Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Do you have a child with a smart phone or tablet? Are they reluctant to remove their eyes from the tiny screen because someone is droning nasally on YouTube about Minecraft? Do they fail to hear calls for meals or run away from table too early in order to play Angry Birds? Let me share with you an app I came across recently that has aided our parenting and helped us to ease the Queen (aged 13, now a proud possessor of a smart phone on a super cheap but strangely comprehensive contract) into learning some self control:

DinnerTime

Seriously, I cannot recommend this free app highly enough. It works by allowing you to control your child’s smartphone or tablet from your own phone. It’s available from Google Play, the Apple App Store and the Amazon App Store. We have the Queen’s set to switch off at bedtime and we can summon her to the table at the touch of a screen. She doesn’t mind, and it can be quite funny to see how quickly she appears once I’ve used the ‘Take a Break’ function.

Of course, I want her to develop self control, but I never had the challenge of having to switch off my phone at night when I was 13. It was bad enough trying not to read under the covers. So this app enables us to help her let go of the phone without having to physically remove it from her grasp. If you are buying a device for a child this Christmas, you could install DinnerTime (or DinnerTime Plus for even more functionality) before the child has it and then bedtime screen battles will not even begin. I have mentioned DinnerTime to other parents and to a headteacher recently, and there seemed to be some keen interest. Perhaps it will help you or someone you know who’s battling in this area. It’s been a blessing to us.

A great weapon in the battle of the screens

Read Full Post »

Last week I blogged about some poetry books that I like to read with my own kids, and with the schoolchildren that I spend time reading with each week. The other resource that I use every week at school and that my gang at home have loved are a series of short stories, two in each book which come in a series as ‘A Pair of Jacks’.

There are four books in the series, written by Michael Lawrence and illustrated by Tony Ross. Each story is about 60 pages long, with large print and good pictures. What makes them great for readers all through Key Stage 2 (the Juniors to those of us who went to school before the National Curriculum) is that although there are not many words, there is much rich vocabulary and lots of fun with literary form in just a few pages.

Fiction-averse boys have enjoyed these stories as much as the girls – they are clever and humourous. They often play around with classic stories – the first one in the book shown above is called ‘Jack and the Broomstick‘ and is a parody of Jack and the Beanstalk – great for more able kids to think about how the original story has been subverted, but simple enough for the less able to enjoy aswell. This week I was reading from Jack-in-the-Box with a few of the children and we were discussing the meaning of ‘console’, ‘magnanimous’ and ‘ingrate’ as well as the frequency of orphan stories in children’s literature.

I’m planning a bit of a Jack-fest this half term with my kids – I’m going to see how receptive they are to guided reading with Mummy. Wish me luck – it’ll not be the books that are the problem if it goes wrong…

Read Full Post »

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have picked up that I help out at our church primary school most weeks, reading with kids who need a bit of a boost with their comprehension and language.

What’s been fun for me this year has been spending time with kids with a wide range of abilities – some are on a level 2 (just about reading) and others on a level 5 (top ability at the end of school). All the kids are in year 5 or 6 and they come to me in pairs and only have about half an hour.

Since there is so little time, I’m not able to listen to them read at length or discuss a long text, especially as I like to play comprehension board games (not very cheap but lots of fun) with them too. So over the time I’ve been meeting the children, I have gradually discovered some reading materials that are enjoyable to read but also short! And these are now coming in handy at home when bedtime is getting a bit late and the kids are still pleading for a story.

The best way to have a speedy story is to read poetry. For these year 5s and 6s I’ve been using Anne Fine’s anthologies called ‘A Shame to Miss’. Parts 1 and 2 are suitable for primary aged children and contain wonderful poems and occasional notes from Anne Fine, explaining context or difficult vocabulary. I’ve found these books really helpful for improving vocabulary and helping comprehension at school, and at home the kids enjoy the rhythm and richness of the verse. There’s enough variety to suit all abilities, but these are particularly good for the higher end readers.

My kids adore poems, especially funny ones and since they’ve been young we’ve had two books of poetry which we return to again and again. The first is The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems, a colourfully illustrated anthology edited by June Crebin, which is now minus its front cover and torn about the edges because it’s been so well used. The second is Mustard, Custard, Grumblebelly and Gravy by Michael Rosen. This book is hilarious, full of quirky poems about everyday situations, and has caused my children to commit poetry to memory. The first year we had the book, they wanted to spend all summer repeating ‘Tiffy taffy toffee on the flee flow floor’. They learnt it by heart and we were blessed with its silly rhymes for months.

