29 articles Tag education

A Little Bit of Self Improvement

A Little Bit of Self ImprovementI don’t know about you, but September for me always feels like a time for new beginnings. I think it’s the start of the new school year that does it, but I always feel like I should be embarking on a new project or job at this time of year. With both girls now in full time education, I have time to do something just for me, so I thought I’d share a few self-improvement things that I’m thinking of embarking on in the coming weeks:

NLP Training

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. ‘Neuro’ being your brain, ‘Linguistic’ the language we use with others and how that can influence their thinking and behaviour and our own self talk and how that impacts on our results. A good accredited NLP Training programme can help you to become more successful in many areas of your life.

Exercise

One of the single most important things that I need to do after the holidays is get back to the gym. As well as needing to lose a lot of weight and improve my physical health, exercising always seems to have a positive effect on my mental health, too, giving me an overall more positive outlook. This usually helps me to be more productive in other areas.

Learning

I really want to resume my OU studies and complete an Early Years Education degree. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid, and having spent more time in class with BB this year, I realise I’m never happier than when I’m in a school environment. I really want a job where I feel like I’m contributing to society.

Volunteering

Something that I’ve always enjoyed doing is volunteering my time to a good cause. Giving money to charities is essential, but giving time can sometimes be even more valuable. When I was younger, I spent my Saturdays volunteering in a Child Contact Centre, where parents with a court order in place could have visitation with their kids and although it was sometimes upsetting, it was also incredibly rewarding.

Find a Hobby

If I have any time left after all of my other attempts at self improvement, I’d really like to find a hobby. I spend SO much of my free time either surfing social media and the internet or watching TV and I think it might be making my brain turn to mush! I need to find something to do which actually helps me to engage my brain, or at the very least helps me to do something creative.

Help Your Schools to Get Out and Grow!

Here at Mum’s the Word, we’ve been long-time supporters of the Get Out and Grow campaign, pioneered by Sudocrem, in association with Greenfingers charity and Cliffton Nurseries, with the goal of getting children out of the house and into the garden. They sent us some facts which are, quite frankly, a little bit sad..

Despite the fact that 87% of British households have a garden, over half of British children between 4 and 8 are unable to name 5 vegetables or fruits grown in them and 95% were unable to name 3 herbs. Many of those couldn’t identify gardening tools, with only 8% able to identify a trowel, 80% never having seen a rake before and, worrying, 79% believing worms are bad for plants. 

73% of those asked said they had never grown a sunflower, while only 8% had ever picked an apple, which perhaps explains why they’re unable to name even one. Less than 10% had dug up a vegetable and only 6% had ever eaten a fresh pea from the pod. Based on this evidence, it is perhaps unsurprising that only 20% have ever eaten a vegetable they’ve grown themselves.

Sudocrem is now expanding the initiative to include schools, based on the figures that 90% of children said that they would like a garden at school and at one primary school in Lincolnshire, a school garden made all the difference when it came to pupil’s behaviour.

The Benjamin Adlard Primary School, run by headmaster Sam Coy, was previously rated by Ofsted as one of Britain’s worst schools. Four years and one school garden later, and the Gainsborough school has won the national Pearson award for School of the Year: Making a Difference.

Headmaster Coy insists: “The children absolutely love den-building, just generally getting dirty and nature hunts. One child recently told me that he loves going to the forest school on a Tuesday afternoon so much as it helps him to behave all week as he never wants to not be able to go.”

We’re absolutely delighted that Sudocrem is offering people the chance to nominate schools which they think could benefit from their very own gardening kits, and they’ve asked Mum’s the Word to be an ambassador for the project.

All you need to do is comment below the name of the school you wish to nominate and why you think they deserve one of the kits, comprising of gloves, spades, wheelbarrow and much more to get the school’s garden into full bloom. The kits are worth £160, but having the tools to get outside could be worth SO much more to the kids of the school you nominate.

Leave your comment by Sunday 9th of June and we could have the kit sent to the winning school before the summer holiday begin.

(Winner will be chosen by me, prizes will be provided by Satellite PR and sent straight to the winning school, no monetary alternative will be offered, all decisions are final)

College Homework: 8 Essential Study Habits for Parents

If you are a parent and attending college, you are likely to have problems organizing your time. It becomes even more difficult when you are working at the same time. The thought of juggling between work, studies, and parenting is overwhelming in itself. Therefore, you have to find the right tricks that will help to survive under such conditions. Here are some tips for you to get your college homework done.

IMAGE: Parents Attend College Too

  1. Create time for everything

Although it may seem like there is not enough time to perform all your duties, you will be surprised to find out that you can create it. Proper planning ensures that everything is done at the right time. When you do this, you will even have time to spend with your children and family.

