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...............

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The 'Bored Box'

School's out and it's officially the summer holidays!!! 

                                           'YEAH' scream the kids!  'HELP' yell parents! 

Jacob is quite good at occupying himself, it's not often I hear those 3 words every parent dreads..........

                      MUM/DAD I'M BORED!!!!!!!!!!!


 Today's post is my solution to this dilemma!

The 'Bored Box©'                                  

Here's the idea. 
  1. Create a box containing slips of paper. Write on those slips of paper your child's toys or games. For example, 'Lego' or 'Dollshouse' or 'train set' etc. You could include specific activities such as 'paint a picture of...' or 'find 5 things in the garden starting with...' 
  2. Whenever your child utters those dreaded words, pull out the Bored Box© and have your child randomly choose a slip of paper! 
  3. The only rule is they must stick at that activity until it's complete or if it's a toy they must play with it for a set amount of time, say 10 mins. 

For more ideas of what activities to write on the papers see my resources page! 

Let me know how it works out for you!!!!!

Happy Summer! 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Toxic Childhood..... Detoxing Childhood Part 2......

What Children Need For Healthy Development On The Fingers Of One Hand
Photo credit- Sue Palmer

Picking up from last weeks post, in which I introduced Sue Palmer's idea of 'Toxic childhood', I will be digging deeper into 'Detoxing Parenting'.

The image above was created by Sue to demonstrate what a child needs to grow up and develop healthily. In order to achieve this you need to think about your parenting style and the way yo choose to interact with your child.

On Sue's website she has a great video explaining how to meet all five points!

Take a look- Five Finger Exercise

So we all know our kids need good, healthy food, a good nights sleep in a warm and safe environment and to be communicated with by others.

And yet the biggest issues relating to poor parenting are poor diet leading to obesity, children suffering with sleep deprivation and children with poor social skills. How is this happening?????

Is it because life seems to busy it's quicker to pick up a takeaway than to cook? Is it the price of fresh food causing parents to choose a cheaper less nutritious option? If so, how do we overcome this? I'm not convinced all of the thousand of 'parenting' manuals out there are the answer.

 At the end of the day we all know that certain foods are unhealthy, so if we choose to feed them to our children they won't be getting the most nutritious options. We don't need a 'parenting' strategy to deal with this.

We just need to take a long hard look at the choices we are making and decide if they are the absolute best choices for our child. Does it have to be a takeaway everyday, can one day be 'veg' and 'fruit' day? As parents we make the choices.

Same goes for forming healthy sleep habits. As adults we can choose to go to bed late, knowing we will feel tired and grumpy the next day. Our focus will be off, we won't be able to concentrate and our ability to retain information will be severely limited. Children suffer in the same way when they are sleep deprived. If we allow them to go to bed late, by not setting boundaries and bedtimes, we know they will feel this way the next day.

Again it is about our choice as a parent, not about a 'parenting' strategy or intervention.

'What about my child who just won't sleep?' I hear you cry! The answer is simple. It's about a choice you made somewhere along the line. Maybe you chose not to instil the importance of a bedtime routine when your child was younger, maybe you chose to allow your child to stay up until they fall asleep on the sofa and now that's become the norm, maybe you chose not to put your child back to bed every time they came downstairs. Whatever the 'maybe' you chose the outcome!

However, the problem arises when parents choose to make the 'wrong' (socially perceived as wrong not my  personal opinion of wrong!) decisions. How do we tackle this?

Better  parenting information to new, young parents?  Parenting classes for teenagers as part of a 'lifeskills' course?

But can you force people to make certain choices? It's safe to say most humans know what the basic needs of another human are. After all they are their own basic needs! But if people choose not to meet them, what then????????????

Sue's book 'Detoxing Childhood' does have sections outlining the need for healthy food, good nights sleep etc and has, in my opinion, good strategies for ensuring these things happen. But I'm still overwhelmed by the simple fact some parents choose not to meet these needs....................................................

Thursday, 5 July 2012



  SURPRISES!!  Life is full of them! 

We are back round to Thankful Thursday already! 

This week I am thankful for the element of surprise that life can spring on us! 

