When people reach retirement, the gifts that they’re given usually fall into a specific category; for men, it’s often a nice watch and a lot of retired women that I know get given vouchers for a nice shop. They’re both really lovely gifts and I’m sure anyone would be grateful to receive them, but it got me thinking about more unusual gifts that could be given to a person when they retire, as companies often spend hundreds of pounds on something that isn’t particularly personal. Here’s some of the ideas I came up with:Continue reading “Five Unusual Retirement Gifts”
Starting school is never an easy experience for a child, as it’s a totally new environment with different people and rules that they have never had to follow previously. This can make it awfully tricky to settle in, which in turn can impact upon the quality of their general education, so it’s vital that you can take some responsibility as a parent by stepping in to offer a helping hand. Thankfully, assisting your children with their education doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might initially imagine, as there are just a few simple steps that you can make the most of that will have an almost immediate impact on their learning! So, if you’re interested in finding out more, then read on.
Find The Most Suitable School
First and foremost, one of the most important steps that you need to follow if you want your children to have a positive learning experience is to find the most suitable school for their unique needs. There’s likely to be several different school options both in your local area and further afield, whether they’re public schools that don’t require payment or private schools that come with a term-by-term fee. Taking the time to visit and assess each of your options is essential, as you need to get a true feel for the place by looking at classrooms and speaking with teachers before you decide to send your child there. Bear in mind that your little one will spend a huge portion of their life at school, so it needs to be a positive environment that promotes great education and care. Lots of parents will also choose to leave reviews too, so you can take the opportunity to read through these to get a more honest look into the quality of the service and surroundings. Your child can’t choose their own school, but even if they could they would not know what to look for – it has to be you as a parent, so spend a little time looking around to make sure you can locate their ideal match.
Always Show An Interest
Picking your children up from school only to transport them home and sit them down in front of the television without doing so much as ask a single question is one of the worst decisions that you can make when attempting to support their education, as you need to make an effort to show an interest in their daily education if you want to be of benefit. Simply asking your children how their day at school has been is enough to encourage them to recap the events and lessons learnt, so this can be a brilliant way to ensure they remember what they’ve been taught by recalling it again to explain it to you. Additionally, showing an interest also proves to your children that learning is important, otherwise you would have no need to ask such questions – they need to be able to recognise that being able to access education is a real blessing that should never be taken for granted. A great way to show an interest in a productive way is by sitting down with them to go through any homework they might have been given to complete, as this way you can check up on their skills, offer help or guidance and make sure that they’re on the right track toward success.
Provide Them With The Best Equipment
Sending your child to school with nothing but a pencil to their name is another terrible decision to make, as your little ones need access to all of the best equipment if you want them to take their education seriously. It’s your responsibility to purchase the relevant materials that your children need to take to school, otherwise they will have to try and borrow from another student or teacher who may not have what they need. Being left out and unable to partake fully in a lesson can have a knock-on effect on your child’s education, leaving them feeling lost and without confidence while other children don’t have the same struggles. Invest in a pencil case that’s filled with both writing and coloured pencils, erasers, ball point pens and an array of mathematical equipment like rulers and a mini calculator – these are the basics that your little one will likely need at least once during an average school day. Teachers may also advise of extra equipment needs when specific activities or events are taking place, so be sure to source whatever you’re advised to buy if you want your children to have the best shot of reaching their full potential.
Recognise Their Struggle
If you notice that your child doesn’t seem to enjoy or understand their school work, then you need to recognise their struggle and step in so that you can offer some kind of resolution. Any problems to do with isolation or bullying need to be discussed with your child’s teacher, but learning related issues can be tackled at home! For example, learning that your little one doesn’t have the best confidence in their STEM subjects should trigger you to source some kind of maths and physics online tutoring, as this way they’ll be able to use s new approach to learn the lessons they previously struggled with. You can even take the opportunity to print off extra worksheets and encourage them to complete these at home, as practice makes perfect and they’ll be highly motivated to show you that they finally understand. If you’re finding it hard to see where they might need a little extra support then just think back to your own schooling experience – did you feel left behind in class? Did the teacher have enough time to give you the education you needed?
Utilising just a few of these easy ideas can help your children massively with their education, allowing them to make the most of each and every day in no time at all – school should never be taken for granted, so implement the steps described above to support your kids now.