Read Full Post »

Well, actually, it’s not Evensong, here in our more contemporary parish. But it’s our weekly 6.30pm Evening Service. And usually, the Vicar comes home at about 8pm and spends a little time with any still wakeful children (usually the Queen, sometimes the Joker). Then he and I and Happy gather around a plate of cheese and biscuits with maybe a glass of wine or port. We might pray and then we watch some TV comedy on DVD (currently Scrubs and Outnumbered). Sometimes we say Compline together before bed (an innovation since Happy, who’s far more Anglican than we are, has joined us).

A good relaxing way to finish off a very busy day. But last night Happy was out, and this is what the Vicar did when he got back:

The Vicar hard at work

Yesterday afternoon, some local kids were ‘enjoying’ themselves by throwing gravel from our front garden all over our street whilst we were in the house. They were throwing stones at my kids in the garden at one point but once I went to sit out there in the sunshine too, they desisted.

This is just a minor annoyance, but it’s this sort of stuff which wears down folk in our area who are already exhausted by daily life. The loud music played by a neighbour late at night, the kids banging the playground gate repeatedly or throwing stones, other kids smashing glass in people’s recycling boxes, cheek, rudeness, name-calling, lack of respect. Small things, but a massive headache when you live with them day after day.

We don’t know who the gravel culprits are exactly, but we have some very good ideas. Sadly, it’s mainly kids without much to do at home, or with a home situation they like to stay away from. Sunshine is lovely in many ways but it brings out the worst behaviour in youngsters who lack good boundaries and supervision.

This morning the Vicar preached from Colossians 3&4. The tragedy is that so many local children are embittered and discouraged (Colossians 3v21).

Read Full Post »

Getting up faster

Just in case you didn’t read all the comments about getting the Vicarage household up and at it, here is an excellent YouTube clip that Iconoclast shared. It shows how a Japanese mum gets her kid up, dressed, washed, toothbrushed and fed and makes a healthy lunch ready to go to school, all in the space of 4 1/2 minutes. I am wanting to put it into practice IMMEDIATELY. I just need to find a good place to hang the vests.

In other morning news, today the kids were totally speedy, induced by a new reward chart to gain additional Club Penguin and PS2 minutes. Not sure if this counts as bribery, but it was effective today. Will keep you posted.

Read Full Post »

Much flapping in the Vicarage this morning. The Vicar and I had put the lights out too late last night. Note to self: Christians on their way to heaven get to bed before eleven. As a result we were late up this morning and not chivvying the kids as early as usual.

We seemed to be getting away with it – it was 8.15am, the boys were downstairs and dressed and the Queen, so it was thought, was dressed but on the loo upstairs. We have to be out of the door at 8.40am at the latest.

Then it all started to go wrong. The Engineer had a meltdown because he wanted to practice the piano before his breakfast. As it was already 8.20am we suggested he eat first. Major strop. Then it was 8.25am and the Queen was still absent. I called up and she appeared out of the toilet. In her pjs. She’d been reading.

Following coaxing and flapping in equal measure we managed to make school just as the whistle went in the playground at 8.45am. Phew, we did it. But not everyone did.

Just as I see every morning, as I headed back home at 8.50am many stragglers were appearing down the slope that leads to the school gate. Some were with parents and being hurried, others with parents who mooched. And some kids were strolling along on their own.

When I spot kids on their own who lack a sense of urgency I like to encourage them to get one. ‘Chop, chop you’re late’ is my normal cry. It’s not always effective. But this morning I had success with a gang of lads who I see almost every morning as I head back.

‘I’ll time you – see if you can make it down to the gate in 20 seconds’ I said. It was wonderful to see them pelting down to school. They were only a few minutes late, but they are learning the habit of lateness and a lack of respect for school rules. I never see a parent with them. I’m sad for these boys and suspect that they are going to struggle to bridge the growing gap between rich and poor, reported by the National Equality Panel this morning.

At the bottom of the BBC’s report there is a graph which shows much inequality is ‘unexplained’. I wonder how much correlation you could find between a lateness and absenteeism record in primary school and future success.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: