Story Time

Since Little Mr A started back at school after Christmas his reading has really come on.  PushHe is now bringing home two books at a time, a phonics book (which are gradually getting longer and harder) and now an Oxford Reading Tree book with more difficult words.  He loves reading and can’t wait to read the books to us when we get home.  When we are out and about he is forever reading signs, sides of lorries, wherever there are letters really!

I have videoed him reading his latest books as I thought it would be really nice to remember how he started reading and it will be interesting to look back in a few months to see how he has progressed.

Max’s Box….


To work or not to work? The cost of childcare -v- wages and family time

As I am sure most people are aware, this week the government announced new plans to cut the cost of childcare.  These plans would see childcare workers requiring higher qualifications, however, the number of children they could look after would increase from 4 to 6 at age two, and for under ones the number would increase from 3 to 4.  Although I am sure we would all like our children to be looked after by highly qualified staff, surely any benefit this may have would be wiped out by the fact they are looking after more children and therefore they will not have as much time or attention to spend with each child anyway.  I can say, from our experience, we have never had any problems with either staff that are still training or those that are already qualified at either of the nurseries Little Mr A has attended.  They have all been very professional and Little Mr A has had a really great relationship with all of the workers who have looked after him.

Little Mr A at his first nursery!

Little Mr A at his first nursery!

Also, any saving made in being able to look after more children will be wiped out by the fact that higher qualified staff will demand higher wages?  In my opinion ALL nursery workers deserve to be paid more, regardless of qualifications.  They are under a lot of pressure not only to look after your children but also to fill in the ridiculous amount of paperwork in order for OFSTED to be satisfied   I really don’t need it documenting every time my child poops/laughs/smiles (OK maybe I am exaggerating but you get the picture!)  We have even attended parents evenings to find out how Little Mr A is getting on!  Is it really necessary?  I would rather my children got their workers’ attention 100% of the time than get a photo/description of every single thing they have done.  So what if they can’t recite the alphabet backwards and count to 100 when they go to school – maybe I am wrong, but I thought school was for learning?!  Whatever happened to having fun at nursery?  Why do we feel the need for kids to be taught right from being a baby?  They have plenty of time to grow up and learn when they start school, I really think nursery should be more relaxed and fun.  Do they need to learn phonics before they start school?

Little Mr A had a great relationship with all the nursery workers

Little Mr A had a great relationship with all the nursery workers

I know the government will not win whatever ‘solution’ they come up with as there will always be someone who disagrees but I really don’t feel their proposals are an acceptable solution to any parent.  Any parent will know how difficult it is to look after one or two children, let alone four or even six!  In my opinion I feel that reducing the actual cost of childcare is not the solution.  I think more help should be given to those parents that do choose to go back to work.  I appreciate that some help is already given in the form of tax credits/childcare vouchers/free nursery hours but I feel that these could be increased upon, rather than cut as they have been.

Since going on maternity leave in September we have been thinking a lot about whether it is worth me going back to work when my maternity leave ends.  If I choose to go back to work we will get no help with the cost of childcare and, unless I work 5 days a week all of my wages will be eaten up with the cost of childcare and transport, etc.  We would probably be lucky to come away with an extra £100 a month!  When we just had Little Mr A it was not really an issue.  I could work 3 full days a week, still leaving me time off with him, and, because we were on lower wages (and the tax credit thresholds were lower!) it made sense for me to work.

Now, as I have to fit in work around Little Mr A’s school times, it really doesn’t seem worth the hassle!  With Big Mr A getting his new job at the start of the year it means he needs the car everyday, he is out the house at 7:30 a.m. and doesn’t get home most nights until gone 6:00 p.m. which I am sure is the case in a lot of working households.  For me to be able to get Little Mr A to school in time, Little Miss A to a nursery and then get to work at a reasonable time on the bus would just be an almost impossible task.  By the time I got to work it would be time to leave to pick them up again!  This would mean buying another car.  So as well as paying for childcare for Little Miss A we would have to pay a car loan, insurance, tax, petrol as well as any maintenance jobs that needed doing.  Maybe that £100 a month is looking a bit optimistic!!

