Oct 08 2017

EDUCATION: How to determine if your child is ready for Prep

Four years old can seem such a young age to start school, particularly if your child’s birth month makes them the youngest in the class.  It’s common for parents to wonder if they should wait a year and let the child start Prep with greater maturity. In child development terms, this is huge and just another consideration for parents. 

A child’s first year of school is crucial to the success of their future academic career.  It is not merely about learning to read, write and add up; it’s also about developing independence, problem-solving and social skills. If a child starts school before they are ready, they risk losing confidence, feeling isolated and falling behind.

What will your child need to be able to do in Prep?

When a child starts Prep, they will be required to perform a number of tasks outlined on the list below, a good guideline in determining prep readiness.

In their Prep year, your child will need to …

  • be at school five days a week for six hours a day
  • have an interest in learning
  • wear shoes and socks all day long
  • concentrate for long periods of time
  • be obedient, take turns, follow rules and treat others with respect
  • go to the toilet on their own
  • speak clearly and make themselves understood
  • run, skip, climb, throw and catch balls
  • use pencils, scissors and a wide range of art materials
  • ask if they need something or don’t understand
  • change in and out of sports uniform and/or swimming costume
  • sit quietly and listen without interrupting
  • follow and remember instructions
  • focus on a blackboard or electronic whiteboard
  • use logic to solve problems
  • work independently
  • collaborate in small groups
  • do regular homework and practice what they have learnt in class

Prep is very different to Kindergarten. Although a Prep class will typically have one teacher and a teacher’s aide, if there are multiple children feeling homesick or distracted, it can make for a difficult learning environment.

What skills are required for starting school?

Child development rates vary widely in the early years. There will still be six-year-olds who struggle with the demands of formal schooling and a few four-year-olds with the maturity to thrive in their Prep year.

There are biological differences too; girls tend to develop language skills earlier than boys. Steve Biddulph, the author of “Raising Boys” claims boys are six to 12 months behind girls when it comes to fine motor skills and paying attention.

Skills required for school include:

  • Academic
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Self-care
  • Fine motor
  • Gross motor
  • Verbal
  • Cognitive

What is the difference between Prep and Kindergarten?

The difference between Prep and Kindergarten will be in how those skills are taught. Prep classes are more structured and the whole class follows the same curriculum.  Pre-Prep (Kindergarten) classes are more play-based and educators take their cues from a child’s interest to nurture their skills beyond the Pre-Prep curriculum. So, if a child shows a particular interest in letters or numbers, the teacher will encourage them to take it further … but will not push it beyond their level of interest and enjoyment.

 

Who should I turn to for advice?

You will know your child better than anyone else – their personality, temperament and habits. Many parents have a gut feeling when their children lack the emotional maturity to start school.

The best authority on your child’s readiness for school, however, will be their Kindy teachers. These qualified educators will have observed how your child behaves in class, responds to teaching and co-operates with other children. They will also be able to identify any developmental ‘red flags’, such as problems with speech development or gross motor skills, which may require intervention from a pediatrician or child therapist.

Who has the final say on whether your child is ready for Prep?

All schools have their own enrolment policies.  A few are happy to accept your child providing they meet the standard age requirements. Most will interview the child and parents. Some will require your child to undergo a full ‘school readiness assessment’ – a series of exercises and observations, usually carried out away from the parents.  These will include activities such as building with blocks, identifying colours, shapes or parts of the body, using a pencil, cutting with scissors and answering some questions about themselves.

Depending on a school’s enrolment process, child interviews and assessments may take place nearly a whole year before your child will commence school. It is important to remember that a child will make a lot of progress in a year.  If a school is unsure about your child’s maturity or considers them borderline, they might ask you to re-interview in six months’ time, to see how your child is advancing.

Many schools ask parents to provide a transition report from their child’s kindergarten but they are not legally permitted to contact the kindergarten directly to discuss the child.

