Special thanks to our friends at ‘Parents in Touch’ for this week's guest blog, all about what they (and their adorable mini tester!) think of our popular Little Learners range!
Little Learners is an excellent series for children 0 – 3. Each book features interactive elements to get little ones interested and the variety is fascinating – size, texture, tabs, sounds and light add to the variety and keep interest alive. All key skills are helped through the use of these books. The books are really well made too - durable as well as attractive, with soft colours and a format which links all the books together.
The Peek-a-Boo Board Books encourage little ones to peek through the pages, as they meet animals in one book and learn about colours in the other. They can also enjoy the colourful pictures which are cleverly integrated into the handle.
Two great gift ideas are Snuggle Bunny: Bunny's Bedtime Book and Cuddly Bunny and Bedtime Cuties: Animal Mobile and Storybook. The latter is a delightful mobile which comes with a cute little chunky board book to share. The former is a lovely cuddly squeezable soft bunny, coupled with a board book about a very active little bunny. Both are perfect bedtime stories and the soft colour palette is perfect for night-time.
There are two books in the Sound and Light series – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Ring-a-Ring O’Roses. There are lots of sound books around, but these the first I have seen which also light up. It's really eye-catching and my little tester was mesmerised by the lights which flash along with the tune of the nursery rhyme. Excellent for developing a sense of rhythm.
Finger Puppet Books are designed to help hand-eye coordination, interactive play and language development. Often, with this type of book, it is hard to hold the book and 'operate' the puppet, but these little chunky board books work perfectly. In The Dog I Love Best, an endearing little dog pokes his head out of the front. Act out two well-loved tales with This Little Piggy and Mary Had a Little Lamb. There's plenty to talk about and for little ones to spot in the pictures too. My 9 month old tester loved the soft textures of the puppets and was fascinated to see the puppets appear throughout the book and was looking at the back to see where they came from!
The Shaped Foam Books are unusual - they are really light foam books which have a lovely feel for little fingers. Night Night is perfect for a first bedtime story and Yum Yum introduces words and pictures relating to food. A rounded top, lightness and soft corners mean you can safely leave these with baby. All Little Learners books have symbols on the back indicating areas where the book helps - in this case first words, language development, knowledge and understanding - and the age group.
The Slide and See series is ideal for children of 1+. In fact, the tabbed pages make the books accessible for younger children - my tester can't quite manage 'normal' board books but can easily turn the pages of tabbed books. He loves the clunk as the tabs go back into place! The ever-important topic of sharing is discussed in I Can Share - basic principles stated by a group of friendly animals and reinforced by the messages on the pull out pictures. I Feel Happy helps children to share their emotions.
Every time I give my tester a book, he immediately feels every page to see if there is a special texture – he loves textures. So the Touch and Feel series could not fail to be a success! Animals, Colours, My Day and Let's Play are the titles in this series. The pictures are colourful and help your baby learn about the world around her. The textured areas are generously sized - plenty for little fingers to enjoy.
The soft plastic Bath Book has tabbed edges meaning that little fingers can turn the pages even when slippery in the bath - another one of the simple but clever ideas which epitomise this series. Read the story about Little Duck then baby can have fun squirting the toy.
Snuggle is a Cloth Book for the littlest baby. It's time for the animals to go to sleep. Babies love to cuddle up with a snuggly cuddly book and they will adore this softly coloured cloth book all about cuddles and hugs - just right for bedtime.
Baby's First Buggy Books come in two sets Words/Animals and Colours/Numbers. Babies will enjoy their first learning with these softly coloured books with simple text and clear illustrations of familiar objects. Babies seem to take great delight in throwing anything and everything out of their buggy/highchair/cot, so these little books with their soft velcro straps to attach are the perfect answer.