Times have been hard lately for us, in terms of finances. This morning the usual envelopes containing the usual bills dropped through the letter box. I can't say I rushed to open them! So after lunch I scanned the envelopes, noticing one stamped with HMRC. 'Great! A tax bill' I thought. 

Opening the envelope I noticed it contained a cheque??!!!! 

A TAX REBATE!!!!              WOOHOO!!!!            FAB!!! 

Ok, so it's not millions but it's enough! 

My initial reaction was to burst into tears! You see our luck has mainly been of the 'bad' variety lately so I was totally and absolutely taken by surprise! 

My day was completed smiling :-)

Seems our luck could be coming in the 'good' variety..................

Romans 8:28- 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.'

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Homeschool Journal........

                                     School is officially over, for the summer, for Jacob!

Although it seems we have just found our feet and created a rhythm, part of the reason I chose home education was to change the way Jacob's education was delivered. I wanted to move away from the traditional  school 'terms' and educate Jacob based on his needs and ability to focus.

Summer is here (despite the weather) and for us summer is about being outdoors, experiencing nature and learning new physical skills.

That said! We have started a 'homeschool journal' in order to record some of the best parts of our summer. Also as a way to keep up the writing practice. Jacob seems keen so far!

So what is a 'homeschool journal'??
For us it's a bound notebook with lined pages in which Jacob will record, daily his memories of the day. We have decided to record a day in hand. Meaning on Monday we would write about the weekend, on Tuesday we would write about Monday etc. There are no real 'rules' about content. I leave it totally up to Jacob to decide. But I do insist on entries being written in sentences, so capital letters and full stops! And before Jacob begins writing I ask him to 'think out his sentence'.

'Thinking out a sentence'-
Have you heard of this method? In a nutshell it is when you say out loud what your going to write. For example- 'I went to the beach today, it was fun!'. I would then ask Jacob to count how many words are in his sentence. So 9 words. Next I'd ask Jacob to write the first word with my help. I would then let him continue unaided. When he says he is finished I would ask him to count the amount of words he has written, saying 'remember there are nine words in your sentence'. If he counts nine, great! If he doesn't can he figure out which word he missed out?
I have found this a really effective way of helping Jacob gather his thoughts and then     record them successfully.

Journal Ideas-
If you have younger children, who are not yet writing, it might be an idea to let them record their memories in picture form. This could be pictures they create or pictures they take during the day with a camera. You could them ask them to tell you about their picture and record this underneath.
For older children, you could ask them to write entries in different styles. For example, record the trip to the Zoo as if your writing a guide brochure. Or write about our cooking session in the style of a recipe. This helps them to get to grip with different genres and reasons for writing. it also makes it more fun!

Below is a selection of links to blogs and sites I found useful when researching journals.


Happy Journalling!!! I'd love to know how you get on, leave me a comment below.....................

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Toxic Childhood..... Detoxing Childhood.....

I first heard of 'Sue Palmer' when I attended a conference, in London, in 2004 - Modern Parenting. Sue was a keynote speaker. She was talking about parenting and raising children in the 'Modern' world.At the time I didn't/couldn't really relate to the overall issue as I had no children of my own. But her descriptions of how children are be labelled more readily (ADHD/Autism etc.), are obese at a young age and know little about the world around them shocked me. I guess I stored away these thoughts in my sub-conscious hoping I'd dig them out when I became a parent. Fast forward to 2006, pregnant and eager to read all I could on 'parenting' I stumbled across a book 'Toxic Childhood' by Sue Palmer 
                                                  See full size image

Those thoughts stored away came flooding back and I enjoyed reading every page! But also as an expecting mother it panicked me a lot! How could I make sure I gave my child the best start? How could I be sure I didn't expose my child to this 'toxicity'? ARRRGGHH!!!!

Six years on, many books read, many theories thought through and I still agree wholeheartedly with Sue Palmer's research and theories. That's why I have chosen to share some of that research, advice and theory with you here! Over the next few Sundays I will try to review Sue's book 'Detoxing Childhood'. Her follow up to Toxic Childhood, an 'antidote' to toxic child syndrome! 

So here we go. 

Let's start with exploring the idea of 'Toxic Childhood'. I don't know about you but when I think about the word 'toxic' I think of chemical spillage, nuclear waste, poison, harmful...... just yuck! But put this with 'childhood' and it just doesn't compute! However, when you look hard at the modern world and what children are exposed to it is 'toxic'. 

