5 tips to nail the school run

5 Tips to Nail the School Run

Ah the school run…

So we’re back into ‘school’ mode now (or at least we are in the UK).  And how are you coping? 

Love it or hate it, it’s a necessity with young children.  And whether it’s going well or not, there will inevitably be a time when it all comes apart at the seams.  So here are my top 5 tips for a smoother school run!  I say ‘smoother’ because no school run is perfect… unless you know the secret, the holy grail.  In which case, do share!  For now, here are those tips:

5 Tips to Nail the School Run

The List

Write out a list and order each step the night before each school day.  Or keep the same one if your routine never changes.  In that list have things like: take bread out of freezer for sandwiches (It’s very hard to fold/cut frozen bread neatly – I’ve tried!); Trust me, if you’ve got your bread out of the freezer for packed lunches, your pre-breakfast routine will go so much better!

Freshen up

Try to have a shower before everyone gets up (or at least the kids).  It’ll make you feel ahead of the game and therefore make you feel more organised!  And if you feel it, you’re half way there…

Make a note

Note down extras to be taken the next day (violin, P.E kit, reading book, reading record, and the list goes on!) and put the list somewhere obvious like the front of the fridge.  Definitely nowhere that curious toddlers or cheeky dogs can get it!  For older children, ask them to write the list. Even better, ask them to refer to it the next day so they get used to the responsibility.  Although I totally get that it’s sometimes just easier and quicker to do it yourself…   Of course, you could be ultra organised and get everything ready the night before so that you don’t need a list.

Breakfast at night time

Get the breakfast things ready the night before.  Whether that means physically laying the table or simply putting the cereal boxes on the kitchen side with bowls and spoons.  It all helps!

The rogue sock

Lay uniform out the night before.  Okay so they know what they’re wearing but you leave in 10 minutes, there’s a sock missing and the one in the linen basket has been nestled up to a wet towel all night.  For the sake of everyone’s sanity (mainly your own), laying uniform out the night before is a sure fire way of checking that all uniform is present and correct!

If it all goes to chaos, just remember to breathe and remind yourself you’re not the only one and you’re only human…

 

Have you got any tips to add?  Or even funnies about the school run that wasn’t fun?!  (see what I did there?…) I’d love to know. Tell me by commenting below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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Getting prepared for ‘Back to School ‘

A few weeks ago I realised that I ought to go through my checklist of things we need to go back to school.

I’d say it’s a pretty ‘uniform’ list (pun intended – sorry!), so feel free to follow this list yourself (although it’s not unisex so please consider that!..)

If I’ve forgotten anything glaringly obvious, please give me a nudge by commenting …thanks!

back to school uniform list prepared parenting

Cardigan/jumper

Pinafore dresses/skirts/trousers/polo shirts

Tights/socks

Shoes

Plimsols

P.E. kit

School coloured hair accessories

School bag for holding lunch box

Name tags!

Lunch box

Drink bottle

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So please tell, have I missed something?

Now to label everything up!… I may be some time.  Although I have done some already and not a needle and thread in sight😉

We’re raring to go again and our little girl is in Back to School mode, chomping at the bit to get back into it 🙂

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Are you prepared?  Have you got anything to add to my list?  I’d love to know!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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How to make starting school easier

It’s an exciting time when your little one starts school isn’t it?  But it’s also one of trepidation.  So, to help other parents, I’ve put together this short guide to help make starting school a little less daunting for you and your child:

  • Encourage your child to talk about school and draw their school (like our little girl’s pre-school did – see the below work of art which she did back in the heady days before she started Reception!)  Initially I thought they were sets of traffic lights because our daughter’s school was near to traffic lights (before we settled her into a new school due to a house move) but when I asked her, I was told they were ‘tables in the classroom’…!)
  • how to make starting school easier parenting back to schoolUse positive language within your child’s earshot when talking to anyone about school.  If they hear ‘negative’ words such as ‘scared’ or ‘worried’, they will soon pick on this and any excitement may easily be turned into anxiety.
  • Make use of free pre-school or nursery sessions.  At the time of writing, the government fund free hours.  Walk into any reception class and you’re likely to see that it’s like a pre-school setting.  The only noticeable difference at our daughter’s school was the uniform.
  • Talking of which, get the uniform sorted out as soon as you can.  Then wash it to make it smell like your own washing.  A very good reason for doing this is because some pre-schools have ‘uniform days’ for the leavers before they break up for summer holidays.  Even if they don’t have a ‘uniform day’, still get the uniform to give your child a chance to try it and get used to changing themselves.  (They’ll need to be able to change for P.E.)  Get them to ‘show it off’ to friends and family.  You should consider buying the next size up to allow for growth between now and the school term.  If you do all of this early on, you’re likely to have more stock to choose from (there will likely be offers on and the stock will deplete!) and that first day of school will be so much easier for everyone!…
  • Make use of  ‘new starter’ welcome days/sessions and ‘New Parent’s Evening’ sessions.  If your child’s school invites you in for a welcome session, go!  Book time off work, arrange childcare for younger siblings if necessary.  Make this a time for your child.  It really will help with those first days for you and your child.  You will have peace of mind and be able to visualise the classroom, school hall, toilets etc.  Your child will have less (if any) reservations about stepping foot into their school on the first day – and beyond.
  • If you feel your child has needs that the school should be aware of, make an appointment with the Head Teacher and/or include a note with the registration paperwork.  For example, your child may have had issues with toilet training/be not long toilet trained.  Tell the school in a way that is official but discreet.   Just not in front of your child or other parents.
  • Finally… Relax!  Enjoy this next milestone.  If you’re relaxed and excited about it, your child is much more likely to be as well!

