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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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I Want A Lunchbox…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School | Posted on 30-08-2016

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With a little over a week to go before the children head back to school there is stuff everywhere. In every single shop there is some kind of back to school section overflowing with uniform, stationary, bags, lunch bags, bottles, and every manner of thing you apparently need to survive another year at school.

Now with Little Man about to make the move up into Year 1 and Little Dude about to start his time at preschool – two mornings a week to myself!!! – the list of things we actually need are pretty short. New jumpers, shirts and socks was about all Little Man needed, and Little Dude just needed a bag to take bits to preschool in. All very low maintenance, which to be honest makes a change for my two.

I’m very lucky that both the preschool and the primary school provide lunches for my boys. I hate making packed lunches. Little Man likes a very limited selection of foods that I could provide, so gets easily bored. Both of them seem happy enough when we have the occasional picnic, but if I gave them that sort of food every day they’d both be complaining in no time.

That being said, we do own a lot of lunch boxes. Little Man has a couple that he used at his original preschool, and Little Dude has one as well. In fact his new preschool “bag” is actually a cool bag but it was perfectly sized for him and has a dinosaur on so it’s a winner.  Daddy even has a lunch box that he takes to work with him. In fact the only person without a lunch box is me…

I want a lunch box! Why does everyone else get a lunch box except me?! *insert tantrum here*

Anyway…

There are SO many cute lunch boxes out there. Gone it seems are the days of plastic lunch boxes with ill fitting flasks. Nowadays its trendy looking coolbags in a vast array of shapes, designs and styles.  I’ve been resisting the urge to get myself a lunch box for ages. Until now that is.

Joules-GuineaPigBox

I mean seriously, how cute is this?

I actually have the guys at House Of Fraser to thank for this. I love Joules designs – my Little Dude’s preschool bag is actually this but in the dinosaur print – so when they asked if I’d like one I couldn’t say no. They are a great size, supremely cute and come with a handy box inside too. Now obviously I’m not heading back to school in September, but I guess I could take food to work in it maybe. Or at the very least I’m ready for my next picnic with my boys.

Good luck to everyone heading to school in September, especially those going for the first time. You’ll be great.

First Day at School

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School | Posted on 07-09-2015

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Well this morning Little Man marched off to primary school for the first time. He was up and dressed and ready to go a full hour before we even had to leave the house. Needless to say he was rather excited. I was so proud as he waved goodbye and walked into class, clutching his book bag and PE kit, looking so grown up in his uniform.

school-uniform-sussexmummy

Hot lunches are provided at school so there was no need for lunch boxes. He’s been having hot lunches for the last year at preschool but it still seemed strange to me not to be packing him sandwiches and fruit and snacks. It is something I always associated with going to school, and something I always assumed I’d be doing, so it was strange not to go out this summer and buy him a lunch box. Even though he isn’t off today with a lunch box we still have lots of boxes and containers he could have used at home, ones we use instead for picnics, days out and even for when I go to work.

With Little Man off at school now Little Dude and I will be enjoying lots of time together. There’ll be trips to the local National Trust properties and we’ve just become members of the nearby Fishers Farm Park so we’ll be heading there once a week I expect. Snacks are a must when out and about with children, and especially with Little Dude who has a great appetite. Grapes, rice cakes and fish crackers are his snacks of choice, so I’ll be making sure his little bag is well stocked before we go out. And our containers of choice? The Nude Food Movers.

Packaging is everywhere and on food it tends to be in excess more often than not. With packaging you get waste and with waste there’s litter, especially when you’re eating out and about. Litter is something I hate, and I teach my children to always put there rubbish in the bin and not on the floor. Eliminating packaging from our picnic baskets and bags means there’ll be no litter, and that’s where the Nude Food Movers come in.

The Nude Food Movers come in a massive range of shapes and sizes, and there really is one for every need. Lunch boxes, snack pots, water bottles, stackable tubes, cutlery carriers, and even meal boxes. I bought some of the stackable tubes when Little Man was small for carrying his bits around in. People always commented on how clever they were. During the summer the team at Smash got in touch to see if we wanted some other bits to try out and we were very keen to get involved.

A lovely box of bits arrived and we’ve been really impressed with everything they offered. Bright Stackable Tubes were our favourite, but the Yogurt Mover was really clever as it has a chillable section so your food stays cold. The Rubbish Free Lunchbox is perfect for me when I go to work and need to carry a meal with me. Two removable pods keep snacks separate and because they are leak proof I can even take portions of yogurt with me. Everything fits neatly together but is kept separate and secure, and despite their compact design you can get a lot of food in them.

minilunch-sussexmummy-nude-food

Nude Food Movers are brilliant, whether you’re heading back to school, going out for picnic at the farm, or off to work. Food is well stored and you are litter free – perfect.

