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Anti Bullying Week 2017

November 14, 2017 | Leave a Comment

We’re backing Anti-bullying Week 2017. It is being held between the 13th and 17th November and is organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

You can follow this years’ Anti-bullying Weeks’ events, tips and articles with the following hashtags:
#AntiBullyingWeek #AllDifferentAllEqual @ABAonline

This year’s theme is ‘All Different, All Equal’ and we can celebrate what makes us #AllDifferentAllEqual

Why get involved in Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017?

October 1, 2017 | Leave a Comment

Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017

Why get involved in Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017? As a mother of a Dyslexic child I know that it is important to create a Dyslexic friendly society, and Dyslexia Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to do just that! There are plenty of ways to get involved and plenty of resources available on the internet and in local Libraries, and schools.

The British Dyslexia Association has lots of ideas on their website, along with free downloads and a free toolkit. You can check out the daily themes from the British Dyslexia Association here.

I found the following important when I realised that my son had problems with reading and writing and recall;

Early Diagnoses

If you think that your child is having difficulties, don’t leave it to late! I found a local independent Dyslexia Consultant, who gave full diagnostic testing, alongside a plan of action for the school to follow. With this in place we could access dyslexia friendly teaching and support.

Reasonable Adjustments

It’s really important to ensure that all reasonable adjustments are made by school, society and at home to help your child reach their full potential. Don’t be afraid to ask for changes to be made!

Information and Strategies

Never underestimate the amount of information available out there! Along with strategies, the volume of information out there will best prepare you and will help you to create an accessible learning environment for your child, and will also help you to educate others on the importance of creating a Dyslexia friendly society for all!

This special week is a fantastic opportunity to share knowledge, and to support and learn from those with Dyslexia.

Please use the hashtag #positivedyslexia2017

The British Dyslexia Association: www.bdadyslexia.org.uk

dyslex.io, a one stop site for everything you need to know! www.dyslex.io

Other Resources:

Barrington Stoke: Books in Dyslexia friendly fonts.

Nessy Learning, fun interactive computer learning for children in Primary schools: www.nessy.co.uk

#positivedyslexia2017

This special week is a fantastic opportunity to share knowledge, and to support and learn from those with Dyslexia.
Please use the hashtag #positivedyslexia2017

Written by Frankie Gray for Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2017

Top Tips for Starting School

August 7, 2017 | Leave a Comment

Starting School

For children moving on to primary school it can understandably be a scary time. This is true for parents as well. Every child will have a different experience when it comes to starting school, so sometimes it can be helpful to have a ‘helping hand’ and some advice available.

Tips to help your child with the transition:

Change can be a big thing for children and starting school is a big one. It may help to start to discuss the topic of school sooner rather than later so they are aware of what to expect. To help ensure a smooth transition, have a go at:

Chatting to them about school

Ask them questions like, ‘are you looking forward to starting school?’, ‘do you have any questions?’ or ‘what are you most or least looking forward to?’. Talking to them will help them to understand what they can expect and helps to answer any questions they might have.

Reading books that are all about starting school

In preparation for the first day, have a look into some books that are about going/ starting school. These are great to read to your children over the holidays or at bed time. They are specifically designed for children to help them to understand the process of going to school.

Visiting the school

Arrange a few organised visits to the school . Visit with your child so they are able to get a feel for what it will be like before their first day.

Getting into the routine

A good way to ensure an easy transition into school is to implement a simple morning routine. Have a go at practicing getting up at a certain time, getting dressed into uniform, eating breakfast and leaving on time to help build up a strong routine. Then have a go at making the journey to school so they are able to see how long it will take. It will also give them the opportunity to see what the journey to and from school will be like each day.

Enjoying your time off together

Prior to your child starting school, make plans for the remainder of the days that you have off together. Especially if your child is feeling a little anxious or worried, by taking part in a few fun activities it can help them to focus their mind on other stuff.

Not getting over emotional 

Children easily pick up on emotions. If you are anxious or worried this is not going to help your child. It is normal to feel worried for your child’s first day of school but try to relax and remain calm. This hopefully should then reflect onto your child.

 

Are you first day prepared?