 

Go forth and conquer !

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How did you/are you making starting school easier for you and your child?  I’d love to know!  Please comment below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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How do you approach homework?

Before our little girl started school, we were of the opinion that a little homework never hurt anyone.  It seemed like a good idea to get her ready for what would be a daily occurrence in secondary school (albeit a few years away…)

How do you approach homework education learning learn teaching inspire grow organise parenting schedule write read

Much like any other UK primary school, homework didn’t start in earnest until after the Christmas of her Reception year (that’s the first year for non-UK readers).  At the start we had a bit of phonics.  And it was fun and quite exciting to see what was in her homework book at the end of the week.  We’ve enjoyed Alternative Goldilocks, a lesson in Fairtrade, we’ve made paper and we’ve made a papery goat for Chinese New Year.  Yes, we’ve had oodles of fun!

We never really had a problem with completing homework in Reception.  We chose our moments of course and fitted it in around work and ‘tired times’.

We used to do it straight after school on a Friday.  Then it was done and dusted for the weekend… 2 whole days without having to learn.  Our little girl enjoys learning but equally, it’s vital to have a break from it.  You don’t have to be a psychologist to work that out!  Sponges can become saturated, no matter how much stimulation they need.

Along came Year 1 and a new school.  It was clear from a few weeks in that homework was being stepped a gear… and so it should be.  It was still enjoyable.

We’ve tried to do homework in the week but with work commitments and after school club, the days get busy and quickly get filled up.  And so it tends to fall to the weekends now.

We’ve got a bright little girl (yes, I’m biased!) and her teacher has confirmed this at parents’ evenings and at workshops.

Towards the end of terms, homework does get to be more of a chore.  Couple that with her need to learn and be stimulated due to her growing brain, homework is an ironic balancing act between necessity and burnout…

What are your thoughts?  How do you approach homework?  How much does it differ between siblings and/or your own experiences (however many years ago?!)

 I’d love to hear in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

Thanks 🙂

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The ingredients for a healthy learning environment

On the way home from school one day, our little girl asked if we had the following :

  • an empty bottle
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • milk
  • ‘fizzy things for your tummy’

ingredients for healthy perfect learning environment learning teaching school #THISislearning inspire learn learning teach

We had everything except the ‘fizzy things’ but she said we could use sweets instead … that was when I knew she meant business because she was prepared to use her sweets!

So, when we got home, she bypassed her usual after school snack and instead we headed out into the garden.  Lovely 🙂

And this is what we did:

  • Filled the bottle 1/4 full with water
  • Poured 1/4 of the amount of water to vegetable oil (maths was never my strong point for ratios!)
  • Poured the same amount of milk to oil into the bottle

Then we let the mixture settle, marvelling at how the mixture separated from the milk/water and how the oil stayed on top.

I tried to use scientific terminology appropriate for a 6 year old to explain why this happened…!

Then came the really exciting part!

Our little girl dropped her sweets in the mixture one by one.  It seemed that after an initial air bubble, the reaction made another big-ish bubble rise to the surface… which you can sort of hardly see here:

ingredients for healthy perfect learning environment learning teaching school #THISislearning inspire learn learning teach 2

Ideally, we would have had those ‘fizzy tummy things’ but even the mad scientist had to start somewhere!

Lately, our little girl has been showing more and more interest in science and the human body.

She has an Usborne ‘Little Encyclopaedia of the Human Body’ which she loves and hubby and I have learnt a few things from this fab little book too!