Starting School

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School | Posted on 01-07-2015

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At this time every year I always think how crazy it is that the stores start pushing their Back To School lines before the children have even broken up for summer. This year however is a bit different.

September will see Little Man starting school. Whilst I share the inevitable mystification as to how he can be almost 5 already, I know he is so ready to go. He needs constant stimulation and he is so ready and keen to learn. He goes to preschool two full days and one morning a week and I know its not enough for him but it is all we can afford as he is already over his allocation for free hours. I can’t wait for him to go to school – I’m so excited for him, though I know I’ll miss him terribly.

He’ll be joining a small village school a few miles away. The stress of school placement announcements in April was insane, and whilst we didn’t get our first choice we were really pleased with the school we got, and relieved to not get our catchment school which we feel isn’t right for him. We went to an information morning last week where we got a deluge of information about the school, and the inevitable uniform list. White shirts and grey shorts or trousers is the basic uniform we need, plus a blue jumper with the school logo on. There there’s the coat, the PE kit, the trainers, the school shoes, and a water bottle. The list is pretty vast, but thankfully I’ve got looking early.

Asda asked me to create a Wish List of things I’d like to get Little Man ready for his first day of school. Here’s what I came up with.

First up there’s these White Cotton Polo Shirts. Plain basic polo shirts are ideal – there’s no need for anything fancy. These are cool comfortable cotton so will be perfect for all year round wear.

Next his bottom half. They get to wear Grey Shorts on hot days and Grey Trousers during the cooler months. I love that they get a choice and he will get to wear shorts. He’s been living in his shorts since about April so he’ll be happy to wear them at school. Asda provides smart shorts which are Teflon coated for ease of cleaning for me, and comfort for him. I love the look of their trousers too which come in a great value twin pack and feature a half elasticated adjustable waist so I can ensure their fit my skinny boy. He also needs some grey socks too, and once again Asda provides exactly what I need at a great price.

For PE Little Man needs shorts in the schools Royal Blue colour which I’ll be getting direct from their supplier. But he also needs plain white t-shirts and a pair of trainers. You’re not going to get better value t-shirts than a two pack for £2 so I’ll be adding a packet of those to my shopping basket. He also needs a pair of trainers which he can put on himself, so velcro straps have been recommended. These blue trainers look ideal for him to operate himself, and I think they’ll match his white and blue uniform well. A drawstring bag has also been requested for him to store his kit in at school. I love that he’s allowed to leave his kit there, and just bring it home for a wash every half term, unless of course he gets himself muddy. He’s going to adore this Avengers bag – big Iron Man fan here.

Asda-School-SussexMummy

We have rather unpredictable weather here – despite the current heatwave. A good smart school coat is a must, and having previously had a coat from Asda for preschool, one for school is bound to be a winner. I think a simple pac-a-mac for keeping with his bag just in case and a fleece lined waterproof for colder days should see him through the year. Being set in a neighbouring village we’ll have to drive to school, but a business down the road allows parents to use their car park so there’ll be a short walk each day to weather.

We’re lucky that hot lunches are provided for free at our school for the first few years, and then even when we have to pay they are great value. Despite this he will need his own water bottle. They allow the children to keep this with them all day so they can keep hydrated whilst they work and play, so I need to make sure we get him a bottle he can open himself. This large twist opening bottle looks perfect and it has a large capacity so he will always have a drink to hand. There is the option of sending him in with a packed lunch if I preferred and I’m sure a lot of parents still do. These sectioned lunch boxes would be great. And every lunch box needs a lunch bag, so Avengers to the rescue once more. He won’t need a school bag just yet – a book bag is being provided – but I’m sure we’ll need to set him up with one soon. When we do, I’ll probably take a look on OnlySportsGear.com who have some great character bags.

That’s a lot of things, and as we were told explicitly last week, EVERYTHING needs to be named. There are a lot of great naming products out there, some of which I’ve featured on here before. But I am massively impressed with the name tags which Asda are offering, not least due to the fast and simple method of ordering them. By simply texting either NAME TAG or SHOE TAG followed by your child’s name, your house number and your postcode to a number you can get either 50 iron on name tags or 5 pairs of shoe tags delivered direct to your door. I will definitely be doing this – here’s hoping 50 will be enough!