  1. Invest in the right study apps

The use of applications in education is one of the best things that ever happened to students. As a parent who still has to work and study, you need applications that will help you to organize your functions. They should also make it easy for you to access your notes and communicate with your tutors.

  1. Look for online courses

Since you will be spending most of your time at home taking care of the children, an online course could come in handy. You will notice that it allows you more flexibility compared to traditional classrooms. You can feed the kids, put them to bed, and proceed to take a few lessons.

  1. Technology will be your savior

In this age, you cannot overlook the importance of technology when it comes to education, especially when you are a parent and a student at the same time. Find the latest trends in technology and see how they can help to ease the pressure on your shoulders.

  1. Invest in high-quality educational gadgets

What are some of the gadgets that you use for your college education? If you want to enjoy the best experiences, you have to invest in high quality calculators, laptops, document readers, printers, and all the tools that you may need,

  1. Find online forums for parents in similar situations

There are many parents who are juggling between many tasks the same way you do. Find them through online forums and find out how they cope with it.

  1. Rest is important too

It is good to focus on your studies and give them your all so that you may succeed. However, do not deprive yourself of rest because a lack of it will only lead to unfortunate situations.

  1. Find someone to help with your homework and essays

Since you have too many other things to do besides education, you may want to find experts to help you with your assignments and essays. You can find such experts online, and they will save you a lot of time and energy.

In a nutshell, the fact that you are a parent should not make you abandon your dream of getting a college education. By suing some of these tips and getting help , there is no doubt that you will complete the course.

Why You Should Teach Your Children a Foreign Language at Home

While English has become one of the most spoken languages around the world, learning a foreign language opens many doors. It is extremely beneficial to teach children a foreign language from a young age to assure that they can have a future in which they can travel around the world and communicate with people from different nationalities and backgrounds. With a foreign language one can form cross-cultural friendships, have a boosted cross-cultural understanding but also benefit from broader career opportunities and exciting travel adventures. Teaching a child a foreign language no longer means sending them off to language classes but it can also be easily taught at home through reading and interactive games and videos.

It is always encouraged to begin teaching a child a foreign language from a young age as the younger the mind is, the easier it is to pick up the language. As a child starts getting older certain windows close in terms of language acquisition therefore learning a language before puberty will allow children to speak with a native accent. Knowing a foreign language is certainly an incredible skill to have especially when thinking ahead of the child’s future career. Career-wise it is in fact known that professionals who can communicate in a second or third language are always more desirable for the job. It has also been studied that thinking in a foreign language helps people make quicker and better decisions and can contribute to a higher standard of living.

There are many ways to teach children a foreign language and the very first place to begin is inside the child’s home. If the child’s parents speak two different languages a highly recommend approach is the One Person One Language method. With this method each parent consistently speaks a different language to the child, for example one parent will speak their native Spanish while the other speaks their native English. This method is highly effective in raising a bilingual child as there is a consistent exposure to two different languages. A few other ways to teach a child a foreign language is to have them read consistently in the foreign language. Watching videos that are 100% in the target language is also a great way to interactively learn. Language learning apps also provide a simple, effective and comprehensive system for learning languages at one’s own pace through interactive lessons, numerous courses and with the help of voice recognition. For example a child can easily learn French thanks to the combination of effective education methods and the use of apps like Babbel that are interactive and therefore very intuitive.

When deciding which foreign languages to teach your child it is important to think of their future and which languages might benefit them the most. Spanish for example is the second widest spoken language in the world, with over 300 million people speaking it every day. Spanish is therefore one of the most useful languages in the world for travel and business opportunities. Meanwhile, French is the most widely studied foreign language in the world, with 200 million speakers worldwide. French is also the official language of 29 countries and is the basis for many words in English such as “naïve” and “cinema”. Mandarin Chinese instead is spoken by over 1 billion people worldwide, making it the most widely spoken language in the world. The Chinese have always interacted with hundreds of cultures and many nations today enjoy Chinese-specific cultural contributions in the areas of cuisine, commerce and the arts. As Mandarin Chinese is tonal, meaning that pitch is used to distinguish its lexical or grammatical meaning, the earlier a child begins to learn this language the easier it will be for them to pick up on the difference in tone.

Many parents have become more proactive in jump-starting foreign language education for their children knowing all the benefits a second or third language can bring for their children later on in life. Language learning has many benefits on the brain: in fact it is proven to boost cognitive, memory and listening skills and is therefore a wonderful way to stimulate a child’s brain while in its peak development.

