Easing the Transition from Primary to Secondary School

In association with ASDA

primary school

Cast your mind back to when you were 11. If you’re able to remember how you felt back then (and congratulations if you have the memory skills to do such a thing!), you’ll know how it felt in the run up to secondary school. You’ll remember the nerves and the anticipation as you made your way through primary school, only to become one of the youngest kids in the school again. No wonder some kids get incredibly worked up about the whole process, especially if they’re going to a different school than some of their best friends.

However, easing the transition from primary to secondary school is possible and, as their parent, you can be a key element in the process.

School TransitionPut yourself in their shoes

As mentioned earlier, cast your mind back to when you were in their shoes. Secondary school can be daunting for many reasons – the bigger kids, the subjects, the size of the school, the new people – its understandable that they’re feeling a little apprehension, and you will be able to be more supportive if you can emotionally relate to them.

Treat them to some new uniform

Grab the uniform checklist from the school and treat them to everything they could need. Let them pick items that they’ll feel confident and comfortable in; take them shopping with you for trousers and school skirts from George at ASDA and allow them to choose to shoes that they love. Secondary school is a great time to show off some individuality, right down to the backpack, folders and stationery that they choose. Let them go wild…within reason.

listeningListen to them

Don’t ignore their worries and concerns, and don’t shrug them off either. Listen to them and try your best to resolve their issues. Emphasise that everyone will be in a similar situation – it’s not just them that will have to face all those new people and make new friends. Everyone will be doing the same thing.

Set a routine for homework

It may not be the most fun thing that they can do when they get home from school, but the sooner it gets done, the more of the weekend they can enjoy. Encourage good homework habits early on so that they know what to expect as revision and projects approach.

Help them

It can help to be attentive and to listen to them once they’re at school, too. Make time each day to listen to them, and show an interest in what they’re doing at school. Let them know that they’re not alone and that you will help them as and when they need it. Perhaps you could proofread essays and homework, give them a hand with taxing projects or help them to revise when the exam period draws near. A supportive home life will help to keep them in the right frame of mind throughout their time at school.

Secondary school can be daunting for youngsters (and you!) but if you provide plenty of support and instil confidence into your kids in the run up to September, the move should be a smooth one.

To Celebrate World Book Day #giveaway

Where to buy books in St Albans, Herts

I think it’s absolutely shocking that 3 in 10 kids in the UK do not own books.  I’ve never counted them but I’d hazard a guess that there are between 75-100 books upstairs in my daughters room.  She has everything from picture books to non-fiction.

I appreciate for some that this is down to financial circumstances but there are cheaper alternatives.  We often have book fairs in town,  local charity shops have shelves of them and there are a few book swap schemes around.

Libraries are eventually going to fade away. (via Forbes)

If I’m completely honest I tend to buy her books.  I should make more use out of our public library but I’m dreadful at remembering to return them on time and end up paying a reasonable amount in fines.

As a busy mum, I don’t really have time to be searching through all the books online, catalogues or in the bookstore so I tend to get my books from Lisa Nichols from Usborne.  She is passionate about books/literacy, very knowledgeable and full of personality.  You have not lived if you haven’t had the chance to have a cuppa with Lisa.  I simply tell her what topics she is currently doing at school and what reading level she is at.  I haven’t once been disappointed with her choices.

One of our best investments was the Box Set of Usborne Very First Reading Books, which is a collection of 15 books.  They start with parents and child alternating reading pages and you progressively move towards your child reading independently.  There are enough books in the set to cover at least a term, possibly more.

Usborne First Reading Books, St Albans

To celebrate World Book Day on the 6th March 2014, Lisa has kindly offered one of my readers a chance to win a Beginner’s Animal Pack New from Usborne this Spring which consists of 20 titles.

Beginners Animal Pack Usborne, St Albans

Simply enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Full terms and Conditions can be found at the bottom of the form but in short, it’s open to residents of the UK 18+ and closes on the 6th of March.

Good luck and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This competition is listed on Loquax, Prize Finder and Competition Hunter.

How to get parents involved in the PTA

Ply them with alcohol and lots of it

A few months ago, I found myself at a PTA meeting, prior to this the mere thought of attending such a function would give me goosebumps.  For me PTA conjured up visions of a room full of Busybody Super Ninja Mums  (you know the type who get up at 4 am to bake cupcakes for the school cake sale and then do their hair and make-up before the school run) vying to win the mum of the year award.

‘Say no to the PTA, the school quiz and sports day’

However a friend, wanted to become Chair of the PTA (personally I think she’s mad) and for some strange historical reason she needed 7.5 votes, so with the lure of alcohol I agreed to attend and support her.  I wasn’t expecting 4 BOXES of wine.