 

Keeping School Uniforms Clean

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School, Product Reviews | Posted on 10-09-2013

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Well the children have been back at school for about a week now – or longer if you’re north of the border. Little Man had his first morning at preschool last Thursday and, despite a few tears once I’d left, coped really well. Very proud mummy. What I did notice though when I picked him up was the fact he looked rather grubby. Paint and pens on his fingers, but also sand and dirt on his clothes. To be expected, particularly when you have a little boy.
He has two tshirts which he wears as his uniform, along with some shorts when its hot and trousers when its cooler. His tshirts are a bright green colour and have the preschools logo on the front. I want to keep them looking bright and colourful right through the school year, and maybe into next as they do swamp him at present.

Washing Little Man’s clothes is a bit of a minefield as he does suffer with eczema – the perils of being related to me sadly. We have medicated cream and moisturiser to protect his skin but we do have to watch what we use to wash his clothes. Non-bio is generally the safest bet, but I do tend to use a fabric softener as well, just to make sure everything is comfortable against his skin.

Clothes will probably start getting the Persil Small & Mighty with eraser ball treatment. This works wonders on really hard to get out stains like tomato sauce, simply by popping some straight onto the stain and rubbing it in with the eraser ball. I’ll also be using the new Comfort Bright Colours fabric conditioner with his school uniform. As well as keeping his clothes nice and soft, it also works to keep them looking nice and bright too.

Best get plenty Persil and Comfort in. Based on day one, its going to be a long messy school year!

Starting Preschool With Marks & Spencer

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School, Product Reviews | Posted on 29-08-2013

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One week to go until Little Man’s first day at preschool. I’m sure he’s going to be fine. I hope he is at least. He’s often a bit nervous in new places, but we’ve been to several drop in sessions at whenever we drive or walk past he points preschool out and wants to go in. Whenever we’re there he’s perfectly happy, playing with the toys and running around the garden. I know it’ll be different being there without Mummy there too, but I’m sure he’ll settle in soon enough. The preschool he’s going to is just a small one in the village. There’s no official uniform but there was the option to buy t-shirts with the name and logo on, and jumpers too. Little Man has always been a fan of routine and consistency, doing things to same way and doing the same things with the same person. This is why we decided to get him a couple of t-shirts and a jumper. So he’d have a consistent outfit to wear. So he’d know that it was his day to go to preschool. We were told he could wear anything he wanted on his bottom half – shorts, trousers, whatever. Preschool did request no open toe sandals but otherwise any sensible footwear. When Marks & Spencer got in touch after reading a previous post on here and asked me if I wanted to look at their Back To School Range I wondered whether he should have a specific set of clothes to wear. I wondered whether a uniform of sorts, albeit not official and not compulsory would help with the settling in process. I had a look around on their website and picked out a few items which looked ideal for Little Man’s first day.

Marks&Spencers Back To SchoolFirst up I wanted a pair of trousers. I wanted something that would be hard wearing and long lasting. We’re advised by the school to not put them in anything new when they start as they do a lot of playing in the garden as well as painting and water play. There’s also lots of Playdoh going around. They are bound to get messy/wet/dirty so wearing something new would be a waste. The trousers I chose from M&S have Stormwear+. They repel both water and stains to keep them looking newer for longer. They also have Supercrease. This means the crease down the front stays there, even after washing. No extra ironing for Daddy. The trousers also have adjustable waists. Perfect for my skinny Little Man. The best thing though is that there are no fastenings on them on sizes below 5-6 years. They just pull up. As you know we have just potty trained Little Man – with incredible success, both during the day AND the night – and he is very keen to be independent. He wants to pull his own trousers down and up when he goes to the toilet at home, and I wanted to make sure he could do it at preschool too when I’m not there to help.

Back To School Shoes

Footwear was next on my list. Something smart yet comfortable. Something again which would be hard wearing and which he could take off himself if needs be. Did we mention him being rather independent? Anyway, I found what I hope will be the ideal pair. Black, leather, proper quality soles and scuff resistant. Even better is that they come with Marks & Spencer’s patented Fresh Feet technology so hopefully, even after a day running around like a mad thing, his shoes at least will still be fresh and clean. I’m sure these shoes will become a fast favourite and no doubt he’ll end up wearing them all the time. Another reason I chose them – they don’t look specifically like school shoes.

And finally whilst I was wandering – virtually of course – around the Back To School pages of the M&S website I found socks. All of Little Man’s socks are brightly coloured, socks you’d expect an almost three year old to be wearing. Some have Angrys Birds on and others feature the cast of Toy Story. Hardly the most appropriate for preschool, especially when you’re so smartly dressed otherwise! So I thought a few pairs of plain black socks would do the trick nicely. And what better way than to plump for some Fresh Feet ones. Little Man should hopefully be spending his time at preschool in comfort.

