This is Your Captain Speaking…..

‘This is your captain speaking. We’re currently travelling at an altitude of……’ Who cares?! I really don’t! I don’t want to know our altitude, speed or the temperature outside. I don’t care about our flight path (unless it’s through a war zone) or who the co pilot is. I just want to start my movie and relax. Thanks for letting us know we can’t smoke on the plane- we haven’t been able to for a considerable amount of time now! Instead of telling us all this useless information, here are some flight/flying rules that the general public could really benefit from., thank you captain!
1. Travel clothing- track suits and thongs have no place on a fight. This isn’t your living room, it’s public transport, not a lounge so behave appropriately. Sneakers and jeans are also not permitted. No, Jerry, no. This isn’t Seinfeld, we all want to be comfortable. You need to walk from the gate to the taxi rank, not run a marathon. The hostesses generally look immaculate and are well presented. Show them some respect and look decent.
2. Hygiene- wash your hair before you leave home, cut your nails and please wear deodorant!
3. Personal space- be patient, but don’t take an hour to put your gear away and sit down. Whilst waiting please don’t get up my arse. No part of me wants to feel your breath on my body. There’s no point in pushing. There is plenty if room for everyone, on the plane, in your seat, at the carousel and whilst boarding.
4. Leave shoes on unless replacing with clean plane socks
5. Security checks- just dress appropriately- no knee high boots, jingle jangles or heavy metal.
6. Fight or flight behaviour- don’t kick, use for support or ram things down the back of my chair. Don’t cough behind me. Don’t try to steal seats. Put your carryon baggage above your seat, not mine. Don’t move my overhead luggage. Smile, be curtious, use manners and be patient. And watch the safety demonstration. Failure to follow these simple inflight rules may end in a fight!
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Unwell? Oh well!

All too often I am presented with pale, limp children who ‘feel unwell, but really didn’t want to miss school today’. It’s. A difficult situation and presents as a bit of a nasty cycle. I have friends who tell me that they send their children to school, knowing that they are coming down with something because everyone else does it. Parents also view schools as a bit of a babysitting service, and keeping their child home when they’re unwell would result in them having to take time off work, which they simply can’t manage.

I get this. Being a teacher, if I have to stay at home with my child, it comes at great expense and inconvenience to my school. However, let me promise you this- your child is going to have a horrible day if they feel unwell at school. Even a mild temp or just feeling a little flat can have negative affects on your child’s day. Think about how you feel when you’re unwell. Feel like socialising with twenty of your mates for an entire day? Do you want to run around outside for 40 minutes  at lunch time? Or concentrate, sit up strait and work hard on a written story?? Perhaps you’d rather be at home in the peace and quiet of your bed room or tucked up on the couch? Well so would your child. And I can’t stress how early intervention leads to prevention. Take a day to nip things early on, before they lead to more severe illnesses, and please, please don’t spread the love!

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Temporary Relief

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Relief teachers are needed from time to time and may be a bit if a surprise to you. Rest assured they are great relief for both the children and other teachers! Temporary Relief Teachers, or trts, come to classrooms for various reasons.
Whatever the case, to ensure your child has a great day with them, here are some tips.
Introduce both yourself and your child to the teacher.

Ask if they need any help getting to know the routines or have any questions about things.

Let them know if you see a child doing something they wouldn’t normally be aloud to do.

Alert them to any allergy, behavioural or learning issues your child might have.

Other than that, enjoy the fresh face- the children will!

Stay cool.

Parent Teacher Interviews

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As the holidays approach, your child’s school may be offering parent teacher interviews or student led conferences of some form. This is a great chance to find out how your child has settled into the class and the routine of it all. Remember to be open, actively listen and clarify any misunderstandings. Always ask if there are any particular concerns, anything you should be doing at home or any way that you can help out.
If the teacher shares some concerns with you, try not to be defensive and remember they are on your side. You’re both there to help support your child and you both want the best, so work together, not against each other.
This is also a great time to ask any questions you have, but also to have a chat with the teacher. Try to get to know them better so you have a greater understanding of who they are and how they work. This will help you understand the suggestions and ideas they have and how they might respond to your child’s needs. You don’t need to become friends, but you do need to understand each other so you can work as a team.
As these are the first term interviews, they will probably be pretty light and informal, so don’t get too anxious about them. Good luck and remember to be positive and open. Stay cool!

