squashing that’s needed to mould play dough can help your child to develop the essential skills needed to press and pinch. As an activity, you could create playdough versions of each other. This can make for lots of fun and stretch your child’s creativity.

Musical Instruments
One less frightening option that won’t create a whole lot of mess is musical play. Instruments such as the guitar and keyboard require a lot of finger work which will help your child to exercise the muscles in their arms too. This could also be a way of getting your child into the arts by igniting a love for music at a young age.

These are just four ways to help your child develop their fine motor skills. There are so many more and you can make it as fun as you like. The messier the better!

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5 Important Life Skills to Explore With Your Child from A Young Age

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Children grow up so quickly and giving them a toolkit of essential life skills can serve them well for when you're not there. We have paired up with a prep school in Buckinghamshire to share 5 important skills to explore with your child from a young age.

a child baking

While you might not be looking forward to the mess in the kitchen, teaching your child how to cook can serve them well when you’re ill or when they go off to university. You don’t need to get all the pots and pans out for this one and can just teach them how to make a sandwich or make their own toast.

First Aid
Children can be very clumsy. Getting cuts and bruises all the time. Showing your child what to do in the event that they injure themselves can teach them how to protect themselves and help others. For this, you can show them where to find the first aid kit and how to use all of its equipment.

Knowing how to deal with your emotions is a powerful skill to have and can allow your child to live a healthier and more fulfilled life. As your child grows up, they will face different challenges and knowing how to deal with anxiety can help them to increase their focus and see a clear path ahead. This can help them in their education, work-life and personal life by allowing them to identify how they’re feeling and use calming techniques. There are many mindfulness techniques out there that can help them to be brought back to the present.

This is an important skill that can help when working through tasks in the workplace or when completing schoolwork. Without having the knowledge and skill to organise, it can be hard to create a plan to move forwards and tackle a problem. Teach your child good organisation, get them to do chores from an early age whether it be making their bed or folding the laundry.

It would be unusual for your child not to find themselves in a predicament. Life is full of so many challenges and knowing how to tackle them is a valuable skill. It starts with identifying a problem, brainstorming to think of solutions and brainstorming again to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It’s a process that involves looking at problems from all angles and is something that you can practice with your child by regularly asking questions.

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Is Social Media Dangerous For Our Children? | AD

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Disclosure | This post is a paid collaboration with Manor House Farm

Boy lying in bed holding an ipad
The internet is an incredible tool and can provide children with a huge amount of helpful information, however many parents worry about their children using social media channels and the dangers they can bring. There are risks involved and there is always the worry whether our children are safe online as we let them explore the internet and use social media networks, however by talking about these dangers with your child, you can help to keep them safe online.
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The Benefits of Extra-Curricular Activities | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Wetherby Pembridge

Boy playing football

With the rise of technology in our homes and in our places of education and work, many parents are concerned about their children’s development. While tech definitely has a place in a child's world and plays an important role in education, it should never be forgotten that children need constant, real-world challenges in order to grow into well-rounded adults. An independent school in New York promotes a broad and balanced curriculum to ensure that children are able to cope with all of the challenges that life brings.
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How To Help Your Child With Their Confidence | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Parsons Green Prep

boy overlooking a basketball court
Having a confident child is probably close to the top of most parent’s lists when they’re asked what attributes they’d like their child to have. Confidence comes naturally for some children, they don’t question their place in the world and forge ahead quite happily without ever becoming anxious or worrying how others might see them. For others it’s not so simple and if your child lacks confidence, you’ll know only too well how worrying it can be. You can help your child by introducing new hobbies but one of the key factors in helping children to grow to their full potential is through security and routine. 
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Helping Your Child Resist Peer Pressure | AD

Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Surbiton High

boy sat alone
Peer pressure is an inevitable part of life, especially during the school years. As a parent, there are things you can do to help your child make sensible choices and resist peer pressure. A prep school in Surrey have put together the following advice to help you.
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7 Activities To Help Develop Fine Motor Skills

paint pots and paint brushes
Little J has just started a new year in school and whilst I think he has developed so much over the last 12 months socially I think physically he still has a lot of developing to do. I know children develop at different rates and it's only natural that we compare our children to their siblings or other children of a same age. When little J was younger he never reached his milestones on time, he was always months late. It was a worry at the time but with help and encouragement he did get there in the end and when he did there was huge feeling of relief. Developing his fine motor skills is something we are still working as he still struggles to hold a pen or pencil correctly. Here are 7 activities that we are using to help develop fine motor skills and they are perfect for those looking for home schooling ideas too.

a child painting
a child painting
Painting is fun but finger painting is better. Most kids love paint on their hands and painting with your fingers can help hand eye coordination and manual dexterity. Painting with your fingers encourages the child to move and guide their fingers in all ways to create a painting.

Colour Sorting 
If your child is struggling to hold a pen or spoon then you could create a nice activity using child friendly tweezers. Fill a bowl for of coloured pom poms and ask your child to use the tweezers to colour sort the pom poms in to piles. Tweezers help to develop tripod grip when holing then between the thumb and first two fingers. Once they have mastered tripod grip they can then use the tweezers to focus on pincer grip. If you don't have the child friendly tweezers then you can encourage the same movement squeezing pegs instead.

playing with playdough
playing with playdough
Playdough Bugs
Playdough is brilliant for little hands and helps to build up strength. Squeezing, stretching and rolling the playdough can help with fine motor skills. Using playdough cutters to create shapes can enhance play. Make playdough bugs such as worms which will encourage your child to roll or a ladybird were your child has to squeeze a playdough ball to create a body. If your child is confident using child friendly scissors then cutting playdough is also great for the muscles in the fingers.

Wash the Car
Children love water play and washing the car or something very similar is a great way to build up strength in the fingers, hand and arms too. Using a big sponge ask your child to dunk the sponge in to a bucket of water. Once the sponge is wet it will become heavier so they will need a tighter grip on the sponge. Get then to use lots of arm motion to wash the car and then to squeeze the water out of the sponge back in to the bucket, and repeat until finished.

Depending on the age of the child threading is a great way to get those fingers and hands moving. It takes a lot of concentration but can help enhance tripod and pincer grip. You can create your own threading activity my punching holes in to a piece of card using a hole punch. I would recommend using something strong like a lace to thread as string or wool can be too flimsy. You can also thread a lace through a trainer too.

Song Time
Action songs are a great way to get the fingers, hands and arms moving but are also lots of fun. You may already have some favourite action songs but a few of our favourites are Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Wind My Bobbin Up and Tommy Thumb. This activity should be done daily for at least 10-15 minutes.

squishy toys
squishy toys

Squishy Time
Squishies are everywhere at the moment so you will probably have some somewhere in the house. Squishies are really good for helping develop fine motor skills. If you can get your child to squeeze a squishy or something similar for 10-15 minutes a day it will build strength in both the hand and arm too.

You can make the activities as fun as you like whilst still helping to develop those fine motor skills.

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Top Tips for Leaving Your Kids Home Alone | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with St Chris 

boy looking out of the window
As a parent there are different stages of your child's life that can cause worry and stress. For me one of those stages was when big J asked me if he could be left at home alone. My heart sank and to be honest I froze. I had never thought of leaving him home alone even just to pop to the local shop because I honestly didn't feel he was old enough. I instantly googled and I found that there isn't actually a set age you just need to be sure that the child you are leaving at home is not at risk.

prep school in Hertfordshire has some pointers on how to help you prepare for leaving your child at home without you.

Before leaving your child at home alone, make sure you know that they are ready and that they feel comfortable. Don’t leave them if they are showing signs of distress about it. You know your child better than anyone and how well they can handle certain situations or deal with problems. Ask them if they have any concerns about being left alone and if they do, address them appropriately.

