24 articles Tag school

Back to School Budgeting – Save Money This Summer

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It’s been a strange year for many families. The kids have been at home, the grown-ups too, and it just seems odd thinking about going back to a normal routine of school and work. With the summer coming up and schools rushing to reopen, it’s come to that time of year again to stock up on back to school supplies. 

The average parent spends £230 on school uniforms alone every year, not to mention PE kits, stationery, books, and lunches. With all parents in the same boat, there must be ways to cut these costs down. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save money on school supplies this year.

Second-hand Uniforms

Many parents use social media groups to swap uniforms. Facebook is a good place to do this, or you can advertise in school. It’s better for little kids who grow so quickly before their uniform is even worn. It’s also a good idea to swap books and revision guides. There are many apps and websites for swapping second-hand items in your local area if you can’t find anyone. 

Make a Realistic Budget

It’s a good idea to write a checklist of only essential items and see what you already have at home. You can then make a realistic budget for what you actually still need to buy. Budgeting apps can help your with this as well. Explain to your kids that a new pencil case every year might not be that necessary. Think about where you can cut a few costs. For another quick and easy solution to any financial situation, check out payday loans.

Factor in Hidden Costs

Don’t forget about extra-curricular activities that you might need to budget for as well. Things like sports clubs and music lessons can set you back a bit. For lunch costs, you could set up an account and plan it with your children so they’ll know what to expect. If you’re looking for inspiration there are plenty of cheap lunch box ideas online. Get creative with leftovers and fun treats. Home-cooked food is much better for them than prepared meals anyway, besides being a lot tastier.

Shop in Sales

It’s hard to rely solely on second-hand items so when you do need to do some shopping, give your self some time to wait for the sales. Take into account your child’s growth in that waiting time, don’t forget. Supermarkets often have crazy cheap offers in the summer, and you’ll be able to find deals online as well. Here are some more tips and tricks for buying school uniforms. 

Determine a Savings Timeline

If you plan how much you’re going to spend on school supplies you can start developing a timeline and save up with plenty of time in advance. Put aside a piggy bank for school funds. School stuff costs a little more nowadays due to technology being implemented into their studies. Plan ahead a little for your children’s education to make sure they don’t go without.

How to Keep Your Kids Entertained and Educated at Home

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

STEM Learning

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.

Educational play

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.

30 days of Lego play

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 educational resources

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.

Five life skills your kids don’t learn at school

Five life skills your kids don’t learn at schoolThere is no “right” way to bring up children, and sometimes the more advice and opinions you hear, the tougher it can seem. Even the views of the greatest teachers and psychologists always differ to a certain extent.

Still, there is one thing on which everyone is in broad agreement: if you give your children freedom and value their individuality, they will grow up confident and happy. Another basic truth is that parents have as important a role in educating their kids as schoolteachers. With that in mind, here are five lessons that will be of value to every child, which you can help them to learn:

Independence

Before doing something for your children, step back and ask yourself whether they can do it themselves. Everyone needs freedom, but keep in mind that freedom and permissiveness are not the same thing. Let them try to do their own shoelaces, for example. Encourage, guide and most of all be patient. They will get there in the end.

Housework 

Here’s a secret: Kids love to help out with things. The only reason they get lazy and reluctant is through habit if you don’t let them get in on the act from a young age. The sooner children learn to perform ordinary household chores, the more confident and self-sufficient they will be in future. Aside from that, it’s always nice to have an additional pair of hands to help with cleaning or washing up, and it’s a great time to chat without the intrusion of a TV screen or games console.

Of course, kids don’t become skilled in domestic chores overnight, and role play games are highly valuable here. Those toy kitchens and toolkits are the perfect start, and you will see how much they love preparing pretend meals or repairing their toy cars.

Choosing and analysing

Your children will ultimately live their own lives, not the ones that you or the teachers in school have in mind. Where you can make a difference is to coach them on how to make wise decisions. Provide your child with the opportunity to choose as often as possible. For example, what to wear or what colour backpack to buy.

Beyond that, get the kids involved in broader family decisions, so that they can see how to research options and make the right choice. Whether it’s booking a family holiday or choosing the right printer cartridge, there is research to be done. Using the latter example as a case in point, show them the price of cartridges on the high street, then search online for Canon MG5750 and decide which is better!

