Dream Big

In education we talk a lot of aspirations –  strongly desired goals or aims and in schools teachers are asked and expected to set aspirational targets for children. It is all about having dreams, not settling for what is easily achievable but striving for something that may at first seem unattainable.

It is all to easy to settle for staying within our comfort zone – that place where we don’t have to take risks or even try too hard. In essence there is nothing wrong with that if you are happy in that place but many people aren’t and with regard to children and learning we all know that if they are to fulfi potential it usually means getting out of that comfort zone and taking a few risks, try a few new things.

On a recent visit to Sydney I was very inspired by the tale of the Danish architect of the Sydney opera house – surely one of the world’s iconic buildings -John Utzon. He had never been to Australia or even seen Bennelong point the proposed site and in fact then he submitted the sketches the ‘engineering’ of the proposed structure had yet to be worked out. Although his was the winning design the actual building of it saw many challenges. But eventually, years later his dream was realised and what a legacy it is for the world.

But it only came about because of Utzon’s dream. He had an innovative idea based on much on the maritime work he had completed and I am sure there were a lot of ‘naysayers’ and at times I bet he had his doubts that his dreams would ever be realised. But they were! I am sure it took hard work, persistence, and perseverance but without the initial dream or aspiration it would never have happened.

If he hadn’t submitted his design as one of the 232 entrants because he thought he had no chnace of winning or because he had never seen the site it simply would never have been built.

So give yourself permission to dream and when you do – dream BIG – be aspirational for yourself – don’t focus on the obstacles focus on the possibilities.


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Fuelled for Growth

We all know that for a car to run well we have to put in the right fuel. Happily I have not (yet) put the wrong kind of petrol in my car but I know others have and I know that it doesn’t just have an impact on performance but it can actually cause serious damage to the working of the engine.

So too with our bodies we know that to maintain a healthy body there are certain foods that are good for us and certain foods which aren’t quite so good. In many ways it is about balance, making sure that we have a diet that has enough of all the important food groups to keep us healthy while still enjoying a few ‘treats’ but making sure that the there’s not so many that it will damage our health.

WE understand how important food is to us for our physical health and how that ‘fuel’ can aid performance, athletes and their trainers work very hard making sure that they get the right kind of fuel to ensure that they are peak performance for events or competitions.

We also know that children whose bodies are growing at a very fast rate need a diet that is rich in protein and gives them what they need to maintain physical growth. IN addition to food they also need opportunities to practice, developing skills, they need space to run around in, they need opportunities to practise those emerging physical skills like climbing jumping, riding a bike swimming so it is not just food but the environment that is important as well.

With developing minds and emotions it is exactly the same, though sometimes we may pay less attention to those aspects than to the physical body. With minds that are growing and developing there needs also to be the opportunity for exercise, in the form of situations that challenge, we will all have heard the quotes that learning happens when we are at the edge of our comfort zone, and if we are not making mistakes then we are probably not learning. But to learn we also need the environment to be structured in a way that helps us to feel secure.

We wouldn’t expect a child to get on a bike and just ride. We structure the experience for them, by first riding a tricycle then a bicycle with stabilisers. When they are confident with that we remove the stabilisers but hold on to them running along beside them and giving lots of encouragement, and importantly being there to step in and pick them up if they do fall off.

The same is true of other aspects of learning, children need to feel secure, so start with something they know how to do and then introduce one new aspect, demonstrating how to do it or encouraging them to figure out some parts but providing some ‘clues’ along the way. Allow them to make mistakes but be there to clarify – the point is that you want them to be successful, that way they will see the learning as positive experience and one they will want to repeat.

Sadly lots of children, teenagers and adults have struggled with literacy in fact it is estimated that over 2 million adults in Britain are illiterate, often that is because they have not been taught in systematic way that has given them the tools they need to feel secure in their learning, introducing them to both the concepts and skills that they need to be effective readers. That is why systematic synthetic phonics programmes like Sounds-Write are now the recommended way of teaching reading and they are effective both as a primary reading strategy and as a ‘recovery’ strategy where for whatever reason learning to read has not been effective the first time around. You can find our more about Sounds-Write here http://www.sounds-write.co.uk/

As parents and as teachers we want to equip children to grow up and be well functioning happy adults and our schools are structured towards giving them the skills they need in order to do this though they may not always be effective in achieving this goal. In addition to physical skills, academic skills like reading, writing and Maths they also need to be able to function effectively emotionally. So they need opportunities to learn how to manage relationships, which is why children need ample time to play with peers and have lots of social experiences to develop different aspects of emotional well- being. Learning to make friends, cope with disappointment or being hurt, learn how to express anger appropriately, learn to show empathy and how to ‘read’ or interpret a myriad of social situations and respond appropriately – all important aspects of coping in life as an adult.

As parents most of us want to make sure our children get the right ‘food’ to enable them to grow but that means making sure they are given a whole host of learning opportunities in addition to school. Like a physical diet this should be mixed and include plenty of time for relaxation but also time for challenge – and be varied. In practical terms it means making sure that they can enjoy time watching television or playing on a play station or computer but also time reading, drawing, cooking and being creative as well as going out to parks, socialising with other children and adults and experiencing things like live music, sporting events or theatre, it doesn’t need to be expensive – a small local theatre company can be a very ‘rich’ experience but cost a fraction of the price of  a ticket to a West end theatre production.


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Learning from Children

There are some superb quotes about children and learning and often the particular qualities of childhood they refer to, their thirst for knowledge, their spontaneity, their amazing ability to live in the moment are things we could do well to learn to hang onto as adults.

Thirst for Knowledge

As adults, we would probably all agree that knowledge is important, yet as the business of adult life increases it is very easy to run out of the necessary time, effort or inclination to continue learning ourselves. Yet what comes across whenever you read the biographies of great ‘achievers’ that they take learning seriously.  They keep reading, keep studying, and remain open to learn from mentors. It’s worth asking yourself when you last devoted some time to learning yourself. Yes we need time to relax but recent evidence suggests that if we keep learning, particularly skills that involve a cognitive challenge, memory can be improved. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/learning-new-skills-keeps-an-aging-mind-sharp.html

“Anyone who stops learning is old. whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Henry Ford

So don’t see it as a luxury we all need to invest in ourselves, and if there are children around then it will be inspiring for them to see that as a ‘grown up’ you value learning.


The dictionary defines spontaneous as ‘resulting from a natural impulse, natural and unconstrained’ or ‘growing without cultivation’.

Often there are good reasons why it gets harder to be spontaneous as we get older, after all we have responsibilities, jobs, perhaps family and other commitments. But there can be advantages to being spontaneous too. Think back to a day or outing that you particularly enjoyed, was it, or elements of it spontaneous? I have had some wonderful ‘planned’ evenings with friends but I can also remember some relay great times when a friend arrived unexpectedly and we decided spontaneously to have a meal, or go out, and somehow the fact that it was unexpected adds to the joy of it. Yes it may be a two sided coin, and if everything we did was spontaneous perhaps some of the ‘pleasure’ would be lost but being prepared to be spontaneous can help us have a flexile attitude to change, which might reduce stress, and help us keep mentally sharp.

Being in the moment

As adults we can easily slip into the habit of spending most of our time thinking either about the past, (oh that meeting didn’t go well, or I didn’t like the way they handled that situation) or the future (what will eat tonight, I wonder if the traffic home will be awful or even I must start buying the Christmas presents). Which means often we aren’t enjoying the present.  Most people will have heard of mindfulness, which has been shown to reduce stress. It is a way of stopping and noticing the present. If you ‘d like to try some mindfulness exercises there are some in an article I wrote for success stories. Just follow the link below. http://successstory.com/inspiration/4-ways-to-fight-stress

Obviously as parents, step parents, aunts, uncles,  grandparents, teachers and society as a whole we need to value our children, and their learning but we can also learn from them and their approach to life.

