Last week was quite a week indeed, which I thoroughly enjoyed! From afternoon tea on the Monday, to a mini steam railway at the coast Thursday, our week has been filled with joyful things, little outings and now a 4 week countdown to the Summer holidays!

This coming week, whilst I have nothing in my diary as yet, also looks set to be great one too. With a forecast of bright sunshine and 21+ temperatures, I can’t wait to embrace the Summer and be outside some more with Alice having fun!

Grateful For …

This week I have been really grateful to live near my sisters and mum – Firstly because it was lovely to go out last Monday for afternoon tea and enjoyed the usual banter. Secondly to have a little tea party yesterday and wander/chat on Friday with my youngest sister. And finally I have been grateful that my mum came and had the kids on Wednesday for a couple of hours so that I could go into college earlier, and that sister babysat on Thursday so that Nathan and I could go out!

I am also incredibly grateful for the lovely students I have worked with these last few months on my course. I have found in each of them kindness and friendship and I am especially grateful for the little crew/team I had that offered so much motivation, help and encouragement. I couldn’t have done what I have without them and the support of Nathan at home and my local family with spots of childcare!

Succeeded At …

My biggest and most wonderful success this week was by far finishing my Level 3 in counselling skills. Gosh there have been weeks I have felt so far behind, or generally like I was ready to quit, but here I am on the other side of all of that and completed! I was so so happy to finally hand in my portfolio – nothing prepared me for how good that would really feel and I relished every moment!

Next I am hoping to get on the Counselling level 4 and then hopefully be practising in 2 yrs time.

This week I also managed to organise and declutter the girls room (though you can’t really tell now) and got on top of house work after neglecting it in order to prioritise my college work!

Found Beauty In …

Oh so many things this week. It always is the case when the weather is nice – my mood is better and therefore I notice more!

For me this week I have seen beauty in the moments wandering around the animal park with my friend on Wednesday and then seeing Alice loving the animals (mostly) and having a little picnic with her pal!

It was riding the little steam engine in Scarborough with Alice on Thursday and seeing her glee and excitement over it. And then, whilst she rested her head on my chest, we watched the sea beating down on the sea and looked over the bay as the world went by and we chilled on the little train. It was gorgeous!

Finally it was seeing my kids having fun with their cousins on Saturday… and then again yesterday! This week I have felt so fortunate to live around so many beautiful things and people and I am excited for another week of sunshine and adventures – and not college to rush off to!

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As we headed down the M62 on Saturday Morning I witnessed a rare occasion between my oldest 2 of love, friendship and harmony. It began with a sweet little voice saying “Let me help you Megan”, and was far from the usual battles, screeches, crying and fist fights we experience on journeys any longer than 10 minutes!

“Let me help you with your reading, your sums and your writing” he said, and she agreed! They giggled, praised and even had brief moments of silence whilst they concentrated on the “tricky” words and sums and it was one of those moments where family life just feels wonderful and the universe is in harmony. It’s a moment you look at and wonder why everyday isn’t this lovely? And why are these moment feel so brief and rare? It was an ordinary moment, something easily overlooked but one that made us smile to see them being the best of friends! It was an ordinary moment you imagine when you dream of your family and soon realise it is very rarely this normal!

Theses two go through phases (as most siblings do) of either being little nutters and the best of friends, or winding each other up and fighting – there is rarely a middle ground and both extremes send me mad! Then there is the fact that Ethan is a school year older than Megan, and Megan being at the younger end of hers, obviously isn’t anywhere near Ethan’s level of understanding and ability. Ethan knows this and has a tendency to pick on her, laugh at her and shout the words out before she has a chance to decode them in her reading book. It makes me sad and snappy, whilst he finds it hilarious, and whilst she gets mad and upset. It so annoying and revenge is always just around the corner from Megs!

I laughed when the school suggested I get him to help bring her on at home with her reading, writing and numbers, because I knew what a mean big brother he could be to her and I thought it would be counterproductive and end in tears…but Saturday proved to be quite the opposite, and even more amazing was that it came from Ethan as a desire to help his little sister, and Megan was so chuffed with what she was doing!

Our Saturday was far from the action packed day we had originally planned due to a family emergency, but it was a day of great importance/necessity and family time all the same. Whilst I can’t wait for a 7 seater again (for longer journeys especially), to give them a little more space (because the scraps they have are painful to listen to). Looking over my shoulder and seeing their cute little smiles, and being a witness to the love and bond between them in that moment was just beautiful.