The whole series is excellently thought out and almost provides a complete library for a little one. The books are practical, well made and cover a wide range of topics. The needs of babies and toddlers and their parents are obviously well researched, as otherwise the series would not be so remarkably balanced and well-rounded. An excellent series of books, which will go with your baby through the day – reading and sharing time, going out in the buggy, bathtime and bedtime.
By Sarah Brew, Parents in Touch.
For more information about the Little Learners range, visit: www.parragon/littlelearners
About Parents in Touch
Parents in Touch is an education and information website for parents offering guidance on all aspects of schooling, with over 6000 worksheets available across a wide range of subjects. A comprehensive range of resources are available to help parents understand how best to help their child at home to support the work done in schools.
In a world “gone digital”, paper stationery is making a comeback. Last year, national papers – including The Independent – widely reported a sales boom on pens and paper, and throughout the world, people transitioning to the digital landscape are worrying about how to preserve their ideas, thoughts, and memories “in the cloud.” Advances in technology are wonderful, but when it comes to keeping records and personal communication, it turns out that nothing can beat paper!
This year, we are excited to introduce Life Canvas: a brand new stationery and gift range that caters to function, personal style, and value. Whether you're looking for a clean, simple journal to keep track of to-do lists and appointments, sticky notes to mark up important books and documents, or a family album to capture special moments and pass down for generations, Life Canvas has the perfect solution!
The world is already taking note, with our Life Canvas Office Sticky Notes Tin making the finals at this year's Annual Trendys Awards in the US, and the interactive family keepsake books “The Story of Me and My…” being ‘Highly Commended’ in the finals of the 2013 UK Gift of the Year Awards:
Visit our NEW website to see the full range of journals, sticky notes, keepsake albums and notebooks that Life Canvas has to offer, as well as a selection of FREE downloadables for you to print off and use with your best loved Life Canvas journal.
It's your life - choose your canvas!
Last year, we brought you a tech-centric guide to getting healthy in the New Year. If you’re anything like us, you started out strong, faltered a bit, and then (hopefully) made some progress in the end – but know you could be doing better. We used some of our own e-cookbooks and cooking apps to make healthy cooking easier, and we downloaded apps like Map My Fitness and Pocket Yoga to help keep us honest. With lots of travel on our plates, the ability to use our tablets and phones for nutrition & fitness advice proved invaluable.
So what’s on deck for the New Year, and what should we be doing to further improve our health? Let’s take a look at some upcoming trends.
Good Attitude = Good Health
Trend watchers JWTIntelligence notes that in recent years, the scientific connection between positive mental and physical health has grown too strong to ignore. All signs show that the two go hand in hand, JWT says: “Research has shown that more optimistic people are up to 50% less likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke.” Conversely, stress has been linked to poor health. As far as healthy eating goes, they say:
“A report from the Mental Health Foundation links depression with junk food and diets lacking in the nutrients essential for optimal brain functioning. The study advocates eating nutrient-rich foods, such as green, leafy vegetables, whole-grain carbohydrates and salmon, rather than processed foods.”
Advice for 2013? Consider the link between mental health & physical health, and know that your exercise routine, eating habits, stress management techniques, and attitude all go hand in hand.
A Focus on Energy
As this CNN article puts it, we are not machines! It doesn’t work when we treat ourselves like them. The key component to getting it right is to establishing great habits in the morning, which includes eating right to increase your energy level for the entire day. You already know you’re supposed to eat breakfast, but what kind of breakfast are you eating? Try a mix of whole grains and proteins with healthy fats – there’s a reason eggs and toast are a breakfast classic!
The same is true of exercise – we already know that we’re supposed to do it, but have we reconsidered our strategy? Leo Babauta of Zen Habits suggests we consider “New Rules of Fitness” for 2013. He recommends that we look at fitness in the same way we now look at how technology fits into our workday and call it a “fitness bit.” If we can fit in a tweet in 140 characters or less, shouldn’t we also try to fit in exercise in small chunks throughout the day? Here, he echoes the kind of advice you already know you should be taking – always take the stairs!