Top Toys That Develop Creativity in Children

Toys should not just be entertaining. For children, playing is life. Why not take this chance to help them develop their cognitive or problem-solving skills? A creative play toy box is not limited to just arts and crafts. Toys that spark their imagination or promote role-playing are just as good. The best creativity toys are those that kids want to keep on playing with rather than those they easily get tired of.

Puzzles

Puzzles allow kids to problem solve at their own pace. You might be tempted to help them, but step back and let them come up with their own strategies. Puzzles exercise the mind and challenge the way of thinking. Playing puzzles develops their cognitive and problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination and fine motor development. Accomplishing a puzzle can bring satisfaction to them, boosting their social skills.

Building toys

Building blocks are great open-ended toys for children. Since they are open-ended, they promote open-ended play. They spark their imagination, develop their fine motor skills and allow them to solve problems. It is better to have them play with open-ended building blocks rather than those they will assemble to form a specific figure. Watch them create structures or combine blocks with other toys.

Artists tools

Kids love to write or draw whatever they like, so give them writing instruments to let them express creativity through art. Larger crayons or markers are great for smaller kids. Choose washable variants to minimize mess. Craft sets can be easily bought, and they are worth the investment.

Moulding dough and clay

Play-dough is another open-ended toy that encourages children to think while enjoying. The advantage of using this toy is that they can easily mash it together if they do not like what they created. It develops not just creativity but also fine motor skills, social skills when played with other kids, and even their sensory and language skills.

Dress up toys 

Dressing up offers benefits that you might never have thought about. It fosters imagination, allows children to explore themselves, helps establish their identity and improve their communication. Help them enjoy role-playing by gathering materials and accessories that reinforce the experience. They can put together a show and play with other kids, which also develops their social skills.

Pretend play toys

Toys such as food sets, kitchen items and the like all encourage imaginative play. Children love playing with food toys because they are exposed to food every day. This also allows them to imagine and combine things. This is best done with other kids to enhance their social skills. Dollhouses and dolls are girls toys that also foster creativity.

You should enhance their creativity first, before teaching kids to be innovative. Toys that foster this are certainly worth the investment. They teach children to be creative, to think flexibly and solve problems. As parents, it also pays to play with your children. Creativity always starts at home and is not only limited to arts and crafts; anything that exercises their minds and sparks their imagination helps kids become creative thinkers.

Image: Pixabay.com

11+ Help for a Fraction of the Cost with Education Quizzes

Education QuizzesI’ve mentioned before that Husband and I have been looking into getting Sausage a tutor to help her with the 11+ and now that we’re getting towards the end of year 4, it’s becoming even more of a pritority. The main issue we have is the cost associated with tutoring; most of the decent tutors locally charge betwen £25 and £30 a week, which can really build up over the course of the month and it’s quite normal to think that would be well out of the budget of the average family, who usually doesn’t have that kind of spare cash at the end of the month.

Just recently, we were made aware of Education Quizzes, an online education portal which contains quizzes on a number of different levels, including KS1, KS2, 11+ and even G.C.S.E’s and the cost is absolutely fractional compared to that of a tutor. For just £9.95 a month, your child will have access to quizzes relating to the level they’re studying which are written by teachers and are intended to make learning both interactive and fun.

The site is totally advert-free, which is something that appeals to us massively. We’ve done our best to make Sausage super savvy when it comes to internet stuff and advertising, and she even checks all of the permissions that apps ask for before she’ll download them onto her phone, so it’s nice to know she won’t be bombarded with adverts while studying. You can also cancel your subscription at any time without any fees, which is also good to know.

It’s also possible for schools to sign up to Education Quizzes and allow all of their pupils access to the site with one membership – schools are offered a hugely reduced rate per pupil and they’ll have access to a whole new set of resources for helping the kids, as well as giving the children something they can use from home if they choose to. If you’re a parent and think that your kids’ school could benefit from this, I strongly suggest you put the idea forward to them!

I love the fact that we’ll be able to monitor Sausage’s progress as well as the fact that this type of extra curricular learning will be totally convenient for us. Not only do we live well out in the sticks (much further than most tutors are willing to drive!) we’re also usually pretty busy with something or another, but with Education Quizzes we can fit it in wherever, and whenever, we need to. I also think that the online aspect will be appealing to Sausage – let’s face it, most kids would rather look at a screen even if it’s for something educational, so at least we know this will hold her interest!

I’m excited to see how Sausage gets on with the site and I’ll update you at some point in the future. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about Education Quizzes, follow the link above.

How Much Will Your School Lose Under the Current Government?