Prep year is the foundation for your child’s future achievement in school. It is so important to get this right. If your child starts school before they are ready, they may find the Prep year distressing and develop a negative attitude towards learning and education.  If they fall behind so much that they need to repeat their Prep year, this can have a detrimental effect on their self-esteem and confidence.  Happy children are more receptive to learning than unhappy ones!

Oct 03 2017

The 5 rules of play

iPhone-spy-app-monitor-kids-happy-group-kids

Parents should love to schedule play date for their kids  , seeing them as a chance to not only meet new parents, but also to keep an eye on the new best friend in their child’s life and check if they’re a good or bad influence. While other parents run a mile from anything resembling an organized hook-up, their minds on juice-stained sofas, terrorized pets and kids.

 

But however, regard the modern play date, there’s no denying they’ve never been more popular, especially here in Qatar where soaring summer temperatures mean plenty of indoor time. And whether you’re a seasoned play date pro, or a newbie keen to get her hands (and rug, and sofa!) dirty in the play arena, we reveal the rules you should be following to ensure you get invited back every time…

 

  1. Parents stay too…don’t drop and dash

Yes, the main aim of a play date is for the kids to have fun, but equally, you’ve been invited, because the other parent wants to get to know you better. Unless the person doing the inviting explicitly tells you it’s cool if you don’t stay, don’t assume you can drop the kids off then hit up Harvey Nics for a couple of hours. And always offer to help tidy up at the end!

 

  1. Ask about bringing your nanny

With so many Qatar households having a nanny, it’s a valid question to ask when invited on a play date: Shall I bring my nanny? It might be that their nanny can keep an eye on the kids by herself, or equally, that the parent hosting would rather not have so many people in the house, so always check first.

 

  1. Organize activities, but keep it loose

When it comes to kids and their attention spans, one word covers it: goldfish. If you’re organizing a play

date at your house, don’t get bogged down in arranging lots of things to do or even attempting to stick to a schedule. The kids will be excited enough to play with a whole load of new toys. You could organize one thing, such as baking a rainbow cake, or laying out some arts and crafts, but don’t expect the kids to get stuck into something organized if there are trucks and dolls and water guns tempting them just a few feet away.

 

  1. Bring siblings, but only if they’re age appropriate

A bored pre-teen on a play date goes down about as well as… a bored pre-teen on a play date! If you don’t want to spend the time fretting that your eldest is bored out of their skull, then leave them at home and only take the kids who have an age-equivalent friend on the play date.

 

  1. Some things you just have to suck up

It might be that in your house chocolates and lollies are banned, or only dished out as special treats. You might have an iPad or TV ban or limit your child’s exposure to them. However, on a play date, it really is a case of ‘their house, their rules’, and no host is going to be impressed with you texting them a list of your preferences ahead of the play date – it’s rude. Of course, if your child has a food allergy or intolerance, speak up, and additionally, if the parent is selfie-mad but you don’t post pics of your kids online, then a gentle reminder is fine, but for the most part, you’ll have to grin and bear it and refrain from uttering the words ‘We don’t do that at our house.’

Sep 27 2017

WELLBEING: Enjoy yoga with your children

yogawithchild27 September 2017

How to enjoy yoga with your children. In real life.

Yoga with children. It sounds so wonderful and already your mind is conjuring up images of you and your child stretching and smiling together, gracefully coordinating your downward dogs and relaxing peacefully in child’s pose. You may even picture yourself balancing your child on you in some inverted position, the two of you so radiant that the moment definitely deserves to be captured and posted on Instagram as soon as possible.

So you decide to give this brilliant idea a go and enthusiastically call out, “Come! Let’s do some fun yoga together!” Your child responds with equal enthusiasm and declares that he (or she) knows yoga too, immediately demonstrating upward dog, maybe even tree pose or pigeon pose.

In fact, he is so excited that he insists you follow along and keep up with the insane speed with which he switches sides and poses. After about 5 minutes of this whirlwind activity, he decides that he is hungry, needs to use the toilet, or wants to move on to the next thing. It dawns on you pretty quickly that your vision of calm and loving mother-child yoga is not going to happen today.

