Saturday, 28 May 2011

Worried your child isn't doing well at school?

Seriously, don't fret!

Particularly if they are in Reception and are young for their year.

My daughter is now 5 years old, as of last week; and she is writing well even if the teacher continues to criticise her method of writing (she likes to start at the bottom of letters, not the top.  I'm a big believer in results, not method, so can't see why this is a problem), and she is reading well, struggling only with naughty words like "was" and "here" which don't sound like themselves at all when you try and sound them out a letter at a time.

She's been at school now since September 2010.  8 months.  Her sister won't start school until a week before she turns 5 years old, and therefore, in order for her to be anywhere near the same stage as her sister as at her 5th birthday I will have to have taught her all the stuff that school have been teaching my eldest for the last 8 months.

And so, when the teachers compare my eldest's performance (one of the youngest children in her year) with the oldest children, I am frustrated, as the developmental differences between children of 4 and 5 years old is vast, and yet the teachers seem insistent on them all being the same.

Don't worry.  Don't fret.  Reading and writing are important.   But they are only young, and have plenty of time to work it out.  Plenty of time.

Convinced yet?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Disneyland Paris...More tips for survival

It's definitely worth staying in one of the official Disney hotels for the early access to the park that it provides.  From 8am until 10am the park is open for these guests, and it's the only time of the day to get on the Dumbo ride, the Carousel and the Teacups without waiting for 40 minutes in a queue.

So if you have the choice.  It's really worth it.

Also, you might want to reserve a table at the restaurant in Woody's Round Up village for 11.30am for lunch.  The characters make an appearance here, and it only opens at 11.30 - so if you are the first in the door you get exclusive access to plenty of characters.  They don't just sign your books.  They stay and dance with the children over dinner.  We had Minnie sitting at our table for a while; we danced with Mickey and Jessie and Goofy, and had big hugs with Woody.

Brilliant - and free! (other than the food of course)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Reading books for pre-schoolers.....

My eldest is currently reading a series of children's books at school about Biff and Chip.  It's an Oxford learning tree series and I'd never come across it before, because I obviously haven't read children's books for a good 30 years.

And so I've purchased the first six Peter and Jane books by Ladybird.  These are the books I remember fondly, and despite being a member of a family of hoarders, haven't managed to save.  I had to order them of course.  Books that are 30 years old don't tend to be regularly stocked on the high street!  But they are as good as I remember them, and seemingly completely unchanged and no worse off for it.  The eldest is enjoying them.

The process of thinking about learning to read though bought with it a strong, and sudden, memory out of seemingly nowhere.  A name popped into my head.  Billy Blue Hat.  And another.  Roger Red Hat.

To start with I didn't understand the memory.  The words came with a feeling of fondness, and a memory of bright colours.  So I did some quick research.  It turns out I'm remembering a series of 1970/80s books commonly known as the Roger Red Hat Books, but actually called the One Two Three and Away series.  More pictures on Childofthe80s.

Anyone else remember these!?  I'm wondering where I could now find a copy!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Going to Disneyland Paris? Tips for Survival!

Don't.  And I'm going to repeat that for effect, even though it doesn't work nearly as well written as it does said. Don't, buy any clothes for your children, from Disneyland Paris, without trying them on first.

I'd promised myself that we'd buy a new princess dress for our Cheeky Monkey No. 1 while we were there.  The first shock was the price.  They cost roughly 59Euros with the smallest sizes sometimes, but not always, cheaper, and for those of you still trying to work that out in your head it's £52 or $86.  So it's not something to buy while you're there if you can really help it.  They are definitely cheaper at home.

However, I didn't know this, and had 'promised myself', so I figured 'Carpe Diem' and let her pick her favourite.  She picked the Rapunzel dress unsurprisingly, and I picked up a size 6 (meaning '6 years old') to try on.  She's nearly 5yrs old, and I figured that if I'm going to spend the money, I want her to get some wear out of it before it's too small.

 The size 6 was just right.  And I mean 'just right'.  So knowing my daughter she'd grow out of it within a week.  And frankly, after a large bowl of pasta, it would have been tight around the middle!

So we picked the next size up to try.  It was probably only about an inch, if that, wider around the middle, and was now just above the floor.  Any bigger and she'd be tripping over it.  And what size was it exactly?  An 8.  My 4 year old daughter was in a dress supposedly designed for an 8 year old!?

I similarly ended up with a size 6 for my 2 year old.