Checklist: A few things to ensure…

  1. Have you bought all the necessary school uniform and PE kit?
  2. Is all their uniform and equipment labelled to prevent confusion and things getting lost?
  3. Does you child need a lunch bag or box and if, so have you got one ready?  For your child’s new adventure, it may be nice for them to have a new lunch box that they have chosen them selves.
  4. Do you need any other equipment? For example: a bag, a book bag, any stationary.
  5. Do you know who is going to be taking and picking up your child from school each day? It is a good idea to let them know each day who is going to be doing the ‘school runs’. You may have arranged for a nanny or a child minder to collect them from school each day. It is extremely important that your child is aware so they know you to look out for at the end of the day. It is also a good idea to let the school teachers know, so they can help your child find their guardian.
  6. Do you know your roll? Do you have to drop them off at the gates or in their classroom?
  7. Are the school aware of any medical conditions? This is an absolute must! The school needs to be aware of any medication to be administrated or what to do in case of an emergency.
  8. Does the school have your most recent contact information? An essential thing that needs to be done whenever you change or update your mobile number or email.

Make the Transition easier

Starting school for some children, will mark the first step to independence. For others it might just be a simple transition from Nursery to Primary School. You may be worried that your child may struggle to cope with the independence and not having you there to help carry out daily tasks.

To make the transition easier, make the necessary adjustments sooner rather than later. Have a go at practicing the tasks that you find your child struggles with in preparation for their big day. For example:

  • Going to the toilet
  • Washing and drying their hands
  • Opening their lunch box/ water bottle
  • Getting dressed after PE lessons.

Tackle any issues prior to their big day. This can help with any worry or anxiousness they might be having.

Starting school is undoubtedly a huge step. However, it is also a hugely exciting time as well. Make sure that your child has everything ready for their first day and all questions that they may have, have been answered. Enjoy the summer break and good luck to all children and parents kicking off this new adventure in September.

Written by Emily Martin for Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2017

We are supporting Anti Bullying Week!

November 17, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Anti-bullying Week 2016 is being held between the 14th and 18th November with the theme ‘power for good’ and is organised by Anti-Bullying Alliance.

You can follow the Anti-bullying Weeks’ events, tips and articles with the following hashtags:
#antibullyingweek #powerforgood

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Do you Know how to help Children Love to Read?

November 4, 2016 | Leave a Comment

For the next couple of weeks the BBC’s LovetoRead campaign will be taking place and the time to start reading is now. The LovetoRead campaign promotes and encourages us to read. And for children, this is an important skill to learn and to continue with their development.  Reading is an important life skill that we must all know and on the weekend, the 5th and 6th of November, the LovetoRead weekend will arrive and the opportunity to stop what you’re doing, sit down, relax and read a book you enjoy will be here. Over the course of this campaign, it will be celebrated by many different platforms such as TV, where programmes on Saturdays on BBC 2 will be ‘Books Nights’ which shall involve reading and viewing different authors and much more. Also on radio 2, there will be a host of Authors spending time on the radio talking about their individual books and the enjoyment of reading and there will also be a social media campaign where you can communicate with fellow book readers and make or receive suggestions on books.

Here is a list of our top 5 books for Babies and Toddlers

  1. Dear Zoo – A child friendly book that allows children to lift up the flaps to discover the different animals the zoo has sent with colourful sketches and intriguing animals.
  2. Can’t you sleep little bear? – A lovely illustrated book that tells a story of how big bear cares for little bear who is struggling to sleep
  3. The Gruffalo – An intriguing story of when a mouse came face to face with different animals including a Gruffalo. With Strong colours and a clever story
  4. Dr Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! – A beginning into the world of the alphabet where imagery and creativity is used to begin the learning of the alphabet
  5. Winnie-the-Pooh – In this classic tale of Winnie-the-Pooh, follow the journey to the North Pole with the other animals in this visually stunning and fun story.

Here is a list of our top 5 books for Pre-schoolers/Primary School Children

  1. Don’t be Horrid, Henry! – In this fun tale of Horrid Henry when Perfect Peter is born, Horrid Henry is trying his best to get rid of him but not succeeding. This book is perfect for early readers, with fun pictures.
  2. Mr Tickle – This funny book is perfect for early readers looking for a challenge while having some fun enjoying the comedy and images of Mr Tickle
  3. Fantastic Mr Fox – This challenging book will really push your child’s reading skills with an interesting tale of “farmer versus vermin”
  4. Mary Poppins – The classic Story of Mary Poppins, a special nanny that uses the art of magic to make this story a very exciting read, this story is one to really intrigue your child and further their skills in reading.
  5. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone – In this incredibly popular story that follows the character Harry Potter on his adventure into his First Year at Hogwarts. A much more difficult read but one that will sure improve your child’s reading skills and challenge them to a much longer book.

Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2016

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Are you Big School Ready?

August 14, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Be Big School Ready with our Guide

Starting school is a new experience that everyone, child or parent, experience in a different way. No school journey is the same and therefore you sometimes need a helping hand when starting the process. If you have never experienced your child starting school for the first time, then this guide is a quick and easy great read for you.

School being a positive topic of conversation

Some children struggle with change; understandably school transitioning is a difficult time.  However, the process of change can be simple and easier to deal with if they are tackled with early, by making the topic of school a daily or weekly positive conversation within your household through many different activities.

Here are six simple yet useful tips:

  1. Changing their bed time book to their new school’s brochure. Creating excitement and a positive image, just like a bed time story.
  2. Highlighting that their friends from Pre-school or childminders are going to be there, and discuss all the fun things they will be able to play with together. Demonstrating that there isn’t going to be a massive change
  3. Create a game out of their new morning routine: waking up, having breakfast and getting dressed into their new uniform. This means they are practicing their new routine but it is also made fun & exciting
  4. Ask them questions- How do they feel about school? Are there any concerns or worries? & even better, let them ask you questions. But make sure you don’t display signs of nervousness, as they will pick up on that.
  5. Start discussing the school transition early, starting sooner rather than later means the move is less drastic. Plus, it makes the future change easier for both of you to get prepared for and used to.
  6. Look back at old photos of yourself at school or their older siblings- demonstrating that everyone has to go to school and that everyone has fun

Be Prepared

If your child has never attended childcare or pre-school before going to big school, they may struggle with the adjustments of not relying on their parents all the time. To make the adjustments easier, you can focus on and practice the hardest tasks:

  1. Lunch Time- Whether they have packed lunches or canteen, spend time practicing feeding themselves. If they are going to have a lunch box, make lunch at home fun by letting them have their lunch out of their new and exciting lunch boxes
  2. Washing & Drying Hands- Make sure to highlight hand washing, school is busy and a rush therefore highlighting hand washing is important as they will very easily forget during the excitement of new friends and lunch time, especially if their mum isn’t nagging them to wash their hands!
  3. Using the Toilet- Spend time practicing the easiest and most efficient way of going to the toilet, e.g. undressing and re-dressing themselves, and wiping correctly
  4. Personal Hygiene- Discussing simple things like using a tissue when they have a runny nose or sneeze and putting their hand over their mouth when they cough. Plus, washing their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing and going to the toilet
  5. Keeping Tidy- Tidying up at the end of the day, or before lunch will be an important part of their first few years at school. Therefore, emphasizing keeping their bedrooms clean or tidying up their toys at the end of the day is an easy way to ease them into cleaning up after themselves at school
  6. Responsibilities- As they get closer to school, you could start giving them little jobs around the house to highlight their importance and also to show them that they will have to help others when at school
  7. Getting Dressed- Learning to get dressed without their parent’s help is very important as they will have physical education some days and therefore will need to be able to get themselves ready quickly.

Therefore, spending time teaching them how to get dressed is very important and can be done when they are practicing their new morning routine (in the section above)

Your own ‘Personal Survival Checklist’ for the weeks ahead

  1. Knowing drop-off and pick-up times
  2. Where the drop-off and pick-up points are
  3. Who is picking up and dropping off your child: if you have a childminder do they know that they are doing school runs, and does your child know who will be picking them up. In the first few weeks, teachers will be very aware of who is picking up and dropping off their pupils. Therefore, its best to also make sure they are aware that multiple different people will be collecting/dropping-off your child.
  4. Do you have all the necessary equipment and uniform- PE Kit, book bag, enough school uniform etc.
  5. Do you know if school canteen is provided or if your child has to take their own lunch? If you have to provide a lunch, do you have a lunch box ready and are you aware of other school children having allergies and therefore are aware of foods you can and cannot pack in their lunchbox.
  6. Is everything name ready? Making sure every piece of uniform and equipment has your child’s surname on it is a great way of making sure nothing of theirs gets lost or taken by another pupil by accident. – this is also a great way of helping your child learn their own name, and can be something you practice over time.
  7. Finally, do you know what day school starts and what time? Some school’s may do half days to settle their pupils in, therefore make sure your work timetable is ready for the first few weeks ahead

What to Expect During the First Few Weeks

Every child reacts differently in their first few weeks, so there are different things you could expect:

  • Influenced by Other Children-

As they are starting a new school and meeting new children, they can easily be influenced by other children and therefore be prepared for answering back or saying things they would never normally say. But you can nip this in the bud by highlighting the fact that this behavior is not tolerated at home etc. If their behavior is really worrying you, feel free to go into school and speak to their teacher about these changes.