Anyone who follows this blog or my social media accounts will know that I am a socialist, through and through. Somehow, that seems to have become a dirty word to the uneducated masses who think that socialism revolves around lots of people on benefits, scroungers who don’t “pay their way” and take more from society than they contribute, but I’d like to hope that my readers know that isn’t the case. Socialism means “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

One of the biggest concerns I have during this General Election campaign are the absolutely savage cuts that are going on in the most nonsensical of places. Old people, poor people and the disabled are being hit the hardest and things we’ve taken for granted such as universal healthcare and free education are under threat. Watch this video from the National Union of Teachers:

I used the calculator myself and discovered that Sausage’s school is set to lose a, quite frankly FRIGHTENING, £331,000 by 2022. HOW the Tories can justify taking money from the educations of children rather than calling in the taxes which are OWED by massive companies such as Amazon and Vodafone is appalling.

School Cuts

There are so many issues on which I am diametrically opposed to the Tory view, however health, social care and education are the ones about which I feel MOST strongly and I appeal to you, as a human being with empathy; PLEASE do not use your vote to help our Government to turn it’s back on the most vulnerable and needy in society. The children of MY kids generations are the ones who are going to have to work against climate change, against all of the wrongs done by the previous generations, and I for one would like them to all have access to a good enough education to be able to do this.

This year, I restart my English degree in the hope that I can go on to get my PGCE and eventually become a teacher. Having spoken to lots of people who work in this profession, the resounding opinion has been to tell me not to bother. Teaching used to be a well-respected profession and here in the UK, we prided ourselves on the education that we offered to our kids. Now, more and more people are dropping out of teaching and retraining because of the terrible conditions they’re working in, or simply being made redundant because schools cannot afford a full staff to cover lessons.

The UK is currently the 27th richest country in the WHOLE WORLD. Do you really think we should be worrying if our kids schools can afford pencils and glue? I think the most poignant thing I’ve seen all week is a tweet (and I can’t find the original or I’d link to it here!) which said something along the lines of “Why are we talking about 30 year old pictures of Jeremy with the IRA. I’m a teacher and my school can’t afford glue. Let’s talk about EDUCATION”.

Do we really need to say any more than that?

The Profs Tutoring – University and Beyond!

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m at an age now where some of my friends have kids of university age and older, so as much as my two are still in the early stages of their education, my friends’ kids are moving on to higher education already. It’s a real eye-opener, seeing all of the processes that they have to go through, from UCAS forms to Uni tours and applications for finance, it’s WAY more daunting than a primary school application and that’s before the work has even begun.

Some of you may remember that I started a degree myself, back in 2010 when Sausage was just 2. I had grand ideas of studying psychology and although I managed to get through my first two courses, the workload got too much once I returned to work, not forgetting the huge hike in fees which happened to treble the cost of my courses. It gave me huge respect for the people who move miles away from home at the tender age of eighteen to do it all full-time and made me realise that there must be kids who need help too.

It never occurred to me before that University students might have private tutors, but that’s exactly what the guys at The Profs do. They’re a University tutors service, aimed at students in higher education, and can help with private tuition, applications, academic consultancy, career advice, writing guidance and everything else a student might need to help them to get through their courses.  The tutors are all trained professionals from top universities, so they know all-too-well the rigours of Uni life and how tough it can be to keep on top of everything whilst dealing with what is most youngsters’ first real taste of independence.

The Profs’ mission statement is: 

A Private tutor can improve your understanding, boost your grades, diminish pressure, and enhance employment prospects!

    • We provide private tuition, academic mentoring and educational consultancy for students at all levels. Our tutors are professional tutors with teaching experience at top universities, schools, and institutions.
    • Our tutors are experts in everything from exam technique to revision technique and we seek to give students the confidence and dedication needed to succeed in education.
  • We have hundreds of educators working with thousands of students in pretty much any subject you can think of. Please, give us a call and see how we can help you.The Profs

With the job market being tougher than it’s ever been, even for graduates, it’s good to know that young people (or even people like myself who choose to go back into education after many years) are able to get the help that they need to enable them to get the best results they can. The cost of tutoring through The Profs are really reasonable given that they are all world-class educators and teachers. Many of them can also work online giving students from all around the world ultimate flexibility in having professional classes, no matter where they are based.

If you’d like to know how to find a tutor for yourself or your child, click on the link above to be taken to The Profs’ website.

