Education
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

Why Are School Trips Important for Children? | AD

10 June 2021

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. 

One of the things little J is most looking forward to when restrictions lessen is going on a school trip. It's been well over 18 months now since he last hopped on a coach and headed out for the day with his class mates. Big J is always telling him stories about the time he went to Wales, France and his favourite a skiing holiday with his school friends. First-hand experiences for children are one of the best ways for them to learn, which is why school trips are so important. They can form some of a child’s fondest memories and generally just give youngsters a well-deserved break from a traditional classroom environment. I have teamed up with a private school in Hertfordshire to discuss the benefits of school trips in further detail. 

children wearing wellies


Improves Academic Performance
There’s a unique sense of excitement that comes with bringing a subject to life outside of a classroom. This interactive learning helps students develop a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. It often easier to remember information when it is attached to a fond memory, so students might find it easier to recall facts and figures that they have learnt on a trip, as opposed to from a textbook. As a result, students who attend school trips are likely to have improved academic performance. This is especially true for kinaesthetic learners who are better at absorbing information when they are moving around and engaging their senses. 

Classroom learning is obviously crucial, but without a break from time to time, students can find it tedious and lose their momentum. School trips are great for re-capturing a child’s attention and interest in a particular topic and may even inspire new passions and pursuits at home. 

Builds Relationships
School trips provide an opportunity for students to bond with their peers and teachers. They are often asked to work in pairs or groups during their trips, helping with their interpersonal skills and ability to work as part of a team. In addition, they will be able to see their teacher in a different light – someone who can have fun too. As a result, students are more likely to feel a sense of belonging within the school community, helping them with their confidence and feeling of security. What’s more, they may be more comfortable engaging in group discussions and collaborative tasks back in the classroom, again contributing to better progression in lessons. 

A New Challenge
For students who are a little shy and don’t feel comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone, a school trip can force them to face new challenges. They might have to ask for directions or order food without their parents there to help them, which will ultimately help them with their self-assurance. It’s even important for adults to challenge themselves from time to time and try something new.

I am guessing little J's first trip after restrictions may just be a short visit to the park, farm or cinema but he cannot wait.

Michelle
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What are the Three Main Learning Styles for Children? | AD

9 June 2021

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Did you know that different people process and absorb information in different ways? In other words, we don’t all learn in the same way. There are three main learning styles and it’s important for parents to try and understand which one is most suited to their child so that they are in a better position to help them succeed in school. For instance, you will be able to change the way you explain things or invest in some more appropriate learning tools. A private nursery in London has put together the following information on the three main learning styles.

play dough and tools


Visual Learners
Visual learners like to read, write, and draw to help them absorb information and they often like to doodle. They typically find graphs and diagrams helpful when interpreting data and tend to enjoy the use of lots of colours and visual cues when studying. They also tend to have a good sense of direction. 

Auditory Learners
While a visual learner might like to read for pleasure, auditory learners prefer to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. They are better at understanding information when it is verbally explained to them rather than read from a textbook. They are also great communicators because they are good at listening and also engaging in discussions. If your child is an auditory learner, you may notice them reading aloud while studying to help them process the material at hand. 

Kinaesthetic Learners
If your child is a kinaesthetic learner, they will be drawn to hands-on subjects like drama, art, or sport. They are better at processing information through sensory cues so like to move around and feel things. Kinaesthetic learners typically struggle to sit still for long periods of time and often like to fiddle with something. 

To determine which type of learner your child seems to be, you will need to observe them and consider what sparks their interests. Do they like to get their hands dirty and play outside or are they quite happy curling up with a book for hours on end? There is a chance your child might fall into more than one of the above categories, so that’s also something to bear in mind.

Once you have established what type of learner your child is, you should have a greater understanding of how you can aid their learning. For instance, if you think your child is a visual learner, you can buy them lots of coloured pens and paper to use when they’re studying.

Michelle
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Back To School With Smiggle | Review

24 March 2021

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Disclosure - We received a gift voucher to spend online at Smiggle for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

Smiggle is our go to place when little J needs new school essentials, stationary, quirky squashies or fidget toys. Little J has been back at school for just a few weeks now but will soon finish for Easter break. When he returns he will be wearing his new Summer uniform and we thought this would be the perfect time to upgrade his lunch box, water bottle and stationary for the last term of the school year.

Smiggle back to school essentials


As the non essential stores are closed we headed online to purchase little J's back to school essentials. The website is really easy to use with labels and categories to make your browsing experience easier. There is usually a sale section too which is perfect to pick up a bargain. 

Little J has a packed lunch for school and he prefers the Smiggle Double Decker lunch bag. If you want a bag with lots of space then I would definitely recommend a double decker. The top can be opened using the zip to reveal a shallow compartment. This is ideal for snacks or even an ice pack if needed. The bottom is spacious and could fit a large lunch in and/or a water bottle.

Smiggle Game Over Lunch Bag

Smiggle Game Over Lunch Bag


Little J chose the Gamer double decker lunchbox. The base is designed like a video console controller and has a retro feel to it with the top layer similar to an arcade game. 

It's a hand held lunchbox and doesn't come with an over the shoulder strap. 