In some ways of course I would love to go back to work and have a bit of ‘me’ time away from my family but I don’t want this to come at the expense of family time.  If I do go back to work, when are all the other jobs going to get done such as cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping etc?  The only time to do these would be the weekend which would take away from precious family time.  Children grow so quickly, before I know it Little Miss A will be at school and I don’t want to look back and regret not spending time with her.

I really appreciate the fact that we actually have a choice of me not having to go back, I know some people don’t have that choice and have to work to survive.

Does anyone have the perfect family/work balance and if so, how on earth do you manage it?!

Too much technology?

techAs those of you that know us will not be surprised to find out, Little Mr A would rather sit down with an i-Pad or at the computer than kick a ball around outside thanks to his Dad’s obsession with technology!

How much should we let him play on the i-Pad or computer?  We usually limit him to 30 minutes at any one time which I feel is more than enough.  He never gets to go on anything if he has misbehaved, he knows it is a treat/reward if he has been well behaved.  We make sure that he is playing age appropriate games and do not leave him alone, we are always milling around in the room even if we are not actually sat with him (tea doesn’t make it’s way to the table on it’s own!).

When he’s on the computer he loves to play on Cbeebies or Milkshake and we have also got lots of games on the i-Pad for him, some educational, some not!  He is an absolute whizz on angry birds, much better than me or his Dad, we were amazed when he switched it on at the weekend that he had got 3 stars on nearly all of the levels!  He has been using technology for as long as he could hold a phone without dropping it or dribbling all over it and I really feel it has helped his hand eye co-ordination and he also has a respect for technology products and knows not to mess about with them.  Surely in a world where technology is ever increasing in use it is good to teach your children this respect from an early age?

Whenever I ask Little Mr A what he has been doing at school the normal response I get is ‘playing on the learning stations’ (computers) or ‘we have been in the computer suite’.  If technology is introduced as a way of learning as soon as they start school I think it is a good idea to be embracing it at home too.

Recently I came across the website for Oxford Owl which provides a lot of schools’ their reading books.  It is a great interactive website where you can click on the book to read it and play activities.  I think this will be really useful when Little Mr A starts bringing books home as we will be able to play activities relating to the book he has and look at the other books appropriate to his age range/ability level.  He loves looking at this website already and it is something we can sit and do together.

I would like to discover more technology based products that will also get Little Mr A up and about and being more physical.  We have a Wii and a game which he can use the Wii Fit Board with, Nickelodeon Fit which is a good game to get him active but I would like more games that do the same.

I have noticed the Cbeebies website seems to be introducing more active games, Tree Fu Tom and Justin’s House seem to be popular with Little Mr A.

I am hoping that when the nicer weather comes he will want to get outside more.  Should I be more strict and say no to technology or is it a good thing to be embracing at such a young age?  I can imagine that by the time Little Mr A starts secondary school there will be no such thing as text books and they will all be downloaded onto one tablet.  Oh the sadness of missing out on covering your text books in horrendous wallpaper!

I would hate for anyone to think that this is all he is interested in, it’s not, it just seems to occupy a lot of his thoughts recently.  He also likes playing with lego, colouring and baking all the ‘good’ things we should do with our children!

What is your opinion on using technology with your children?  Do you agree that it is OK within reason or do you avoid it at all costs?  I would love to hear other people’s views.


Wow week!

This week has been ‘wow week’ at Little Mr A’s school. It has been an opportunity for parents to spend an hour at school with their children to see what they get up to on a daily basis.

I am not sure what I was expecting really, I don’t remember primary school! When we arrived his teacher greeted us and took us through to the classroom. We were then left to spend time with our children on the ‘learning stations’. These consisted of various areas set up with different activities such as play doh, lego, a make and do station with crafts and the computers.

We iced a cake together and I had a look through his learning journey to see what they have been doing.

I came away from school feeling a little disappointed. After the initial introduction we did not see the teacher again although there were a lot of support staff in the classroom and the headreacher was helping out.

I still feel that I don’t really know what Little Mr A actually learns at school and think it would have been better if the teacher had perhaps explained a bit mote to us. I appreciate they are busy but the more parents know what their children do, the more they can support them.

I am sure as Little Mr A gets older he will tell us more about what he does, until then I will just have to keep persevering with questions and be satisfied with the little snippets of information he gives us!