Friday, 27 November 2015

How do we deal with rules?

Now that Jake is officially over the baby phase, Luke and I have begun to see some changes. The toddler years are upon us and we are desperately trying to fathom the best course of action where our son's behaviour is concerned. 

Jake is a cheeky chap. He is bright and inquisitive. He has to press every button, pull every cord and throw any solid or food-related object. These things are all cute and adorable... for about 5 minutes! Now? Well, now they are getting frustrating and embarrassing - especially if we're out when he does this.

We're crossing a fine line at the moment between letting Jake discover and play versus trying to find the lines that need to be drawn in order for us to enforce some rules and behaviour. But is it too early? 

Part of me thinks yes. It feels too early to try to reprimand Jake for misbehaving - I do that all day every day as a teacher with 11 to 16 year olds and even then some of them struggle with the concept! 

The other part of me feels that now is the right time to start behaviour management. If we don't start making a point of showing Jake things aren't appropriate, then it will get harder to do as he gets older.

The point is - I don't know the answer. Is it yes or no? And how do we go about doing this? I don't want to shout at him or smack him at this point (though when he slapped my step dad we shouted at him!) but what other ways are there to enforce rules with an almost 15 month old child? 

I would love to hear your views, opinions and advice! What tips do you have? What can we do to support Jake in his exploration of the world? 


Sunday, 22 November 2015

My 5 Christmas Wishes this Year

Ding Dong Merrily on High...Yes it is that time of year again. We're all scrambling to get the tree up and ready for December 1st, making plans for the big day and reminding each other that Santa will be checking his list, checking it twice.

But what's on your list?

Well, this year I have quite a few special wishes that I am hoping the big guy can help me out with. So, Santa if you're reading this, I hope it isn't too much to ask for:

1) Peace - I hope that those affected by the tragedies in Paris and other acts of terrorism can find some peace this year as they remember those they have lost. It will be a sad, and somber Christmas this year as many of us will reflect on those people who are no longer with us. I hope that we all find a little peace and take comfort in knowing that we will never forget them.

2) Security - I hope very much that my hubby, Luke, does not get made redundant again. We've had several Christmases these last few years where Luke has been out of work and the current place (who have just taken him on a contract after months of agency working) are announcing that they want voluntary redundancies, with compulsory to follow if none are taken. Jake and I will love him no matter what, but it would be nice to not have to worry about how we'll pay the bills over the Christmas period or whether we'll even be living in this house come January.

3) Health and Happiness - I wish for health and happiness for all those I love and care about. I hope that we can all enjoy the Christmas time with each other without worrying too much about Grandad or Nan. I also wish health and happiness to all of you, taking time to read this post.

4) Snow - it would be magical if we had some snow at Christmas so that Jake can see the beauty of it and have some fun - but not too much that it effects older people, or emergency services trying to do their jobs.

5) Emergency Services and and Armed Forces - I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas this year. We thank you for working at this time so that we can all be safe and sound and we send thanks to your family for sparing you. I hope that Santa brings you some time with your loved ones and that you are kept safe. 

What are you wishing for this Christmas? I hope you will take the time to think about all of those wishes to Santa that can't simply be bought. 

Wishing you a merry Christmas season. 


Sunday, 15 November 2015

5 Things I Love about being a Mum

Being a mum is the best thing I have ever done - so far in my 30 years of life on this planet. Of course, getting married and having our honeymoon come as a close 2nd and 3rd place, but being a mum is the best. 

There are so many things I love about being a mum. In no particular order, here are my top 5 things I love - right now - about being a mum:

  1. Grins, smiles and chuckles - I absolutely love the way Jake smiles. It is heart warming and will instantly make me feel happy and smiley too. His cheeky grin and infectious laugh are far more comforting than any chocolate could be.
  2. Cuddles - the best thing about going to work is getting home from work and being greeted by big, warm and snugly cuddles when I walk through the door. His little face lights up and he gives me a cuddle whilst says 'ahhhhhh'. What else is there that's beats that welcome home? But I also love how he cuddles his teddies or randomly cuddles daddy and I during the day. Sweet!
  3. Reading - right now I am in love with the way Jake chooses books and brings them to us, then turns himself around to sit on our laps. How adorable is that! Reading with Jake, and seeing him read books himself, is probably one of my favourite things at the moment. You can read more about reading with your baby here.
  4. Dancing - I love to watch Jake do his little dancing jig whenever some catchy music comes on. It's even better when he has 80's songs blasting on daddy's phone and does his little twerk!
  5. Running - Jake's mastered the walking and is now off and running everywhere. It's so cute!
What do you love about being a mum or a dad? 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Reading with your baby: An English Teacher's view

Every good parent in the world loves nothing more than to spend quality time with their child. Time where they are happy, content and engaged with what you're doing. 