Alternative Easter Presents

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These are simple, inexpensive gifts for children and adults.

These are simple, inexpensive gifts for children and adults.

Many parents and children like to give the teacher and their friends an Easter gift before heading off over the Easter break. With food allergy and cultural belief policies being very strict in many schools, here are some great ideas for gifts that aren’t chocolate!
If you do want to give chocolate or other foods as a gift, ask the teacher if it would be ok to put all the items in a basket and leave a sign saying ‘Happy Easter from Frankie! Please take one.’. That way, parents can choose whether they think this is appropriate or not. Either way, they’ll appreciate the effort and thought you’ve gone to.
Gift suggestions:
Flowers
Bread dough painted eggs, hot cross buns or bunnies
Hand made and written cards
Home baked hot cross buns
Dyed egg shells
Plastic eggs with baby chickens etc inside
Mini nests or basket templates for children to collect eggs in

If you don’t have time to make something, head to your local bargain bin or discount shop. They have loads of inexpensive options. Also check out Pinterest for some great ideas for the crafy at heart. Stay cool and happy Easter!

Sharing is Caring

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This week I’d like to share a couple of articles that I found particularly uplifting and enlightening. This year, one of my all time favourite children’s book, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ turns 45! Isn’t that amazing?! Congratulations to Eric Carle and co on reaching this wonderful milestone. Pop over to parentdish.co.uk to read an interview with the author.
Also in the UK, the Animal Welfare League of Berks County has set up a brilliant reading scheme where young readers come in daily to read to their lost and found cats. What a fantastic idea! Read the article at abcnews.go.com.
Stay cool!

The Art of Literature

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There’s one thing I truly love more than writing and that’s reading. Not only do I enjoy reading for myself, but reading with children is a wonderful experience I feel honoured to do on a daily basis. I am a huge advocate for promoting literacy skills by inspiring and intriguing young readers through well written, innovative and captivating stories. So when I read about Wombat Books’ wonderful illustration challenge, I had to share it with my followers.
Wombat Books, a fantastic publishing company in Australia, is asking school age children to submit illustrations for a picture book by Aleesah Darlison. Not only will young illustrators have the chance to get their work published in the book ‘Zoo Ball’, they can also win copies of the book and cash prizes. And they will also be acknowledged on Wombat’s website. What a fantastic opportunity for all small illustrators, but also a wonderful way to help educate children about the book making process.
For more details, head over to their website, wombatbooks.com.au. And well done Wombat Books for offering such an amazing opportunity to our young ones!
Stay cool!

Show and Show

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Does your child do Show and Tell at school each week? Have you got a schedule to follow that is stuck to your fridge to remind you of what your child should bring in to discuss in front of the class? Do you forget every week and find yourself tearing round the house at 11pm every Tuesday night looking for something blue, something with teeth or a family photo or whatever this week’s topic is, for your child to share about every Wednesday? It can be quite stressful for you and then this is what probably happens…..
After you’ve flung it at your child, saying ‘This is your Show and Tell. It’s a blue ball because you’re learning about the colour blue this week.’, she will then excitedly sit in front of her peers, greet them, show them the ball and then go silent. She has no idea what to say, because she doesn’t know why she’s holding it. The teacher will try and prompt her with some leading, open ended questions, but your child won’t be able to answer them or will have to make something up on the spot. Eventually she’ll tell the class that the reason she brought it in was because her Mum told her to. And to be honest, it’s a frustrating and boring waste of everyone’s time.
Ask any teacher and most of them will tell you that they loathe Show and Tell time! I used to dread it. It was half an hour everyday of children going through the same scenario I have just described, over and over again. This was until I threw away the Show and Tell roster.
‘But what will my child talk about? How will I know what to send in? That’s not helpful to their learning!’, parents screamed (actually, it was just one control freak who couldn’t cope with change).
You see, Show and Tell sessions should be child driven. Children should only bring something to share when they want to, when they’ve found something that excites and inspires them so much that they want to share it with their peers. Then, their session is full of passion and facts and comes from the heart, rather than just regurgitating what Dad has told them to say.
It sounds something like this:
‘On the weekend we went to the beach and I found this and my dad told me it was a shark’s egg and I wanted to know if there was a baby shark in it so we went home and we googled shark’s eggs and we found these photos and do you want to touch it? It stinks! And then……’ And as you can imagine, the class listens attentively and enthusiastically to every word. They become inspired and go home and search for things they have found at the beach or about sharks etc and then bring them in to share. It’s meaningful and fun and of interest and interesting to the individual child. Not 30 Show and Tell sessions about something blue.
Some children will want to take in their entire bedroom contents each day to share and others might only share every now and then, but it shouldn’t be forced. Your child should feel inspired and supported to share information with their peers. So next time you see them intrigued by something, suggest they take it in for Show and Tell. Help your child prepare and show and tell, not and show and show. Discuss what they could talk about and what information their classmates might find interesting. Who knows what this will lead to.
And remember, stay cool!