A lot of this is undoubtedly down to her teacher, whom our little girl adores (which is a massive relief, given our house move and her subsequent change of school).  She’s always drawing her little pictures to later turn into cards that often say, “To my favourite teacher”, or words to that effect.

I suppose the point that I’m making here is this:

A great deal of the inspiration, the thirst for learning and the opportunity for growing through exploring that our little girl has, comes from her teacher.

And her teacher (and therefore her fantastic school) have such a vital role to play in this tender, vulnerable part of her learning journey; a journey which needs nurturing, encouragement and guidance, whilst also allowing for room to step back as a grown-up and letting her find her own results from her own experiments, her own answers to her ever-growing questions.

In light of the recent #THISislearning campaign which was steered mainly by Maddy Bennet and Sophie Lovett, these learning through play sessions have really highlighted the importance of the following ingredients for a healthy learning environment:

  • a thirst for learning in way appropriate to the age and learning method of a child
  • a passionate teacher able to inspire and nurture a child, while being given the freedom to recognise when to step back and give a child the opportunity to grow through their learning
  • stepping back and recognising that there are different methods of learning ~ children learn at different rates and in different ways

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Unfortunately, seemingly more and more of our wonderful teachers are led by stats and not the individual child’s needs.  Perhaps one way of achieving this learning environment is to home school.  For us, this was never something we considered at any length. Like the majority of parents, we are at the ‘mercy’ of State education  but it doesn’t mean that we can’t attempt to influence the way our education system is structured.  Or at least compliment our childrens’ school learning through following their lead at home.

What are your thoughts and observations on complimenting school learning at home?  What do you think makes for a healthy learning environment?

 I’d love to hear in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

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“Look through the windows” ~ poem #WonderfulWorldofWriting

Poem ~ “Look Through The Windows”

As I republish this poem in the UK, it’s the time of year that many, many young people are starting school, on whatever level.  And as you read this poem, I believe that the words speak for themselves…

Wonderful World of Writing blog writing linky poem look through the windows and see demolition school learning knowledge 2

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Once upon a time someone took a brick,

Some cement and a trowel and then bit by bit…

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They stacked one brick, then two, then three bricks then four,

On top of each other and then took some more…

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They built some more walls until

there were four,

Added a roof, some windows, a lockable door…

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The building was ready, but who had the key?

They looked at each other saying, “not you or me!”

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“How do you get in?” they wondered aloud,

And looked at the building standing tall and proud…

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Then someone came along with a book and a pen,

Opened the door and said, “Let’s get started then!”…

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And then there followed a sight to behold,

More people walked through the door, I am told…

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It was a doorway to learning, a place to strive,

To do your best, be your best from the age of ’bout five…

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The adults were people, teaching what they knew,

Mr Price, Mrs Hoy, to name one or two…

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They had a yearning to teach all that they knew,

Mr Hunt, Mrs Croxford, the school grew and grew…

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Mrs Hucker, Mr Salton, the school was still growing

With a thirst for knowledge and appetite for knowing…

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Mrs Duckmanton, Mrs Molesworth and others no doubt,

My memory’s foggy, who have I missed out?

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Friendships were cemented, the knowledge was too,

Now the digger’s in the playground and the rubble is too…

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The skyline is changing, it’s a moment in time,

“Do not enter – demolition site” reads the sign…

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Now we look back but ahead to the future,

As the school welcomed a new Head called Miss Luter…

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And through the years we’ve seen staff come and go,

The school moved to a new site “as we learn then we grow”…

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It’s seen so much learning, this building half crumbled

“The end of an era” the old school has mumbled…

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But look through the windows not yet broken and see

Happy memories belonging to you and to me…

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By Carol Cameleon 2016

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Got some writing to share? Tweet your post direct to me @AllSortsHere using the #WonderfulWorldofWriting or #www hashtag and I’ll retweet!

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Somewhere to learn, to grow, to play ~ poem #WonderfulWorldofWriting

Wonderful World of Writing blog writing linky poem school transform cot to desk learn grow play learning growing playing

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In a recent Wonderful World of Writing post, I shared how our little girl uses her ‘Imagination Station’ and here’s a short poem about how it came to be…

Somewhere to learn, to grow, to play…

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Once upon a time you were a little bear

Born 3 weeks early, you were tiny with no hair,

You slept in your cot through the night, give or take

And rarely did you stir, not a noise did you make…

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The cot was your cousins’

And has a tale or two to tell,

Many a time between you all it’s

Heard the ‘odd’ scream or yell!

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Lost dummies, stuffed teddies

Wedged ‘tween mattress and frame,

I’d nudge your Daddy, “Your turn!”