Smiggle Kick water bottle


We go through so many water bottles with little J. He either loses them or breaks them but we have always found the Smiggle bottles last the longest. Little J chose the Kick drink bottle which has a flip top spout and a classic football design. 

Both the Gamer and Kick design have other items in their ranges including backpacks and pencil cases. 

Dinosaur pencil case

Dinosaur pencil case


There is a huge range of pencil cases available at Smiggle but little J really liked a pencil case that he has already had in the past which he uses at home so wanted the same for his desk in school. It is the Dino Character Pocket Pencil Case. He likes this case as it has two compartments which he uses to separate his felt tips and pencils. It has dinosaur spike detail and a squishy feel which little J loves. 

Smiggle will most probably be one of the first stores we visit once they open as little J loves browsing all the squashie toys and will probably pick up another lunch bag and water bottle too. 

Michelle
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How To Make Home Schooling Fun

20 January 2021

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Disclosure - This post contains mentions of previously gifted items

Nearly a year ago now we became home school teachers. We had no idea what we were doing, neither did the schools at the time as home schooling or learning at home was something none of us have experienced before. We got through it somehow but now we are back in the same situation as before and although this time the school seems so much more prepared, our children may not. Sitting in front of the screen all day isn't appealing to some children but there are other ways that we can teach them that seems more fun. Children follow the curriculum in school but at home it is a completely different environment and I think we need to remember that.

boy looking at a computer screen


Maths
There are so many ways you can incorporate maths in to your day. We use numbers and shapes all the time and it can be fun.

Playing shop with real money. This can help little ones learn numbers and basic addition and subtraction.
Complete a jigsaw. Jigsaws help concentration and help encourage problem solving.
Baking. Measuring out ingredients is a great way to encourage children to learn about simple measurements and counting.
Singing. There are lots of 'number' nursery rhymes and  songs.
Apps. There are lots of apps that can encourage basic maths skills.

boy reading

English
There are lots of ways to make English fun.

Watch a short movie and then ask the child to write a short story based on what they can remember. Pixar 'Shorts' 'are only between 4-7 mins long and they cover a range of topics. Encourage the child to write about the beginning, something important that happened in the middle and the end.
Treasure Hunt. Ask your child to create a treasure hunt and encourage them to write their own clues.
Reading. This can be together or the child reading alone.
Spellings. Create a spelling sheet for your child using words that they are familiar with.

map of the world

Other areas of learning. 
This is such a simple idea and can cover so much.

If you ask your child to think of a place. It can be a city, a country, a landmark, a theme park, anything. You can use the internet or books to find out everything you can about the place they have chosen. This could cover

Geography - Where in the world is it? 
History - When was it built?
Technology - Research as much as you can online.
Mathematics - How many people live or visit there each year?
Reading - Finding out the facts.
Art - Ask your child to draw what they think it looks like.
Imagination - Create a role play area based on their chosen place.
Fine Motor Skills - Write out a list of facts they have found.


Making use of resources around the home. We will be using....

Geomag Mechanics Gravity Magnetic Track - Encourages STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning. Exploring science without the need of batteries or electricity.

Osmo - Osmo is educational without the kids knowing. It encourages basic maths and english, problem solving concentration and it's fun.

boy playing osmo
Games - We have lots of educational games that are fun and we can learn from them to.

Lego / or similar building blocks. Helps with imagination and fine motor skills.

Garden - Physical activity is very important and if you have a garden making use of this space for outside play/exercise also helps get fresh air.

Daily Challenge

Each day we are going to have one daily challenge that we need to complete. The daily challenges will be fun and could include baking a cake, making a den or creating an obstacle course. Educating your child doesn't always mean sitting a desk writing, if they are using their imagination, their fine motor skills or being creative this all adds to their development.

Our children learn every day without them knowing.

If you found this post useful there are a few ways that you could say thanks and support Playdays and Runways.

Comments - I love reading your opinions and thoughts - Are you still home schooling? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you have been doing to make it fun. 

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Michelle
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Preparing the Perfect Study Space for Your Child | AD

18 November 2020

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This year was meant to be a happy year for us, more happy than any normal year. We had two big birthdays to celebrate, a milestone wedding anniversary and big J's new adventure at university. Unfortunately we never got to really celebrate the birthdays or our anniversary and big J's university experience is not what it should be. His university course is mainly taught by zoom and online so we have had to make adaptations to his room to make sure he has an adequate space to study.

computer on a desk


Ensuring your child has a great place to study at home can help to make homework more fun, improve their ability to concentrate and generally just motivate them to learn. A private school in West Sussex have prepared the following advice to help parents set up a comfortable and practical study space for their children….

Start by making sure your child’s study environment is different to their relaxation space. For instance, they should not be doing their homework on their lap in the lounge, as they won’t be able to concentrate. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room, this would be a great place for a study spot. However, not everyone has this kind of room in their house, but regardless of where you set up your child’s study space, it should be as free from distractions as possible. 

Make sure the desk area is clean and tidy, otherwise they will be too busy focussing on the mess, rather than their schoolwork. You might need to invest in some shelving or storage boxes to help you keep the clutter to a minimum. The space should also be equipped with all of the relevant study tools, including books, stationery, and anything else they might need. You don’t want them to waste time looking for a missing ruler when they could be engaging in valuable learning activities. You should even make sure your child takes a glass of water and a healthy snack to their study space with them before they begin so that they can stay alert, energised and hydrated. 

