Category Archives: school

Should twins stay together at school or be split?

Should twins stay together at school or be split?For a long time, the question of ‘should twins be in the same class at school or should they be split?’ has never worried me. I always thought my twins should be in separate classes, in order to allow them to develop their own individuality, personality and friendships. However, now my twins are due to start school in September, I am suddenly (very unexpectedly) feeling very unsure and worried.

On Monday, I had a to go to a meeting at school for all the new September starters. Whilst walking there, everything suddenly felt very real and I started questioning myself, ‘is it actually best to split twins up?’. I had never questioned it before, so it came as quite a shock.

The school has no preference either way, so I guess it’s down to me to decide. I came back from school feeling very confused. I asked twitter and got a mixed response, though interestingly, several people with twins said ‘don’t split them’. I then read TAMBAs guide to twins at school. I found this very interesting and was surprised by how much I then felt in favour of twins remaining together at school.

When I read this:

“Recent research conducted by Kings College London (a national study of 2,232 twin children) found that twins separated at the start of primary school at age 5 had more emotional problems on average (symptoms of shyness, withdrawal, depression and anxiety) than non-separated twins.” (TAMBA)

I was really shocked. It had never occurred to me that it could cause real damage to split them up! I am now starting to think we should keep them together.

However, I am struggling with the thought of keeping them together as I have always brought them up to be two individuals, they very rarely dress the same and I try to encourage them to be independent. Therefore, to put them in the same class together, to me would not be encouraging individuality so much. On the other hand, I do want them to settle in well at school quickly and I don’t want them to be traumatised by being separated.

It is such a difficult decision. I think there is no set rule for twins, it is very individual depending on each twins personality etc. There are so many pros and cons on either side. At the moment I feel I am not going to get it right whichever way I go. I know that’s silly, I’m sure they will be fine either together or split, but as a parent, being responsible for my children’s best welfare, I am desperate to make the right decision.

I would love to know your opinion and experiences, please leave me a comment.

Posted in parenting, school, Twins | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

School application

Twin girls playingI can’t believe it, my babies are growing up!! I have just applied for them to start school in September! Where has the time gone?

It can be scary applying for school placements. Are they ready for school? I’m not sure if my girls are. When BB started school, I had no doubt that he was ready, he was craving stimulation and eager to learn all the time. However, my twins are slightly more clingy and not as independent. They do go to nursery two days a week and love it there, so I know they can be away from home ok, but school is a very big, different environment. Still, it is 9 months away, so they have lots more developing to do before then.

It can be very worrying for some people when applying for school placements, especially those who don’t live in catchment area. I am very lucky that we only live a few minutes walk to the school BB goes to (which is a very large school with 3 classes in each year!), so I would be extremely surprised if we didn’t get in. But I do hear horror stories of twins not getting into the same school! I don’t know what I would do if that happened? How can you be in 2 different places at the same time?

I will miss having my children at home, but I think I will also be able to cherish the time I do have with them more. It is the end of an era, but also the beginning of new bright things.

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7 Tips for coping with school as a parent

Tips for coping with school as a parentYou prepare your child for school and plan everything well, but nothing prepares you as a parent for the challenge ahead.

When my son started school last year, he settled in very quickly without any problems. Myself on the other hand however, it was a different story. I found the school run very difficult with two toddlers in tow. I found it incredibly difficult to keep up with all the letters and information sent home and I found it hard to keep up with all the reading and homework he had to do.

Over the last year I have been learning how best to manage this new situation, that is going to be my life for the next thirteen years at least. I thought I would share with you what I have learnt, which has helped me.

Here are my top tips for coping with school as a parent….

