acepuppets

Archive for the ‘School’ Category


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When your child first starts school you worry about them; settling in, making friends, coping with the work and hope beyond hope that they will not become the victim of bullying.  You make friends with the other parents because you all have the welfare of your children in common.  As your child grows older mothers form friendship groups that can last a life time.  However, if you make the fatal mistake of making friends with a toxic person you are likely to find yourself isolated and alienated by other parents when the friendship turns sour.

Unfortunately, there are still adults who behave like children (worse than in some cases). If you are on the right side of these people your life is wonderful and waiting at the school gates is a social occasion.  If you dare to have a different opinion or challenge their bullying behavior towards others you seriously risk being ostracised (or being sent to Coventry).  They will use their loudness to play the victim and embrace the power of social media to show how hard done by they are. Suddenly you are ignored and others of similar ilk turn into juveniles and support the bully in isolating you.

This is when you realise that you only know these people because of the school run and that losing their friendship is not actually such a big deal.  As an adult, you can drop your child off early in the morning and arrive last minute to pick them up so you are not standing in hostile territory every day.  Being ignored and snubbed as an adult is difficult and upsetting enough so imagine what it is like for a child.  How can we expect child bullies to improve their behaviour if their parents find it perfectly acceptable?

Ironically if someone was to insult them, a friend or family member you can guarantee that they would have taken much more aversive action.  The school run is like being back in school again thrown together with people you would not naturally make friends with.  There are school bullies who are in their twenties, thirties and forties.  If your gut tells you to be wary listen because once the niceties associated with settling your child in school are over you may find that you have opened a hornet’s nest and laid yourself open to bullying.

If you are a parent who is the victim of a bully at the school gates, you are not the only one in the world.  It probably isn’t completely personal because they don’t see you as a person, only someone they can have power over and fulfil their sadistic need to cause pain and anguish.

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The Spring term is the shortest one in the year but probably the most intense. Teachers of year two and six will be psyching themselves up for the SATs that can now determine whether a school is good or not. My son has finally reached the age where testing will play a major part of his school life and he will be expected to perform to his best abilities to prove that he has been taught correctly. He will participate in writing, reading and maths tests and will face an onslaught of practice tests until he has to do the real ones.

I am all for assessment and how it informs planning for his further learning but I hate the way that it is also a test for the teachers. There are many things that teachers do that are not accounted for in the test so their true worth is not represented in the results. The tests don’t take into account the non academic strengths a child may have and we get so tunnel visioned about what children can do in the test that all of the other important life skills are forgotten.

GCSEs and A levels are understandably stressful because they are transitional and the better you do the greater your career choices but with SATs there are no obvious benefits for the child. Motivating a child to do a test that has no reward seems to be cruel and unnecessary and the pressure is too great at such a young age. I really don’t like the concept of a child perceiving themselves as a success or a failure at such a young age.

My son is looking forward to going back to school to see his friends and play on the playground equipment in the play area next to the school. He loves learning and finds learning opportunities everywhere left to his own devices he has learnt how to follow instructions to build Lego sets, figured out how to build a computer game, how to look after a puppy, that adults are only human and that he loves performing. He sets himself challenges and gets so excited when he achieves them, his first words were, ‘I did it’.

I don’t want vigorous testing to destroy that thirst for knowledge and a curiosity to learn. I feel nervous about the tests in the same way I did when I let him have the MMR vaccine.


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When I ask my son what he has done at school each day I feel really sorry for the teachers because all he remembers is everything he has done at playtime and who he has fallen out with.  What he doesn’t say is that he enjoyed the English lesson that the teacher spent hours planning last week or that he felt fulfilled by the fact that he finally understood a mathematical concept that had been difficult to grasp.  At the moment the most exciting thing about school is the new sand pit and swing that has been fitted in the playground.  I am actually delighted that my son gets excited about such simple pleasures because it just goes to show that however enthralling a computer game is there is nothing like swinging in the air or sculpturing a fantasy land in a sandpit.

My son is a very cautious child who didn’t fall over very much when he was a toddler, however he seems to be collecting a lot of grazes and bruises on his legs at the moment indicating that he is getting more adventurous and daring.  I asked him if he could swing by himself and apparently he can swing three times by himself, which is fantastic.  If you look at the science of swinging it is amazing how much the body benefits from such a pleasurable activity.  Children also learn how to take turns and how to encourage each other to swing higher. If you also add the feeling of flying into the mix you can see why swings are still such popular pieces of playground equipment.

My son is also raving about the sandpit, which is pretty big and covered when not in use so that the local cats don’t contaminate it.  If there was a sandpit club after school my son would be first to put his name on the list, he totally loves constructing fantasy worlds, digging and covering himself with the little particles.  When my son started school the thing that made him very happy was the fact that the reception class could still play in sand during the day and on a visit he told the teacher that they needed to put more sand in the sand box.  He is in year one and sand play is not part of his curriculum so the sand pit in the playground is like a dream come true for him.

My son loves school and is always excited to arrive in the morning and reluctant to leave at the end of the day.  I only hope that he finds learning fun for the whole of his life.


The other morning before school, we had what can only be described as a small blizzard. I peeled back the curtain to see whether I needed to take an umbrella out with me for the walk to school (or if the wind was too strong for one to be remotely effective) and was met with a blanket of white stuff over the cars, trees and paths.

The snow obviously meant we had to make time for a quick play outside in the public playground across from the school. It’s amazing how a bit of snow transforms a place and makes it a different world almost.  Suddenly, a playground they know so well (although usually still fun and met with a good amount of excitement each visit) is a totally new and exciting place. What is it about snow that sends both kids, and adults too if we admit it, (so long as we don’t have to drive or travel anywhere as unfortunately we have to take a slightly more realistic and sensible approach to it!) a little bit crazy and very happy indeed?

Unfortunately as I look out of the window right now there are strong winds and a fair amount of rain so I’ll keep my dreams of a white Christmas fairly realistic at this point. Come on weather, you’ve got one week to produce some snow for us…but then make sure it disappears quite quickly please as I have to be back at work on Monday!

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Oh, and I decided not to take an umbrella by the way…Oh, and also not to walk either!


Sitting in a still and controlled manner can be a challenge for any young school child as you may well know yourself through personal experience (if you can remember back to your first years at school) or through having your own child whose teacher is often telling you that your little one can not sit still in class. So why can’t some kids sit still in class?

Over recent year the number of diagnosed ADHD cases has increased dramatically. Through doing some research this is due to a couple of main reasons; we are now more aware and educated about the condition and children are also now expected to sit for perhaps longer periods of time, which inevitably leads to lapses in concentration. However, some people are too quick to push the blame towards ADHD for a child’s seemingly bad behaviour. It is also the case sometimes to blame genetics or the arguably less disciplined approach to parenting nowadays compared to times past, it could be blamed on sugary breakfasts and snacks, sleep deprivation or the fact you just have a so-called ‘naughty’ child.

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But could some of this be down to the fact they simply aren’t expending enough energy at other points in the day?

It is highly important not to diminish recess time in favour of classroom time, and not all schools will be getting the balance right. Nowadays, kids may not get to play outdoors as much for a number of reasons such as; parental concerns, educational pressures and restraints and also now of course we have so much technology and screen time which can often become like babysitters. But hours of television or computer games can be a bad idea, sensory over stimulation can be just as much of a hindrance as under stimulation.

Basically, children are not moving enough. Restriction of movement and not enough time spent running around and getting rid of energy can mean more fidgety children with below normal core and muscle strength. We all know the health benefits that come from playing and exploring in a playground that will stimulate their imaginations and improve their skills – physical, mental, emotional and cognitive all included. It can definitely be more difficult in these Winter months to muster the enthusiasm and energy to tear yourselves away from the TV or computer screens in favour of getting outside into the cold, puddles and wind, but even some time spent in the garden or the school’s own playground at the end of the day may make a big difference and help a child concentrate more, and not only just in classroom.  Schools need to make sure that they are allowing enough unstructured playtime during the day. And if they aren’t? Well, that can be a difficult thing to change as many will already be feeling the time pressures of fitting in all of their curriculum in the allotted lesson times. But playtime deserves to be shown the same regard as academic time.

So I guess the bottom line is if your child is coming home from school with warnings for not sitting still in class, it is by no means a reason to panic and try to get a medical diagnosis ASAP, it may be as simple of a solution as a little more playtime!  No one solution will work for every child, as we are all well aware, but it’s definitely worth a try.


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