But as Dr Zeuss said

“Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, and delighted.”

It’s also worth remembering that what children need, in many ways is just what we need, we may have finished ‘growing up’ but we still need to feel like we belong, to laugh and have time to relax and play.

Maybe we all need to practice being a bit childlike.

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Tolerating Intolerance or being Intolerant of tolerance??

I find I must agree with this statement by Princess Diana – it seems to me that in many ways we have become intolerant as a society in ways that can be very damaging to individuals.

I was at a check out in a shop the other day when the rather elderly lady in front of me appeared to have lost her purse and took quite a while to find it. She was getting quite visibly stressed and although the sales assistant was being very patient I could hear plenty of tuts coming from the queue behind me. Some even moved to an alternative queue. I offered to help but at that moment triumphantly she found it paid and hurried away, almost forgetting her change, in an embarrassed fashion.

But we are all human and in a few years or decades time that might be us. My own view is that we all deserve to live in a society that can show kindness and tolerance. Yes she held everyone up but maybe for a minute or two at the most. Are we really so important, our time so valuable that we can’t even allow someone a very small amount of our time without becoming angry or impatient?  After all those emotions are damaging for our own health as well as being a source of stress to others.

Tolerance, like kindness is something that we practise – and actually it will enhance our lives as well as those of others. So as we all rush about our days business let’s all be tolerant of those who are frail in some way, or for a huge variety of other reasons somehow don’t live life in the metaphorical fast lane. IN shops or restaurants, at doorways on the roads, when we are being served let’s try and show some kindness and empathy and lets be tolerant ourselves and intolerant of others who don’t show tolerance.

But then there are times when we need to be intolerant – for example where there is any kind of discrimination, humiliation or abuse of any kind. It’s easy to stay quiet when a racist joke is told but the attitude that fuels the joke can lead to a subtle and insidious acceptance that racism is okay. It isn’t, ever, under any circumstance. Neither is any sort of discrimination – because ultimately discrimination leads to hatred and surely no one wants to live in a society filled with hatred.

So the other side of the tolerant coin is that we should be intolerant of some things – that is right and proper.

Let’s make sure that we are tolerant but never tolerate intolerance!!

“There is a huge difference between being tolerant and tolerating intolerance.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali




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Away With Worry


We all do it and we all know it doesn’t actually achieve much at all. There is a quote that says

“Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but  you doesn’t get you anywhere!” – well nowhere that’s positivethat’s for sure.

What worry does is to

  • Keep us awake
  • Fill our minds with all the outcomes we don’t want
  • Set off a whole chain reaction so we start worrying about more and more things
  • Stop us focussing on all the other good things
  • Make it hard to concentrate
  • Stop  us enjoying life

So what on earth should we do about it – we all know it is very easy to SAY  to others or ourselves ‘don’t worry’ but very hard to actually DO.

Here’s a 5 point plan to put an end to worry (if you want to!)

1. Verbalise specifically what it is you are worrying about – it is important to be really specific. The problem with our ‘worried’ thoughts is that they spread and that’s makes it hard to decide what exactly it is that  we are worrying about. You can do this on your own but often it is helpful to chat to someone else about it

2. Think about the outcomes – a kind of ‘what’s the worst case scenario’ this helps you be even more specific about your worry – so for example is it that you don’t want to go for the interview because you hate interviews or is it that you really really need the job so you are worried that you won’t be successful. Getting clarity on the precise issue that is causing you to worry will help you bring it under control.

3. Take Action  – if you can – so in the scenario above you could do some prep for the interview AND think about any other jobs you could apply for in case you aren’t successful. If there is no action you can take – perhaps it is an outcome beyond your control then go straight to the next step.