Getting Ahead with Spires Online Tutoring

Spires Online TutoringWe’ve been toying with the idea of getting Sausage a tutor for some time now. I’ve written before about her lack of confidence in maths and how she’s incredibly bright but seems to get flustered with numbers, and also about how she’s adamant that she wants to do her 11+ and I do worry that her own nerves will get the better of her. The issue we have with private tutoring is two-fold. Firstly, one-to-one tutoring can be expensive, and although it’s possible to buddy up with another family and pay for the tutor together, the second issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere, seriously limiting the amount of tutors who’d even come to us (and giving us a far shallower talent pool to choose from, in much the same way as smaller, rural schools).

The obvious answer is online tutoring, which is where Spires comes in. Spires is an online tutoring site which offers tutors from Oxford and Cambridge and all of their work is done via the internet which means that our location is no longer an issue. It also means that costs are kept down because travel isn’t a worry – a Spires tutor could effectively sit at their desk for eight hours a day and tutor solidly the whole time, without ever needing to move!

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about the Spire ethos is that they’re aiming to level the educational playing field by offering top-class tutoring to ANYONE, rather than only priviledged kids at the top schools getting all of the benefits. They say on their site:

“No matter how much the UK’s top universities are said to encourage entrants from the state sector, the reality remains – students from the best independent schools consistently have a far greater chance of entering the best universities.

So we asked ourselves:

What could we offer to maximise the chance of any student getting into a university worthy of their intelligence, ability and potential regardless of their background?

We attended one of the best universities in the world and we were oblivious to just how lucky we had been. Only at Oxford did we begin to appreciate the unfair advantage that going to a top private school had given us in getting into a top university. At school, we were drilled, tutored and trained to get those places.

We were coached over and above the curriculum. If we were struggling with any element of our studies – great tutors were available, around the clock one-on-one – to fix that problem.

We created Spires to provide the one-on-one tutoring experience that gave us the edge in our final exams. Our aim is to make that experience affordable to as many parents as possible and level the playing field in those pre university examination years”

I went to a really good grammar school for my secondary education and was lucky enough to get in despite living WELL out of the catchment area, but my parents couldn’t have afforded tutors because they were expensive (and probably non-existent in a town like Basildon anyway…), although I know lots of other girls have them, so it’s really good to know that my kids won’t be at a disadvantage if they ever need help with their studies.

 

Technology and Kids: Moderation is the Key

kids and technologyTechnology. It’s one of those things which can be SO good when it works but can also be the bane of your life when it doesn’t. We’re quite “techy”, here in the Mum’s the Word house, and all of us have various devices that we use on a daily basis. The girls have tablets and Sausage has a mobile phone which she got for her last birthday, mostly to allow her to go Pokemon hunting without needing to use my phone!

However, it’s not without it’s issues; I often find myself spending far too much time on Facebook or Reddit or playing some mobile game and sometimes I realise I’ve spent almost all day staring at a screen, and naturally, Sausage would be the same if we allowed her unfettered access to her phone. She only uses her phone at home, but just recently My Voucher Codes conducted a survey which found that 75% of parents feel that mobile devices have a negative effect on their children’s education and how social media platforms have become so distracting to students that they are less likely to concentrate during lessons.

I do think that a lot of the problem is the lack of monitoring that goes on – just because Sausage has her own technology doesn’t mean that she is able to use them autonomously – Husband and I have to approve every app she installs and we like to ensure she has a mixture of fun and educational apps. Pokemon Go encourages exercise, so we’re happy for her to use it, and she also has apps which help her to learn foreign languages, her times table and which encourage her to train her memory.

I also think that the issue is WHEN children are allowed to use their phones. Until she’s a LOT older, Sausage won’t be allowed to take her device to school because she simply doesn’t need it. Also, when she’s at home she has to have completed her homework before she can use her phone and we don’t let her use it for hours on end. She also has to put it down at least an hour before bed because it’s now been proven that looking at screens can interrupt a person’s circadian rhythm and we certainly don’t want her to be unable to sleep!

Chris Riley from My Voucher Codes thoughts on technology for kids echo my own:

“It’s interesting to see that three quarters of parents feel that mobiles, tablets and gaming devices have a negative effect on their child’s education, yet half admit that they do not restrict the time that their child spends on the internet.

“Monitoring your child’s internet and social media usage is now more important than ever. Although there is a range of benefits from spending time online, including increased communication and access to information, there is also the risk of online bullying, depression caused by online altercations and exposure to inappropriate content. Setting ground rules, checking privacy settings and monitoring what your child is sharing are good steps to take to ensure your child stays safe online.”

He added: “We find using our mobile or tablet devices can easily take over our lives and those of our children. Setting times when you children can use these devices means they are not on their phones 24/7. It will also be beneficial to their health if they are not on devices late into the night as well as improving their concentration in class.”

How do you feel about mobile devices for kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts so do leave me a comment below.