Outdoor activities

Children need to spend time in the wide world. This is where they learn to observe, see the beauty of nature and live in harmony with the world. That doesn’t mean throwing them out in the morning and hoping they come back in the evening, as some generations maintain they spent their childhoods. In truth, it’s a great opportunity for us, as parents to spend more time outside too, not to interfere, but just to be around.

Practical ways to help make school transferring easier

Changing schools is occasionally required for children who will benefit from it. It does present a difficult situation both for parents and students. This makes your child a “new kid” amid a classroom of strangers and he’ll need to navigate a new building, catch up on new lessons, as well as make new friends.

Regardless, changing school mid-year doesn’t need to be a bad experience for kids. Oftentimes they can be simply happier in their new school environment. What you need is a little preparation and thought. Here are a couple of practical ways to help make school transferring easier.

Check out the school 

Take your child to visit the school before school starts by arranging a private tour. This will allow the both of you to have a sense of what it will be like walking into the first day of class. Knowing in advance where everything is, including the library, classroom, cafeteria, and lockers are located can reduce first-day anxieties.

Young children may also benefit from visiting his class for just a bit while you stay with him, so when he attends on his own, the experience will be easier. You may also try having a meeting with your child’s teacher to make sure that a desk and any necessary supplies are already prepared before the first day. You may also inquire about any paperwork on policies or homework guidelines.

Assess the included advantages 

There are always some things that could be better even though your child might love his previous school so much. Talk to your child about the advantages of going to the new school. Maybe your child has been labelled by the other kids and find it hard to break away from that. Perhaps the coursework isn’t at the right level or the teacher isn’t spending enough time explaining the homework. A new school means a new start, making those negatives a problem of the past. It’s quick for kids to just see the negatives of a situation and forget that there can be benefits as well.

Get yourself involved

See what organizations or groups exist in the neighbourhood as well as your child’s school. Connect with the school’s local Parent Teacher Association. These organisations have great resources and can inform you about the issues and events that happen at school. You may also meet other members who have kids in your child’s class, which can help them make friends faster

Seek out extracurricular activities

Joining outside programs is a fantastic way for new students to easily make new friends as well as feel accepted by their new school. It also gives students the chance to learn new skills and it is helpful for college admission as well. Local clubs outside of the school also be a nice place to make new friends.

Considering a new school for your child

If your child needs to change schools, you need to weigh your school choices. Choosing One World International School (OWIS), one of the top international schools in Singapore, is an excellent way to start off your kid’s new educational journey.

The OWIS campus is filled with adaptable learning environments that allow students to work together and to think creatively. They provide the latest technology that improves the learning process for students they encourage outdoor learning prospects that invite students to connect with the world around them.

There you have it. Make use of these practical ways to help make school transferring painless for you and your child. Best of luck!

Back to School with Smiggle (review)

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid if there was one thing which could make me feel better about going back to school it was new stationery, so when Smiggle got in touch and asked if we’d like some goodies for Sausage to make the back to school transition a bit nicer, of course I agreed! Her bundle arrived today to MUCH excitement. We were sent the following:

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Smiggle Glitter Markers – £10

milk-shake-carton-scented-pencil-caseSmiggle Milkshake Carton Scented Pencil Case – £11.50

neon-watchSmiggle Neon Watch – £13.50

smiggle colour change pencilsSmiggle Scented Colour-Change Pencils – £1.50 each (£6)

smiggle scented lipstick eraserSmiggle Scented Glitter Lipstick Eraser – £2

I’m not going to lie; the levels of stationery-related hysteria were at an all time high last night. Sausage spent about an hour testing out her new gear, drawing with her pencils and colouring in with her pens. I swear, she even made deliberate mistakes just so that she could use her eraser. She was sad that her class has a no-pencil case rule so she couldn’t take them in to school with her but she wore her watch and proudly showed off the touch-activated face to anyone within earshot.

From a parental point of view, all of the stuff she was sent was really high quality (and the pencil case smelled good enough to eat!). It’s probably a little more than we’d usually spend on stationery items but the unique designs means that they felt quite special compared to ‘normal’ pens and pencils. I think they’d probably make really nice gifts for kids of Sausage’s age, especially the watch which comes in various different colours. Smiggle vouchers would probably also go down really well as just the name “Smiggle” seems to instil excitement in kids (and me, if I’m being really honest; I’m a sucker for stationary).