Home Cooking Is Better For You…It's True!
In late 2012, we took a survey of people across the UK, eager to uncover their current cooking habits. While we found that 1 in 4 parents considers heating up beans to be “cooking” (see this Daily Mail article for more), we were also encouraged to find that many people wished they knew how to cook better but felt they didn’t have the time.
We know by now that many packaged foods contain unhealthy preservatives and long lists of ingredients that look suspiciously un-food-like. Increasingly, studies are showing that the packages themselves – cans, plastic containers, and the like – also contain unhealthy chemicals (for more info, see this Psychology Today article.) When in doubt, eating and cooking fresh food is always the best way forward.
If you plan ahead and use simple recipes, cooking also shouldn’t take as much time as you think! If you’re newly resolved to cook in the new year, we can help with recipe inspiration. Check out some of our latest posts on Tumblr, see our Recipe of the Week on our Love Food cooking site, or check out 100 Best Health Foods at your nearest bookstore, online at Amazon.com (US | UK) and Barnes & Noble, or digitally at iBookstore (US | UK) or Barnes & Noble Nook.
As we end 2012, we’re all feeling quite festive around the Parragon offices! Our UK office recently took an ice skating trip, we’re all celebrating with our own holiday parties, and we’ve worked hard to get our holiday shopping done. (Check out some of our festive pictures from around town in Bath & New York on our Pinterest board here.)
Still, this is the week we’re finding ourselves in last-minute preparation for the New Year and (for those of us who celebrate) the Christmas holiday. We’ve rounded up a few of our top recipes for the holiday along with some easy papercraft ideas in case you – like us – need some inspiration right about now.
Looking for a great decoration that transcends holiday specifics? Festive paper ornaments can traverse the seasons, depending on the color schemes used. Be it Christmas, winter, summer (for our Australian readers!), or New Year’s, you can use a variety of techniques to make simple buntings, garlands, or hanging ornaments. Use a simple triangle pattern, patterned paper or cloth, and string to make your own bunting, or create a garland out of paper curls!
You will need:
- Thick Card or Poster Board
- Green Paper
- Thin White Card or Construction Paper
- Sticky Tape
- Felt Tip Pens
1) Draw a large circle on the thick card and a smaller circle inside. Cut out the large circle. Use a sharp pencil to make a hole in the small circle. Push your scissors through and cut out the inner circle, making a card ring.
2) Cut out candy canes from thin white card. Decorate them with a stripy pattern, using ribbon, crayons, sequins and felt-tip pens.
3) Snip leaf shapes from green paper and curl around a pencil before sticking to your wreath.
4) Fold the ribbon into a loop at the top to hang your wreath. Tape the ends neatly in place on the back.
Tip – To make the rings, trace around a dinner plate for the outer circle and a cereal bowl for the inner circle.
Cranberry Jelly: The Perfect Gift
Still looking for a last minute gift idea for hosts, parties, or family? Whip up our cranberry jam (US recipe | metric recipe) and download our holiday gift labels, and you’ll have an impressive and delicious treat to give or serve.
For many of us, the holiday season revolves around baking: pies, cakes, strudels, and cookies have all emerged from Parragon employee kitchens since mid-November, and we’re still going strong. A few of our best cookie recipes are true classics. We recommend iced sugar cookies for a sweet treat that anyone is sure to love. Here’s a recipe adapted from our Christmas Cookies book! (US|UK)
- 225g / 8oz / i cup butter, softened
- 140g / 5oz / 3/4 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 280g / 10oz plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 200g / 7oz / 1 3/4 cups icing (confectioners') sugar
- 1-2 tbsp warm water
- food coloring
- sugar sprinkles and other desired decorations
1) Place the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Sift together the flour and salt into the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Halve the dough, shape into balls, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes
2) Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper
3) Unwrap the dough and roll out between two sheets of baking paper to about 3mm thick. Cut out cookies with a star-shaped cutter and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced well apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
4) To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in enough warm water until it is the consistency of thick cream. Divide the icing among 3-4 bowls and add a few drops of your chosen food colorings to each. Leave the cookies on the racks and spread the different colored icings over them to the edges. Arrange decorations on top and leave to set.