  1.  Get up and ready before the children – I find if I get up an hour before the children (at 6am), I can have a shower, wake up slowly and get dressed at my own leisurely pace, without having to worry about what the children are up to and then I am totally prepared to help get them ready at 7am and to cope with all they throw at me. This works brilliantly for me, though I know some people may struggle with this if their children are very early risers.
  2. Be prepared – Try, if you can, to prepare packed lunches the night before, I know its hard (and I do frequently fail with this one, but when I do manage it, life in the morning is so much easier). Lay clothes out the night before, the worst thing is when you realise in the morning there are no clean shirts! If you lay it out the night before, the morning panic is reduced. It is also a good idea that the school bag is packed the night before, again saving panic in the morning.
  3. Keep on top of homework/reading - I found all the reading and homework quite difficult to keep on top of at first, I would advise, to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. For us, we now read the book at bedtime, he reads us a story, then we read him a story.
  4. Respond to letters straight away - It felt like we were bombarded with letters home, information about this and information about that at first. I felt like I didn’t know if I was coming or going. The best thing to do, is to reply to any letters home straight away other wise it will get forgotten or lost, and then believe me, you get confused!
  5. Create a filing system for school things - You need a good diary or calendar where you can keep track of all the new events for each child (especially with the lead up to christmas, there will be events til they are coming out of your ears!). File letters etc in an organised way.
  6. Talk to other parents – There are times when you may not be sure whats happening (especially if you have a son like mine, who doesn’t tell you anything), it is good to speak to other parents, this can be a great source of information. My son’s school actually have a Facebook page where parents can ask questions, discuss things etc, its great.
  7. Routine - Try to develop a good routine and stick to it. I love routine, it works really well for us, as I find the children all know what is expected of them. I also give them a bit of a reward if they are all ready in time, they get to watch peppa pig on milkshake. I can time everything to that, then they put coats and shoes on whilst watching it and as soon as it finishes, it’s time to walk out the door.

These are my personal top tips for surviving the school years, though I know they won’t be watching peppa pig for much longer.  Not everyone will like all of them, we all work differently, but if you are struggling like I was at first, maybe give some of them a try, you never know, it may transform things for you?

One thing I will say though is, it does get easier.

Do you have any other tips to help new school parents cope? It would be great to share some other tips.

Posted in parenting, school | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

School prep, is it necessary?

picture of a boy in his new school uniformWhen children start school for the first time, we prepare them for the potentially daunting time ahead. We talk to them about school, maybe read some stories, visit the school and generally tell them about what school life is like (well, the good parts anyway!).

The children often have several other longer visits to the school and a home visit from the teacher, followed by, maybe a couple of hours a day for a week, and /or half a day for a week, before they finally start school full-time, several weeks into the start of term.

I know it is essential to prepare children, but I do wonder if it is really necessary to stretch out the inevitable for so long? Most of the children start school having previously been to preschool for a number of hours each week. They are used to spending around 15 hours a week in a preschool environment. Maybe it’s more for our need as parents than the children’s? I think it is sometimes more traumatic for mum than is is for the child when they start school!

School is different to preschool and bigger, but foundation is very much still play orientated.

I just wonder sometimes, are we worrying our children unnecessarily? Are we hyping things up so much, that of course they worry about it, because we are giving them the impression, they need to be worried?

I believe, there could be an argument, for allowing the children to just go for it. Yes, they need to be supported and introduced with visits etc, but surely this quantity could be reduced. They are never going to realise what school is like until they do it full-time. I know it is scary, but does all this easing them in extremely gently, really make a difference? Or would they be better off, just starting school?

I think children will worry to some extent and be a bit nervous about school, whatever we do. That is inevitable, school is a strange, new environment, with people they don’t know. We can help prepare them by talking to them about it etc, but are all the short days really necessary?

I expect lots of you will be thinking, I am being really cruel, suggesting we should remove some of this school preparation time. Maybe I am, but there can be a lot to be said, about letting children work things out for themselves. Everything in moderation!

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A first year of school

picture of a boy in his new school uniformThis week will see the end of BB’s first year of school, the end of foundation.

The year has gone very quick. I think back to his first day of big school, when he looked so little in his new uniform, which he wore very proudly! We walked down the road together and I suddenly realised, my little boy is growing up fast.

I was very proud of the way he didn’t make any fuss about going into school and waved nicely goodbye. My feelings on the other hand may have been a different story?!

BB loved school. He would come home at the end of the day very excited. He has learnt so much in his first year. He can read, his writing is really coming on well and he has developed so much in every way, from all the different experiences he has been given.