4. Manage your thoughts – we all know that if we try NOT to think about something – the upcoming interview for example – that is exactly what our thoughts keep coming back to – SO change that pattern. Set for yourself an alternative thought pathway and there are 2 options here –

EITHER simply think of something that is different and calming for you – for example imagine yourelf in a place of peace and happiness so choose a nice memory and every time you find your self thinking about ‘the interview’ or whatever switch to the memory – it takes effort at first but keep at it and you will find it gets easier.

OR think about the outcome YOU DO want – getting the job for example and put all your efforts into imagining and  visualising what that would ‘look like’. Here try to be as detailed as possible really add the colour to your thoughts, imagine telling people about it, think about and imagine your  first day in the new job, this is a rally good antidote to worry and this works even if you are worrying about someone else – just focus your thoughts on the positive – what would the GOOD outcome be rather than the negative which is usually what fills your head with worry.

5. Repeat the previous 4 steps – worry attracts worry so often you’ll feel like you’ve got one aspect under control then up pops another thing to worry about. So go through the steps again BUT if it keeps happening then actually you have probably got a mind set that is fuelling the worry – often worry stems from some of the subconscious fears and beliefs we have – so in the  interview scenario a belief that you don’t deserve success or that you always mess things up. BUT even these deep seated mind sets CAN be changed. Scroll to previous blog post for details of a MIND SET WORKSHOP  in November

You will notice that next to the title of the 5 point plan to put an end to worry – I put in brackets ‘if you want to’. Sadly like lots of things we can get into a bit of a habit so that worry becomes our default position – something is happening so e go into worry mode – or even nothing is worrying us and we worry about that. It sounds crazy but worry can become a bit like a comfort blanket – so you need to be prepared and want to let that go.

If you want to do away with worry  it is possible – after all YOU are the only person who controls your thoughts.

Finally a  few Quotes to think about

“Stop worrying about what can go wrong and get excited about what can go right!”

“Don’t think too much – you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place!”

“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of it’s troubles it empties today of it’s strength!”

Good Luck!








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Upcoming Courses

Just to let you know about some courses that we’ll be running in the Bedford area in the next month or so

5th November 10am – 1pm    MIND SET MAGIC

A half Day workshop where you will learn how your mind set can sabotage your success AND how to fix that

so if you want more success in your business or life BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW by sending an email  to info@attunededucation.com

full venue details will be sent on booking.

Cost £50 – includes lunch and workbook


Short Sounds-Write Course

This 2 day Sounds-Write Course is designed for nursery or pre-school professionals OR parents.

On this course you will learn all about synthetic phonics and the theory and practice of teaching children to read, spell and write using Sounds-Write.

This course will be held at

St Marks Church and community Centre

on 13th and 20th November (both Fridays) from 9am – 4pm (approx)

The cost is £210 pounds this includes a resource manual and light refreshments but participant are asked to bring a packed lunch.

To book a place just email us info@attunededucation.com


4 Day  Sounds-Write Course

This is a fully certificated course for school teachers, assistants and sometimes parents, which takes place over 4 days form 9am -4pm.

The cost of the course is £420 and includes a Sounds-Write manual packed with resources.

Provisional dates are November 12th, 19th,  26th and 3rd December (consecutive Thursdays)

Watch this space for venue details, or email us.




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MInd Set – Magic or Madness

There is a lot of talk about ‘mind sets’ at the moment, and for good reason. Mind sets are simply what we believe in, what we see as true and these mind sets can have a great impact on our lives.

We often se it with children, they think they can’t do something so get all stressed when they need to ‘do it’ reading, maths, riding a bike and without a lot of encouragement they would easily fail again which of course would reinforce their belief that they can’t do it …..and so on.

But it doesn’t just apply to children – the wrong mind set can be  responsible for holding back lots of adults in their business or personal lives.

Mind sets are often subconscious, in fact many people wouldn’t even know what their mind set was in relation to a particular area like money or success but it may well be preventing them from moving forward. Sometimes people will say they want to be successful in business for example but actually their mind set may be that they are pretty useless and will always fail, other people may want fulfilling relationships but actually their mind set is that they are unlovable and no one will ever want to be with them.