Without wishing to use the “C” word too much, I think a lot of the smaller items like pencils and rubbers would make really nice stocking fillers at Christmas, and I believe Smiggle also does an advent calendar which I just know Sausage is going to want.

All in all we were really pleased with Sausage’s Smiggle goodies and I know we’ll be heading to the Smiggle store, next time we’re in Lakeside. Thanks to Smiggle for our stationary stash.

Researching Our Options with School Reviewer

School ReviewerI’ve written here before about the potential conundrum with our school situation and with Sausage about to go into year 4, it’s becoming ever more pressing. When we moved to our little village, we gave Sausage three options. She could either quit school and be home educated, change schools to one more local to where we’re living, or stay where she is but have a bit of a commute each day. Ultimately, she decided to stay where she was and we weren’t unhappy about that as her current school is very good and was our only choice of Primary for her.

The conundrum happens when we start to factor in BB starting school in 2018, Sausage’s final year of primary. Do we send her to the same school as Sausage and tie ourselves into another 7 years of commuting a fair distance, send her to a primary closer to home and deal with very awkward school runs for a year (with both of them needing to be in different schools at the same times in the morning) or maybe even home educate BB for reception year until we know where Sausage will be going for secondary.

We recently happened upon School Reviewer, which really is a one-stop-shop for everything school related and it’s been an absolutely invaluable resource for us while we mull over this decision. They say:

School Reviewer is so much more than just a review site

  • It’s the only site with unique video walkthroughs to show how to score a 100% on Maths GCSE and SATs papers.
  • The only site with a unique Buy and Sell section specific to individual schools.
  • A site with a unique catchment area heat map for every state school in the UK.
  • A site that has discussion forums for parents on a local and national basis. A site that is recruiting tutors for free to create the biggest and most trusted tutor site for parents in the UK.
  • A site where you can read or write reviews about your child’s school to help other parents.
  • In fact, it’s the perfect choice for you and your child’s educational journey.

As well as allowing us to get a really comprehensive overview of all of the schools in our area, it’s also a fab resource for tutors, something we’re considering in the run up to the 11+. However, if a tutor is not within budget, School Reviewer also sells practice exam papers for SATs and GCSEs, with 11+ papers to be added to the site really soon. I really like the idea of being able to test Sausage at home and having access to official papers will make this so much easier.School Reviewer Buy and Sell

I think my favourite feature, however, is the buy and sell section, which School Reviewer have recently made completely free to use. You can buy and sell things which are specific to your school, allowing you to grab bargains like nearly-new school uniform, text books and other stuff for a fraction of the price. The back to school period can be ridiculously expensive so giving parents a way to save money is really positive, as well as allowing you to make a few quid off of anything that you no longer need.

All in all, I think the people behind School Reviewer are absolute geniuses. I’m not aware of any other sites which offer such a thorough overview of all things school related and I’ll be recommending it to basically anyone who will listen! Head over to the site to take a look yourself.

 

5 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Ace Their Homework


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We all want to help our kids achieve their best possible results throughout school and college. And the best way a parent can get behind their kids is by helping them ace their homework. Even if you weren’t the brightest at school back in the day, there are still certain ways you can help them out. It isn’t all about sitting down with them and doing the academic stuff! So do you want to give your kids a fantastic chance in their academic career? Here are five ways you can help your kids ace their homework.

Create A Quiet Space For Them

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to give them a quiet spot where they can get on with their work without being disturbed. This will provide them with the peace and quiet that they need to concentrate. If you have a home office that you use for work, let them work at your desk when you are not there. That way, they can shut the door, so there are no distractions from elsewhere in the household. Is there is space in their bedroom? You could put a desk in there. You just need to make sure that there are no toys or electronic devices that could distract them away from their work!

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Set Up A Routine

You need to insist on a daily schedule for your child. This way, they will have an allocated time in which they should be doing their homework. There are a few benefits of a regular schedule. The best one is that it frees up time for fun stuff, like hobbies and sports. You will know when your child will work best at home. Perhaps it is as soon as they come in from school. Or maybe they need an hour or so to settle down at home before they get on with homework. Whichever you decide, you need to stick to it. Also, make sure that your child has half an hour’s break in the middle of their homework. This helps them refresh and grab a snack. But don’t let them watch TV or go on a computer – you may have a hard time getting them away from the screen!

