Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympic Fever! Go Team GB.......


Our household has been well and truly hit with London 2012 fever! Right from the magnificent opening ceremony we have be glued to the screen!

Jacob was even allowed to stay up late and watch the ceremony right to the end. He enjoyed every second and still dissects it regularly in conversation with friends and family! His opening gambit is often 'Did you see the opening ceremony?'

      GO TEAM GB!!!!!!

I have to admit I am surprised and slightly shocked at how well Team GB are preforming. As a nation, us Brits are used to losing, football always ends badly in penalty shoot outs, rugby and cricket are always so close but never close enough! As a sporting nation we never seem to invest the time and money needed to truly succeed.

But with the Olympics, maybe it's the home advantage, maybe it's the fact our athletes are used to the rubbish climate or maybe, just maybe it's the fact we have invested time and money to train our sports men and women, valued their contribution to our nation and taken their dreams of gold seriously! Because we are storming along!

     Gold medals are racking up! From sailing to long jump, dressage to cycling!

Watching the games, in our household anyway, is a very tense affair! Tactics are discussed pre race/event, predictions are made and then the screaming at the TV set begins!!!! All in the name of support of course!

When Jessica Ennis ran the 800m to claim gold in the heptathlon shouts of 'Go Jess' and 'Come on Jess' could be heard (from us) by our neighbours!

Jacob has been totally inspired by the whole thing. He talks about 'when he wins gold' or 'when he is an athlete' as if it is a fact not dream. The enthusiasm of our children- the young generation who are being inspired by this games should not be forgotten once the flame is extinguished!

For London 2012 to have been a real success for Team GB we should see kids athletics clubs opening up in many already existing council owned athletic tracks, swimming lesson becoming more affordable through government subs, horse riding, rowing, cycling, judo, fencing all being a valued option in PE classes and the return of diving boards to local swimming pools giving children a chance to experience and train in diving. It would be such a waste.........shame.............. crime even..... if after the Olympics the passion it has ignited in so many children and young adults is left to dampen out.
                                                      Over to you Mr Cameron.........................

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Toxic childhood- Detoxing Childhood...... Part 3- Detoxing Childcare and Education

   It's been awhile, but I wanted to continue the series for all my readers waiting for the next instalment! I've had one or two emails asking when I will continue...... here goes!

For a quick recap, check these previous posts.

Learning V's Education
For a Home Ed Mama this is a subject I could chew over for a long, long time! Is education in the formal sense how children learn? Is life all about learning??? In Sue's book she discusses how learning takes place from birth, day to day activities are learning. After all, babies learn about the world around them, how to control their bodies, then how to walk, talk etc. It happens naturally because the child wants to, through natural curiosity, imitation and repetition. Adults don't teach babies how to sit! We encourage them, praise them, provide opportunities for the skills to be practised, but we don't educate them on the art of sitting!
However, this said, not everything can be left to this natural process. Take social skills or toilet training these skills need to be taught. The child needs to be shown what to do. But is this education??? Or is it merely a process that happens as part of the care for a child?

Part of choosing suitable childcare for your child should be about choosing a setting that values these aspects of care, not just the 'education' they provide. According to Sue 'child raising requires a lot of time and attention, as well as establishing habits and behaviour, providing real food, real play and real first hand experiences.'

Attachment and Communication
'Attachment is the scientific name for the deep bond between a child and the person who cares for it.'- Sue Palmer.
Attaching to the main care giver is important for a child's emotional stability and growth. Good childcare should allow for attachment. A child's personality, behaviour and learning all depends on secure attachment. If you would like to read more attachment I can recommend a book by Sue Gerhardt.

In Sue's book she discusses how a securely attached child will find it easier to form strong relationships and long term emotional resilience.

If you choose a childcare setting for your child where staffing is not stable, or the care giver is different everyday the process of attachment can not take place.

Language skills come from this same bond. Often a mother will sing to her baby, talk to them or play with them. This provides the child with an example, a role model for language. Eventually, the child will imitate and copy this language. It is worth noting that bad examples of language eg swearing, poor sentences etc are also copied and imitated by children exposed to this. In my experience of being around children in Reception class (as a teacher), children who were not talked to, sang to, played with as a babies often have poor language and communication skills.

Childcare- a valued career?
Childcare in the UK is not (in my opinion) valued as a career. It started life as 'womens work'. Women stayed at home to care for their children. As times changed women wanted to earn money and wanted the same opportunities as men, so they went out to work! This then provided a need for childcare. But women themselves saw this type of work as low status, as it was exactly this that they were trying to escape by going to work. However, if you think about it, childcare is hugely high status! As a childcarer/provider you are shaping the future of a child, raising the next generation! The status of childcare workers needs to rise!
After all, problems in today's society pointing back to parenting issues have made it clear just how important that 'women's work' is!