*The cookies photographed here were made using this recipe, but to adapt for the holiday season, a snowflake design was piped onto each cookie with white icing sugar.
The holiday season provides a great reason to introduce new books to children. Especially for those reluctant readers, the excitement of the season – Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa and other holidays, the promise of a break from school, or upcoming travel - may just be enough to lure them to the page.
Disney recently launched its fantastic new Winnie the Pooh Storytelling Academy, an online resource offering tips, tricks and guidance designed to help modern parents create shared family story-time experiences. With ideas for storytelling at home, when you’re away from home, and when you’re on the go, this is a wonderful resource that could prove particularly helpful for making the most of storytime this holiday season.
One nice idea that we recently stumbled across on Pinterest is organizing your own ‘Christmas Picture Book Advent’. 24 Christmas stories are wrapped up and numbered 1 to 24. Each night, a book is unwrapped and read together as a bedtime story. This idea can even work if you prefer reading digitally. Instead of wrapping up a physical book, simply wrap up a picture of the book cover! With the great range of enhanced eBooks now available, this option could make the experience of reading even more enjoyable for little ones!
To give you a helping hand, we’ve selected some of our best holiday reads below.
The festive period is a great opportunity to revisit some of the classic reads you may have loved yourself when you were young. Available both in print format and eBook format with enhanced read-along audio, the below traditional Christmas tales are sure to delight children, parents and grandparents alike!
A Christmas Carol
Get in the holiday spirit with the classic read-along story of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, retold in the form of a rhyming children's story with the spirit of the Charles Dickens classic. This picture book features beautiful illustrations and is perfect for family reading.
A Letter to Santa
Children will love this enchanting picture book, which follows the journey a young boy's letter to Santa Claus and delves into the secret world of Santa’s workshop. With fun rhyming text and beautifully-crafted illustrations, this is sure to become a popular read at Christmas time!
More Christmas Reads:
Muddypaws’ First Christmas!
Christmas is an exciting time for Ben and his lovable but mischievous dog Muddypaws! Any family with a pet will appreciate the trials and joys of Christmas together, and kids will love the adventures of Muddypaws in this spirited holiday tale.
Disney Christmas Storybook Collection
Enjoy the magic of Christmas with your Disney and Disney•Pixar friends! This festive collection features eight heartwarming Christmas tales from Winnie the Pooh, Lady and the Tramp, Monsters, Inc., Bambi, Dumbo, 101 Dalmations, Pinocchio and WALL•E.
Fairy Tale Classics:
This month marks 200 years since the first publication of the Grimms' Fairy Tales classic ‘Children’s and Household Tales’. Since then, these stories have been retold and retranslated countless times and have become treasured classics for families across the world. With so many to choose from, these beautifully illustrated books will keep children entertained for hours!
We hope that your holiday season is filled with joy, laughter, and wonderful books to read together!
With the holiday season quickly approaching and the merry jingles of festive music already permeating shops everywhere, many families will soon be making their travel plans for the holiday break. Whereas it was once common for families to remain in the same city or state for generations, nowadays families routinely spread out across the country if not the world. This can present a significant challenge for families who want to spend the holiday season together.
The journeys that we take can sometimes be a stressful start to the festive season: the Tetris-like packing, the hyper-excited children and the sometimes treacherous driving conditions, but travelling can be an enriching experience for both children and parents. There is a wealth of travel blogs online, and many websites seek to provide families with handy tips and tricks to make travelling as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.
Some great travel advice is featured in parenting website Cool Mom Picks’ recent subscriber newsletter. Tips include stashing a few healthy snacks for long trips and selecting music that everyone can enjoy. Another idea they suggest is to load up on a few new apps for your gadgets. (For UK & European fans, the new FREE Chad Valley Playtime! app would be a good option if you’re travelling with little ones & want stories & games all in one.)
The Guardian also features a classic article on the ’50 Top Tips for Travelling with Kids’. The article provides a fantastic array of practical advice, including medical advice, transport advice, and ideas for keeping children entertained. A key theme through the piece is the importance of preparing children for upcoming trips. “Getting your children started on a few holiday-related projects before you leave is a great way to prepare them for what’s to come. You could explore maps, or the history, geography, animal and plant life of your destination, or read books or watch a film that’s set there.”
Our 100 Wonders of the World and 100 Cities of the World Book and DVD box sets provide readers with a book full of inspiring imagery and fascinating facts from all corners of the world, plus a DVD with in-depth footage of the sites and cities portrayed in the book. Whether you’re planning a trip to one of these cities or just thinking about it, it can be great fun to have kids guess famous attractions from their photos or to read them fun facts. Did you know that the largest indoor aquarium in the world is Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium?
Car rides can seem much longer than they actually are if you have a car full of bored and irritable children. However, when you’ve run out of options for ‘I-Spy’ or ‘Spot the Car’, look for some inspiration to spice up long journeys with ingenious games. Inspired by the all-too-familiar refrain of “Are we there yet?”, our family travel book (UK|US) was designed to provide relief for stressed-out car trips. For example, try playing “One Line Each,” a simple game that requires only an active imagination. One player starts the game with the first line of a story. The next player has to add a line of their own, and so on. The story can go on forever and it’s an easy, silly way to keep kids engaged.
So if you are planning a trip with your family this holiday season, remember, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare! Make use of the wealth of handy tips and advice available on websites, blogs and books, keep calm, and enjoy yourselves. Most importantly, don’t forget to pack a good book!
Passed down from one generation to the next, fairy tales continue to captivate children across the world. But where did they come from?
The name ‘fairy tale’ was first given to these stories by a French writer, Madame d’Aulnoy, in the late 17th century. However, contrary to the name, it is widely agreed that it is not necessary for these tales to just be about fairies. Instead, fairy tales can feature a wide variety of fantasy creatures such as goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and even talking animals. Evil, cruelty, truth and comedy are major elements, as is justice. The good suffer hardship, often horribly, yet they usually triumph in the end, and live ‘happily ever after’.
There are many different theories that have attempted to explain the similar elements found in fairy tales from different cultures and different continents. One theory to explain the similarities is that fairy tale stories are derived from human experiences, and many cultures, over time, share those basic experiences. The other theory is that a tale comes from a single source and spreads from culture to culture over time, by storytellers and via written form.
Interestingly, while parents today love recalling their best-loved tales to their children, the dark and often gruesome plot lines of the original stories were in fact intended for adult audiences, not children. Dating back to the 17th century and earlier, these tales were passed down from one century to the next, but it wasn’t until the mid 19th century that these tales began to be amended to remove some of the more ghastly and frightening elements to make them more appropriate for a younger audience.
The first collectors to attempt to preserve the plot and characters of fairy tales for children, and also to preserve the style in which they were told, were the German brothers Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859). They didn’t invent their stories, but referred to existing myths and legends, some of which can be traced back to the Middle Ages! Most of the fairy tales we know today are ones that the Brothers Grimm wrote it down and brought it to a wider audience. The list is extensive, but includes tales such as the Frog-King, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin.
Next month marks 200 years since the first edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales ‘Children’s and Household Tales’ was published. Since then, these stories have been retold and retranslated countless times. How do the stars of these tales look in your mind today? To us, they look something like this...
With October here, the annual telltale orange and black invasion has hit stores, and shelves are being filled high with all things spooky. Candy, costumes and monstrous decorations pack this month full of fun!
Whether you are giving your home a macabre makeover, creating a creepy costume for your kids, or hosting a horribly haunted party, Halloween is a time to let your creative flair run wild! We’ve even seen people go as far as to create Halloween costumes for their pets. Don’t believe us? Check out these pics from the Huffington Post!
The proliferation of craft blogs, online craft communities and social networks such as Pinterest in recent years has sought to provide people with inspiration-a-plenty. However, there are some of us that still need a bit of a helping hand with all things crafty! So if you want to have a go at making something this Halloween but want a little guidance along the way, you might find our new Scary Cute box sets the perfect solution! (US | UK).
These cool and creepy craft sets contain everything you need to make fun felt creatures! Each set contains a book with illustrated step-by-step instructions and all of the materials you need to make eight delightfully scary monsters. We took it upon ourselves to test out these sets and can confirm that the Dastardly Delightful Monster, the Enticingly Eccentric Gnome, and the Gorgeously Gruesome Zombie are easy to create – but not so hard to keep track of once they’ve come to life! They’ve travelled the world by plane, train, boat, and on foot – you can keep track of their adventures on our Scary Cute Pinterest board.
Finally, for the ultimate scaremongers, who are looking to freak out their friends with some frightful facts this Halloween, we’ve compiled some of the best from our book 'Monsters, Zombies, Vampires and More: A Marvellously Monstrous Encyclopedia' (US | UK)
- The word ‘zombie’ first came into general use in 1929, when the writer William B. Seabrook published a book called The Magic Island, which described a real-life encounter with ‘the walking dead’ while travelling in Haiti.
- Many real-life monsters living in the Amazon River are an actual deadly threat to humans, such as the fresh-water stingray, the electric eel, the caiman (a member of the alligator family) and meat-eating piranha fish. Keep out!
- A group of witches is known as a ‘coven’, meaning ‘a gathering’ in medieval Scottish. Spookily, covens were thought to have 13 members – an unlucky number for some!
- According to legend, the only two ways to kill a vampire are to drive a wooden stake through its heart or expose it to sunlight. But vampires are also said to be scared of garlic, silver, mirrors, rose thorns, and holy water. We have not as yet tested any of these methods (phew)!
- Werewolves first appeared in myths from Ancient Greece. The word ‘werewolf’ comes from the Greek ‘lycanthropus’, meaning ‘wolf man’.
Have fun preparing – watch out for vampires!
The packed lunch has seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the last few years, both in schools, and in the workplace. It is cheaper, often healthier and, with home-cooking also making a revival it’s a great way to get creative in the kitchen.
One of the most playful trends that has emerged is a Western take on the Japanese tradition of bento. Originating in the fifth century, bento is essentially a single serve meal in a box. The emphasis on presentation is where it differs from conventional packed lunches.
Traditionally, bento consists of meat or fish with rice and pickled vegetables. Each component is separated into individual compartments within the bento box to keep everything tasting fresh and with its own unique taste.
Bento boxes come in a huge range of forms. Originally made from bamboo, they are now largely made from plastics or metal. Some are disposable and some are made from high-end lacquerware that can fetch high prices.
There are many different variations of bento including the elaborate character and picture bentos. This is where food such as rice and seaweed is cleverly fashioned into the likeness of landmarks and characters. This fun take on the traditional bento box is a especially popular with children, and is a great way help encourage them to eat a healthy diet. This recent article from The Huffington Post showcases a fabulous array of ingenious bento creations!
In Japan, mothers - such as the ones in this video - can spend up to two hours a day, every day, creating these foodie treats. Taking up lessons in the art is popular and there is an inevitable element of competition. Some even go as far as creating the faces of celebrities such as Michael Jackson or Harrison Ford!
Don't believe us? Take a look at Michael Jackson in Bento form.
For most of us however, we simply don't have the time to sculpt such entertaining packed lunches. A great way to create a meal that still looks impressive, but requires a little less dedication is to focus on sushi.