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Don’t Be Overbearing

No matter how much you want your child to succeed at school or college, you should never be too overbearing with them. If you are very overbearing, this could have a negative effect on your child’s behaviour. They may begin to rebel and refuse to do any of their work. So whatever happens, try to stay relaxed and stay out of their hair as much as possible! Remember that we all need breaks sometimes, so don’t push your child too hard or criticise them for taking a break. It can help them clear their mind so that they can continue to work to a high standard.

Teach Them The Repercussions

Has your child called you because they forgot to take their homework book to school? Don’t give in to their wishes and take it to them. Instead, they need to understand that their actions have repercussions. Once they have been punished for forgetting their book or equipment, they will always remember to pack their bag correctly! And the same goes for not doing homework. If they don’t do an exercise, don’t constantly remind them of it. They will have to face the repercussions and be punished at school. Hopefully, this will ensure that they become more responsible and always do their homework in the future!

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Get Extra Help

If your child appears to be struggling with their homework on a regular basis, they might need some extra help. You might be tempted to try and reteach them a topic. However, this won’t be helpful for them. You might not have a full understanding of the topic, and this can only confuse them more. There are a number of steps you can take. Discuss the matter with your child’s teacher. They might go throw the subject again in class if a few pupils are struggling. Your child might also benefit from after-school study clubs. There are also some services that specialise in UK coursework writing if your child is struggling with a college assignment.

If you follow these five steps, you’ll find that homework won’t be such a big struggle in your household. By being a supportive parent, you can help your child achieve fantastic results and achieve everything they want from life!

 

8 Ways We Know it’s Almost The Holidays

school holidaysI don’t know about you, but we are SO ready for it to be the summer holidays. Sausage has really enjoyed Year 3 and loves her current teacher but she’s definitely in need of a long break from the 32-mile-a-day school runs and if I’m honest, so am I! We, like most families, start September with very high standards of polished shoes, new stationery and a strict timetable but by this time of the school year things have well and truly slipped so I thought I’d give you an amusing insight into how we know it’s almost the end of the year:

  1. Your super-strict “we MUST be out of the door at 8am SHARP!” becomes “meh, it’s 8.10…we’ve got a few minutes before we absolutely HAVE to leave…”.
  2. At the beginning of the year, snazzy new school shoes have lights in them…only one of those lights now works and you have absolutely ZERO intention of working out how to fix the broken one.
  3. Socks which were once white (and kept that way through weekly soaking in a whitening solution) are now distinctly grey…or pink…and will be staying that way until they get binned in two weeks.
  4. Pristine book bags are now replaced with random rucksacks…or on a very bad day, a Bag for Life because the other bags have been shoved somewhere during a tidying frenzy and can no longer be located.
  5. Healthy packed lunches and bottles of filtered water are now hastily bought dinner tickets and a bottle of pre-made Vimto from the corner shop.
  6. Creative homework, which was lovingly crafted at the beginning of term is now largely forgotten, or done in a five minute panic on a Sunday evening.
  7. Uniform, which was once immaculate, is now looking a little worse for wear with inkspots on shirts and summer dresses which are a little on the small side…but you’re definitely not going to replace it before September!
  8. There’s a massive chart on your wall where you tick off the days until the summer holidays and it’s literally the most exciting thing you do all day.

I’m sure there are other surefire signs of how much we’re DONE with this school year. What are yours? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear them!

The Catchment Catch

With my Facebook awash with friends who’ve had emails today about Secondary placements for their older children, it’s got me thinking again about our own catchment issues. When Sausage was due to start school, we had a real dilemma; the house we lived in was close to the school we wanted her to go to, but wasn’t actually within the catchment. The school was also very oversubscribed and one of those real rarities; a really good school within an area where house and rental places weren’t too high – the Holy Grail for a lot of parents!

school catchmentCatchment appeal advice provided by Simpson Millar LLP

Fortunately, we were in a position to move and found a reasonably priced little bungalow within the catchment area, which meant Sausage was given a place at the school we wanted. She’s been at the school for 4 years now and is really happy, which makes me glad that we were able to get her in. Other people in our area aren’t always so lucky. Many of the other schools with a good reputation are in areas of very high rents, which means that even though it’s not private education, many ‘normal’ families simply cannot afford to send their kids to the best schools. Of course, it’s possible to appeal, so that’s always an option.