What happens is that the sub-conscious will cause us  to self sabotage so no matter how much effort we put in we will rarely see the results we want -UNTIL we sort out the mind set.

If you want to experience greater success and fulfilment in your life then there are some key mind sets to sort out – you can read about them by following the link below.


Life is precious and it’s easy to let weeks, months or years drift by struggling against mind sets that will limit you – so take action today





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Helping Children Be Ready to Read

Most parents want their children to be readers and we get lots of questions about how best to help very small children to be ready to read so here’s a few principles.

A Story

In Portugal recently we had some Portuguese lessons, I wasn’t looking forward to it because I have not had good experiences learning foreign languages myself so it was with some trepidation that I approached the first session. It was a private lesson, so just my husband and myself with the teacher. The experience was illuminating for me. She basically spoke to us for an hour  in Portuguese (and this was repeated during the next 4 hours of lessons) she spoke slowly and used lots of gestures, there no written clues, no books opened and we were not ‘allowed’ to speak in English. It was brilliant, although there were a few times when I felt lost, she was patient and would repeat her instructions. It was immensely practical and it struck me that we were learning just like a child would learn. By the end of the first session I could follow simple instructions in Portuguese.

In terms of language acquisition children learn to comprehend speech first, a toddler will be able to follow simple instructions and will then begin to use occasional words which then become phrases (I was just getting to the short phrases part at the end of the last lesson!). Obviously we wouldn’t attempt to teach children to read until they can understand the spoken language and speak it themselves, and of course that consists only of SOUNDS.

A good reading programme will always begin with what the child knows – the sounds of the language which his why Sounds-Write is such an effective programme, you can find out more about Sounds-Write by following this link http://www.sounds-write.co.uk/

So as parents if you want to help your children to be ready to learn to read get them to concentrate on the sounds of the language. Here’s a few ideas of how you can do that

Get them to listen to and identify the sounds that are in words-

Begin by identifying initial sounds “What’s the first sound you hear in snake?” for example. Words beginning with continuants, sounds you can hang on to, like ‘s’ ‘m’ ‘f’ are a good place to start

Or you could try getting to children to find objects that have a particular sound in their name things that have a ‘c’ (as in cat) for example cup, cat, cap, cot, clown, but also duck and clock and monkey

Get children to think about the sounds in their name or yours

Using books get them to point to a picture of an object on the page that begins with a particular sound

But remember the following points

  • Concentrate just on the sound NO writing or even recognising letters (the symbols of the sounds) is required at this stage.
  • Use ONLY the sounds NOT any letter names
  • Use very precise pronunciation of the sounds if you are unsure how to pronounce a sound precisely you can watch a video by clicking this link http://www.st-thomasaquinas.co.uk/  then clicking the Sounds-Write tab OR by following this link which explains a little about why precise pronunciation of the sounds is important

Help children develop an understanding of the ‘culture’ of reading and stories

Most toddlers and children love being read to and before that will often enjoy holding books, especially ones with good quality images, but they enjoy recognising pictures. When you repeatedly read with a child – long before they can read they will learn that

  • we read left to right across a page (not the same in every language)
  • text is different to images
  • text in a book usually relates to the images
  • the language in a story may be a little different form normal speech, it may rhyme for example
  • many stories even for quite small children have some kind of plot and a beginning, middle and end.

Help them to develop an interest in books

We are all prepared to work harder at something we are motivated to do. When children are very small ensure that story time is a good time. It doesn’t have to be just before bed, invest time in reading with your children, and make it fun!

  • Ensure there are good quality books available throughout the home not just in the bedroom
  • Ensure  children see you reading, after all they learn by copying what they see, talk about books, reading and stories as a family
  • Make  visits to the libraries (where they are still available) part of normal family routine

Often very young children will sit and turn the pages of a book while telling the story, they aren’t reading of course but they are showing an understanding and interest in books and stories

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” Emilie Buchwald so spend regular quality time with children on your lap enjoying stories together. Sounds like a real treat to me!