Consider the lighting in the space. Natural lighting is preferable but if this is not possible, especially in the darker, winter months, make sure there is a decent lamp in the study area. Without appropriate lighting, your child is more likely to suffer from eye strain and headaches, which is not only unpleasant, but it will also make it harder for your child to do their work. Encourage regular breaks as another way to help your child avoid any aches and pains.

Make sure there are some strict rules in place where the study environment is concerned. For example, there should be no mobile phones or other digital devices in the room, unless required for the homework. Ask your child’s teachers if they have any more suggestions when it comes to preparing the perfect study space for your child.

Michelle
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A Parents Guide To A-Levels | AD

14 November 2020

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When the time comes for your child to choose their A Level subjects, they might be feeling a range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety. The decision carries a lot of weight, as it can determine what your child goes on to study at university or what career route they go down. Parents should try and do as much research as possible so that they are in a position to support their teenagers through this challenging time. Here’s some advice from an A-Level college in the UK.

Love to learn sign
Start by chatting to your child about how they’re feeling and let them know that you support them no matter what. Ask them which of their current subjects they enjoy the most and which ones they’re best at, as these should be strong factors in the decision-making process. Enjoyment of the subject will result in the best grades.

It’s worth noting that a levels are very different to GCSEs and will require a lot more independent work. Do some research into the A level curriculum so that you can determine what kind of work is involved in the subject and how it will be graded. If it’s heavily coursework based and your child isn’t fond of coursework, it might not be the best option. 

Go along to any open evenings at the school with your son or daughter so that you can learn more about each of the A level subjects they’re interested in, ask lots of questions and generally just feel more informed so that they can make a decision they’re truly happy with. It might also help your child to chat to any older friends or relatives who have already done their A levels so that they can share some insight.

If your child plans to go to university and has a course in mind, you should have a look into what qualifications are required to secure a place. Many courses will require that the student has specific A levels, so looking ahead will help them make suitable choices and determine whether or not their goals are actually realistic.  

Bear in mind that A levels aren’t compulsory; there are other forms of education that your child could look into if they feel that would be more appropriate. However, there are many benefits to A levels, including easier access into universities and various employment options. While it’s important to support your child as best you can, try and let them make their own decisions, based on what they feel is right for them.
Michelle
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The Importance of Pastoral Care in Schools | AD

13 November 2020

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Pastoral care is a crucial element of any school; it ensures that the physical and emotional wellbeing of every single student is supported. The responsibility for pastoral care is shared amongst the teachers and other staff and enables children to develop successfully on both a personal and academic level. For a stronger understanding of why pastoral care is so important, an independent school in the West Midlands explore some of the benefits below.

boy sat in a classroom
From injuries in the playground to illnesses during school hours, pastoral care aims to deal with any accidents and sickness. Generally speaking, it involves protecting students and keeping them safe from any physical or emotional harm, both at school and within their personal lives. This involves monitoring each child closely and liaising with parents on a regular basis about any issues that arise so that they can be tackled fairly quickly. 

A child’s primary pastoral carer will be their form tutor, who spends time with them at least once a day and is able to keep an eye on them. They will watch out for any friendship problems, as well as monitoring their academic progress and ensuring they are completing their homework on time. If anything significant is happening at home, it would be worth letting your child’s form tutor know so that they can check in and make sure your child is handling it well. 

The pastoral care department must also ensure the school is safe and secure. The caretaker will be asked to regularly check the school boundaries and fire alarms to make sure everything is in check and any visitors to the premises will have to sign in and out. 

Each school will have their own policies and procedures when it comes to pastoral care to ensure that all staff are on the same page. It is often included in lessons, as children learn about bullying, sex education, drug and alcohol abuse, safe use of the internet and road safety. 

Children thrive in environments where they feel safe and happy, which is ultimately the true mark of pastoral care. When their time at school concludes, they will be able to make sensible decisions regarding their future, have built strong relationships with their peers and be equipped with appropriate skills and qualifications to help them succeed in life. If you want to know more about the pastoral care provided in your child’s school, don’t hesitate to contact the teachers for some additional information. 

Michelle
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Top Tips for Monitoring Your Child’s Progress at School | AD

14 September 2020

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books

If you want your child to succeed in school, it’s important that you monitor their progress at regular intervals throughout their academic journey so that you can uncover any areas for improvement, while also giving them the praise and reassurance they need to encourage them to continue trying their best. In other words, if you don’t pay attention to your child’s education, you won’t be able to help them make the most of their experience in school and reach their full potential. But how do you go about monitoring your child’s progress? A pre-prep school in London has shared some advice below.

First of all, it’s important to arrange frequent catchups with your child’s teacher, even if this is just via email, to find out how they’re getting on in class. By the time you receive the once-a-year feedback at parents’ evening, it might be too late for you to make a real difference in helping your child improve in certain areas. It’s crucial that parents and teachers have this sort of relationship because it means that you can keep one another updated with anything that might be happening to interfere with your child’s academic or personal wellbeing, such as friendship problems, moving house, a death in the family or another major event. 

