As featured in Parentdish

Monday, 28 February 2011

Going to the theatre

On Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to the National Theatre of Scotland’s fifth birthday event in Glasgow. Afterwards while sampling some of the delightful food they had put on for us I spoke to a lady from the National Theatre about taking children to the theatre. She has a daughter a little older than mine and so was pleased when I said I like taking my children to the theatre.

She told me that there is a considerable research which has found that the number one reason why adults go to the theatre is because they were taken as a child. Schools may take them but this has no effect. It needs to be a family affair.

I can totally understand that. I think it is great that schools make the effort to take children to the theatre but I can totally see why going to the theatre for fun won’t enter many children’s heads.

Recently we told the children the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby and we all sat and watched the 1962 version of the film, with the children laughing at what they thought of as strange accents.

Schools can make subjects seem boring and so we want to show the children that all these stories are fun and exciting. My children already have a good knowledge of history and they view it as something to discover rather than something to learn.

The theatre should be the same. But there is an assumption that schools are more likely to go than families. Recently I tried booking a few shows but found that many were only showing during school hours.

A rethink needed.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Educate the Parents: Should I buy my daughter an ipod touch?

Educate the Parents: Should I buy my daughter an ipod touch?: "Daughter wants to an Ipod touch. Eldest son wants one too which led to this conversation – Junior: Can I get an Ipod Dad. It’s great. It doe..."

Should I buy my daughter an ipod touch?

Daughter wants to an Ipod touch. Eldest son wants one too which led to this conversation – Junior: Can I get an Ipod Dad. It’s great. It does everything
                         His dad: Everything?
                         Junior: Yes, everything! It even cleans the toilet.

That’s not made up, honestly. He’s got a wicked sense of humour, my boy, years ahead of himself.

Anyway at six he’s not getting an Ipod, nor the ereader he’s asked for. We’ll focus on improving the reader first of all.

But should I buy my nearly nine year old an ipod touch?

At first we said no. She doesn’t play with her Nintendo DS all that much, although that’s not a complaint. While my six year old would happily play on it all day, daughter will play on it for a while and then forget about it.

I feel that she only wants one because two of her friends have them, but at the same time I don’t want her to behind with technology. While I don’t think these things are as important as some people seem to, I do realise that my children are growing up in a different age from when I was young.

At the moment we’ve decided she’s not getting one quite yet. Maybe next year.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Reverse psychology

In six months time this year’s four and five year olds will be starting school. Some will be crying, many will be nervous, and a few will be clinging to their mum’s coats, asking to go home again.

My child however will be running into the school as fast as he can, asking his teacher to lock the door and not let that woman in.

I keep suggesting that he doesn’t go to school in August. Instead he can stay at home with me and we can kiss and cuddle all day. This is usually met with a scream of ‘Nooooooo”. For some reason he doesn’t want to and would rather go to school.

I now have a child who keeps taking his school shirt out of the wardrobe to wear and who has asked if he can start earlier.

Reverse psychology’s a great thing.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Educate the Parents: Class sizes

Educate the Parents: Class sizes: "I don’t think it was a surprise to many when the TESS reported on January 7th that 13 out of 32 councils have scraped the maximum 20-pupi..."

Class sizes

I don’t think it was a surprise to many when the TESS reported on January 7th that 13 out of 32 councils have scraped the maximum 20-pupil class size target for early secondary English and maths. Despite the SNP's pre-election pledge to reduce class sizes in primary schools, it has never materialised with the goal posts having been moved.

We would all like smaller classes. It’s a nice idea, but in my opinion there is much more to worry about. Good quality teaching and children who can be disciplined are much more important factors. Speaking to teachers who have been in the job for a long time, I am told that things are much worse nowadays and that discipline is a huge problem.

Now I have read the argument that in high achieving countries such as South Korea and Japan class sizes are large but that is hardly comparing like for like. The culture is different there and education is deemed more important by the vast majority of families. They also don’t have our behaviour problems.

There may be research which proves that class size does not impact on educational attainment, but we all know that research is not always accurate. What about common sense – the more chance a child has of receiving one to one, the higher the chance he will do well.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Not a stupid question

The other day I was having a coffee with some friends, one of whom has a child going to school in August. To preserve that child’s privacy we shall name the child Tom. So Tom say’s to his mum “Will I still be called Tom when I go to school?”

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. But I don’t mean in a funny way. I commented to the mum that I thought it was great the child had asked that question and how much I love that stage.

Children at that stage should questions everything in life and everything about themselves, and I view it as a sign of an inquisitive mind. When you’re four there should not be any stupid questions.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Enid Blyton

A has just finished reading the last in the Malory Towers’ series, and it brought back memories of how I loved them when I was her age. Like me she mispronounces Alicia’s name, although unlike me she has no excuse as I have told her how it is pronounced.

About a year ago I started to encourage her to read Enid Blyton books as today’s equivalent (a large series of books on about twenty different fairies) really didn’t engage her. When we sat reading together I could tell that she just wasn’t into them. And it didn’t surprise me; the stories were very slow.

It had been a long time since I had read an Enid Blyton book so I did cringe at a few things – the use of the word shan’t being one, but I still thing her books are great for kids.

Finland’s literacy figures have fallen slightly. Recently I read that they are attributing it to fewer boys reading for pleasure. We regularly ‘forget’ to do H’s reading homework. At the moment we are reading a chapter of Horrid Henry a night together so he really doesn’t need it. I also want them to think of reading as something fun they do with their dad or me, not something to be done for the teacher.

When Harry Potter first hit the bookshops many primary teachers were very against it, not wanting children to read it. So many of them were against the books that I remember hearing someone question a primary teacher on whether she was for or against them. It was obviously a big thing amongst teachers.

I know that the fact that it was about magic bothered some people but having half watched some of the films I have not been struck by any satanic messages running through the storylines. 

Instead of pushing children to be reading and four, shouldn’t we just be encouraging them to be enjoying books?