One of the simplest and most rewarding ways to achieve these special and quality moments, on a regular basis, is by reading to/with your little one. Opening up a book and exuding your own excitement as you get to see what magic awaits in the pages bound together is the best way to begin. There really is nothing quite like it. 

Despite what the education sector of government may be reporting at this time, children do not progress in straight lines. What one child wants to read and can read well will be different to the wants and abilities of another child. As a result we need to make appropriate book choices for our little people - taking into account their age and their interests. 

We have read books to Jake since he was a bump in my belly. Since his arrival into the world, we've read at least one book to him everyday. I like to try and encourage Daddy Luke to do as much of this as I do, so that Jake grows up seeing the male role models in his life read - I think this is essential. Boys are highly likely to be 'reluctant readers' and often this is because they don't see other boys/ male role models reading.

Why have I read to Jake?
It is a well researched and documented fact (just look at papers written by publishers and universities, as well as educational researchers) that babies and young children who are read to go on to be independent readers themselves. The ability to read and to be able to access the wealth of imagination and information that exists in the billions of books available to us is one of the main factors in ensuring success and happiness in adult life. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve books - even if it's just the memory of having a certain book with me. 

I've ensured we read to Jake so that he will become a confident reader himself and so that he will learn the good habits for reading for pleasure as he grows up. I want Jake to be excited about books and about reading. 

What are the benefits of reading with Jake?
Babies and children who are read to or who have parents read with them are found to perform better academically. They are also  expected to develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures in the world. There is even research evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background does; it really is that powerful.

Other benefits of reading to children are that it allows them to develop their own ability to listen and feel comforted by your closeness and voice. This is certainly something we've seen Jake enjoy, as he now (at 13 months) brings his books to us and climbs on to our laps. He always finds a finger of ours to hold, and he touches our skin and nestles into our bodies as we read. Even when he's excited by the words and the pictures - that contact remains and he exudes contented happiness. 

Not only is academic success important, so is confidence. In my profession, I have worked with so many 11-18 year olds who struggle to read, or have never been read to and don't know the joy of reading. Sadly, I have worked with children in secondary education who struggle to access basic passages of text used in examination and seen them break down with utter desperation and self-loathing as they can't make head nor tail of the words written in front of them. I don't want my child to ever, ever, ever experience that feeling in the classroom. Nor in a job, later in life.

There are lots of others benefits to reading with your child though. Reading helps children to develop their imagination and the creative aspects of their brain, as well as the language and communication strands of their brains. Being able to access books means that they are able to open themselves up to experiencing different worlds, cultures and times - a wealth of experience and opportunity becomes available to them. Even better than this, reading allows children to to be happy - to laugh until their bellies burst! 

What are my tips for reading to your little ones?
In my experience as reading as a mum, an aunty, a friend and as a teacher - children love to listen to the rhythmic patterns of a story. I often read passages aloud to my year 11 pupils to model good reading - intonation, punctuation and meaning. You can see them get swept up in the experience of listening to and imagining. Some students I have taught have even said - 'Are you going to read the next part of that book to us, Miss?' So here are some tips to help you get reading at home with your baby:
  • remember that to babies and toddlers reading is still a form of 'play' - let them touch the books and the pages within it. If there are touchy-feely parts then guide them to explore these and make reassuring, fun noises to go with this
  • don't rush it - time is precious and difficult to carve out of the day. But even though I work full time, I still make time each night to read 4 or 5 books with Jake before we cuddle and put him into his cot. Daddy helps too, and will sometimes read extra books or will read books with him during the day. We don't see books as for bed time only - but they do always happen at bed time
  • get comfortable - sit somewhere you can get all snuggled up and feel like you're relaxing
  • try to bring the characters in the books to life - vary your voice, facial expressions and the sounds you make. Don't worry about being silly - your child will totally love it!
  • physical contact - make this time a moment of comfort and safety for you and your little one. If you can read in a way that allows some skin to skin contact - even just holding hands or them being snuggled into your face is enough
  • screen ban - turn the telly off and put the mobile phones down. Make this time for you and your little one all about them. Don't allow yourself to be distracted
  • join or visit the library - free books and fun experiences! They often have baby/toddler sessions too
  • Read, Read, Read - read whenever you can and let your little one see you reading too
What are some of your tips for reading with your little one? xx