Children's brains are 'developing' rather than 'developed'. They can not keep up with the fast pace of modern life. Life today is so switched on, it's 24 hours, seven days a week. Think back to the time (probably only 20 years ago!) of just 4 (UK) channels on the TV. Channels that 'switched' off at a set time in the evening. A time when most homes had one or maybe 2 phones (attached by a cable to the wall) and writing letters was the norm! Often women were at home with their children too. Now I'm not trying to aggravate feminist with this statement, just noting facts.

Children's needs haven't changed in these 20 years. They still need real food- not junk, real play- not electronic, exploration of the world around them using their senses- not TV stimulation and they need real interactions, with real people. Think hard about the modern world, are these needs wholeheartedly being met???

School work is more formal from an earlier age. Responsibilities are given earlier,  children dress like mini adults who send emails to friends rather than talk, chat on MSN rather than play with toys and 'can't do homework as they are using up their free minutes on their Iphone'! 

The result?

Children's emotional intelligence is being damaged and their social needs left unmet.  Does it shock you that in 2007 a UNICEF report found that 'British children are the most unhappiest in the developed world'? WHAT??!!!! How did that happen???? So we are 5 years on, but has that statistic really changed?

We call our country part of the developed world. Developed as in; 
  •  It's 'great' that a 3 yr old can send a text? (as seen on a Facebook status lately!)
  • A 6 yr old was sent home from school for wearing 'fake' nails and high heels.
  • Many children label 'chicken nuggets from McDonalds' as a healthy food.
Hmmmmmmmmmmm! Let's not respond just yet!

 Below is a clip from Sue Palmer explaining her take on 'Toxic Childhood'.  Have a watch.......

Over the next few Sunday posts I will look at the three areas Sue outlines in her book (Detoxing Childhood) that need addressing. 
1- Detoxing parenting
2-Detoxing Childcare and Education
3-Detoxing the Electronic Village

Why not grab yourself a copy of the book (details on my recommended books list) and read with me! 

Thursday, 28 June 2012


This week it's easy.  I'm thankful for my gorgeous, handsome, loving, fun, intelligent, happy, smiley son!!

Tomorrow he is six years old. I can't believe six precious years have whizzed by. I am so grateful for him in my life. Everyday he makes me smile. His laugh is infectious. He asks the most amazing (sometimes hard to answer!) questions. His love is unconditional. He makes it clear he adores me and for that I feel so lucky. Our relationship is so easy going, yes he can press my buttons! But we love each other so much that most days we spend time giggling, cuddling, snuggled up and reading.
 Being a parent can be labelled (a can seem) so tough, but taking five minutes to be thankful for your children reminds you how wonderful being a parent can be. Be thankful for your children today........

I've really enjoyed reading a post from a blogger friend Julia at classroom free. She talks about ansering that all time favourite home ed question 'What about Socialisation?'. Take a look!
What about socialisation?!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Loving our Kids on Purpose..... Step 3.......


This is the final step in the review of the parenting book written by Danny Silk- Loving Our Kids On Purpose.

Step 3- Protecting and Building a Heart Connection
This step does what it says on the tin! It teaches parents the importance of building a 'connection' or relationship with their children. When you communicate to children that their needs matter and are valuable your developing a healthy self-concept within them. If you give them no choices your communicating the only needs that matter are your own. However, to some adults children used to choices can come over as disrespectful (in their tone). Danny Silk advocates that this is not the case. They are assertive!
So training your child to handle freedom and choices is a top priority.

As a parent you wear many 'hats'! If your wearing your 'tax collector' (think back to last weeks post about consequences) hat you are showing and enforcing practical consequences- you chose not to clean up so this is the consequence. If your child show's you disrespect you must introduce relational consequences- a consequence that makes them reflect on how their behaviour effects others.
Danny explains the method he calls the 'Think-it-over-chair'. This is a space/chair/rug/mat etc and time for your child to think over an issue and how it has effected others and themselves. While the child is thinking it over it is your role to ask questions to facilitate the thinking. Unlike other 'time out' methods I have read about in which the parent is expected to leave the child the think for themselves. These methods have the problem that some children need help unpicking their behaviour or some children left alone become more and more angry! So questions like 'So, what's the problem here?' and 'How's that worked/working out for you?' can help. Danny states 'Asking good questions is a far more powerful tool in leading children to a solution than telling them what you think.'
Your goal, as parent, is not to figure out the answers, assign blame or antagonise the situation. Your trying to teach them to solve their own issues and take ownership of the problem.