I should point out in the strongest terms that I don't have round children!  They are probably slightly smaller than average if anything.

So beware, and try on first.

Having said all that, she looked absolutely gorgeous!  Have fun!

Still trying to get the kids to school on time...!

Time to school bell : 30 minutes

So I’m sat on my knees on a wooden floor.. (don’t snigger)…. And I’m pleading with my daughter to put her pink all-in-one waterproof suit on to go to Chatsworth County Estate on her first ever school trip. She’s not having any of it, and I’ve no idea where her other waterproof coat is.

25 minutes.

I could put my foot down, but I‘m stressed, and I don’t want to be the mother that spoilt her first trip for her. So I run around the hall, flinging coats about in an attempt to trace at least one waterproof coat (rain’s definitely forecast). In the chaos the youngest is happily putting her waterproof on. Of course she isn’t going on a trip – just to Nursery. But irony wouldn’t have a job otherwise.

23 minutes…

Eureka! Brainwave! All waterproofs are in the utility after we wore them to do the gardening at the weekend. I grab them in relief.
Which is short lived.

20 mins…

They are, of course, covered in mud, since the girls helped us plant our spring garden so well.

Cue a sprint through the house to the kitchen cupboard for baby wipes, which come to the rescue, and a quick wipe down makes one coat suitable to wear; though whether it passes the in-law test remains to be seen.

Ok, so she’s got her packed lunch, her 2 (not 1) drinks, her trainers (in case of rain), her waterproof (freshly wiped down), sun-cream on (the weather is really that temperamental), and her sun hat…… no. No sunhat.

19 minutes…

Now don’t laugh. I know I’ve just stressed about the waterproof, so why on earth would she need a sun hat as well? Easy. It’s May. In the Midlands. It’s 20 degrees Celsius one minute and hailing the next. But her sun hat is no where to be found.

17 minutes…

She’s had her sun hat roughly 3 weeks. What was I saying about irony.
I find two other old hats. Neither will squeeze onto her head. The youngest finds hers and promptly struts around in waterproof and sun hat as if to mock us.

15 minutes…

I still have the youngest to drop at Nursery so we run to the car. (I run, the children are encouraged in a very exuberant way that results in them slowing down.)

We drop off the youngest. Who is still wearing her waterproof all in one, and her sun hat, and I haven’t the heart to argue with her.

2 minutes…

We park the car and run……….

I so hope she has a good time!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Disney Princesses, Woody, Buzz, Eeyore, not forgetting Mickey and Minnie..... It's EuroDisney and how to survive it!!

We've just got back from four days at Disneyland Paris and am in desperate need of four days in a very dark, quiet, warm place where there's wine and pillows.

It was brilliant.  Our cheeky monkeys, are now 2yrs and nearly 5yrs respectively, are very different.  The eldest Cheeky Monkey No.1 was dead keen on meeting as many Princesses as possible.  We managed Ariel (twice), Tiana (twice), Snow White (twice), Cinderella and Wendy (does she count?).  The youngest (CM2) was more interested in Buzz Lightyear and shaking hands with Captain Hook.  I think we've inadvertently turned her into a tomboy.  She did indeed meet both, along with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Eeyore, Peter Pan, Woody, Jessie and Suzy and Perla (the mice that help Cinderella!).  And I saw Mary Poppins.... Is it pathetic to be a grown woman, and to be excited about that?

They came home with an autograph book full of signatures and had a brilliant time, including being chosen to dance with the Princesses in the Parade on our last night (just before we jumped on Eurostar to return home!)  It couldn't have been a more perfect end to the trip.

It's a place, though, that's full of potential pitfalls for the innocent traveller.  I'm going to try and post some tips over the next few weeks, to hopefully help make it the best holiday you've ever had too!

Today's Disney Tip (no. 1) - Pop out of the gates of the Disneyland park, and into the mini supermarket just inside the train station for baguettes, wine, papers, snacks, all at reasonable (sensible) prices.  The prices for food inside the park gates are high (7 Euros for one hot dog) and it's difficult to find quick food that's not an  ice cream or waffle.  All the places that sell actual food; the sort that contains something other than sugar; are all restaurants that have large queues at meal times.  (Fine if you reserve your table in advance and are ready to pay over 100 Euros to feed a family of four.)  If you can't stretch to that kind of food budget, the 5 minute walk out to the station is your answer.  You pass it going back to the hotels at any rate!

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