It so often seems that its all about the he said, she said, and it drives us mad! I forget how good these too get a long the majority of the time and it is always a lovely and heart warming moment in life to be reminded of that and see your kids getting along. It is a beautiful moment to see them helping one another, laughing together and praising each other. It’s lovely as a parent to hear the sweet and mighty words of “Let me help you”…

The Ordinary Moments
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It became apparent to me at the start of this half term that Ethan seemed to be falling short when it came to his spellings. He has gone from an impressive and acceptable 7/8 to getting none at all right and not quite able to see the errors either. Their education is obviously important to us and so with this my worried mother mode well and truly kicked in and I have since been trying to increase our frequency of practice tests and spontaneous words to spell out loud. But, with 2 other demanding little people in the mix you can imagine it isn’t always productive or even possible (Que mum guilt)!

His maths are great and he always gets top marks in maths homework too – he just seems to click with that…and science too is something he talks about endlessly on those days, but English? Whilst he enjoys writing he seems to not be clicking as well with it. He isn’t particularly keen when it comes to school generally and found the new school year/new teacher set up a little worrisome, and now with his depleting test scores each week in spellings he seems to be feeling more awkward and I have hoped to find something that would ignite a learning desire and help him to improve in the process.

Discovering Education Quizzes

We were asked recently to review Education quizzes, which is the most comprehensive online source of UK National curriculum to help support children’s learning and revision throughout their various stages of education. It is used by students, teachers and tutors alike with a key focus to help kids be successful at school and once you have access, you can use it across several devices at once!

Quizzes are formulated by teachers and so go along with what the kids are leaning in class and discovering it has meant that I have a source rich with fun learning materials to support both kids at each of their individual learning stages. They love it and so do I….Ethan especially has been rather passionate about it and it certainly seems to be the answer we were searching for for that extra “kick”.

Whether for fun together around the table after school, or to test them in the areas I know they seem to be flunking, it is a valuable tool that follows the curriculum and enables us to work together to test knowledge and build upon weaknesses. Because it is written by teachers and follows the various things they have been doing in class, it instantly helps them feel comfortable as they have some recollection when faced with the questions.

I love it and have found it great for me as a parent to not only see where they are at and get a feel for what I should be doing with them outside of school (lets face it kids rarely go into depth on what they are learning once they leave those school gates), but also to know how to help them. It has given me better understanding of what they should know and be able to understand rather than me expecting too much or making tasks too simple…you can clearly see what type of questions they should be able to answer from what that have been learning at the ages of 4 & 6!

Another great thing we love is that they get a big green tick when its right and then rather than just saying whether the answer is right or wrong, it shows the child where they went wrong and teaches them more in the process too.

Both Ethan and Megan have enjoyed showing me what they know and having me help them figure out what they don’t or “can’t remember”. Ethan at 6yrs old is able to use it independently which was good for him and his confidence, and great for me to then work with Megan on reading, baking or letter formation. He also enjoys when we all sit together and discuss the tricky ones and then having the opportunity to do it again to try and do better! He has already gained a lot from the spelling quizzes and counting in 10’s and 5’s and its great to know that whilst on screens and having fun, they are also being productive!

For Megan at 4.5 she loves to do the 2D/3D shape quizzes from KS1 and upper and lower case letters. It is not only helpful for her education, but it has been great for some sibling bonding too. Their teachers have suggested recently getting Ethan to help Megan with her writing and letters, since they moved her up a level (and thought he would be useful in getting the potential out of her), and he has delivered. He reads them out and asks her the questions…they discuss and he is never shy of praise when she gets it right…

Our kids don’t have Ipads or tablets and rarely use computers at home either…their screen time simply comes in the form of films or children’s TV whilst I frantically prepare dinner, or need an extra 15 min snooze on a morning, so being allowed on my precious laptop after school  to “work” (study) has been both exciting and helpful for us all. Its great to get a balance of fun, screen time and education and I can already see the benefits of this site for sats and GCSE revision too in the future.

Subscription is £9.95 a month and can be cancelled at any time – useful for spontaneous revision sessions with older kids. But for me with 2 kids (one in YR1, one in Reception) I find that broken down over a month really isn’t much at all to help them in their learning and education and to have a source to bring us together to support them in their work. It is something that could come out with us to pass the time on journey’s too, but wherever we choose to access it, we are confident it is good and coinciding with the curriculum they are learning at school!

If you are your kids are interested in Nature too, then why not check out Education Quizzes daily nature blog here.

*This post is sponsored by Education Quizzes and is our honest thoughts and opinions of their site. 

 

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Yesterday both Ethan and Megan went back to school here in Yorkshire, and of course for Megan it was starting full time in Reception! They were both little eager beaves with Ethan up and in his uniform by 7am and Megan not far behind him. I was impressed with how naturally they strolled in, how positive they both were, and aside from a brief “I’m scared” from Megs thoroughly enjoyed the 1st day of Yr 1 and Reception. They say very little about their days, but from hearing they played together at lunch and seeing them in their Pjs by 4pm vegged out. I think its safe to say that despite previous emotions, this chapter is going to be Okay!