However, bear in mind that the teachers have tons of kids to look after and it would be impossible for them to know every tiny detail about your child, especially if they are fairly quiet. With that said, try and encourage your child to open up to you about school as much as you can so that you can hear directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, how they’re getting on. Let them know that you support and love them no matter what so that they feel more comfortable sharing things with you. If you reprimand them or judge their decisions, they might be more reluctant to talk to you about any issues they’re faced with.

When your child is doing their homework, try and make yourself available to them so that they can ask you for help if they need it. Without that support, your child will be more likely to give up in frustration. If they don’t ask you for help, be sure to offer instead, as they may be afraid to bother you. Getting involved with your child’s homework will give you an indication of how easy or difficult they find the subject. If they seem to struggle time and time again with the same subject’s homework, this is a clear sign that it’s not their strongest area and you may want to consider hiring a private tutor.

So, monitoring your child’s progress is as simple as getting yourself as involved as possible in their education. Not only will this help you grasp how they are performing, it will also show them how much you care, which may encourage them to try even harder as a way to impress you. So, be sure to attend school plays, sports day and other events, while also enriching your child’s education with activities at home so that you can develop a better understanding of their growth.

Michelle
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Top Tips for Helping Your Kids with Maths | AD

12 September 2020

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maths on a blackboard
Maths is quite an intimidating subject for those who find it tough. For some people, it comes naturally but other people are more comfortable with music, art or literature. However, maths is an important part of the school curriculum and students are forced to study it until the end of their GCSEs, even if they don’t like it or find it tough. 

Fortunately, there are lots of ways that parents can help their children with their basic maths skills, and it doesn’t necessarily require you to be a mathematical genius. It’s certainly worth investing your time in this particular area of your child’s education, as Maths and other STEM related qualifications can really open up a lot of doors in terms of a fantastic future career. So, you’re probably wondering where and when to start? Here are some tips from a junior school in the Cotswolds.

Well, there’s no time like the present than starting to teach your kids maths at home. If your child is young, there are lots of nursery rhymes that can help them learn how to count, such as “Ten Green Bottes”, “This Old Man” and “Ten in the Bed”, to name but a few. You can look them up on YouTube if you’re unfamiliar with any of them and you’ll all be singing along in no time. Pre-school and Mother and Toddler groups will explore nursery rhymes and other techniques to help your little one become more familiar with numbers. 

Older children, on the other hand, may be able to help you count your cash at the till when paying for your groceries or assist with weighing and measuring next time you cook. Encourage them to play board games that involve basic sums, like Monopoly, for example. These sorts of activities demonstrate to your child not only how crucial maths is to everyday life, but also how its not as complicated as it seems and can actually be quite fun.

Numeracy is all around us and the sooner your child understands that, the more comfortable they will feel in their maths lessons. Helping your child outside of lessons will give them the confidence to see maths in a positive light and approach sums and equations with optimism. However, if you’re truly concerned about your child’s progress in maths, don’t hesitate to contact their teachers for some advice. They may be able to suggest a lunch or after school club that your child can attend to boost their maths skills, which would be particular beneficial in the run up to any important exams.

Michelle
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How Does Moving House Affect Your Child’s Education? | AD

11 September 2020

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apple on top of books

I think its fair to say it's been a very strange 2020 so far and it looks like it could continue to be strange until at least the end of the year. John and I spent have spent most of this year of lockdown at home safe with the boys. We didn't go to work like some people, it was just us in our house for months. Having this bonus time together made us look at our home and whether we wanted to spend some money making improvements or did we want to move? We chose to make some home improvements and I'm so glad we did because with everything that has gone on this year I don't think we could have coped with a house move too. Also moving house would have a massive impact on the boys and it's definitely not what they needed right now.

Whenever a child is faced with a life-changing event, like a new baby sibling, divorced parents or moving house, it is likely that their education will be affected, even if it’s just for the short term.
The events can be very distracting for young people, and often emotionally challenging, making it harder for them to focus on their studies. However, when it comes to moving house, there are other reasons why your child’s education might suffer. An independent school in Hammersmith explore in further detail below.

There are lots of reasons why a family might move house. Perhaps they have outgrown the previous property or maybe one of the parents has to relocate due to work commitments. Sometimes it’s completely unavoidable but knowing how it affects your child will ensure you are better equipped to help support them during the transition. So, if you move to a new area and your child has to start a new school, you might notice a drop in their grades to begin with. This is because they are getting used to so many new things, including a new teacher who may have a completely different teaching style to their previous teacher. What’s more, the curriculum might be slightly different. Don’t be too hard on your child if their grades do suffer, as it will probably just be for a short while until they are completely settled. It might help to hire a private tutor in the meantime, just to help them with the move.

Your child might also have some reservations about making new friends and leaving their old ones behind, which is also something you can help with. Where possible, encourage them to meet up with and keep in contact with their old friends so that they feel a sense of familiarity, but also try and arrange play dates with kids at their new school. It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to join some extra-curricular clubs in the area where they can meet likeminded people. The more confidence your child has in terms of the social side of their life, the more confident they will feel in other aspects of life, such as in the classroom when answering the teacher’s questions.