Personally, I found the first term tough. It was difficult learning how to manage the school run with 3 little children, as well as learning how to get organised with all the homework and letters home. It is surprising how much of a learning curve it is for the parents, not just the children, when little ones start school.

We had BB’s first school report yesterday. I just want to tell him how proud we are of him. At one point, I thought, they must be talking about a different child, apparently he is a quieter member of the class!!! Oh my goodness, I wish some of that would rub off at home!

I asked BB the other week, what he liked best, meaning absolutely anything, thinking he was going to say dinner or ice cream, but to my surprise he said ‘school’! I couldn’t believe it, I am so pleased.

Looking back, it has been a good first year, a good foundation to his new school life. I hope he continues to enjoy school as much in year 1.

Posted in school | Tagged | 12 Comments

Preschool placements

picture of twin girls holding handsPut childrens names down for preschool placements early if you don’t want to pay extra! This is my experience why…..

Well, it is the end of one phase of my life, now moving onto the next. My twins start their 15 hours government-funded preschool placements this week. On one hand it is sad to see them growing up and moving on, I will miss them. On the other hand it is very exciting, and if I am honest, I am really looking forward to some peace and quiet for a short while each week (if that makes me a bad mother, so be it, I think it makes me normal).

I wanted to write this post to warn other parents to put their children’s names down for a preschool early on.

When I had my son I used to work 2 days a week, so he went to a private nursery. I thought he would continue there, through his preschooling. However, when my twins came along I quickly realised I could not  afford to return to work. I started looking for a preschool place for my son aged 2 and a half, around my local area. To my dismay, I discovered, I should have put his name down months or even years before, as there were no spaces left to take him. In the end, I had to send him to a local private nursery which took children term time only, in order for him to get his preschooling. The only problem was that we had to pay extra on top of the governments funded 15 hours. I believe it is important for children to attend some kind of preschool/nursery before they go onto big school, so I felt I had to accept this. My son loved going to the nursery and learnt so much, which really prepared him for starting school. It was worth it.

Following this experience, I put my twins names down for a preschool when they were just 9 months old. I am sure that not all areas have this problem, but I also know that many do. Preschool placements are oversubscribed, there is not enough preschools for the number of children needing them.

For this reason I would like to urge anyone with younger children to think about preschools early on and put their names down. You can always change your mind later on.

Have you had similar experiences?

Did you get preschool placements easily?

Please leave a comment, I would love to know what your experiences of this subject are.

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Is homework for the children or the parents??

Picture of the school teddy bear and his journal

The school teddy bear

My son started school this year (aged 4-5). I can’t believe how much homework he gets already!

He has a reading book 3 times a week and some phonics homework every week. Then last week, he came home with the school teddy bear! We had to take photos and write about the teddy’s day with us. Now, is that homework for the children or the parents?! My son couldn’t take the photos, or print them off, or even write about it in the book. So who had to do all this? Yes, me, mummy!

Don’t get me wrong, I know he has to practice reading at home etc, but I did think the bear journal was a little excessive, seeing as he can hardly write yet! However, BB was so excited to bring the bear home, it was lovely to see him excited about some homework.

I know children have to do homework, I know children need to practice reading and I really do want to help BB with this, but is it necessary at such a young age to have as much as this (though, I am sure some of you will tell me your children have more than this)? I suppose it sets them up for the idea that they will always get homework from school and they just need to get used to it.

Boy pretending to feed the school teddy bear

BB feeding the school teddy bear

What are your thoughts on this subject? Do children get too much homework, or do you think they should get more?

 

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Red nose day cakes

I thought my baking was done after making 3 birthday cakes last week, but no! I promised BB’s school I would make some cakes for the red nose day cake sale.

Here is my attempt at red nose day cakes:

First I made a batch of fairy cakes (any recipe will work). Then I used ready to roll icing (I used icing I had left over from their birthday cakes last week). I cut circles out and placed them over each cake.picture of fairy cakes

Next, I made up a batch of red icing, using icing sugar, water and red colouring (had a bit of an accident with the red food colouring, so now my hands look as if I have had a major accident!). I used the icing to stick white chocolate buttons on each cake for eyes.