Discuss potential emergencies with your child, such as power cuts, a fire or a stranger at the door. Make sure that they know what to do in each of these situations and leave them with the phone numbers of several responsible adults that they can call if any of these things happen. It’s also important to let them know where you are going to be and what time you’ll be back.

If they have social media, let them know the importance of cyber safety and that they shouldn’t tell anyone online that they are home alone. Talk to them about what they are going to do when you’re gone to fill the time. You must ensure that they know how to safely operate equipment in the kitchen, such as the kettle and the microwave.

It is recommended that you call your child every now again when you’re gone, just to see how they’re getting on. Alternatively, you could ask a neighbour or someone else you trust to pop in and check on them.

Leaving your child home alone for the first time is enough to make any parent feel nervous or for me physically ill. However I know that the time will come that Big J will be left home alone and with some planning I am hoping that it makes us both feel more at ease about the situation.

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What To Do If Your Child Is Performing Poorly At School | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with St Hilda's School

An academic diary and pens
We all want to see our children do well in school however there may be times when their performance slips and their grades being to fall. This can be caused by a simple lack of motivation; however it is important not to ignore poor performance at school, as the issue could be something more serious such as a learning difficulty or bullying.

If you have noticed a decline in your child’s academic performance, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. Here are some helpful tips from St Hilda’s School on what to do if your child is performing poorly at school.

Firstly it is vital that you to talk to your child and try to understand what could be causing the issue. Ask them how they feel about school and if they are having any difficulties with their work. Are they having any problems with friends or teachers? Let them know that you want to help and that you are always there to listen.

It is also important to speak to your child’s teachers. They may have also noticed that your child is having difficulties and you will be able to work together to help them. If a learning disability is suspected they will be able to provide guidance and support and may even be able to offer an assessment to identify the issue.

Make homework a part of your family’s everyday routine and be there to offer help if your child needs it. It is also a great idea to make a dedicated space for your child to study. This space should be quiet and comfortable and away from any distractions, such as the television or younger family members.

Be sure to praise your child’s efforts and try not to be too hard on them if they do not achieve the grades you expected. Anger and frustration will only cause your child to feel like a disappointment and push them further away. Instead it is important to discuss where your child struggled and how you can help them to improve.

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Teaching Your Kids to Respect The School Rules | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Brampton College

blackboard with 'Our School Rules' written on
We are so lucky to be able to say that both boys have never been 'naughty' in school to the point were we have had to be called in. Although the oldest would deny it now they both are really happy at school and enjoy it. They have never not wanted to attend. We have always made sure that the boys know just how important school is and that they should try to be as good as they can be while they are there.

Teaching your children to respect school can help them to succeed academically. Brampton College have a few ideas on how you can help your child to respect school rules.

The first step towards teaching your child to respect school rules is to ensure they understand what respect means and the difference between respectful and disrespectful behaviour. It is important to demonstrate respectful behaviour at home and to teach your child to always be respectful to others.

Teaching your child how to speak to teachers and fellow students will help them to make friends and gain a favourable reputation at their school. Teach your child to always speak to others as they wish to be spoken to and stress that in the classroom it is particularly important to speak politely and to never use unacceptable language.

Behaviour is another important factor in school rules. Again you should teach your children to behave respectfully and to treat others as they wish to be treated. In the classroom they should always listen to their teacher and do as they are asked, without argument.

School rules often include instructions on how to treat school property and how to respect the environment. Children should understand that they must never cause damage to school property and they should always put rubbish into bins and follow the school’s recycling rules. It is essential that they take pride in their school environment and want to play a part in keeping it clean and safe.

Teach your children to value their own learning and success. They should demonstrate this by being on time to school, working to the best of their ability, completing homework and asking for help if they need it.

Lastly, when teaching your children to respect school rules, it is vital that they understand the importance of creating a positive learning environment. They should always listen to and value other people’s ideas and opinions.