Sue explains how she feels ' our booming consumer culture has added to the toxic brew. Parents are happy to invest money in their child's future but since they don't see the value of childcare they spend it elsewhere.'
'But good quality childcare in the early years is probably the most significant investment parents can make.'

Primary Education
Sue gives three reasons behind the issues with primary school education.

  1. Too much is taught too soon
  2. To much pressure- tests and targets
  3. The learning turn-off- overloaded curriculum
It's quite difficult for me to be objective because the above reasons are exactly why I chose to home educate!!!!! All I can say is what is important to you as a parent? Do you want a rounded child? Or is it really more important that your child is top of the class? 

Sue outlines in her book, for the rest of this section, about how to ensure the most from your child's time in primary education. It's definatley worth a read if your parent with children in school. 

I'll end with this quote which I find quite poignant!

'Teachers and parents come from different corners, and have different goals. Parents want red-carpet treatment for their children; teachers want to keep their classroom show on the road. Parents get fustrated when schools don't take them seriously; schoold get hostile and defensive when parents make demands they think unreasonable.' Hilary Wilce, Educational Agony Aunt!

My readers have been quiet lately so I challenge you to leave me a comment! I want to hear your thoughts! 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Lazy, Hazy, Sunny Days......................

Yayee! The sunshine is finally here!

We can mostly be found outdoors! Park, stream, beach or garden! We're not fussy!

Here are some snapshots Jacob would like to share with you all.

                    Bouncing, jumping, giggling and squabbling mainly happen on the trampoline!

                                          Odiham Castle, stumbled upon while walking the dog! Queue impromptu history lesson!
 Awaiting the stunt show. An amazing show that really inspired Jacob! He wants to learn to drive on two wheels!
 Awaiting the Olympic Torch relay. Lots and lots of waiting! The torch went by in a flash! But Jacob really loved the sense of occasion.
 Making cars and trucks out of wood. Look carefully, they both have the 'concentration tongue' out!

                                                            Legoland! Atlantis ride! Fab!

 Milestones museum. Riding the tram. Jacob was really keen to listen to the recount of 'life as a tram driver'.

Great times with great friends! Jacob's at the age were going out for the day with friends (and their parents!) and without me can take place. He loves this sense of freedom and I always get a great recount of the adventures that have taken place!

Finally, I'd like to share a link to a really great, in my opinion, post about how learning takes place in a home ed environment. Take a look................How do you know they're learning???

Friday, 20 July 2012

Is cleaning teeth a battle in your home??????


All of these kids seem perfectly happy cleaning their teeth! So why, oh why is it such a battle for me?! 

Sound familiar??????!!!!

Since starting this blog I have had quite a few emails from despairing parents about teeth cleaning. Each email read the same- 'My child refuses to clean their teeth', 'It's such a battle when it comes to cleaning teeth', 'What tips can you share about cleaning teeth?'. 
My son will clean his teeth, but he is not keen on me supervising as I 'nag' him to clean for longer, brush more intently, use more/less toothpaste etc. This is when a battle can break out! 

Also, recently, I have found it increasingly difficult to get Jacob to recognise that the things he eats and drinks can damage his teeth. He is well aware of the concept of 'Healthy Eating'. He knows that too much of certain foods can make you 'fat', but he is far less excepting of the fact that fizzy drinks can damage your teeth and that some fruits contain sugar that can harm your teeth. 

So, in order to meet the needs of my readers and to find my son hard and fast proof that I was right about fizzy drinks I began to trawl the web! 

I came accross 'Little Learners Publications'-   their website can be found here

Little Learners publish two handy booklets for kids and parents explaining 'How to clean your teeth' and 'What to eat and drink for healthy teeth'.

I contacted Ian Aguado-Bush, one of the creators to find out more.

Ian was quick to admit he could not take full credit for the idea! His 7 year old son deserved credit too! Ian explained how his son had asked him to 'show the best way to keep his teeth clean' (very wise young man!). Ian was more than happy to show his son, but they both wondered how this process would be remembered for next time??
Ian roped in his arty friend- David Foreman (the illustrator of the the booklets) and they came up with a series of pictures designed as an aid to Ian's son. Realising they were onto something good, in terms of providing kids with a clear and direct way to remember how to clean their teeth, they enlisted the help of the British Dental Health Foundation and the booklets sprung to life! These booklets can now be found in dental practices accross the country!


Jacob was really excited to receive his booklets in the post! He wanted to read them immediately as they are bright, colourful and very appealing to children. Jacob initially opted to skip the 'How to clean your teeth' booklet, stating 'I know how to do that'! At this stage I left it and let him move on to 'What to eat and drink to keep your teeth healthy'.

