Education · Happiness · Parenting

Learning Burn Out?

Now that Sausage has got past the anxieties that made her first few weeks at school difficult for her, she’s taking to it like the proverbial duck dipping his toes in the pond. She’s already on books with words, she has been for a few weeks in fact, and she’s excelling in just about every area. She’s even becoming more physical, something she’s been apprehensive of in the past because she’s not that confident when it comes to climbing or heights. All in all, it’s been a hugely positive experience for her and it seems only to be getting better.

If you read our review of the Jolly Phonics Home Kit, you’ll know that Sausage has also been coming home and wanting to do more learning. She’s given a new reading book once a week by her teacher, but this isn’t fulfilling her thirst for reading so she’s been attempting to read the books from her Dr. Seuss set too. On top of this, she’s been completing the exercise books that come with the Jolly Phonics kit, insisting on Husband and I holding word flashcards up for her to read, asking to practice writing and doing various things on my laptop and her Dad’s PC such as the Jolly Phonics CD-ROM.

Husband and I are both absolutely thrilled that she’s taking such a keen interest in learning and the increase in her confidence has been phenomenal, but we’re also both worried. The thing is, she’s only four and while we’re happy to encourage education it’s difficult to know when to say ‘enough is enough’.

This evening, Sausage was at her exercises until almost 8pm, having already done writing practice and some number work. She’s done a full days school and then probably up to 2 hours of extra work, which is the same amount of work that I was set to do at home each evening at my very academically focussed secondary grammar school. In saying ‘no’, are we limiting her or at risk of alienating her or putting her off? By letting her fill her boots, are we at risk of letting her burn out or lose interest? I just don’t know.

It’s a real noodle-scratcher, this one, and I fear it’s one of those things that we’ll only know by letting it run its course and adapting as we go. Hey, just like pretty much every other aspect of parenting, then, yeah?!

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Education · Family · Opinion · Parenting · Review

My Jolly Phonics – A Review

Sometimes, I get given items to review that are so overwhelmingly brilliant that I don’t even know where to begin with reviewing them and this is the case with the My Jolly Phonics kit, so instead of procrastinating over it for ages and leaving it miles too long, I thought I’d just dive in and see where this takes me!

A Bit of Background

As you probably know, Sausage started school in September, which means learning to read and write. Husband and I have actually been teaching her for ages and she already knew her alphabet and could write certain words, such as her name, so she had a fairly good base-knowledge going on. Before she even started, I knew she’d be using the phonics system to learn and I started to make enquiries, but struggled to find resources that I thought Sausage would find really engaging.

The Kit

Once she got started at school, she came home with songs she’d been singing to learn her letters and a quick Google of “The snake is in the grass, the snake is in the grass…” and I found that the system she was doing was Jolly Phonics. I found their website and discovered that they actually offer a home learning kit to compliment everything the kids are doing at school. The kit includes 7 activity books, a DVD, a CD of songs, a CD-Rom of games for the computer, a story book, a poster and a set of three-sided pencils.

Our Opinion

I really cannot emphasise enough how brilliant this kit is. At a penny shy of £100, you may think it’s a bit pricey but I can unequivocally say that, had I not been sent the kit for review, I would happily have paid that. The songs are absolutely brilliant, all set to tunes that you’ll already know, such as ‘The Farmer’s in the Den’ and ‘Jingle Bells’, and are so catchy that Husband and I find ourselves singing them at random. Sausage and I also walk to and from school singing the songs, which is a fun thing to do whilst being sneakily educational!

We’ve got the poster up in our lounge and just having it there as a focal point helps Sausage to remember her letters, as well as prompting her to learn, even on a more subliminal level. The CD-Rom is absolutely brilliant, the games are simple yet engaging and Sausage absolutely adores them. Despite having spent all week at school, she actually asks to play the games at the weekend as they’re so enjoyable.

The CD is great fun, especially as it comes with a full song book, allowing us all to sing along and the songs are short and punchy so it never gets boring or feels like a chore. The story book is great too as it has stories to help Sausage learn her letters, as well as giving words for her to read herself and has enough pictures to remain visually engaging too.

With the DVD, I can stick it on for Sausage and happily leave it playing. I’ve noticed she kind of ‘dips’ in and out of it, paying attention to some of it and zoning out on other parts, but I figured she’s soaking it all in, one way or another, which can only be a good thing!


Before Sausage started school, I was very much of the opinion that ‘systems’ for learning were pointless – until we started Jolly Phonics (a sentiment which her school teacher shared at our parents afternoon recently). Since we’ve started using the kits alongside Sausage’s schooling, we’ve seen huge improvements in our, already fairly advanced, child but more importantly she finds it fun and engaging enough that she wants to get involved and do the games and activities. The songs stick in her head and have definitely helped her to retain the information she needs.

The fact that Husband and I now understand what her teachers at school are teaching and the way they’re teaching means that we’re able to properly compliment her daily learning and stay abreast of her education in a way that we all enjoy. The kit is good from age 3+, which means you can start this system even before they start school if they’re ready and the exercise books take them all the way through until they’re reading independently.

The whole family can highly, highly recommend this kit!