  • Expect Behavior Change-

Some children may find it difficult to deal with the transition of being away from their parents for a long period of time. So be prepared for your child to become clingy and upset in the mornings when saying good bye, or not wanting to get up and get ready for school.

  • Finally, remember to keep an open mind and be prepared for all different eventualities.

Remember that every child reacts differently to big school and some will find it easier than others, but if your child is struggling, don’t let this stress you out as over time they will quickly adapt and fit in well.

Harmony at Home Limited. All Rights Reserved, 2016

be big school ready school holiday nanny, afterschool nanny childcare london

Once upon a time….

January 22, 2016 | Leave a Comment

The Ancient Roots of Bedtime Stories

Next time you settle down to read a bedtime story to your child, you might want to reflect on the following tale….

Once upon a time, in a language now long extinct, your ancient ancestors may have shared the same, or very similar tales with their own children, as they huddled together around an open fire.

Results from a study, published this week, suggest that some of our most popular folktales, such as Beauty and the Beast and Jack and the Beanstalk, have ancient roots (pardon the pun!) which may date back to the Bronze Age—when giant beanstalks covered vast swathes of Europe! For many researchers this is a surprising result; as, previously, most traditional folktales were thought to have originated in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, these results point to an ancient oral tradition in which stories have been passed from one generation to the next for up to six thousand years. Although the characters and settings of the stories may have changed, the plots have remained largely intact; despite a huge diversification in the languages and cultures that now share them. It’s only in relatively recent times that these stories have been finally committed to paper.

As well as the great cultural and historical significance of this finding, folktales also have an important educational value. For example, storytelling is well known to have an important positive influence on language development and comprehension among young children. Many folktales also carry a strong moral message. For this reason, they continue to provide a huge source of inspiration to modern authors. For example, the plot of the Gruffalo is derived from a folktale from China. In an age of rapid social change and technological progress, it is comforting to know that the weird and wonderful imaginings of our ancient ancestors can still educate and entertain and, in some cases, scare the living daylights out of 21st century children!

Reference

Sara Graça da Silva, Jamshid J. Tehrani, 2016. Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales. Royal Society Open Science.

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016.

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Government Consultation

January 15, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Wraparound Childcare and Holiday Clubs

Our recent article, Childcare Information for Parents, highlighted the lack of information currently available to parents regarding wraparound care (before and after school) and children’s holiday clubs. In both cases, this is largely down to a lack of provision. Well, perhaps someone in government has been listening, as the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has since announced a consultation in this area, which could give parents the ‘right to request’ wraparound childcare and holiday care for all children from Reception to Year 9. In order to help deliver on this request, childcare providers would have the ‘right to request’ the use of school facilities and buildings when the school is not using them.

The government is currently seeking the views of parents, carers and schools in order to help formulate their plans. Therefore, if you would like to contribute your views, please use the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/wraparound-and-holiday-childcare

This consultation continues until the 29th of February 2016.

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016.2015-10-25 12.39.07

Early Years Determinism

January 8, 2016 | Leave a Comment

How critical is Early Years Education?

There has been a dramatic shift in eduction funding in the United Kingdom in recent years, away from Higher Education towards Early Years (from age 0-3). This change of emphasis is based on the results of neurological research, which suggests that the Early Years are of critical importance for shaping long-term mental development. Indeed, the early years are frequently portrayed as a  short window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential. This has given rise to the term ‘Early Years Determinism’. The phrase ‘Foundation years’, coined by politicians in the UK, further reinforces the importance of early education. It suggests that, if the foundations are firm, the building has a good chance of success. However, if the foundations are bad, it also implies that the building is inevitably doomed to topple and fall, no matter how much effort you put into building it! This all places a lot of extra stress on parents, nannies and carers. The implication being that, if you fall short of expectations in the first three years of parenthood, then your child is condemned to a future of underachievement! Therefore, if your child can’t read the Financial Times by the time they start school, everything is lost! But, is the concept of Early Years Determinism based on reliable scientific evidence?