I think it is important to teach your child right from the beginning of their school journey just how important school is. Do you have any little ones starting school this September? Do they understand just how important school is?

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Can A Poor Diet Affect Learning? | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Manor Lodge School

A bottle of milk and two oranges
There has been a lot of exploration into whether or not a child’s diet affects their ability to learn. The most popular answer to that question is yes. It has been proven that poor diet can negatively affect learning. Many researchers and education professionals, including a private school in Hertfordshire, believe that the type of food a child eats affects their cognitive abilities. In fact, a lack of fruit, vegetables and dairy is associated with poorer grades.

Specific vitamins and minerals are obtained by our bodies from a nutritious diet that play a huge role in brain growth, development and learning. That’s why a healthy, balanced diet is particularly important for school children.

Studies show that overweight children show less brain activity, most prominently in the frontal cortex. This part of the brain is typically associated with concentration, planning, motivation and short-term memory, all important aspects of studying. Staying hydrated is also very important, as even the smallest of drops in fluid can make it harder to focus on a screen or a page of text. In fact, it can hinder the ability to process information in general.

Children are growing and moving around a lot at school, meaning they need a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to support their bodies and minds. Start with a healthy, hearty breakfast, as skipping breakfast can be very detrimental. Cereals with high sugar content are not a good option, because they boost energy for a short period of time but not for the whole day. Porridge is better, as it maintains a steady energy level throughout the day.

All students deserve the chance to be healthy and successful at school. Do what you can in your home to ensure they eat the right sorts of food. There are lots of recipes online that can help you incorporate fruit and vegetables into meals for those of you who have fussy little eaters.

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Is Your Child Happy at School? | AD

Disclosure - This post is a paid collaboration with Mill Hill School

Boy doing homework

Whist the Summer holidays should be a happy time for our children, thinking about going going back to school in September can be a very upsetting and worrying time. School presents many challenges for our children as they may find it hard, they may not enjoy a particular subject, or they may experience peer pressure from their friends.

If your child is already worrying about the new school year this can be very upsetting for you as a parent. To help spot the signs that your child may be unhappy at school, Mill Hill School have put together the following questions for parents.

Has your child become withdrawn? If you notice that your child is spending more time alone in their bedroom and less time talking to family and friends, then this could be a sign that there is something wrong at school.

Is your child refusing to go to school or frequently complaining of tummy aches or illnesses? This is another common behaviour seen by children who are unhappy at school. 
Have you noticed mood swings, irritability or crying? Some parents put this behaviour down to teenage hormones, but please don’t dismiss these signs as normal, because they may need further investigation.

Is your child getting into trouble? Is he or she arguing with siblings or answering back to teachers? If you have noticed any unusual behaviour from your child, this could be a cry for attention. Children often display anger and frustration when they feel unable to explain their emotions.

If you believe that your son or daughter may be unhappy about something in their school life, the best thing to do is talk to them. Communication is key in establishing the cause of the issues and finding a solution. Reassure your child that they can talk to you about anything that may be upsetting them. It may also be a good idea to let their teacher know of anything they can keep an eye on in the classroom.

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EasyRead Time Teacher Watch | Review

Disclosure - We were sent the EasyRead Time Teacher Watch for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. This post also contains affiliate links.

Boy looking at his watch
Most kids will be excited to just have 6 weeks left in school before the Summer, however little J is really looking forward to learning all about their new topic at school this term, learning to tell the time. Time is something we have tried to teach little J in the past but he wasn't ready. We were recently sent the EasyRead Time Teacher watch and we are hoping combining the watch and learning about time in school he will soon be a whizz at telling the time.

The EasyRead Time Teacher Watch comes in two different versions, minutes past and minutes to the hour or 12 and 24 hour. We tell the time using minutes past and minutes to so we chose this watch for little J.

Boy looking at his watch
We ordered the EasyRead Time Teacher minutes past and to watch with a red and blue face and a blue strap however there are lots of colour choices available.