Discipline V Punishment-
When a child is involved in making a decision is is 'discipline'. When an adult makes all the decisions in the situation it's 'punishment'. The nature of punishment is fear and control. But as we have discovered throughout this series 'Love casts out fear'. We want to love our children without the need for fear and control.

Three important things, as a parent, you want your children to learn from their mistakes/choices is-
1- choices on the outside can create pain on the inside.
2-Learn to create solutions to their problems themselves.
3-Parents are a source of wisdom and help, not punisher's!

Many parents fear their child becoming an adolescent. What with all the hormones, peer pressures and culture raging against you! But in reality, they just need the protection of your heart. If your relationship has been damaged it's going to be difficult to withstand these outside and hormonal pressures. So in many ways it's worth taking the time to ensure you have that heart connection with your child from early on. They need to know how the choices they make can cause you pain and how this pain can have consequences for them.

I hope you have enjoyed this review as much as I have enjoyed reading the book! I urge you to take the time to read the book in it's entirety. It has really changed the way I parent my son. It has taught me to value building a foundation of love and honesty, not fear and control.
Let me know how you get on.........................................

Follow this link to purchase the book from amazon Loving our kids on purpose by Danny Silk

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Home Ed update & Thankful Thursday.......

The Queen's Jubilee has been a focus for much of our Home Ed tasks over the last couple of weeks. Jacob made a crown for our Home Ed group 'Jubilee Garden Party'. He came second!! As you can see for, the picture above the competition was stiff! He really enjoyed the garden party. We sang the National Athem accompanied by the 'teenagers orchestra', we ate cake and we played 'pass the crown'. Thankfully the weather held, rain arrived on the journey home!

It's that time of year when, as a Home Ed  Moma, I'm thinking about our next school year planning tasks and activities. I have been working on some new planning formats, which I will share on here soon in the form of a 'resources' page. I have also been developing my own curriculum, based on the Charlotte Mason model, but with a less 'hectic' schedule. Again I will share this on here soon. 

June is 'birthday season' for my family. We have 10 birthdays, fathers day and wedding anniversaries. So it's hectic, expensive and party filled, but fun! Jacob's birthday is at the end of the month so he spends the month building anticipation to his big day. It's great to watch as his excitement bubbles over day by day. Will he survive the next 9 days???????


               Today is the longest day of the year- Summer Solstice or Litha (Pagan name)


I really like this picture I found online today. I live close to Stonehenge and would love to visit one year on a Solstice/Equinox.

Today I'm thankful for the extra hours of daylight. Those extra hours cheer me up (I'm a S.A.D sufferer) and make me hopeful summer (and warmth) is on it's way.
This weekend we enter the second quarter of a waxing moon. This is a time to build, create and use our positive energy. How will you use your positivity this weekend?

What are you thankful for this week????

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Loving Our Kids on Purpose- Step 2 .......

It's Sunday- Father's Day! Happy Father's Day! My Daddy is my absolute hero. He is what all men should aspire to be. I'm so grateful to have him as my father. In the picture above (with my mum) he looks so happy and smiley. This is how he always is! My parents have taught me so much about being a parent. My dad is calm, fair and patient. He listens to our point of view and gave us the freedom to make (some!) decisions but reminded us of consequences. This leads on to part 2 of the 'Loving our kids on purpose' book review.

In my 'Fun or not fun!' post I shared with you Danny silks idea that
'Our goal as parents is to teach our children about and how to have healthy relationships and at the heart of these relationships is love. Love requires choices. So our children must be skilled in making choices and realising consequences of those choices.'
In order to achieve this he sets out a 3 step rule. In 'Fun or not fun' I discussed step 1. Today I will share with you my thoughts on step 2. 