As you may have seen on my Instagram and Facebook stories today, we’re partnering with Casio Music UK to test out one of their learners keyboards. We’re so excited about the collaboration as I think Burrito Baby will benefit so much from music lessons. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some information from Casio about how to make sure you’re buying the right digital piano for your kids.
With children now back in the swing of things at school, a lot of parents may be considering extra-curricular activities their children can take up to aid their learning and development outside of the classroom. Playing a musical instrument offers a whole host of benefits for young people and allows them to express themselves in their own unique way.
Digital pianos are a wonderful resource for kids of all ages and all kinds of disciplines. They make learning and performing much easier but still offer the satisfaction of playing on a beautiful expressive musical instrument. However, finding the right digital piano can be confusing and time-intensive. Casio, one of the world’s most renowned producers of premium, digital hybrid pianos, is here to help with the five questions parents should be asking when purchasing a digital piano for their child – from piano teacher, ABRSM music examiner and digital piano expert Chris Stanbury.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO SPEND?
A good beginner’s digital piano should cost between £300 to £400. For this, you’ll get a great quality instrument that’ll support your child’s learning for a number of years. Avoid anything cheaper than this from online sellers as these don’t tend to last and offer a poor quality sound. It’s important to invest in something that’s satisfying to play as it will maintain your child’s interest.
WHAT FEATURES SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Digital pianos can have various features but the one thing you must check is that it has 88 weighted keys. This is something all pianos have and it is essential for developing the correct playing technique. The keys also need to be touch sensitive, which means that they are the same as a traditional piano. The harder you hit the keys, the louder it will sound, the softer you play the key, the note will have less volume. This feature is very important.
IS A DIGITAL PIANO BETTER THAN AN ACOUSTIC PIANO?
A good, acoustic (traditional) piano usually costs £1,000 or more. Pianos that are offered free on marketplace or auction sites are rarely in good condition and should be avoided. Acoustic pianos also need maintaining: the strings inside must be tuned at least twice a year at a cost of about £80 a time.
You get much more for your money with digital pianos. They take up a lot less space and don’t need tuning. Plus, you can plug in headphones for silent practice, which is perfect for busy households!
WHAT OTHER FUNCTIONS DO YOU GET WITH DIGITAL PIANOS?
A great benefit of a digital piano is that if your kids love their gadgets, they’ll really enjoy connecting a digital piano to their phone, tablet or computer. This makes learning a lot more fun as they can take part in interactive lessons and play along to backing music.
Casio provides a free music learning app with all their digital pianos, called Chordana, and there’s free lessons too from Dr Chris himself on the Casio Music UK YouTube channel; so anyone can start playing right away. All owners also have access to the Casio Music Academy too, which also includes music lessons exclusively for Casio piano users
WHAT DIGITAL PIANO WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR A BEGINNER?
My personal favourite is the Casio CDP-S90. It’s light, very compact and has a great sound. It’s also important to mention that it comes with a proper piano stand included (worth £88). This means the piano is at the correct playing height, which is important for developing good posture and finger skills.
Some of you may know that since the pandemic started, we’ve been homeschooling both kids on a full-time basis. Sausage was realy unhappy at her school so it was an easy decision, and while BB is adamant that she’s going back to her school as soon as it’s safe to do so, for now, she’s attending Crammond College! Although homeschooling can be hard work (especially when Husband and I also both work from home) there have been a numbe rof advantages that we’ve noticed, so I thought I’d share some of them here, in case it’s something you’re considering:
Going on holiday isn’t something we’re ready for yet as we’re still pretty much living in lockdown conditions, but once we feel it’s safe, we’ll be able to take holidays during term time, which is SO MUCH cheaper! We’ve also said we’d love to buy a new motorhome when we can afford it, which means we’ll be able to pack all of us, including Maureen, up and go away whenever we feel like it, which sounds blissful to me.
Write Your Own Timetable
You don’t need to follow the national curriculum if you don’t want to. You definitely don’t need to follow a school day. This means you can be led by your child, which means more efficient learning. If your child is particularly interested in something after seeing a film or reading a book, you can learn about that, which will lead into lots of other things. If your child is more receptive from 3pm to 6pm, that’s when you can target lessons.
