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It has to make sense!

I had an enjoyable Wold Book Day at Kingswood School, sharing my children’s picture book Jo-Jo and Gran-Gran all in a week.

I was very impressed by the welcome I received, even the slice of cake and the cup of tea went down well!  A colleague of mine says that you can always tell the culture of a school by how you are received on arrival. Indeed, the culture of this school is one of sharing, caring and helping.

My role for the day was to read my book with the children in both the reception and nursery classes. It was great to be able to scaffold the children’s learning using the book and have lots of fun as well, for example, problem solving and developing new concepts.

I finished the book by setting the children a writing challenge linked to the story: to write a note to Gran-Gran with their ideas for […]


If you took a holiday.

I read with interest news of the victory in the high court for Jon Platt, who took his daughter out of school during term time. Rightly so, the judges in the high court agreed with Mr Platt.

When my children were at school, I proudly took them out during term-time for family holidays. These included to visit my gran in St. Lucia, around the time of her birthday (which was during term time), as well as for other family celebrations. My gran passed away seven years ago and those special memories that my children have of their great-grandmother are irreplaceable, giving them many stories of their own to pass on. In fact, many of the laugh-out-loud moments that we have as a family are when we reminisce about these holidays – from my sons remembering key events and speaking with a St. Lucia accent to learning the odd word in St Lucian patois to bring […]


GESS, Awards. Dubai, UAE

Delighted to be a judge at the GESS awards:

 


Confident Talkers – Conversations for Early Years

“Why is this special to you?”

“How do you know when your friends are sad?”

Asking children open-ended questions helps them to think critically and expand their vocabulary. It also builds their confidence, aiding their personal, emotional and social development.

In these Confident Talkers cards, I’ve put together 48 such questions to engage and stimulate conversation with children from two to seven years.

Each card contains a thought-provoking question that can be adapted to any number of situations – inside or out and about, playing quietly, on the go, in the car or at the dinner table. You can use different scenarios and objects to set the scene, such as using something the child has created, describing what their lunch tastes like or discuss how they feel about a special event, such as their birthday or other celebration.

By encouraging conversation children learn new words and concepts, develop active listening skills, learn to problem solve and make connections, and most […]


Home is home and school is school

I am delighted to hear that the charity Family and Childcare Trust has a dedicated Family Friendly Week. It is right to celebrate the family as a bedrock of society.

There are many pressures on family life: one of my ‘bug bears’ is homework!

My view is that in primary school homework should not be set. School is school and home is home! There is enough of a burden put on children from an early age with SATs in Years 7 and 11.

I have seen parents with their children doing homework on trains, in cars and even walking to school. Parents anecdotally comment that they have to rush back from family events to make sure homework is completed. Children getting into a state because they feel that their homework is not ‘good enough’.

When my boys were little, we had more fun visiting museums and other places of interest than […]


Please Sir, can I have some more?

It is refreshing that the Government has introduced a new incentive of free school meals for young children.

Over the last 10 years Jamie Oliver has campaigned for healthy school lunches. I applaud him for his tireless campaigning to promote and make changes in what our children eat whilst they are at school. Children should be given freshly cooked food.

One of the things I strongly dislike about the school lunch environment is the use, in some schools, of these trays:

My reason for disliking them is that prisoners’ meals are served on these trays! Surely our children deserve better than this?

There is excellent practice in the classrooms, but then at lunch-times there is a shift in quality, which could easily be avoided. In essence, quality practice should be seen in all areas and at all times throughout the school day.

A few schools […]


Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in

I recently read a story, which quite frankly shocked me, both as a parent and an educational professional.

In brief an 11 year old was unable to join her friends for a special end-of-year treat for pupils who had a 100% attendance record. This child had missed one day to attend her mother’s funeral.

Please read her full story.

I have never been a fan of rewards for 100% attendance at school or work, be they certificates or treats, as this creates a culture of shaming those who haven’t achieved full attendance. There will be a variety of reasons for absence, for example a virus, a long term medical condition, or a sensitive personal issue. It is outright discrimination, creates divisions and can make some children feel under pressure to attend.

It can also lead to children becoming ‘people pleasers’. Yes, attending school is important, but children and parents should not feel they are in […]


Philosophical Play in the Early Years Setting

Communicating with children and interpreting their play and language requires skill and a sensitive approach. Therefore it gives me pleasure to have Sara Stanley, who supports children by using a philosophical approach, as my guest blogger

Sara is a registered level 1 SAPERE Trainer and National and International keynote speaker. She runs workshops, in service training and courses in Philosophy for Children (P4C) and enabling enquiry based classroom environments. She is also involved in long term projects working in Early Years settings in South African townships, working with Nali’Bali, PRAESA, the University of Cape Town and the DG Murray Trust.

Sara writes:

 “It could be said that children are at their most philosophical in their formative years. If you take Socrates’ provocation that “All I know is that I know nothing” then we see everything as new and puzzling. To a child the whole world is a new and strange place; a place where some things make perfect […]


Whose Voice Should We Listen To?

On Twitter I follow Huffington Post Parents and I read a tweet with the introduction, ‘Parents of a 7yr old boy in a wheelchair were shocked when they saw his class picture…’  With such a headline I had to click to read the article in full. Please read the article to get the background information on this story.

Like most people reading this, I was shocked by this story and then reflected on a few points.

The mother said the image was discriminatory. The father’s view was that although it was upsetting and hurtful the photographer and/or school did not intentionally discriminate against their son.

The photograph was retaken and this time Miles was sat on the bench with his peers. An expert on disability found this to still show a lack of awareness of Miles, as the wheelchair is part of him. Miles’s father commented that when he is at home he is not […]


Night, Night!

 “Sleep is the best medication.” Dalai Lama

We all know, as adults, that if we do not get enough sleep this affects us the next day – with symptoms that may range from feeling tired to being really irritable. Therefore, these signs of sleep deprivation may have the same effect on children and can have a negative impact on their day.

To ensure that pre-school children have a decent night’s sleep, they need on average about 12 hours sleep per night. If your child is not ill and your house is not too cold or too hot, (it’s always best to have a thermometer in your child’s bedroom) there is no reason why this can’t be achieved.

It is important that young children have an evening routine and become familiar with this. Children should be given enough notice that bed time is approaching; this can be developed by stating the following “We have five minutes before bed […]