Step 2- Setting and enforcing healthy limits.  
According to Danny, 'When we give our children choices we validate them by recognising that they need power in their relationship with us.' I have found, when working with many families, that problems often arise when there is a struggle for power between child and parents. I also think it is important to practise letting children make choices (such as what they have for a snack, clothes they wear etc) so when the arguments/power struggles start you are used to the dynamics of giving choices. Offering good choices creates a culture of empowerment in your home. It also helps sets rules and boundaries. 
An example given in the book is ' Do you want to speak respectfully while you are upset or do you want to talk about it in an hour?' 

I have found in order to develop the notion of allowing your child choices you must ensure you fully understand how 'choices' will work in your home. Danny Silk set out the following three principles. 

1- It is important the choices you give your child are things you are happy with them doing. Giving an option we want them to do and an option we don't want (e.g the punishment option) gives chance for your child to feel powerful. 'Go ahead, ground me for a month! I'll make your life hell!'

2- You need to ensure your child understands the choices they are being given and the choice they make. For example when asking your child to clean their room, do they have the same 'picture' as you of a clean room? One way to do this is to ask questions along the way. 'What do you think about your bed? Is is messy or neat?'

3- Finally, you must enforce your choices with consequences. If you offer choices A and B and then they choose C, what will you do???
Here's where the power struggles and potential headaches start!! It can be so infuriating when your child actively deifies you! 
So what to do?? Here's what Danny suggests, see what you think....
C is chosen. Best to make no fuss, appear to allow C to happen. But then a little later impose a sanction for C. Below is an example. (blue is parent)
'Clean your room or pay me to do it?'
'Hhmmm how much?'
'Hmm, I'll think about that price....' OR any further discussion/negotiation on price'
Go ahead and clean your child's room! Without comment/fuss or row. Then a little after cleaning, just as your child thinks 'great mum cleaned my room!' Request payment!
'I need my £50 I cleaned your room'
'Huh? I didn't ask you to clean my room? I can't/won't pay'
'Ok, I'm sure I can earn £50 for your Xbox on ebay!'

Here is the IMPORTANT thing- you must be 100% willing to go through with the sale or you're teaching your child not to believe a word you say! This is what some describe as tough love! But the reality of this is you are just teaching your child how the world works. For example, you get a job, hard earn pay check arrives, but you must pay tax! If you choose not to pay the tax you will have a consequence, a penalty to pay! 

My conclusion of 'Step 2- Setting and enforcing healthy limits' is that we, as parents, must make sure 'love drives out fear'. We are taking a risk by allowing our children to experience some consequences. Some consequences are painful for us all! But being a parent is tough! We must show sadness and empathy towards their choices but we must strive not to give choices filled with anger and punishment. It is important that children take ownership for their problems and learn how to solve them. This is how the adult world works (most of the time!) and we are teaching them about this in the safety of our home. 

Next Sunday will conclude our in depth look at 'Loving our kids on purpose' by looking at step 3- Protecting and building heart connections.....

Thursday, 14 June 2012


For all you regular readers I have decided to post three times a week- Tuesdays will be our home school updates, Thursdays will be 'Thankful Thursdays' and Sundays will have a parenting or book review flavour.

So today being Thursday it's 'THANKFUL THURSDAY'. I thought it would be great to reflect on something that has happened during/occurred to me/been part of  my week. All too often we get caught up in the negative, but life is full of positives even if we have to search for them! I'd like you to post your thankful moments in the comments box below, so I can share your positives too.

This week I have been thankful for...................................... RAIN!

Yes, I really said rain! The unseasonal downpours have given me the excuse to hide away at home and catch up on some much needed rest after a busy week in Disney! I've also had plenty of time to get my housework done without feeling I was missing out on sunshine. I've baked and cooked, and had time to peruse blogs and websites researching for my blog and homeschool planning.

What are you thankful for this week???......................................

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

All the fun of the fair!!!!!!

We have just returned from a week in Disneyland Paris! We got quite a cheap price from booking early (last November!) having looked at recent prices it can cost over £1000 for a family 3 day trip. I have to say there is no way we would have paid that kind of money!
We headed out on Sunday on the Eurostar 'Disney Express' train, straight to the park from Ashford. The train was on time, quick and stress free. Jacob was fascinated at the fact the train went under the sea! Meaning he spent a lot of time looking out of the window, hoping to see a fish or shark.