The most frequently cited evidence in support of Early Years Determinism comes from General Ceausescu’s Romania. After the downfall of Ceausescu, countries in the West were appalled by the extreme levels of child neglect evident within the nation’s state-run orphanages: where children were malnourished, unloved and imprisoned in their cots for up to 23 hours a day without any adult interaction or stimulation. There have been several scientific studies on the effects of this extreme neglect on the long-term development of normal cognitive function. The results of one of the most comprehensive studies revealed that, after several years of adoption in the West, 46% of children, who were deemed ‘globally intact’ (from a total of 54), continued to suffer significant functional impairment in at least one domain; particularly executive functioning, language and memory. However, despite this fact, 63% of all the children included in the study (totalling 85) went on to develop normal levels of cognitive function, as measured by IQ tests, after several years of adoption. This suggests that, even when a child is subjected to the most extreme levels of infant neglect, the human brain is still generally resilient enough to adapt and recover in later life.

Despite the appalling nature of this evidence, parents in the UK should probably take heart. Although most of us would like to be better parents, our shortcomings are almost certainly insignificant compared to the extreme levels of neglect evident in Ceausescu’s Romania. For example, you may not read to your child as frequently as you would like, but the effect of this ‘neglect’ is almost certainly negligible.

As a nation, we worry far too much about the targets and tick-boxes associated with 21st century Early Years Education. Instead we should be more concerned about giving our children the freedom to be children and to explore and discover the world for themselves, through social interaction and play. By developing curiosity and reasoning, through informal education and play, we can better equip our children to determine their own future potential.

If you would like to know more about our childcare services, parent consultancy or any of our courses, please get in touch today.

Written by Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016

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What is a Forest School?

November 14, 2015 | Leave a Comment

AlexRickardPhotography and Harmony at Home Ltd All Rights Reserved

Building Dens in the Woods

All nannies and parents of budding adventurers need to know about Forest School!

Would spending time in the woods making fires and being ‘Bear Grylls’ for the day be your child’s or charges idea of heaven? Then we have an excellent woodland activity for them. Forest School is an exciting way to educate children in a natural environment.

Forest school teaches children to be able to look after themselves when in the outdoor environment. They offer a wide range of activities that stimulate children and give them the opportunity to expand ideas themselves.

What activities do the children get up to?

There are many activities for children to do, such as:
• Learning how to make and light fires safely
• Making simple hot food and drinks
• Using woodland materials to make sculptures and pictures
• Simple activities such as making themed stories on the natural world
• Woodcraft activities using simple hand tools and natural woodland resources- green wood and other plant material
• Natural play trails/rope trails
• Using natural resources or tarpaulins to build Den’s
• Finally games to promote the importance of environmental awareness

These Forest School’s are usually on weekly basis and therefore as time progresses, and children become familiar with being outside in the wilderness and the safe practices that they have been taught, they are encouraged to initiate their own play and use this time to develop their own ideas at their own pace. If you are a nanny you can adapt these activities and supervise yourself. You can even attend a Forest School training course and become qualified at Level 1 in Forest School teaching!

The benefits of Forest School

Forest School enables and encourages children to become self reliant and independent, which allows children to take responsibility for their own development and learning. This programme also lets children know and understand the importance for the natural world, and shows them how important it is to look after the world too.

The woodland environment lets children improve their physical strength and stamina due to regular access of varied and challenging environment and activities. As well as teaching children the importance of the outdoors, it also lets children use their imagination to write stories and create pictures of their experiences in the woods.

Plus the excitement of spending time in the natural world and feeding them information can lead to expressing their excitement and knowledge at home; leading to teaching other family members all the interesting things they’ve learnt. Resulting in possible family days out in the woods adventuring and practising all the things they have learnt whilst at school.

As well as this, when they become older their interest in the woods and adventuring could be carried on further when they start at secondary school (for example) and therefore want to take part in rewarding activities such as, D of E and therefore getting awards for their hard work and a leadership course they can put on their CV. Search for your local Forest School using a search engine and get creative and learning in the woods.

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