Sushi is healthy - as long as you go easy on the soy and wasabi - nutritious and naturally vibrant. A splash of pink can be added with fish, green with avocado, red with pepper, the many possibilities make this a great way to liven up your lunch! It's also great for vegans and vegetarians if you leave out the fish, and perfect for those with wheat, dairy and gluten intolerances.
If the sound of making your own sushi sounds daunting, our Love Food book Step-by-Step: Asian includes a simple recipe that illustrates each stage of the process with a photograph, making it easy to follow and recreate. Whether it's for the kids or for yourself, why not have a bit of fun with your next lunch box?
For more bento ideas visit our Love Food Tumblr feed.
As another school break comes to an end and the back-to-school supplies and TV ads are out in full force, many children will be gearing themselves up for the new school year, and pre-school children will be getting themselves ready for their first big day!
For most children, heading back to school, or indeed starting school, can come as an abrupt transition from the joyful, carefree time that they may have experienced over the break. However there are lots of ways that parents can help ease their young children back into learning mode and help give them a head start on the new school year.
We’ve compiled some tips to try to help make the ‘back-to-school’ process a stress-free and positive experience for everyone:
Emotional Preparation – For Pre-school Children
The first day at school can be a daunting experience, but there are many ways that parents can help negotiate the transition from home to school. In the lead up to their first day at school, it is useful to engage pre-school children in books, DVDs and even role-play games that provide them with reference points for what a day at school might involve. Answering with their name when the teacher calls for attendance, lining up in a queue, writing their name and sitting quietly are all activities that can be practiced in advance at home.
Packing a School Backpack
Shopping for school supplies together can be a fun way of helping children feel involved in the lead up to going back to school, and can generate some excitement around the prospect of going back after a long break.
Remember, when your child packs their backpack with their new supplies, it is important to ensure it never weighs more than 10 to 20 percent of their body weight. Choosing the right backpack is about more than just picking the coolest-looking one! More tips on choosing the right backpack can be found here.
The school holidays are often a time when parents ease up on the strict bedtime routine, allowing their children to have a few late nights as special treats. However, it is important to get back in to a solid routine in preparation for going back to school. There are lots of places to get advice on the number of hours of sleep your child should be getting each night, a great example can be found here.
To help your children beat the inevitable barrage of bugs that come along at the start of every term, it is essential to make sure they have a healthy diet at home. This includes breakfast! And is not just important for your children, but for parents too! UK website Female First recently reported that as many as 65 percent of mothers in the UK admitted to skipping meals to keep up with looking after their families. If you’re having trouble thinking of ways to liven up the breakfast menu in your home, head over to our Love Food Tumblr where we are showcasing some of our best-loved breakfast recipes for the whole family.
Spending time with other children will help your child’s social and emotional development and prepare them for the school environment. If possible, arrange play dates with other parents of preschoolers. Many local libraries offer free events for young children in the local area, and some schools even have forums on their website for parents to engage with.
Space at Home
In an age where homes are full of distracting technologies, it is important to make an effort to find a space in the house where children can focus. Houzz, a leading website for home remodeling, provide some useful tips for creating the perfect home study space. If there isn’t space for this at home, many schools open early in the mornings in order to provide a breakfast and some also stay open after classes and provide a safe, comfortable environment in which to read or do homework.
Learning at Home
School holidays don’t have to mean that your child puts their learning on hold. The break provides a perfect opportunity for children to practice the skills they have learnt from the previous year, but also is a great chance to begin to look at new challenges. It is important to keep these activities fun, after all it is their holiday, but there are many useful resources available on the internet, on TV and in books. Our Gold Stars activity workbooks for children are designed to reflect the national curriculum and are created in conjunction with educational consultants. With a focus of making the activities enjoyable, the range boasts vibrant new designs and fun activities to engage children from pre-school right through to Key Stage 2. And what’s more, parents give Gold Stars the thumbs-up too! Read a recent review of the new Gold Stars range here!