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How to Handle those Tricky conversations with Children

It’s something every parent has to face at some point with their children- having one of those tricky conversations. Often it’s a time that is difficult for parents too – times when a relative or friend has died, there is news of a serious illness, a relationship break up,redundancy or an unexpected house move, but the way a parent handles the conversation can have an impact on the way child deals with the event.

Choose the right moment

It’s sometimes impossible to delay telling children for very long but it is important to make sure that they are able to concentrate on what you are saying and have time to ask questions. So its best not to iniate the conversation just as you or they are about to go out. Bedtime could be a good time BUT it depends very much on the nature of the news and on the child – the last thing you want is to upset them before sleep but sometimes bedtime can be a relaxed time to chat. The important thing is simply to consider when the best time will be. However, if there is a chance they might hear it from another source then sooner will be better than later.

Choose the right setting

Home is the obvious choice but there may be times that’s not the best option perhaps if the news is of siblings illness for example and you want to have the conversation away form the sibling. Clearly you don’t want distractions like TV but sometimes children are more relaxed when they are doing something rather than nothing – maybe drawing at a table together or playing with playdough. Continue the activity for a while after the initial discussion and you may well find they play then ask further questions.

Tell the Truth

As parents its natural to want to protect our kids and make things easy for them. I think that is the reasons why sometimes we are tempted to invent explanations that aren’t true. We sort of sugar coat the truth if it seems to harsh. In my experience it’s almost always a mistake. I think it is important always to be truthful with our children when dealing with thse sort of issues. There is a big difference between a tooth fairy at an age when the lines between fantasy and reality are still blurred (a normal childhood developmental phase) and giving complicated ‘alternative’ explanations for the harsh reality of life, or death. Of course the amount of detail that you go into may well vary depending on the age of the child, their particular questions (which I think should always be answered truthfully) and the specifics of the situation.

Use Appropriate Language

It’s important when telling the truth to do it in a language that the child understands. It might mean introducing new words, in which case make sure they understand them – chemotherapy might not mean much to a child but explaining that someone has to be in hospital to have very strong medicine that might help them get better but which will also cause some nasty side effects – may have some meaning.

Tell them how it will affect them

When ‘big’ stuff happens in life it tends to have an impact that ripples outwards – so as well as telling children about the ‘events’ tell them what the impact will be. If grandma is very ill, for example, explain that she won’t be coming to see them for a while, or that when they see her she may be weak and not able to play the way she usually does. If mum or dad has been made redundant explain that the planned holiday might not happen till another year – or whatever the implications of the redundancy may be.


Remember that as a parent YOU know your children AND also remember that children are very adaptable and resilient.Try to be relaxed because if children sense your tension they will pick up on it but also remember that when it comes to knowing your child YOU are the expert and sometimes you have to trust your own judgement.

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Supporting Your Children’s Education

Parents often ask what they can do to support their child’s learning – so I thought it would be useful to put a few ideas for parents here. Obviously sometimes tuition can be really helpful, especially if your child is experiencing problems or they are falling behind a bit but there are many other things parents, or indeed step-parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or even older siblings can do to support their education by creating the right environment at home.

Time & Attention

“The most precious gift you can give someone is the gift of your time and attention”  click to tweet

Children love some one on one time with adults – whatever age they are! Yes it is important for them to develop social skills by interacting with other children and by taking part in clubs etc BUT make sure they get quality time with the adults in their lives too. The focus doesn’t have to be explicit learning – especially when they are young- simply joining in their activities, playing games with them and talking to fm about anything will help them with learning. As they get older make sure that you devote time to reading stories, drawing, playing games, singing songs, playing with play dough or construction toys – the important thing is nit so much the activity but your time and attention!

Make sure you turn off your phone – refrain from to much adult to adult talk and unless TV or music is involved in the activity turn it off.