In two years, we’re going to have the same issue all over again. BB will be due to start school the same year that Sausage goes into Year 6. This means that we have to either put BB in the same Primary as Sausage and potentially tie ourselves into a 36 mile-a-day journey for all the school runs for another 7 years (providing we still live here in the sticks) or try to get BB into a more local school and have each girl at different schools. Also, would BB even get into Sausage’s school, now that we’re so far out of catchment? See our dilemma?!

On top of this, we have to factor in the quality of local schools where we are now. Our two most local schools are church-run (and we all know how I feel about that!), and because they’re tiny schools, they don’t attract the funding or the most dynamic teachers, like large town schools, meaning that they often flounder when it comes to OFSTED results. Having said that, I don’t put a huge amount of stock in these inspections these days and do think a school with just of 90 pupils in the whole place might be a great way to get a more personal, one-on-one education for BB.

Home schooling is looking like a fairly attractive option, even if it’s just for Reception year. I often think that 4 is far too young for them to start school anyway, and we could home school BB until we know which senior school Sausage will be attending. That way, we could apply for a school place for BB closer to where Sausage is going to school, which could make our lives a whole lot easier!

Have you had to face a similar dilemma? Do you have kids who go to school in different towns? How did you cope? I’d love you to leave me a comment and let me know.

*Collaborative Post*

Pyjamas on the School Run

school runUnless you live in a cave with no internet access, you’ll likely have seen the stories all over the news about one headteacher who came out to slam the school run mums who have been wearing their PJ’s for the morning drop-off. She reportedly sent a text to parents stating “have noticed that there has been an increasing tendency for parents to escort children to and from school while still wearing their pyjamas and, on occasion, even slippers. Could I please ask that when you are escorting your children, you take the time to dress appropriately in daywear that is suitable for the weather conditions?”

It’s one of those topics that pops up every now and again, usually in a Mumsnet community thread, where everyone will air their opinions, but for a headteacher to now comment, the debate seems to have been lifted to a new level.

I have a love/hate relationship with the school run. On the one hand, I hate the stresses of getting both girls ready in time, piling them into the car on cold mornings and eventually having to say goodbye to Sausage for six and a half hours, 5 days a week. Having said that, we also get some really nice time together to chat, listen to music and connect for little while, which is something I love. Now that we live further away from school, we have to leave the house at 8am every day in order to beat the traffic and get a parking space within a decent distance of the school, so our school run is over an hour by the time I get back home in the mornings, meaning we have to get up earlier than ever.

I think I speak for a LOT of stay-at-home Mums when I say that getting ME ready in the mornings is an absolute last priority on the list. When you’ve got children who need to be fed, watered, clothed, hair brushed, bags packed, various bits of homework remembered, drinks bottle filled, and myriad other things, being presentable myself is only just about on the radar. If I were going straight to work or out for some important engagement after the school run, things might be different, but if it’s a toss-up between an extra five minutes in bed or putting on mascara, I know which one I’ll choose.

I also feel that, as long as Sausage is cared for and presented to school on time and in order, what the hell does it matter what I look like? I’m not there for a fashion parade and I certainly don’t care what anyone else is wearing. Headteachers are certainly not paid to judge parents unless it’s a matter of welfare for their pupils. I cannot help but think that the headteacher who spoke out did so on a popularly contentious subject knowing that they’d get their five minutes of fame from it all.

Having said all of that, I do think there’s something a little off about pyjamas in the playground. It doesn’t take much to stick on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, even if you have a shower once you get home. It definitely sends a message to the kids that it’s okay to have low standards – I wouldn’t take Sausage or BB anywhere in their pyjamas but if they were to see me doing it they’d get the impression that it was an okay thing to do.

What do you think? Should teachers keep their opinions to themselves? Are we all just busy mums trying to stay on top of everything? Should we be showing our kids that we value ourselves a little bit more by taking even 5 minutes for ourselves? I’d love to know what you all think so please leave me a comment below.