I think we can safely say that clothes and footwear wise Little Man is ready to start his preschool adventure. I hope he loves it. It’ll be very strange not having him here one morning a week, but I can’t wait to see what he gets up to.

Back To School: Essentials

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School, Product Reviews | Posted on 22-08-2013

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Its only a couple of weeks until school starts again. Little Man is beginning his educational journey in a fortnight by starting at preschool. He’s only going for one morning a week for now – being an October baby means he’ll be there for two years so there’s no hurry – but he still has a little list of items he needs to take with him. The Back To School shopping experience is one I don’t look forward to. All that mad running around looking for stationary, clothes, shoes, bags, and other items that every child needs before that first day of the new term. Luckily for us Little Man’s needs are pretty basic and generally things that he already has, like wellington boots and spare clothes.

We’ve been sent a few Back To School items to review however, and these are my favourites.

Yellow Back To School Jacket From AsdaThis bright yellow jacket from Asda is ideal for the school run. Available from age 1 right up to age 10 its great for everyone. Its shower proof which is brilliant if you have a long walk to school in the mornings and afternoons, and is nice and bright so your child will be spotted. Little Man’s preschool is about a mile from our house, right on the other side of the village. Whilst he wont be walking there and back himself just yet he’ll need to keep dry and warm in the pushchair. When he does start walking that journey this coat is going to be brilliant. We got it in size 3-4 years and its a lovely fit with plenty room for growth, so hopefully this should last him well into spring. Available in store and online this coat is a must buy and a super bargain at just £12.

Stationary is something that all children use, whether they need it specifically for school or not. Little Man wont need to take a pencil case to preschool with him, but he certainly enjoys pencils, crayons and drawing at home. Memo Etc sent us a great little parcel of items from their Remarkable Recycled range to take a look at. There was a pencil case that use to be a car tyre, recycled leather covered notebooks of recycled paper, and pens and rulers which used to be corn on the cob! All brilliant quality items and all recycled which makes them even more special. I loved the novelty factor of them as well. Its not often you find a set of colouring pencils made from old CD cases! Little Man obviously doesn’t appreciate the eco-friendly nature of these items, but for slightly older children I think they would make brilliant back to school items. Everything is reasonably priced and the range covers items that would be of use to young children starting primary school right through to older students heading to college and university.

 

Guest Post: The New Importance of Child Led Learning in Primary Schools

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Back To School, Guest Post | Posted on 19-08-2013

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Children are being encouraged to develop skills that go further than the ability to read and write. Schools are now focusing on the idea of helping children learn to become independent, assertive, confident and to develop an idea of importance. Although this is an area of focus for children of an older age, that has since changed and children as young as 5 will be encouraged to become independent and take as much control as possible for their own learning.

Studies of home-schooled children have been taken and comparisons made between those in mainstream education and those that are taught at home. Home schooled children were found to be far more independent and willing to learn, they had the opportunity to choose the areas they learnt about on each day and this not only made them far more interested and focused but they performed well during tests and exams.

Teachers are keen to work closely with parents in a home-school agreement to ensure that the need to learn educationally and with regards to child’s environment is continued outside of school. Parent mail is one of the best ways to ensure the constant communication between school and parents and this will ensure that the child is not only the main priority but that any issues are ironed out, both parties are constantly aware of anything relating to the child and the education which is taking place. PrimarySite developed the concept of parent mail for this exact purpose with this new self-directed learning concept in mind.

Within school environments, the concepts of traditional schooling and home-based schooling will be united to, hopefully, develop the perfect learning environment. The environment will be substantially more relaxed to allow children to learn, as they want to and to reduce the immense pressure that is currently put on children to perform well and to learn specific areas regardless of interest levels and abilities.

Although the curriculum will remain specific, children will now be responsible for their own learning. The rate at which they learn, the involvement they wish to have and the enthusiasm in tasks will hopefully increase dramatically with the new system and children will not simply learn just to pass tests but will take a genuine interest in their education and the things they are being taught. Not only does this concept encourage self-motivation, it also encourages children to feel relaxed at school and even enjoy themselves whilst they learn.

“Children learn the most and do their best when allowed the freedom to take control, lead the way and explore as their confidence grows.”

The classroom environment will not become a free for all, with children dominating the room, running wild and taking self expression to the extreme. Instead it will be a room that is filled with participating children that have a desire to learn and will be proactive about their education. The main purpose of the change to the traditional teaching methods is to increase student engagement, provide a good education that children are keen to have which will eventually shape and mould the rest of their lives.