To some of you, this may sound vaguely familiar. I’ve done this many a time with my children to varying degrees of ‘success’ – however this may be defined. In the beginning, I would find it frustrating that I couldn’t share this beautiful experience that I LOVE in the way that I imagined it to be. Over the years, however, I have learned that sometimes it can be even more amazing than what I expect. Moreover, in those moments when yoga time appears to spin out of control, use that parental instinct to judge whether you should reign it in just a little bit (no need to go crazy control freak) or just go with it.

These days, our spontaneous ‘classes’ vary in tone depending on the time of day and combination of participants. The eldest and I will have a more ‘proper’ session and may follow a teacher online on Yogaglo if we are on our own. When there are 2 or 3 children involved, we take turns leading the class and demonstrating various yoga postures or even doing some meditation. #1 will take it seriously and teach gracefully; #2 will be quite Zen at times and goofy at others; #3 will almost always start off with pigeon pose, transitioning from left to right in lightening quick bursts that make your crotch cringe just watching.

We keep it fun and flexible but the only firm rule is that ‘students’ must respect the ‘teacher’ or they can’t have a go. We all enjoy our savasana session at the end as someone leads a fantasy-themed relaxation exercise of some sort. We might be snugly caterpillars transforming into butterflies or resting on a bed of cotton candy clouds, you name it. Some classes may run for 5 minutes and others for 30 and we just enjoy the yoga while it lasts.

Here are just a few points to keep in mind when you decide to give the romance of ‘yoga with your child’ (cue singing bowl and chimes here) another go:

  1. Find interesting and slightly challenging postures to gain and keep their interest. Maybe even give them weird and wonderful names – Sparkle Toe Princess or Kungfu Panda can be yogic if you want it to.
  2. If it starts to get goofy and insane, go with it and let the little weirdos get their crazy out. Knock yourself out, I say! Children are natural yogis and we can learn from their uncanny ability to be intolerably hysterical at times but still return to a state of inner contentment.
  3. Towards the end, always wind down and on the ground with eyes closed. Guided fantasy meditation is a great way for them to let their (and your) imagination fly free. They will sleep better for it!
  4. Music, candles, eye pillows… props can make the experience rather special and they will likely enjoy helping you set up the scene. They may even give you impromptu foot massages – it’s happened before!

May the force be with you on your yoga journey with little ones. Namaste!

May 03 2017

PARENTING: Reconnect with kids, in just 10 minutes

untitled-1-24copy

I love those times when things just work. You are playing together, you have your moment and you truly connect. But for me, those times are rare and I often find myself out of sync with my child. The days fly by in a haze of feeding, nappies, soccer training, and kindy drop offs, and those precious moments when I truly connect with my kids just don’t often happen in our world. And these out-of-sync days are also when the kids seem least cooperative and tensions run high.

We all feel connected when we listened to and loved. Kids especially need this connection, and when they don’t get it chaos can come! Pam Leo, author of Connective Parenting says, “The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.”

 

“Rather than focusing on ways to discipline children when their feelings of disconnection result inuncooperative or unacceptable behavior, Connection Parenting focuses on ways to maintain and increase the parent-child bond/connection.”

 

10 minutes a day of full engagement with a child can be all it needs to build that bond. Not just taking them to the park and watching them play, but letting them take the lead, and actually playing with them in their world. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and maybe each child doesn’t get it every day (God knows getting through the day is sometimes hard enough with an army of kids to tend to!), but if there is a child who seems out of sorts, having those 10 minutes together can make all the difference. We CAN find 10 minutes to listen to the latest update in Minecraft

 

For those 10 minutes our kids will truly thrive on us just being there. And for that, the laundry can wait. When you feel tired, resentful, and the last thing you want to do is stop and play dress ups, bridging that gap is probably the ONE thing you need to do. Taking those 10 minutes, giving yourself permission to take a breath and letting the child take over, is enough to reset and reconnect.