The message you give is powerful – YOU (the child) are important – I am focussing just on you – that’s how much I value you.


Environment & Resources

Obviously a home is a home and you shouldn’t try to replicate a school. But in a good learning environment there is space for work – this could be the dining room table or a small ‘put-up’ table elsewhere but when children want to write or draw or colour it’s good to encourage them and have space for them to do that. As they get older space to work becomes more important but I’m generally not a fan of desks in bedrooms for homework until they are able and willing to take full responsibility for the own learning (16 + perhaps) before that it just makes it more difficult to monitor and support them with their work.

Of course if homework happens in the living, dining or kitchen area it might be necessary to turn of TV/radio etc but that does give a good message to everyone in the house, including younger children, that study and learning are important. It’s also good to have a few resources, –  pen, paper, colouring pencils for example and although the internet is perhaps all you need for research these days a few reference books can be useful too. Phones can be calculators but a scientific calculator means you can ‘get-rid’ of the phone during homework slots. Having books, or other reading material, around the home is a good way of saying reading is important – and of course for very young children, play is learning so allow opportunities for them to play with water, paint, scales, flour etc as it’s important for their learning.

Being ‘in the Know’

As a parent it’s important to make sure that you know what is happening at the school. Teachers and schools want this and value the support parents can give so do talk to your child’s teacher and if the school has a website or homework platform make sure you check that too it’s also  important to dig deep into the rucksack or school bag regularly to retrieve those buried letters or notes form school.

Also make sure you read the homework diary or school communication book and do talk to children about what’s in it. Make sure you know if they have homework or are busying completing a project on the Tudors – it so much easier to get involved with homework when you have some idea of what they are dig. If something doesn’t make sense to you then ask your child but also feel free to ask the school. As they get older it becomes even more important to make sure that you keep in the know – at the very least it’s harder for them to pull the wool over your eyes and again it shows that you think school, homework and learning are important.

However it is ok as a parent not to know everything and I’m sure many ‘methods’ will have changed – as apparent it is also an important lesson for your children to see that if you don’t know something you either have the skills to find out or the willingness to ask someone for help.


Patience and Positivity

In terms of learning children are delicate! They are not only learning but they are learning about learning. Some children find things tougher than others, but their self-esteem is easily knocked. When you help them always be supportive. Don’t get exasperated if they don’t understand something, make sure that you give lots of positive comments about the process even if the answers are wrong or they make mistakes. If they are getting a lot wrong or finding things very tough, or you are worried about their progress in any way then talk to the school.

Often it is good not to be an expert if you have to check the meaning of a word by consulting a dictionary you are still teaching you r child skills. If you can’t remember how to do a percentage but look it up and can then help your child then that’s brilliant.

Parents know their children better than anyone and yes some competition and a bit of pushing is ok but it’s also very easy to make children feel insecure and it’s tough to learn if you don’t feel confident enough to make mistakes. So make sure your children know that you love them, no matter what they may or may not achieve at school.


Concentrate on the Basics

For many children things fall down when there are problems with the basics. If children aren’t good with numbers and number bonds, simple mathematical processes, shapes and sizes, and the tables then they will find Maths tough down the line.

Similarly if a child is struggling with reading in year 2 or if they fail their year 1 phonics test the likelihood is they will struggle. Sadly secondary school teachers and not generally taught how to teach reading. So if your child hasn’t grasped it by the time they leave primary then they need help or they will be unable to access the majority of the curriculum. If seeking help for a none, or struggling, reader make sure you opt for a specialist rather than a general English teacher and ask what method they use. A systematic synthetic phonic approach – like Sounds-Write – works well for all ages.

Obviously the school can identify the children who are struggling and can offer help but if they haven’t got it first time round and are needing extra help and that is being provided in the school just be sure that something is different (smaller group for example) or there is no reason to assume that they will ‘get it’ in ‘extra time’ when they haven’t the first time round.




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