Our package gave us the facility to ditch our bags at the railway station (they would be delivered to our hotel) and run straight for the rides! This was a godsend with two excited 5 year olds!

A few steps into the park and the sound of happy, childish, dreamy music filled the air- we had walked right into a parade! How lucky! Very magical start! Mickey, Minnie, Donald and pals floated by on a special 20th anniversary train. The boys were mesmerised!

Over the next few days we experienced so many spins, twists, turns, speeds, thrills and spills- all in the name of fun! Our favourite rides were 'Buzz Lightyear Blast, Star Tours and It's a small world'. Each of these visited at least twice daily!

We were quite lucky as most of the rides had 30 min or less queuing time. Which we found do-able with the boys, but some rides had a 'fast pass' system meaning we could get a time slot and come back then, with less queuing. But this system still involved some queue. My big issue with waiting in line was the fact that all people are expected to stand and wait their turn, an unwritten rule! We had to fend off many adults trying to push past the boys! I was shocked that grown men and women thought it was perfectly acceptable to push past children. Children who were waiting patiently for their turn! I realise it is very 'British' to queue, but turn taking and patience should be a 'human' concept surely???!! What example is this setting to your children if you are unable to wait in a line?

A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.
George Savile

A similar scene was seen when a character appeared in the park. Many children would rush towards the character for a photo or autograph. Now in my experience, children left to their own devices in this situation can sort out a system of fairness and turn taking. Occasionally there is a child unable to wait, but this child is usually put into place by the other children waiting! However, I witnessed adults pushing children out of the way in order to shove their child in front of the characters! I saw 'Dads' (male carers) arguing over whose child was first in line! And worst of all parents encouraging/commanding their child to 'push 'em out the way'! What are we teaching our children??!!! Step away parents and let the children show you how to behave!! In the above picture our boys had waited about 10 mins for their turn to meet the Mad Hatter. they did this by themselves with us (adults) just looking on from a distance ready to take a photo. I'm proud of them! 

Disney is a brand well known for putting on a show! The 'Disney Dreams' show is the parks closing finale last thing at night, around 11pm. The castle in the middle of the park is used as a 'screen' on which many familiar film scenes are projected. The fountains spurt in time to music, fireworks boom and flames ignite! We were lucky enough to get front row views (after standing to wait fending off pushing in parents! for an hour prior to the start). It was absolutely spectacular! We all enjoyed it and discussed it all the way back to the hotel! Despite the late start time, it is a must see show!

We had breakfast with the characters, meaning we got up close and personal to Mickey Mouse! We met other characters as we ate. Around the park we managed to spy a few other characters such as Peter Pan, Captain Jack Sparrow, Buzz Lightyear, Mad Hatter, Donald Duck, Pluto and Winnie the Pooh. Seeing the character got me thinking.........
Ask a boy what characters they'd hope/like to see in Disney and your likely to hear Mickey, Donald, Buzz, Peter Pan, Captain Hook. Ask a girl which characters they hope to see and I'm certain you'd hear Cinderella, Belle, Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, Snow White. I realise this is quite stereotypical and somewhat sexist, but I think its fairly representative of children under 5! However, in the park the sight of a Disney female is rare. They are 'hidden' in the Princess Palace, which you have to queue, often for at least 2 hours to get into and have an audience with which ever Princesses are in there. No choice or prior knowledge of character. There is no 'princess, Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Minnie Mouse themed ride.
 BUT there is a 'Buzz Lightyear' ride, a 'Star Wars' ride, a 'soldiers from Toy Story' ride, a Peter Pan ride, a Lancelot Knight Carousel, a pirate ship and ride, a car stunt show and a wild west cowboy show. I realise none of these rides or shows are purely for boys, but the reality is most little girls visiting Disney long to see the characters they dress up as and love from films. I couldn't help but feel the park was very male orientated. If I had been a 5 year old girl visiting I would have definitely have wanted to see more 'girly' inspired rides and shows! 
As I said, I went with two 5 year old boys, they were absolutely enthralled with everything they saw and experienced, but I'd like to hear from you if you visited with a young girl!