If there’s one thing that can be said for my daughters its that they tend to plough their own furrow and avoid trends. BB has currently got one side of her head shaved and Sausage has had dip dyes in pink, blue and purple in recent years, none of which would be allowed at their respective schools. Wearing a uniform and following appearance rules doesn’t allow for individuality whereas they can look exactly how they want in homeschool.
While there are obvious parts of the curriculum which we will stick to, such as maths and science, there are certain parts of the National Curriculum which we feel are largely redundant (or severely lacking). The beauty of homeschooling is that we can pick our own curriculum, which means leaving out the parts we don’t find useful and including things that get left out at mainstream schools.
Research into how homeschoolers turn out as adults was conducted by Dr. Ray in 2003. He found that 5,000 out of a group of 7,300 adults had been homeschooled for more than 7 years. They were much more active in community and social life than their public school counterparts. A much higher number also went on to higher education and they also scored higher on the happiness scale. In 1999, Stanford University accepted twice as many homeschoolers compared to publicly and privately educated students.
The recent life-changing social distancing measures that have been introduced mean that for the first time, many of us are facing the challenge of home-schooling our kids. In addition, we are needing to support our kids, who will be unsettled by the disruption to their routine and upset by the events going on around them. However, there are simple steps that we can take to help keep kids education on track and ensure that they are entertained while at staying at home.
Providing a structured routine
Ensuring that your kids have a structure to their day is vital for keeping them motivated and productive. Continuing with your usual meal times and bedtime routine is also recommended to bring your kids some normality.
Plan the day using a timetable
The classic timetable is ideal for kids of all ages to use, as it provides predictability to the day and ensures they complete all of their school work. By also including meal and snack times it can help stop kids developing any unhealthy eating habits during their time at home. Get your kids involved with writing their timetable, as there are many excellent skills they can develop at the same time.
To do lists
If you are struggling to keep your kids entertained and motivated throughout the day, then try writing a to-do list filled with activities to keep any bored kids occupied. A to-do list is a perfect opportunity to get kids helping out around the house, as you could include daily chores or even get them involved with preparing meals.
Online exercise inspiration
It can be challenging to think of exercise ideas for kids outside of their regular sports and activity groups. However, to inspire you, there are many online activities for kids that will help keep them fit and active.
Try contacting your child’s current sports and activity groups, as many have created online fitness sessions that may also allow your family to join in. Otherwise, there are a great variety of exercise, yoga and dance videos on YouTube that kids can enjoy participating in. Online workouts make perfect fitness sessions for everyone who is at home with the kids that will get the whole family moving.
Online educational resources
When undertaking home teaching, the support from kids’ educational websites is invaluable. These resources ensure that any work you do with your kids follows their school curriculum and is at the correct level for your child’s learning ability
The STEM Learning website provides many exciting and stimulating learning activities for kids of all ages, so if you are stuck for fun things to do then, this is a great website to visit. There are even wildlife spotter sheets and fun plant project ideas that are perfect for encouraging time in the garden. For more STEM play options, there are many suitable educational toys for 6 year olds and above that are ideal to use in combination with these projects.
Learning through craft
Staying at home is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some quality family time together and try some craft ideas. There is plenty of inspiration available on social media sites, and most activities only require items from around the home. Craft activities are a great way of recycling everyday household items such as cardboard tubes and plastic bottles. However, if you need to increase your craft range, then there are many great craft inspired educational toys for 7 year olds and below to enjoy.
Providing kids with time to play with toys is an essential part of learning. There are many great educational toys available, so you will be able to find the perfect toys for occupying every child. For inspiration, take a look at https://www.starwalkkids.com where you can discover exciting toys for all ages.
Lego sets come in a range of themes, making them perfect educational toys for 8 year olds and above that bring out every kid’s creativity. They are perfect for entertaining kids for hours and allow kids to design new and exciting masterpieces. If your child loves Lego, then they are sure to enjoy the 30 day Lego calendar, which sets a different Lego challenge every day for kids to complete.
Minecraft is the latest video game craze, which all kids love playing, and with many educational toys for 10-year-olds featuring this popular game, it can be challenging to get kids to think of anything else.
If you are struggling to get your kids to focus on their school work as they constantly want to be playing this game, then there is a compromise, as Minecraft has produced an excellent range of educational resources. Kids can choose a wide variety of lessons, including many science, history, and language topics, so you can be sure that your child will learn a lot while exploring the Minecraft website.