I think something strange happens to time in the final week of term. Each day seems like a week, each morning seems like a day with kids and parents dragging themselves ever more reluctantly out of bed, and each afternoon seems like an endless battle to calm fraying nerves and pacify exhausted children.
It's hard to believe that two years have passed since my eldest son started school. It really has flown by, and next week he will leave the infant class years behind him. Those early drawings of the family with sticks for legs and tree-branches for arms, those carefully traced letters and terribly important news reports of friends going swimming at the weekend will be filed away in the 'Junior and Senior Infants' folder, with a new 'First Class' folder on standby.
So, the summer holidays loom large and the schedule of activities to keep the kids occupied remains worryingly empty. Of course there are plenty of Summer Camps being organised around the country, but they don't always come cheap and there is also the element of being tied to the dates once you book. Sometimes, I prefer to be a little more spontaneous - particularly to be able to take advantage of any rare, sunny days which may be heading our way (finer's crossed). And while I'm sure I will fill up the activity planner with plenty of exciting, adventurous things before the end of June (gulp), in the meantime I do have one fail safe activity ... click to read full post & comments
Each week, my son's class start by writing their 'News'. This is basically a little re-cap of whatever they have been doing over the weekend. I suspect that most 'News' centres around highlights like eating ice creams, dressing up as Iron Man or finding a sticker in the packet of Moshi Monster frubes.
With Father's Day fast approaching (June 17th), I thought this would be a good time to focus on the Dads out there - or rather, the Dad's-to-be. It still surprises me that so much of the focus of new parents is placed on the mum, with poor Dad hardly getting a sideways glance (other than for useful things like assembling cots and carrying tins of paint around for the new nursery). So, I was pleasantly surprised to see a new book by the founder and Editor of dedicated Dads website dad.ie
In my role as a freelance journalist and blogger, I often get sent press releases about new services and products for children, from food, games, clothing, books and medical products it would seem that there is no end to the 'stuff' that brands can market to us vulnerable, product-hungry parents.
So, the weather may not have been the, erm, best just recently but are we really surprised? Nah! But aside from the fact that the grey skies and howling wind don't make for the best of moods, it's no joke trying to keep the kids entertained when they can't get outside to run off some of that energy (I have two boys and they have a LOT of energy to get rid of!)
It is that time of year when parents like me, whose child will start school in September, have lots of conversations about this significant milestone. We can’t believe our ‘baby’ is going to school. We can’t believe they have grown up so quickly and we can’t believe that they are ever going to be able to put their straw into their juice box ‘all by themself’ without spilling it everywhere.
With the May Bank Holiday looming, and then the long summer holidays, the prospect of long car journeys with the children may not fill you with joy! We've all been there - setting out full of good intentions for a calm, harmonious journey, only to end up threatening to stop the car, or turn around and go straight back home after 20 minutes.
I've blogged here before about how shocked I am to read reports and statistics showing that a high percentage of children don't get a bedtime story. I really believe that it is never too early to introduce children to books and to create an interest in books and reading. I grew up on the stories of Winnie the Pooh and Beatrix Potter, with the adventures of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Tiggywinkle all becoming firm, childhood favourites. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is Potter's best-loved story and Peter is, arguably, one of the most enduring characters in children's literature.
Young school children – that’s who. But according to recent research, over two-thirds of school children are not getting enough sleep and the average six-year-old doesn’t go to sleep until after 9.30pm.
For years now, I’ve been warning my kids about ‘The Man’. You know, the one who watches them and will come and arrest them (or something like that) if they throw food in restaurants or climb up, instead of down, the slide in the playground. ‘The Man is watching,’ I whisper, pointing to a Security Guard or someone similarly officially-attired. ‘I’d behave myself, if I were you, or he’ll be coming over to have words.’
So, the shops are drowning in Easter Eggs (some have been drowning in them since the week after Christmas, but the less said about that the better). Big ones, small ones, HUGE ones, cartoon character ones – there is pretty much something for everybody. Everybody, that is, who likes chocolate.
So, we reached a decision a few weeks ago. Daddy would give up chocolate, mummy would give up wine and the children would give up watching cartoons. I didn’t give any of us much hope of lasting more than a week, but as we head towards the home stretch, I have to say we have done remarkably well. Especially the children.
We've all experienced those moments in the supermarket when the kids catch sight of something they've seen advertised on TV and start nagging for you to put it in the basket (or just put it in the basket themselves as a surprise for you when you get to the checkout).
Thursday 1st March is World Book Day in Ireland and the UK. World Book day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and is now celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide. A main aim of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own by redeeming a book voucher for one of eight books which have been selected for World Book Day 2012.
So, we have somehow already reached Pancake Day and Lent. What’s not to love about Pancake Day – perhaps the only night of the year when I can guarantee that I will have clean plates and the children will have full tummies (we’re going for a record of 7 this year, apparently).
There comes an inevitable time in every parent’s life when they will see their child develop a crush on a member of the opposite sex. At the age of 25 – I’m hoping, and not before!
Most parents have been stumped at least once, and in my case many, many times by a tricky question produced by the inquiring minds of their children. The ‘but why’ phase seems to start around the age of three and, as far as I can tell so far, probably never stops.
I will never forget the day when I popped into the local Spar for a loaf of bread. It was lunchtime, I was a new mum on maternity leave and I thought this would take a couple of minutes. It didn’t. It took FOREVER because I hadn’t factored in the deluge of kids from the local secondary school who had just descended en masse to buy their wedges and sausage rolls and crisps and pop and sweets for their lunch. I now know to avoid any of the shops at lunchtime!
Phew! We made it. Four months of Christmas holidays, over. It was four months wasn’t it? Or was it five? I think it was four – it certainly felt like it.