Or at least that was my aim…

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Fast forward a few years

And now you’ve started school,

“I know!”, I shrilled with a brainwave,

And went to fetch the rule…

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With measurements to hand,

We got some wood chopped and changed,

Then spread a layer of blackboard paint

And when dry we re-arranged…

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Your playpen came down,

Your baby toys given away,

Your cot transformed into a desk,

Somewhere to learn, to grow, to play…

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By Carol Cameleon

Originally published under MummyBearsBlog but with a brand new school term on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to look back at how much our little girl has grown physically and mentally.  Her desk is truly a place ‘to learn, to grow, to play…’

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Join in with #WonderfulWorldofWriting and link up with any genre of writing… I’ll share every post on twitter and other social media.  Tweet your post direct to me @AllSortsHere and I’ll retweet (it’d be great if you could use #WonderfulWorldofWriting too!)

Linky open from 0600 Wednesday to midnight the following Tuesday GMT

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The Imagination Station ~ #WonderfulWorldofWriting

WonderfulWorldofWriting blog writing linky nursery rhymes books by a little bear aged 5 primary school learning education literacy

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This week, the last in our little bear’s Reception year at ‘big’ school, I’m not penning a poem (like I did last week).  Instead, I’m handing the spotlight over to our little bear (aged 5) and her imagination station!

Hubby and I are passionate about reading to our little bear.  She has a desk that will grow with her as she goes through the various stages of development in literacy at school.  When I was blogging as Mummy Bear, I wrote this poem about changing her cot into a desk.  And she uses this desk daily.  At this stage of her life, she uses it for colouring, writing, sticking, crafting ~ being creative.  As she goes through school, I’m sure it will be used for more ‘focussed’ activities…

As the end of Reception approached, we began to sit at it (me/hubby teetering on the edge of a little chair!) while doing her homework.  This meant that it needed a good tidy up but it has also put her in the homework mindset.

Her desk gives her ready access to all things creative, ready access to all things that fuel a 5 year old’s imagination and this is what she came up with.

nursery rhymes book writing literacy inspired creative humpty dumpty wonderfulworldofwriting 1 edit collage

As I was pottering around, she asked me how to spell the odd word.  But really, the majority of this is her own work.  And that’s what makes me oh-so-very-proud 🙂

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Goodbye Reception, Year 1 here I come! ~ poem #WonderfulWorldofWriting

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Goodbye Reception, Year 1 here I come!

Just like the hungry caterpillar,

You’ve fed me, you’ve taught me, you’ve watched me grow bigger…

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Now I’m ready to come out of my cocoon,

It’s time to spread my wings, time to bloom…

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I’ve grown into a beautiful butterfly,

I’m off to year 1 now, time for ‘goodbye’!…

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An ode to Our Little Bear’s teacher, teaching assistants and all the amazing staff who were involved in her vital first year at ‘big’ school.  I do not know where the last academic year has gone…  good job I didn’t blink 😉 

By Carol Cameleon 2015

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Join in with #WonderfulWorldofWriting and link up with any genre of writing… I’ll share every post on twitter and other social media.  Tweet your post direct to me @AllSortsHere and I’ll retweet (it’d be great if you could use #WonderfulWorldofWriting too!)

Linky open from 0600 Wednesday to midnight the following Tuesday GMT

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The Evergreen award

Evergreen award hard work school good behaviour parenting blog reward

I recently had a #ProudMummyMoment.  Or to be more precise, we had a ProudMummy-and-Daddy-Moment!  Our Little Bear was given an award.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I welled up when I read a letter from Our Little Bear’s school advising us that she was an ‘Evergreen’ and could therefore wear her own clothes for a day.

At our bear’s school, they have a traffic light system in Reception whereby if you talk when the teacher’s talking or your generally misbehave, you go down to amber or red.

However, if you work ‘consistently hard’ and behave well, you stay on green.  The school very much likes to recognise and reward hard work and good behaviour and they do this by rewarding the ‘Evergreen’ award.  Which is as it says on the ‘tin’…

We know that Our Little Bear has been doing well at school from the feedback given at parents’ evenings, from her spelling tests, her Reading Record book and her Goldilocks and Year of the Goat homework.  But when you receive a letter in black and white, it reinforces how hard she’s been working.

It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since she walked into her classroom for the first time and yet here we are – very nearly – at the end of Reception.  Her first year at ‘big’ school so very nearly done!

We couldn’t be more proud of her.  Not only for her being ‘Evergreen’ but because she’s been trying so hard, consistently.  She’s thriving 🙂

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What does your little one thrive at that makes you proud of their efforts?

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