She’s gone nuts!

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Food allergies are a frightening reality for all parents, children and schools these days. Even if your child doesn’t have an allergy (lucky you!), it’s most likely they’ll be in the same class as several children who do. I understand that all parents want their children to eat a diverse and varied selection of foods, as I do, but if they put another child at risk of having a reaction it’s just not fair to send them to school.
As A teacher, I have to administer the epipen injection if a child has a severe reaction to something. It’s absolutely terrifying for everyone. I have never been more scared than the time I was readying myself to jab a child in the thigh with this incredibly painful shot of adrenalin if the Zirtec didn’t kick in quickly enough. I was shaking so much, I could barely function. One minute we’d been happily working away and the next, I had this child’s life in my trembling hands. And it all could have been prevented if the correct food and safety rules had been followed and the parent had not sent along this particular food in her son’s bag. As the mother responsible for supplying the offending food said, ‘I’m sorry, but my son doesn’t have a food allergy and I just forgot he couldn’t take nuts to school.’.
I get that. All parents and busy and there’s a million and one bloody rules to follow these days!
So keep things really simple for yourself. Make a list of foods and meals that are allowed. Put it on the fridge and keep a copy in the car. Buy plenty of these foods each week so you’re never caught short and always have plenty. Please don’t take the risk and think that it will be ok to send a particular ingredient along with your child because they do not have an allergy.
Children often swap lunches, food falls out of bags and children sit close together at eating times. Some highly allergic children can have a reaction to ingredients that become air born. And children aren’t great on hygiene. It’s so easy for a child who’s had a Nutella sandwich to touch a chair that is then touched by a child with a nut allergy. It’s just not worth the risk.
I know it’s a pain, but we all need to deal with this problem as it’s not going away anytime soon.
Another tip from me this week- touch base with your child’s teacher. Ask how your child is getting on and if there’s a thing you can do to help in any way.
And remember, stay cool.

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Inseparable

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Are you suffering from separation difficulties at school drop off? Do you have to put on a brave face each morning before tackling the begging, pleading, leg grabbing and tears from your child who is suffering a little separation anxiety? Hang in there! You’re not alone and this is simply a phase (and a very common one). Although you may not believe me, this situation is worse for you than your child. You probably head straight to the car after leaving your little one sobbing, and have a little cry yourself.
Separation anxiety is a common issue with many children. The issues lies with the actual separation itself. Many parents like to hang around the classroom, linger in the hallway or even pop back after to five minutes to make sure their child is ok. This only makes things worse. Your child is having trouble separating from you. If you draw out the process or hang around, they can’t understand whether or not you are leaving and therefore become even more upset. They cling to the hope that if they keep crying you might change your mind and stay all day!
If you don’t plan on doing this, and I advise strongly against it, here are some strategies to help you through this phase.
Make your farewells short and snappy. Don’t linger, help settle or pop back to check up on them. Say you goodbye, give them a hug and then vamoose. Scram. Straight out the door.
Make sure you always say goodbye and remind your child you will be back to pick them up after school.
Be positive. Remember children will pick up on your anxiety, nerves and attitude. If you tell them they’re going to have a great day and leave with a smile, this will fill them with confidence and make them more relaxed.
Discuss strategies with the teacher. Maybe he could have some special activities set up for your child to go straight to when you leave. Is there an assistant who could sit with your child to help them settle?
You can always call or email the teacher a little later to see how they’re getting on.
I’d also advise not helping at school with hearing reading or going on school excursions until this is sorted. It can just add to the confusion for your child.
Remember it’s just a phase, and trust me when I tell you that your child settles the instant you leave. They can see that you’ve left and move on to an activity that they enjoy.
Stay cool!