All you can do is try and remain optimistic about the whole situation around your child so that they can feed off your energy. If they see that you’re stressed about the move and worried about what the future holds, they will have the same sort of emotions. Alternatively, if you shelter them from the stressful side of things and try and talk about all of the positive aspects of moving house and starting at a new school etc.
Michelle
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Does My Child Need a Tutor? | AD

10 September 2020

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boy writing

All parents want to raise a happy, healthy, successful child, but that’s easier said than done. Your child might be the smartest or most popular in their class, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need a helping hand from time to time to give them a little boost in the right direction. Sometimes that helping hand comes from a private tutor. Our children have been through so much over the past 6 months having to stay at home so if you have noticed a drop in your child’s grades or perhaps a reluctance to complete homework or attend school altogether, this might be something you want to consider. 

There are lots of advantages to hiring a private tutor. Obviously, they can help your child with their overall academic performance, but there’s more to it than that. Since sessions are one-to-one, your child gets the attention they deserve and their learning experience is tailored to suit them, which is an entirely different experience to a classroom setting with 20+ other kids. The tutor might be helping your child with maths, but the confidence they’ll develop from developing their skills and knowledge can be transferred across all subjects. However, private tutors are costly, so it’s important that your investment is worthwhile. But how do you know if your child truly needs a tutor? I have teamed up with a private prep school in Surrey to explore some of the things you should look out for. 

One of the most obvious signs that your child needs some support with their learning is a substantial drop in their performance. Other signs include getting upset when discussing schoolwork, getting easily frustrated when doing homework and showing a general reluctance to attend school. Maybe the teacher has reported that your child isn’t paying attention in class or they’re not handing in their work. Don’t jump to conclusions, though, as there might be another reason why your child is struggling. For instance, they might require glasses and not be able to see the white board, which is causing them to fall behind. They might have some friendship problems that are distracting them and making it difficult to concentrate in class. Do some digging and try and figure out what might be causing the drop in grades before you hire a tutor.

Ask your child what they think about a tutor. If they are interested in the idea and admit that it might help them, then it’s definitely something to properly consider. They might say no, which could just be because they’re feeling a little shy, or it might be because they know that’s not the reason why they are underperforming. Let them know that you support them no matter what and that they can trust you with anything that might be bothering them. This should help you get to the bottom of the problem and figure out what to do about it!

Michelle
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Top Tips for Helping Your Child Learn A New Language | AD

26 August 2020

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The Eiffel Tower

The National Curriculum in the UK states that children should be taught a modern foreign language between the ages of 7 to 14. That means that at some point during your child’s academic journey, they will start to learn a new language, usually Spanish, French, Italian or German. Sometimes, they may be taught a combination of more than one language. All parents want their children to succeed across each of their school subjects and their ability to speak a second or even third language shouldn’t be overlooked; it can actually be really great for their future career. With that said, you’re probably wondering how you can help your child perform well in their language lessons, despite the fact that you may not be able to speak the language yourself. I have teamed up with a girls’ prep school in Kingston Upon Thames to offer parents some advice on how they can help.

First of all, it’s important to note that you don’t have to be good at any particular subject yourself in order to help your child excel in it. Simply providing a supportive and optimistic environment for your child to grow up in will help them with their confidence and overall approach to their education. When it comes to learning a new language, perhaps encourage your child to stick labels around your home on the everyday items so that your child can learn some basic vocabulary. Of course, this may look unsightly, but it will demonstrate to your child how keen you are for them to succeed and how much you support them, which will make them all the more determined. When your child becomes more proficient, they will be able to use the new vocabulary in their sentences.

Another great way to learn vocabulary and even some sentences and common phrases is to use cue cards, with the English translation on the other side. You can hold the cue cards up in front of your child, showing only the English side, and ask them to read out the foreign alternative. Let them know if they were correct. This is something they could do quite easily alone but having a “study buddy” will make the experience feel less tedious.  If you are not available to carry out this activity, perhaps allow them to invite a friend over to help.

You could also sit and watch a foreign film together (with English subtitles to begin with to help you understand what’s going on) or play foreign music during car journeys. What’s more, there are lots of resources online or even downloadable apps that your child can use to help them with their learning. If your child is struggling with their language skills, you could consider hiring a private tutor or perhaps looking into some local evening or weekend classes. If this seems like an extreme option, perhaps start by contacting your child’s teacher to find out if there are any lunch clubs or other extra-curricular sessions that can help your child with their learning.

Michelle
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Dealing With The Back To School Blues | AD

25 August 2020

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Academic Diary

This Summer has flown by and considering that we haven't had our usual holiday abroad I am shocked just how fast it has gone. We have been talking to little J now for a few weeks about his return to school. If I am honest he is not looking forward to it and neither am I. The back to school blues are real enough for children after the six-week summer break but can you imagine how they’re going to feel returning to school after months at home thanks to the global pandemic?

Some kids are probably excited to get back to their friends and extra-curricular clubs, while others are probably feeling pretty anxious about starting a new year with a new set of challenges. The majority of children are probably feeling a combination of the two and it’s important for parents to help them transition back into a normal routine. Here’s some advice from one of the best prep schools in Oxford.

With just over a week left to go until most UK schools reopen their doors to all students, it’s crucial that kids start to familiarise themselves with healthy habits, including early nights and early starts. Lots of us are guilty of letting our youngsters stay up late during lockdown and have long lie-ins, but unless they get out of those sleeping patterns before school, they’ll struggle to get up on the first day of term. You should also make sure that they have all of the appropriate uniform and stationery ready and organised for their first day back, otherwise the morning will feel like a crazy rush. The more prepared you all are, the more smoothly everything will run.

As well as preparing your child physically, it’s also important to help them mentally. Find some time to have some one-to-one time with your youngster in which you can chat about how they might be feeling about returning to school. Don’t ask any leading questions that might put ideas into their head and, instead, let them open up to you on their own terms. They may tell you that they are worried about some friendship problems that they left behind before lockdown, or perhaps they’re struggling with a specific subject. These are things you can give them advice on or even contact the school to help resolve the issue. If your child knows that they have your support no matter what, they will feel a little more comfortable about returning to school.

It’s also wise to use lots of positive terminology around your child, especially when talking about school, to help lift their spirits. If you say things like “I hated school when I was your age”, your child will not develop an optimistic attitude towards their own learning. Instead, try and remind them of all of the great things about school, like being around friends.

No one truly knows what the return to school is going to look like however children are so resilient and can usually adapt to change very quickly. I am sure little J will be fine and will be happy to get back to school once he is there and we can look back at the past 6 months with fond memories on how we got to spend so much time together as a family.

Michelle
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Back To School Essentials List | AD

18 August 2020

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Disclosure -  This post was first published in 2019 however I have added to it today and updated and update photographs. This post is a paid collaboration with Taunton School and features pr samples for the purpose of this post. Any thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. This post also contains affiliate links.

2019 deluxe planner
As a child I loved going back to school shopping with my Mum. I would head to Woolworths or WHSmith and spend hours choosing the perfect stationery set and lunch bag. It was definitely a highlight of my Summer. Now I am a Mum I try to get the Back to School shop done as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Dragging two boys around the shops trying to get them pick shoes and try on uniforms when they would rather be out playing football is such a chore. A prep school in Somerset have put together a back to school checklist to ensure you are prepared in time for September. I have added our favourite products so it has everything you need to be prepared for the new school year ahead.

stabilo highlighters
Stationery
When I started Senior school I was introduced to the world of fineliners and highlighters. Now as an adult I am addicted to different pen types and highlighters using them every day for many things. Stabilo have a wide range of highlighters and pens available which makes back to school stationery shopping easy for both older and younger school children.

The Stabilo Easy Start range is perfect for younger ones starting their school journey. The range is ergonomically designed offering a triangular shape and non-slip grip moulds for a relaxed hold and you can choose from yellow and red colour colour coding which indicates left or right handed versions.



Bic Kids range
You may think that littler ones may not need to purchase back to school stationery but having a little one in infants I know that having pens and pencils at home is a must as the amount of homework they need to complete is crazy.

Even since Nursery little J has brought work home every week which may involve drawing or colouring. The BIC Kids range of pens and pencils will ensure that you are well prepared at home for when the homework begins.

The BIC Kids and BIC Evolution product ranges are perfect colouring tools designed to be easy for kids to use. The bright colouring pencils available in 12 different shades are all made with synthetic resin that's shock-resistant, chew-resistant and doesn't splinter if broken. The Kid Couleur felt tips come in 12 colours and are made for kids 5 and up for everyday colouring projects. Each felt tip offers a fixed medium nib which won't get pushed in under pressure.



Academic diaries
For as long as I can remember I have always used a diary. Some people buy their diaries to start in January but I have always used an academic diary starting in July/August. It's just the way I have always worked.

Harry Potter and Disney are perfect choices for us as we are huge fans. The diaries show one week over 2 pages and runs till August 2020. Lots of space for notes, addresses and also a year to view page too.

The Danilo mid year academic diaries are a perfect addition to your back to school essentials.

stib pencils

stib pencils
Stib Inspirational Jumbo Pencils come in a pack of 12 colours in a tube pencil holder.  Each pencil has inspirational word on them to help keep you going if times get tough.

 Peace Keeper, Earth Lover, Joy Finder, Big Thinker, Self Believer, World Changer, Story Teller, Problem Solver, Good Listener, Freestyler, Great Leader & Team Player.

These words have all been matched with an animal character, that together form The Stiblers. Each pack of pencils contains a specially designed sheet of Stibler stickers, which can be used to decorate the Stib tube or elsewhere. The pack also includes a bright orange double pencil sharpener.


Snacks
Snacks are a huge part of little J's day. Each morning he will spend a long time choosing which snack he will take in to school that day. Having a wide range of healthy snacks available for him to choose from is a must from September.

Del monte fruit snack
Del Monte Squeezie are an 100% fruit snack boasting one of your five a day and perfect for lunchboxes.

Available in Apple and Mango, Apple, Strawberry and Blueberry and Apple, Strawberry and Banana these are a great way in ensuring your little ones take a healthy snack that is also tasty too.

Crazy jack organic
 Crazy Jack ready to eat soft apricots are perfect for snack time. Each individually wrapped bag is filled with delicious naturally dark apricots and just 70kcals. The Crazy Jack Soft Apricots are also organic, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Gregory's tree bars
Gregory's Tree fruit with a twist bars are the perfect way to 'beat the dip'. When you are low on energy and need a boost the double fruit twists are a perfect snack. Just 60kcals per bar with no hidden nasties.

Peperami snacks
Both boys have always loved taking a Peperami as a snack to school but now there are a few new additions to the Peperami range and are perfect for lunch boxes.

Peperami Pep'd Up Chicken Bites come in a handy individual wrapped bag, ideal for snack time. Peperami and Cheese snack box is a great source of both protein and calcium to get the little ones through the school day.

Lunch Time
If your little one stays for a packed lunch then you will know that the lunch bag and lunch box range in the shops is huge. There are so many options to choose from. Having a son in sixth form and one going in to year two their lunch bag/box choices are very different.

Smiggle lunch boxes
 Little J is a huge fan of Smiggle and when it comes to lunch bags and bottles, Smiggle is his go to place. They offer a wide range of bags including this style which is called a double decker. So if you want a bag with lots of space than I would definitely recommend a double decker. The top can be opened using the zip to reveal a shallow compartment. This is ideal for snacks or even an ice pack if needed. The bottom is spacious and could fit a large lunch in and/or a water bottle.


Smiggle is also known for its huge range of stationery too including notebooks, pens, stationery sets and pencil cases. 

Sistema lunch boxes
Sistema lunch boxes are perfect for those that like to take a range of goodies for their lunch as the bento box has lots of different compartments. There is plenty of space for sandwiches, fruit, treats and a yogurt or dip pot too.

You can also accompany your lunch box with a Sistema water bottle. There are lots of different bottles to choose from including twist cap, sports cap and quick flip.


Ace Cleaning products
As a parent, you don’t need to be told that children stain everything! With that in mind, make sure you have at least two, if not three versions of each item so that your kids have spares when you’re doing the laundry. However if they do come home with some stubborn stains then ACE stain remover products can help get their uniform looking new again. There is a variety of products to choose from including stain remover for colours or for whites. You can also choose mousse, spray, liquid or powder. You can use ACE on all wash temperatures but obviously you need to check the clothing label first and although ACE uses a mild bleach it has been extensively tested and did not affect the durability of the garments. 

We have started to buy a few items already. Have you started the Back to School shop yet?

Michelle

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Helping Your Child Prepare For The School Bus | AD

10 August 2020

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Disclosure - This is a paid post


The first time a child travels alone can be a momentous occasion. It’s a huge undertaking for smaller children but is also a great way for a child to build confidence and become more independent. If your child needs to catch a school bus alone for the first time, then you’re probably feeling quite apprehensive about it.

You might have various concerns – how will your child cope if they need to visit the toilet? What if they feel afraid? What if another child is mean to them? What if they get off at the wrong stop?
These are all valid concerns but the best way to tackle them is to ensure that your child is well-prepared for any eventuality. Here's some advice from a private school in Hertfordshire

First things first. Most buses for schools have a designated supervisor. This is an adult who is in charge – this is the case for school buses on which younger children travel. Make sure that your child knows who this person is and that they are a safe person to go to if they need help.

For older children, there may not be a designated helper and in that case, it’s vital that your child knows what to do if they do need help. Smaller children should be encouraged to visit the bathroom before their journey and also reassured that the bus will always take them to the right place.
They should also be encouraged to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or unhappy at any point in their journey.

Talking about destinations. Your child, especially primary aged, should be helped to understand that the bus will make more than one stop before reaching the school. This information is something an adult takes for granted but a small child doesn’t always have the experience to understand details like this.

When the bus stops, unless you’ve explained to them how buses work, they may feel worried that they should have got off. Tell them that when the bus reaches school, all the children will get off – and that the bus stops before then to let other children get on.

Catching the bus home. Talk to your child’s teacher before your child begins catching the bus. Learn about the protocol for children who catch buses. Will they be taken to the bus stop? Or expected to go to the stop themselves? How does it all work?


Once you know, you can share the information with your child so that they know what to expect. A child who is able to manage public transport well, will generally be a more confident and capable child than one who is driven everywhere. If your child is not used to buses, take some trips with them before their school journeys begin. This is a fun way to help them learn all about travelling on a bus.

Michelle
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Preparing Children For Their Future Career | AD

9 August 2020

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Disclosure - This is a paid post


The job market is saturated with graduates and other professionals looking to start a new career, making it quite the challenge to compete for a position in a suitable job. With that said, it’s absolutely crucial for secondary schools, in particular, to focus on academic success and acquiring appropriate qualifications. It’s also important for educators and parents to help guide children to make sensible decisions with regards to their subject choices, so that they are reflective of their career aspirations.

Offering widespread and skilled career guidance from as early as year 7 is an obvious priority at King Edward’s Witley, an independent school in Surrey for children aged 11 – 18 years old.  The school provides a variety of resources to young people to help them comprehend the vast array of opportunities that await them once they’ve finished their A Levels or IB studies. In fact, careers advice is a huge feature within their curriculum. This is particularly evident at the Careers Fairs, which feature keynote speakers and alumni, where some of the older students are able to learn a little more about their options going forward and feel motivated by the success of others.

In a recent interview, leader of King Edward’s Witley, Joanna Wright, has stated that integrity and resilience are two of the key elements of successful leadership in 2020. With that said, it’s important for schools to be as honest with their students as possible when it comes to their future, while making it strong priority to open pupils’ eyes to the world of work. Most schools achieve this goal through a range of extra-curricular activities, where various skills can be learnt and the importance of dedication and teamwork are uncovered.

Helping pupils recognise the most appropriate route to achieve their personal goals, whether this includes securing a role in the working environment or at a university of their choice, is of supreme importance for teaching, as is preparing young people with an ethical and well-rounded outlook on life and the skills required to succeed in the next stage of their journey towards adulthood.

Michelle
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MentalUP Brain Games For Children | Review and Giveaway

26 June 2020

8 comments
Disclosure - We were gifted an annual subscription for the purpose of this post plus prizes to giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated.

MentalUP App

We found out last week that little J won't be returning to school till September and I have to admit I did let out a sigh of relief when I heard the news. When lockdown began I always thought he would return in September and any earlier seemed too soon so I am definitely happy although our home schooling has hit a brick wall recently. Like most at the beginning we had a strict routine for home schooling with lots of ideas although now it's 14 weeks later and the excitement and motivation has definitely fizzled out. I have been looking for ideas on how to make home schooling fun again for little J and I came across MentalUp.

What is MentalUp?

MentalUP is an award-winning brain game app for children between 4 and 13 years.

MentalUP was developed by game designers and academics incorporating innovative teaching methods to offer dozens of mind games with suitable difficulty levels to improve cognitive skills in a gamified format to engage children.  MentalUP also receives a 5 star review from teachers on Educational App Store which is a discovery, review and recommendation platform for educational apps by professionally experienced teachers.

MentalUP believes the ability to solve problems and think in new creative ways is as important as literacy and numeracy skills and they have devised a series of brain games that expose learners to new types of problems and the different ways of thinking required to solve them
. The app addresses five key skills: Attention, Memory, Problem Solving (Logic), Visual and Verbal and includes sub-skills such as counting skills, and geometry.  Importantly it provides a safe space for children as it does not include any adverts, harmful content or in-app purchases.

MentalUP App

Getting Started

After downloading from the Google Play Store or App Stores you are ready to set up your account. First it will ask whether you want to set up an account using email, facebook or google. We chose email and had to enter our email address and a chosen password.

Next we had to select little J's grade, this means what year in school. I had to google this as it is American and we don't have 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades etc here. Little J is going in to year 3 in September so I chose 2nd Grade.

It will then ask what areas you would like your child to improve on. You can choose from
Memory
Attention
Logic
Visual
Language

I selected all but if you want to just focus on a specific area or two you can just highlight those areas.

That is it, we were ready to begin. The limited version of the app is free and you can have access to 20 free games however if you upgrade to premium you open up 120 games.

MentalUP App

Let's Begin

The app sets out a very colourful path which you follow completing games along the way. You click on number 1 to start and a random game will be selected and you will be given the instructions and rules for the game. They are brief and very easy to understand.

Once you have completed the first game you will be given a score out of 3 stars and also some MentalUp coins. These can be used to customise your character.

Next you move on to level 2 and so on...


MentalUP App

What Type Of Games Can I Expect?

There are so many games available however so far we do have a few favourites...

Memory Cards - Find The Pairs.

Ice Creams - Find the cone which has the number of ice cream balls specified in the voice instructions.

Highway - Count the number of specific vehicles moving along the highway.

MentalUP App

Should I Upgrade To Premium?

The premium version of the app, which usually costs just £20 for an annual subscription, provides access to over 120 games (compared to 20 on the free version) and includes reporting systems which MentalUP believes is important in the current situation in order to help parents monitor progress, provide skills analysis and highlighting strengths and weaknesses so that they (and teachers when they return to school) can easily track children’s cognitive development and compare with same age groups.

MentalUP has five million users worldwide and to help UK teachers, homeschooler parents and parents that have found themselves working from home with the kids is offering a discount of 30% at the moment taking the cost of the app to just £14.99 for the year. This works out at less than £2 per month!

You can read more by visiting the MentalUp and you can also download the app from Google Play Store or the App Store

Giveaway

I have teamed up with MentalUp to offer 5 of my readers and followers the chance to win an annual subscription and 25 runners up prizes of a 3 month subscription.

All you need to do is complete the entry form below and remember to pop back daily for bonus chances to win.

Who would you like to win MentalUp for?


Michelle

Terms
Competition closes on Sunday 12th July 2020
Entrants must have a valid UK address. 
Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified. 
All entrants and entries are checked and verified. 
30 lucky winners will be chosen at random by the Gleam application. 
Playdays and Runways will contact the lucky winners within 7 days of the competition closing. 
The winners will be emailed to the email address given at the time of entering. 
The winners must respond within 28 days, if no response a new winner will be chosen. 
This prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative 
Prizes
The first 5 winners drawn will win an Annual Subscription to MentalUp
The next 25 winners drawn will win a three months subscription to MentalUp
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