I then piped the rest of the red icing on for the big red noses, before using black writing icing (you can buy ready-made in a tube) to draw on the mouths, patches, pupils, glasses etc.

I hope the school like my effort and people actually buy them. Here is the result:

Picture of red nose day fairy cakesPicture of red nose day cakes

 

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The ‘bad mum’ feeling!

Last week I learnt, ‘I need eyes in the back of my head!’ I feel like such a bad mum!

Have you ever experienced that terrifying feeling, where your heart feels like it actually stops and then races a million beats a minute as you turn around and your child is not there?! I experienced this last week, it has got to be the worst, most terrifying feeling in the world!!

I was dropping my son off at school and needed to speak to the teacher, so was stood in the playground, at the door, talking to the teacher for about 1 minute. I had hold of C’s hand. Turned around a minute later and………. where is J???, can’t see her!! must be here somewhere!! Why can’t I see her??!! The sheer panic I felt inside was horrendous! I was thinking ‘she must be here, we are in the playground’. I was so confused, frantically scanning the area! Then luckily another mum said to me, “I think she went that way”.(one good thing about having twins, is lots of people recognise us). I picked up C and ran to the other side of the playground and could then see J in the distance, standing on the other side of the car park screaming! I was so relieved, she was ok, I had to fight back my own tears! I was luck this time.

Once all is ok again, the adrenaline starts to calm down and you realise what actually happened, by the time I got to twins club with the girls, I was physically shaking! Then, I start to think ‘I must be such a bad mum’, ‘how could I not have seen her wandering off’, why did I not focus on all 3 children 100% of the time’, ‘why did I not have hold of both the twins hands’????? so many questions, ultimately blaming myself for what had happened.

Looking back at the situation now I have had time to calm down, I still feel horrendously guilty, but, it is just not possible to have eyes in the back of your head. When your focus is momentarily taken away from any 1 of the 3 children, anything can happen. Is it possible to stay 100% focused on all 3 children 100% of the time?? I thought that being in the playground it would be safe to let go of their hands, but I will need to stay more vigilant in future, if I need to talk to the teacher.

Having one child, it is difficult not to take your eyes off them, having a second child is really hard, but having a 3rd in the form of twins, just feels near impossible sometimes!

I know I am not the first person to feel this and I am sure I will not be the last. It is difficult to admit what happened, but I think admitting it and talking about it will help prevent it from happening again in the future.

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Behaviour for the under 5′s??

What is acceptable behaviour for a 4-year-old? and 2 year olds??

This is a question that I keep asking myself. I think it is very interesting watching other children in a playground or in a cafe etc and seeing how they play differently, what they are allowed to do and not do. There are times when I stand there and think ‘I wouldn’t let my child do that’ and then there are times when I think, ‘I must be too tough on my kids, maybe they should be allowed a bit more freedom’. Who is right and who is wrong?? I think it obviously depends on the situation and I have to go with my gut instinct.

Is it acceptable for a 5-year-old to be climbing all over the younger toddlers climbing frame and jumping off the top? This was what happened at the park the other day. My son was watching his classmate from school do this and I found myself watching thinking please, please O do not copy that behaviour. I am very pleased to say that he didn’t, but it got me thinking, am I being too tough on him? should I have stopped him if he had wanted to join in? It is only a climbing frame after all.

Another example would be when children are allowed to run around in cafes and restaurants. I would not let my children run around there, as I believe it is too dangerous for a start, with lots of hot food and drink about, and yet some people find it acceptable. Am I in the wrong? Will my children rebel later on if I don’t allow them enough freedom?

It is interesting, that this question has come up now, just as my son has started school and I feel he has made the first step on the ladder of making his own way in the big wide world. He has to start making his own decisions on what is right and wrong and I have no control over the friends he makes at school. I can help guide him from a distance, but ultimately it will be his decision when I am not there. I just hope that I have given him a good enough grounding in his first 4 years of life to help him make some good decisions.

If anyone has any answers to this, it would be great to hear them.

 

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