In the recent budget, a proposal was announced to abolish the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative with immediate effect. This incredibly worthwhile initiative supports modern languages in over 550 schools nationally with a core team of just 6 people, providing training, resources and school-based support as well as funding 300 visiting teachers who deliver the language programme in schools nationwide, all within a budget of under €2 million.
I saw a Christmas advert recently which made me laugh, albeit sarcastically. It’s the John Lewis one set to the song, ‘Please, please, please let me get what I want.’ In the ad, we are led to believe that the little boy is thinking about all the presents he’s going to get on Christmas morning, but when he wakes up he just steps over the pile of presents at the bottom of his bed and goes straight into his parents’ room with ... click to read full post & comments
For a man who is supposed to be as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Santa seems to be making an awful lot of public appearances this year. He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere – well, at least he is according to the latest edition of Primary Times which came home in my son’s school bag recently.
Somehow or other, December is upon us and as the Christmas lights start to flicker and flash in streets and houses across the country, my thoughts turn, once again, to Christmas gifts for teachers.
We’ve all had that awful, sinking feeling on a cold, dark, winter’s morning – oh no…….work. You know, those mornings where you just cannot face work and just want to turn off the alarm, roll over and go back to sleep. And, of course, it’s the same for the children. They wake up groggy, grumpy and just don’t want to go to school.
I read an interesting piece in the Irish Independent this week about the educational benefits of traditional family board games. It caught my attention because we have recently had two birthday's in the house and a number of board games were given as presents. We've had great fun on an evening playing these games together as a family (rather than watching TV) and with most of the games being old favourites which we played ourselves as children (Connect 4, Guess Who, Operation), it's been a fun trip down memory lane also.
Straight after school today (well, after homework and fending off requests for TV and snacks), I will be sitting down with my six-year-old to help him with a stack of thank you letters for the birthday presents he received recently.
Is it just me or has Halloween gone a bit mad? The word 'Halloween' is actually an abbreviation of ‘All Hallows Eve’ i.e. the evening before All Hallows Day (or All Saints Day as it is now known, November 1st). But witches have been staring at me since the start of October. With the kids waiting desperately for their stash of 'Trick or Treat' sweets and more flashing lights outside the shops and houses than at Christmas time, I'm starting to wonder if we've forgotten what this occasion is all about with very little ... click to read full post & comments
I saw something on Twitter recently which provoked a bit of a reaction in me. ‘Can anyone recommend a DS Lite game suitable for a 4 yr old?’ the person tweeted. I resisted the temptation to reply with something along the lines of, ‘There are none. DS Lite games are NOT suitable for 4 year olds. Try a ... click to read full post & comments
Children’s TV worries me. It’s always being debated in the media as to how little TV is acceptable for children to watch before they turn into zombies - it's hard to know what to do for the best, We have always had a policy of ‘less is more’ when it comes to ‘the telly’ in our house.
Whether you are an active participant or not, the popularity of social networking is pretty hard to ignore. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and the most recent Google Plus have captured the ... click to read full post & comments
I love this time of year. The start of October, to me, means that it is now perfectly acceptable to get out the winter coats and put the sandpit back into the shed. No more hoping for a late summer - it's gone people, gone!
I like to think that I am giving my children a rounded education and varied experiences in life - even if most of it does appear to be Lego shaped at the moment (it’s a phase – right?).
With Junior Cert results out this Wednesday, there will inevitably be a lot of anxious students and parents in households around the country. Waiting for exam results is always a challenging, difficult time, whatever stage the exams are at and emotions can run very high.
Last week, my eldest child started Senior Infants. One of the discussions taking place among parents at the school gate was whether we had enrolled our children for secondary schools. Some had, I hadn’t and a mild panic set in when I was advised to get onto it straight away, otherwise my, now six-year-old, might not get a place in our preferred school when the time comes.
Going back to school this week brings with it many emotions: excitement, uncertainty, fear and joy – every child will react in their own way whether they are just starting school or getting back into the school routine after the summer break. It’s a rollercoaster ride for us all.
It only seems like yesterday that I was unpacking the lunch box and school bag and throwing it into a corner of the kitchen. "Yippee, see you in September," I cried, with perhaps just too much glee. All those frantic mornings, cramming the best part of '5-a-day' into the Toy Story lunchbox could be forgotten about for eight whole weeks......bliss.
So, the waiting is nearly over as the much anticipated/dreaded Leaving Cert results are announced this week. Just a couple more sleepless nights to toss and turn through and the remnants of any remaining finger nails to nibble before the big ‘reveal’.
My son was given a spelling exercise book from his aunt recently while we were staying with her and other members of the family. “For rainy days,” she announced. She’s a teacher – I forgave her.
With the onset of the summer comes days out, holidays, and ‘kids menus’. Now a firm part of the ‘dining-out-with-the-kids’ experience, kids menus cause me a bit of a dilemma. A dilemma, you say. Why? Well, here’s why.
I was having a quick snoop around Twitter the other day and read a tweet from a mum who blogs in the UK. The UK schools were just breaking up for the summer holidays and her tweet said: ‘Very sad listening to all the mums at the school gate today saying ‘roll on September.’ And a bit of a Twitter debate started about how parents approach the onset of the summer holidays – should we be delighted at the prospect of spending eight weeks with our children, or is it acceptable to ... click to read full post & comments
We recently received the first of our 'official' school reports. Generally delighted (and relieved) with how the first year of school had gone, I suppose I was lucky to see the envelope land on the doorstep and not instantly dread it or reach for the whiskey before opening it. We hadn't had any real problems to deal with and I could only anticipate good things in the report.
I am sure I look back on my own childhood through very rose-tinted glasses, but I do have some great memories of school summer holidays spent roaming around in friend’s gardens, going for endless bike