Scratched my head at the wrong time

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere between my friend being elected as the new Chair and the end of the meeting, I somehow volunteered to organise the Christmas Raffle.  For a first attempt I think it went well, with some amazing prizes and we raised approximately £1000 for the school.

I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU  to all the companies for stepping in and helping a rather daft lady out.

Image Map

Plus, I’m also pleased to say that our school PTA is not a viper-pit but full of other like minded parents who just want to build up a sense of community within the school and to give a bit back.

Note:  Please do not approach these companies unless you already have a relationship with them like I do.



Why it’s important to show an interest in your child’s schooling

Why is it important?

We try to be as involved with our 6 year olds education as much as we can as feel genuinely believe it will help her succeed not only in school but in life.  Research shows that it’s not how much money you make or what your own educational experience was like but the things that you do at home to encourage learning that makes a difference.  By taking an active interest we are showing her that we value what she is learning at school and helps her to develop a positive attitude towards school.  She skips to school each morning, her attendance is exceptional and she loves it.

What can we do to help?

At the beginning of term we receive a letter from her teacher/school telling us what the next topics are going to be and we try to plan activities around this. This term is all about Famous Buildings.

Day trips

Things to see with Kids in London

As we are only 20 minutes away from London what better place to explore famous buildings.  Thanks to a good friend , Richard Warmsley, who knows London well, suggested a fabulous route, starting at the New Blackfriars station, which spans the Thames, we wandered along the Southbank; taking in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, strolled passed The Globe Theatre of Shakespeare Fame, salivated through Borough Market, stopped for refreshments at the George Inn, London’s only remaining galleried pub which is run by the National Trust, with fabulous views of the rather impressive Shard, then back along the Thames, across the Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral.

A very busy day but when we got back she insisted on drawing a map of our route, sticking pictures on it and writing a bit about each of the places.  Fabulous!

There must be an app for that?

She wanted to explore famous buildings on the internet and my first thought was there has to be an app for that. Low and behold there was. I found Barefoot World Atlas, which we love. It’s an interactive 3D globe that you can spin, zoom into places, explore famous buildings/landmarks and listen to Nick Crane the BBC presenter tell you all about it.  Her favourite is the Blue Mosque in Turkey.   She insisted on taking the iPad to school to show her teacher.

 Good old fashioned fun

Map of world wooden jigsaw puzzle

I can’t remember the last time I’ve sat down and done a puzzle. It’s not all just about technology in our house.  I know that may come as a surprise. We’re huge fans of traditional games and family time. We spent hours, working on this gorgeous wooden jigsaw puzzle from Wentworth’s with World Map surrounded by famous buildings including the Eiffel Tower, Parthenon and the Colliseum. I have to admit the puzzle and all 250 pieces was a bit challenging, but a great sense of accomplishment when we finished and gave us an opportunity to chat about different places and other famous buildings.

What others things we could be doing to help

There is probably a lot more that I can be doing but as a working mum, I can’t be around all the time.  At the moment I run, with another parent, a Computer Coding Club as a volunteer on a Friday at lunchtime.  I try my best to attend all parent teacher interviews and any other workshops that the school is offering (e.g Phonics, Spelling and Grammar, Numeracy and Internet Safety).

I think the most important thing I can do as a parent as she gets older is to try and stay involved, even during those years when she would rather not know me.

Are you involved as much as you would like to be?  What other things could I be doing?  Do you find as your child got older you were involved less even though you wanted to be?

Babar the Elephant Turns 80! [Review]

Babar the Elephant Turns 80The Story of Babar the Little Elephant

When I was offered a chance to review Babar the Elephant I jumped at the chance.  It immediately took me back to my childhood, I can vividly remember the illustrations of the elephants, but if I’m honest I couldn’t actually remember the stories though.  We also enjoyed an animated TV series in Canada in the late 80s.

When researching this post I learned the history of the first book ‘The Story of Babar’.   Apparently, when  one of Jean de Brunhoff’s children was sick as a child, in the 1930s, his wife, Cecile, made up a story about an elephant who escapes the jungle and heads of to the city on a little adventure, to comfort her sick son.  The children loved the story so much that they took it to their father, who was a painter and asked him to illustrate it.  Coincidently a family member was a publisher and the rest is history.

As a child myself, I never noticed that there are two different authors of the Babar books.  After Jean died at the age of 37 his son, Laurent who was also a painter carried on the series ‘to keep the memory of his mother and father alive’.

I’ve been enjoying reading the books to my daughter at bedtime.  The first one is a bit graphic at the beginning with Babar’s mother being killed by a hunter, reminiscent of the famous scenes in Bambi.  However, my daughter loves the zany adventures and we’ve also enjoyed looking up a few unknown old words like ‘shoes and spats’.

I was also a bit surprised and amused to learn that Babar married his cousin and that they were married for 50 years before having their first child.

These books would make a great present for anyone who read them as a child and would like to introduce their own children to Babar.