How the watch works is very simple to understand. To read the time in minutes-past and minutes-to the hour we have taught little J the three simple steps that make up the 3-step teaching system.

Step 1. Read the number at the end of the long hand

Step 2. Say which side the long hand is pointing to (past or to)

Step 3. Read the number at the end of the short hand

Put it together and say it like it is. 10 minutes past 10.

EasyRead Time Teacher Watch
The watch has a 33mm diameter and the large clear dial shows every detail little J needs. The hands tell him which numbers to read.

EasyRead Time Teacher Watch
EasyRead Time Teacher Watch
I was so pleased to read that the watch strap is washable as little J being a typical boy gets very muddy I know the watch strap won't stay a nice shade of blue for very long.

Little J is really enjoying telling the time and has picked it up quite quickly thanks to the watch. I am hoping it has given him a little head start when he begins his 'time' topic in school this month.


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Parenting | Preparing For Year One

It only seems like yesterday that little J was starting Reception but fast forward a year and we are almost at the beginning of his second half term of year one. For me this is when school really starts. I think it's been a big shock for him as in Reception it is mostly learning through play, however his classroom is very different now. There are almost no toys but lots of desks. He still seems so young and although he has lots of energy he does get tired quite easily as I've mentioned before. He's usually in bed before 7pm and needs his 12/13 hours sleep. John and I have discussed whether he may need to take a multivitamin as he is quite fussy when it comes to eating foods that are good for him. We were delighted when Bassetts vitamins sent over their Omega-3 + Multivitamins Orange Pastilles. They were just what we needed.
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Parenting | Portion Sizes For Children

I've spoken a lot about mealtimes with the kids recently and I did a little research about portion sizes for children. Portions sizes obviously differ from child to child and as a parent you know best what your child needs and what they don't, however this is just a guideline and may help those who need it. 
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Parenting | Venue Ideas For Kids Parties

Little J hasn't had a proper birthday party yet but we will definitely be planning something for his 6th birthday next year. He received another birthday invitation last week to a play centre that we haven't been to before so he is looking forward to that. It got me thinking that over the years we have had so many different types of birthday parties for big J and I'm looking forward to planning lots of parties for little J as he grows. I have had a think about our top venue ideas for kids parties.
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Parenting | What Are Food Jags?

 I went on a course all about eating and the term came 'food jags' came up a lot and it's so important that as parents we understand just what food jags means. For those that don't know, food jags means eating the same foods every single day. I recently wrote about tips on what to do if your child doesn't eat but I wanted to pop this on separately as it may only appeal to a specific audience.
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Parenting | When Your Child Doesn't Want To Eat

It's okay to let children eat with their hands

I recently went on a course all about children and their eating habits or lack of them. It really did open my eyes to just how many children out there either refuse to eat or will only eat certain things. I suppose we have been lucky that both our children are good eaters, I can't imagine what it must be like for parents whose children don't. Hopefully the tips below will help you deal with 'when your child doesn't want to eat'.
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Parenting | When I Grow Up I Want To Be . . .

Little J has now graduated from reception and is ready to move on to year one in September. Time certainly has flown this year and it doesn't feel like a year ago that we were preparing for the start of his school journey. The last term was all about their ambitions and encouraging the children to 'Reach for The Stars'. They were told to never give up on their dreams and that anything is possible if you believe it. It was a lovely way to end the year and in their graduation ceremony we got to see what each child wants to be when they are older.
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How To Educate Your Child Through Gardening?

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I have to admit that I never been been a huge fan of the garden. Although my mum and dad love gardening, planting flowers or just sitting out it's never been my thing. I've always said they could have been professional gardeners because they definitely have an eye for garden design. When I became a nursery nurse I found that a huge part of my job is outdoor play and how important it is especially with children spending more time indoors now on consoles and tablets, it’s important for them to know that enjoyment can be found outdoors, too.
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