What to Eat and Drink for Healthy TeethAgain this booklet is bright, 'child-enticing' and fun looking. Bearing in mind Jacob and I have been having an on-going battle about certain foods being harmful to teeth, he was keen to read this aloud to me, in order to prove me wrong! The chosen font made it clear and easy for him (age 6) to read it unaided. Also the pictures  captured his imagination. He really liked the 'machine producing the acid'!
As we read through, we came to the page about fizzy drinks! Let's just say he suddenly changed tune! 'If the booklet says its true mummy it must be right!!!' I had to resist the 'told you so!'.

I decided to read the 'how to clean your teeth' booklet to myself, knowing Jacob needed to read this, his technique was far from perfect! A few seconds into me reading he slinked up beside me and chimed in! 'Look mummy it says you should brush in circles, I didn't know that!'. That was it he was hooked and wanted the booklet in the bathroom so he could 'use it' in the morning to check he was 'doing it right'. Amazing that having something written in a booklet like that is all a child needs to be convinced that it is 'the law' so to speak!                                                                                 How to clean your teeth

I was really impressed with the 'interactive' nature of these booklets. Not only can they be read together with parent and child, but they allow for interesting discussion (about cleaning technique, toothbrushes, toothpastes, food that is better for teeth etc) Jacob likes to check the labels for sugar contents now!
Best of all these booklets retail at £1.99 each. A family-friendly price, for a great child-friendly product!

Little learners will be featured on ITV Meridian news on Monday 23rd July or Tuesday 24th July, look out for them!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

THANKFUL THURSDAY....................

This week has been hectic! But it's the reason I love the summer holidays! Summer holidays for us mean time to visit friends and time to be a family. 

So today being Thursday (and Thursday's at The Learning Journey is the day we are thankful) I am thankful for the times we can spend as a family having fun, smiling, laughing and making memories. 

 This week we have visited Milestones Museum, our local 'living history' museum, been for a dog walk/bike ride and been to Legoland!! Fabulous week so far! 

Jacob is tucked up in bed tonight after declaring he is 'sooooooooo tired and could sleep for a week!'. 
  My evil plan worked!!!!!!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

New Facebook Page!!!

Find The Learning Journey on facebook!                                     

Our facebook page will be the place to find giveaways, offers and tips!

Find us and like us!



Craft Cafe.............. Left-brain...Right-brain......

Last week  I accompanied Jacob to 'The Craft Cafe', a fabulous crafty session for kids, held in Grazeley Village Hall (website can be found here).


The Cafe is the brain-child of Debbie. Debbie is a lovely, calm natured and child friendly lady, with a heart for seeing parents interacting with their children. When chatting with Debbie she explained how, although she can see the place for them, she has come to 'loathe' indoor play spaces. I have to agree! Although they are great for running off steam, they can be loud, over stimulating and crowded. But most of all they encourage parents NOT to interact with their child. Often children are hurtling around the equipment while mum sips coffee and checks her emails! Now I'm not saying this should never happen! But following on from the post about 'Detoxing Parenting'- we have learnt how important it is to have time for your child and interact with your child!
Debbie previously worked in the textile industry, is a nanny and is passionate about art, crafting and creativity. She took time to explain to me how important it is for us as parents to spend time engaging our child's 'right-brain'

The right brain-left brain theory grew out of the work of Roger W. Sperry, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981. According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities that are popularly associated with the right side of the brain include:
  • Recognizing faces
  • Expressing emotions
  • Music
  • Reading emotions
  • Color
  • Images
  • Intuition
Taken from About.com- Psycology. 

So with this in mind, she created 'The Craft Cafe'. 

At the cafe children from aged 2 to 11 (although no age is turned away!) can chose a pre-packed craft kit. The kits range in price from £3 to £5. There was a wide range of choice from puppets, candles, kites to colouring and painting. 

The idea is that you help your child to create their chosen item while enjoying a lovely cup of tea or coffee (served in the cutest china tea cups!) and a delicious slice of home-made cake! Cupcakes available for the kids! 

Jacob chose a 'kite kit'. He was really enthusiastic about making his kite! The kit didn't contain instructions, which as a less than creative, more definite left-brain moma, seemed daunting! However, it gave Jacob the freedom to really 'create' his own kite! He loved this aspect, an absolute winner! Plus Debbie was on hand to offer Jacob words of advice and a helping hand. 

The setting for the cafe was tranquil and peaceful. This helped create an air of calm about the place, certainly much more relaxing than an indoor play centre! There is a garden area outback, fenced off for safety! This allowed the children to run around in nature while waiting for sticky glue to dry or wet paint to set. 

For anyone local to Grazeley, Berkshire the Cafe is open every Friday 9.30am-11.30am. Entrance is free- payment is for craft sets and refreshments! 
 A website for the cafe is being set up and details will follow, but if your in the neighbourhood why not drop in and say hello...............