 

Pam Leo says, “Children need at least one person in their life who thinks the sun rises and sets on them, someone who delights in their existence and love them unconditionally.” Regularly connecting with a child, one-on-one in their world, a child knows that they are loved – as an individual.

Great games and activities:

  • Hide and seek
  • Tickles
  • Dancing
  • Walking outside and seeing what you can find
  • Reading
  • Throw or kick a ball
  • Have a snack picnic
  • Nightly cuddles and a chat
  • Playing music or singing together
  • Cooking together
  • Arts and craft
  • Family games
  • Sensory play
  • Talking about the day
  • Family chores

Wondering how your child’s day was? Check out 25 ways to ask your TEEN how school was today and 25 ways to ask your CHILD how school was today.

Apr 24 2017

YOU: Find your joy with these playful parenting tips

shutterstock_218927584

Why so serious? Parenting these days demands a lot from us and often it’s our own sense of fun that gets left behind. No more! Here are some ways to unlock your playful side!
• Have a dance party in the living room – turn the music up load and make up some awesome dance moves (a good chance to listen to some of your favourite tracks, too!)
• Arts and crafts. Yes, there will be a mess to tidy up afterwards, but most kids love getting crafty. A good hour or two getting arty with the kids is well worth the ten minute tidy up afterwards.
• Make your own playdough or slime. Loads of good, easy recipes can be found on Pinterest.
• Have a game of hide and seek. An easy game that gets the kids (and you) moving.
• Do an exercise video or play a kinetic game on the Playstation. We all know regular exercise benefits our brains and our bodies so it’s a win-win.
• Let the kids make you over. Hairstyles, nail polish, even a natural face pack.
• Head to the shops. Even a trip to the supermarket can become a fun activity rather than a dreaded chore. Get the kids to help find the groceries, or hand them a shopping list or pictures of what you need (cut out of a magazine) and get them to cross them off for a game of supermarket bingo.
• Go for a walk. Anywhere. Fresh air works wonders for us and them.
• Have a game of Uno. It’s an easy one to fit in between chores. Play first to three.
• Get your kids to come up with a list of the things they want to do. Try and cross one off each week and replace it with another.
• Get the face paints out. Let the kids choose what they want to be and go for it. Then it’s their turn…
• Organise a treasure hunt. If you use items from around the home it’s fairly easy and you can think up the clues the night before.
• Make a slip’n’slide with a tarpaulin, water and washing up liquid.
• Make a cubby under the dining table.
• Give the kids a camera for the day and print out their photos. They can write a story based around them.
Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for fun activities to do with your kids.
What are your favourite ways to get playful with the kids?

 

Directory-Blog-Post-23
Mar 25 2015

Who’s getting talked about?

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.

Porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped.

[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish.

 

slide-image7
Mar 25 2015

Last Chance to Buy a Piece of Celebrity Big Brother.

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.

Porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped.

[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish.

 

Directory-Blog-Post-17
Mar 25 2015

Audio Post / Guide to Getting Your

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.

Porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped.

[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish.

 

Directory-Blog-Post-18
Mar 25 2015

Video post / Find the perfect gift with our Secret Santa.

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.

Porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped.

[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish.

 

Directory-Blog-Post-19
Mar 25 2015

Soundcloud post / Securing Your Hot Ticket

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.

Porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped.

[cs_quote column_size=”1/1″ quote_cite=”PABLO PICASSO” quote_cite_url=”#” quote_text_color=”#000000″ quote_align=”left”]When I am finishing a picture, I hold some God-made object up to it – a rock, a flower, the branch of a tree or my hand – as a final test. If the painting stands up beside a thing man cannot make, the painting is authentic. If there’s a clash best between the two, it’s bad art.[/cs_quote]

That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously sincere less dalmatian assentingly wherever left ethereal the underneath oh lustily arduously that a groggily some vexedly broadcast sheepish yet the slapped mildly and adventurously.That sneered vivaciously that thus hey porpoise uncritical gosh and much and this haughtily broadcast goodness ponderous squid darn in sheepish.