Archive for October 2012

Apparently children will learn facts at different ages, just as they did in the past, in order to enhance their educational ability.

The nearest targets for my son, who is three, are the ones for five year olds and they are as follows;

  • ‘Learn favourite nursery rhymes by heart, such as Baa Baa Black Sheep.’
  • ‘Identify 1/2 as one of two equal parts.’
  • ‘Understand that the signing of the Magna Carta in June 1215 restricted the powers of the monarchy.

Now my son can tick off the first and second targets because he enjoys singing nursery rhymes all of the time and knows that cutting chocolate cake in half means that there are two pieces.

Well I have to admit to only knowing about the Magna Carta from an old joke I heard years ago.

‘Where was the magna Carta signed? … At the bottom.’

This is something that I will have to research during the next two years, however I decided that it would be a good idea to introduce the fact to him now, after all there is no time like the present.  My son was a willing participant in my tutoring and humoured me by repeating the facts after me in the way that little children copy the sounds of words they don’t understand rather than the words themselves causing the word Monarch to become monkey.

‘The signing of the Magna Carta in June 1215 Limited the Power of the Monkey’

I am so looking forward to watching my son learn interesting pieces of information and how he interprets it.


If you were to believe the media’s perception of teachers you would imagine that you are sending your child to an establishment where they would be greeted by a half wit who is planning on spending the morning planning their extensive Summer holiday.

Fortunately most parents appreciate the work a teacher does and still show the respect that they deserve.  Over the past twenty years teachers have had to adjust to many changes in the education system that ultimately seem to be lowering standards rather than raising them. 

We would hope that by now OFSTED would have done such a good job in informing schools how to be excellent that they would have been phased out.  Any other consultancy firm would have been dropped for failing to make improvements; maybe OFSTED needs to change its approach to be more like the HMI inspectors of old where they have access to schools more frequently but also take an advisory role so standards can be improved.

The National Curriculum is a fantastic idea, developed so that teachers would teach the whole spectrum of subjects rather than just; painting, pottery or other subjects they were passionate about.  I believe it was developed so that a child in year three in Cumbria could be learn about Vikings one week and could move to a school in Dagenham the next week without the fear of repeating work they had already done. This is not how it is because it is guidance but not meant to be prescriptive resulting in the discrepancies in standards achieved from school to school.

Would the education system improve if the whole curriculum was completely prescribed with huge books containing lesson plans written by the best teachers in the country, that way it would guarantee that everyone was teaching exactly how the Government would want them to teach?  This way the tick boxes could be streamlined and everyone would have the benefit of the wisdom of teachers who can teach to the required standard.

The above theory is completely flawed due to the fact that every class is different and every teacher is different.  Every child and teacher has something unique and different to bring to the classroom, sometimes the whole experience is positive and everyone flourishes in the classroom environment.  Unfortunately the experience can also be negative and that can have a devastating effect on everyone involved.  It is the negative situations that need to be remedied before standards can improve. 

Negative situations are not caused by just the teacher on the Thomas Cook website booking their holiday in France while polishing their nails, believe me that is not generally the case.  These situations can be exasperated by stress, children coming to school from a very unsettled environment and many other reasons that turn the whole experience sour.  We cannot lay the blame entirely at anyone’s door but positive support is needed to improve the situation so that standards can improve.

It is time to change the approach to improving standards because huge statements to the press stating how teachers are going to be ‘punished’ for their failings is clearly not working – it is causing existing teachers to feel under pressure and is not making the job particularly appealing to prospective excellent candidates.  Teachers don’t conjure up the topics for lessons, they are told what to teach and increasingly how to teach.

I am a not an expert in education – I have been a teacher though and do know that on the whole teachers work extremely hard and want the very best for the pupils.  It is the most rewarding job in the world but also one of the hardest.

Please Mr Gove find a way to improve the standards in education by working with the teachers and not against them – you will be surprised to see that they want the children to succeed just like you.

Since my son started nursery in September I have discovered that, as a parent, I have to be ready to magic anything for the next day.  The first items I had to conjure up with an evenings notice was something green or pink for a Macmillan day and of course cakes for the cake stall.  Well my son doesn’t wear pink or green so we had to settle for my pink clown hat, which has disappeared never to be seen again.  Where the cakes were concerned, the last cake I baked was on a Friday afternoon in the home economics room when I was at school twenty odd years ago so I didn’t rate my chances at producing edible delicacies like lemon drizzle cake, carrot cake and the wonderful home made cakes the other mothers lovingly produced.  I therefore did what every self disrespecting mother would do and trailed off to the supermarket to buy some cakes – I didn’t go as far as to remove them from the box and pass them off as my own.  Every one else who had baked cakes were very understanding and I didn’t feel as if I let my son down completely – I guess the next sweet purchase I make this year will be mince pies.

The most recent note was referring to children wearing Halloween costumes and taking a hard boiled egg to school for the end of term.  Well my son does not have a Halloween costume and I am hopeless at boiling eggs without having to put salt around the crack and continuing to boil it in  the pan until it is actually cooked.  Anyway back to the costume, I must have looked horrified because one of the parents informed me that various supermarkets have good value costumes for little children.  I took the suggestion on  board but soon realised that I had forgotten to bring my bag with me so we couldn’t go to the shops – so I was going to have to produce a home made outfit for tomorrow.

When we got home I collected a bin bag, paper, sticky tape and double sided sticky pads and made like a Blue Peter presenter and involved my son in the making of his costume, (Which sounds lovely, idealistic and makes me sound like a sickeningly good mother but we spent most of  the time arguing and getting cross with each other so it was not that perfect).  

I decided that it would be a great idea to make a skeleton costume, using the bin bag for the black background. paper for the bones and I will paint my son’s face in the morning to finish the cobbled together skeleton look.  My son lay on the bag and I cut it into a T shape around him then taped up all of the edges.  the next stage was to stick the bones on. this caused the most squabbling because I ,wrongly, wanted it to look perfect (a pride thing) while my son wanted to do it himself but didn’t want to listen to where to put the ribs so we had a few tears and tantrums but eventually the costume was completed to both of our satisfactions and more importantly my son is very proud of his contribution.  He is very excited to wear it tomorrow.

The boiled egg – well that is lying cracked in the pan – I wonder where you can buy hard boiled eggs from um?    

When you push your tiny newborn baby in the pram you think that they are going to stay like that for ever, other mothers tell you to enjoy this time because it passes so quickly – you just want them to grow up a bit so you can get a good nights sleep.

When you go to toddler groups and all of the other children are toddling about you worry that your little one isn’t reaching the mile stones quick enough, those in the know will tell you that they will do it in their own time – you just want them to toddle like the other children.

When you hear other children saying ‘Mummy’ all you want to hear is that magical word, again your mother says that once they start saying it they will whine your name and you will tire of it – but all you want is to hear that magic word.

When you send them to nursery you look forward to having time to pursue your own interests, you are told that you will miss them – you just want a break.

When you leave your child in nursery for the first time and they don’t cry or cling on to you everyone says that is good – deep down you know it is but every day they go to nursery the little baby is being replaced by an individual with their own thoughts and opinions and suddenly you feel redundant for the first time in three and a half years.

I have decided now to not worry about how quickly my son achieves his mile stones now – I am just going to cherish this magical time of watching my son develop grow to be the person he is meant to be.

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October 2012

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