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So now they are back in school, we also find ourselves at that time of year again where they are choosing what (if any) classes, sports or interests they want to pursue outside of school. Last year it was Street dance for them both which they seem keen to pick up after the summer break, and which was brilliant to see whenever some dance tunes came on. And then on a Saturday morning, Megan also did ballet, which she quickly packed in back in June when she found out she was to do a show…she had been doing it for almost a year and I imagined perhaps she was in it for the long haul, but the show seemed to scare her off and I was happy that she had given it a chance, and so let her have a break…she now however is undecided if she wants to go back as is missing it.

I never did Dance as a kid or Teen and so I guess I don’t know how she feels, for me it was all about drama and I was never put off from doing shows as I loved performing, and then along side that it was attempting to play sport. I loved to play hockey and Netball though I was never particularly good at it, it didn’t stop me trying! I gave rugby a go and would have liked to have learnt an instrument too. But in high school I got a lot of enjoyment and learning from being in the Air cadets, and as I was growing up, and long before having kids I knew that if I was to have any, that I wanted any extra curricula things to be their choice. I wanted to be a parent that would be willing to let them give anything a go as long as they stuck at it for at least a term, I wanted to give them opportunities and find out early on what they were into, whilst learning too that you can always try new things if it takes your fancy!

I felt early on that to give them the condition of at least a terms commitment, it would mean it was ample time to get a feel for it, we weren’t throwing money away as you usually pay upfront, and they would learn to stick things out and give them a chance. I really think its good for them to pursue an array of interests to really find out what they will be into, and I hope that now it is our reality, by giving them that “At least a term” condition, it will teach them to take ownership of choices and learn to think about things and not quit too soon.

I think taster sessions help in making these choices, and a couple of weeks ago during the holidays we were invited to the Hilton in Leeds to participate in “Get kids into Golf” hosted by Online golf. It is a sport I have never played (other than the crazy variety on dates) and therefore something I probably wouldn’t have previously suggested as an option to the kids as an extra curricula activity. This however was a great opportunity for a taster for them both and whilst neither of them were particularly good they had fun and were VERY enthusiastic, and have shared the experience with many people since.

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Whilst they have mentioned several classes they want to enrol in this term, this morning brought golf into the mix too and I have seriously considered it for them as an option because of how much fun they had and also because of the reasons Online golf give as it being a great option for kids

  1. More kids can play golf! For golf you don’t have to be tall, strong or fast or lean. Successful golfers come in all shapes, sizes and ages.
  1. It’s low-risk! Chances of injuries in golf are very small to non-existent compared to other popular sports like football or rugby. Being no-contact, golf is a very safe, respectful sport.
  1. It’s healthy! Golf is an outdoors sport giving kids the opportunity to exercise al fresco whilst enjoying nature.
  1. It creates bonds with friends & family! Whether your kid plays golf with family members, friends or takes lessons with a pro, mentoring and playing together will create unique and close bonds that will last a lifetime.
  1. Your kid will learn important life lessons! Playing golf, kids will experience highs and lows, from the first hole-in-one or birdie to a misplaced shot in a bunker. Golf will teach your kid that though we can’t always win, we always have another shot in life and skill comes with practice.

Whilst I like all of these reasons, of course it isn’t solely my choice and at the moment it would seem they don’t want to sacrifice other options to pursue it. I was thinking though that perhaps in the near future when I don’t have a babe in arms and can join them, they will be keen to give it a go on a more regular basis and we can make it a family affair. I really imagine that would be a lot of fun for us all especially with the laughs we had when trying the various skills!!

But as for this new Autumn term I have said that they can pick 2 classes each, firstly because we probably couldn’t afford much more than that but mainly because if we are not careful we can over schedule kids and not give them time to just chill and this is something I worry about. Even the one class they were doing last term became tiresome for them towards the end and they got the point where it became a chore, I can only imagine what things every night of the week would do to them over time. And so we are going to try just 2 a week, and after much deliberation for the last 6 weeks, Ethan is keen to do football and continue in Street Dance (though I was hoping he would look into musical theatre) and Megs is flitting between Ballet, Street Dance and Gymnastics, with only a week to go she really needs to settle on something!

Either way I really love to see them enjoying time with peers doing things they have taken an interest in, and having opportunities to attain things to share in their Praise Assemblies and show family too. I love that they have their little hobbies that they have chosen and I am so very much hoping their commitment and enthusiasm for school and learning continues and that through it they will soon find a passion they can throw themselves into for years to come, whilst not being afraid to try new things along the way.

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What classes and hobbies do your kids like to do out of school and how do you approach it?

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