6 toddlers too many…?

This draft post (now a real ‘post’) has been just sitting in the Dashboard for ages and until now never really made it up the priority life list : )

It’s a really important issue and since the debate in the UK started over a proposed increase to nursery supervision (the number of children that each adult can supervise), there has been a huge backlash from just about every associated group – hardly surprising really.

Here’s the very good article by Zoe Williams from the Guardian which highlights the issues very well. 

So, going from 4 children to 6 is a 50% rise – will this have positive outcomes? What will the level of care or support be which someone can give to 6 toddlers?

How on earth can you take 6 toddlers out at once? This would not be possible, unless it’s just to a very secure area connected to the actual nursery. It would be madness and unsafe, particularly travelling along roads.

It’s worth saying that I have two boys (6 and 4) and when they were 4 and 2 they were a lot more of a handful than they are now. Looking after 6 toddlers which aren’t your own children must be very difficult, but it is certainly not impossible. I would imagine most countries have standards where more than 6 toddlers routinely are placed with a single carer. It can be done, but that is only a very small part of the issue. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done, or that it is the best interests of the toddlers.

The amount of attention each toddler would receive would be minimal – and that at the most important part of their development as a human, in terms of character, empathy and intelligence. This is when they learn the most basic emotional skills.

One of my main issues with the standard school (or child-care) system is the numbers involved. 30 children to one teacher (and a teaching assistant) at primary school. Maybe 6 toddlers to a ‘carer’ at nursery? This is not going in the right direction. How are we expecting children (young and older) to learn moral, spiritual and intellectual lessons when contact with adults is going down? The level of positive influences would also seem to go down. Attention, love and guidance from caring adults is essential in child development. Obviously interacting with other kids is also vital to child development and each need to be balanced.


The solar system…

Graphic of the day… A great representation of the relative sizes of each of the planets and their distances away from each other.



Less teaching = more education…?

Another study which suggests that starting school later leads to the same or better understanding of language and reading skills by the end of primary education.

Starting school at seven ‘can boost pupils’ reading skills’ – Telegraph

It’s another indicator for us that starting our boys in school aged 5, or even 4 for Reception classes, is the wrong move. Language development is important but this does not have to done in a formal way and the thought of my nearly 6 year old going through testing to determine their level of attainment just goes against my instincts. Age 7 would be the absolute earliest we would consider a start in school for them.

Maybe one day our teaching establishment will realise that earlier schooling and over testing does not lead to a better eduction and that this is actually why the UK is falling further and further behind other developed countries.


Protected: Jamie’s Reading Eggs…

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Garlic soup helpers…

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Jamie and letters…

Claire has had a great idea of using pegs and cards to match up letters and words to try and teach the boys more about reading.

We had 10 minutes earlier where I encouraged the boys to try out the peg word game. They both joined in and we managed to go through various words and letters, talk about how each sounds, how the name of each can be different to the sound they make and what other words are within the larger words.

The main one was LEGO where you can make LEG, EGO and GO, just by using the letters in the same order.

The other morning, I came downstairs and the first thing Jamie said to me was…

J: ‘Rabbits and Giraffes can’t climb trees bur rabbits can dig holes and giraffes can get leaves with their long necks.

 Me: ‘How did you learn that then?’

J: ‘Because i’m good!’

He’s a cute kid and it’s amazing seeing him developing in so many ways. Jac is also developing but sometimes it’s easy to not see this as much as Jamie, because Jamie is always breaking new ground. The thing is, Jac is also breaking new ground every day as everything he is doing is original and unique.


Protected: The Exploratory @ Bristol…

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Sir Ken Robinbson: Do schools kill creativity?

A very funny and very interesting TED video, featuring the legend that is Sir Ken Robinson.

Instead of embedding videos on the blog, for which I need the WordPress upgrade, Claire has just shown me how to get the video in the post without this! Star advice as usual.



Jamie maths and English…

Jamie has been making gradual but very noticeable progress in his use of maths and English (if you want to categorise these things??). Two things which have really stood out are his attempts to try out adding up, and his exploration of sounds within words.

He’s been coming up with things like 3 and 2 makes 5! Tonight he said to me 2 threes is 6 and 3 threes is 9! This is without any formal or conscious teaching on our part and must be just being absorbed. The whole times tables thing is a classic school thing but he seems to be doing on his own! Bloody hell.

He’s also been experimenting with big numbers, coming up with something like ‘1 million 43 thousand and 6 things!’ Or, 1 million to 43 hundred and 5!

The other thing is using sounds and whole word recognition, but things like ‘I’ is in ‘Ice’! He’s also recognising words, so this seems like a good duel approach, which will cover both the visual aspect and audio aspect, as different people respond to different things and at different times.


Home ed starts here…?

Adults and children all over Gloucestershire are right now stressing out, looking for socks, books, bags and trying to get ready to go back to school!

We’re not though. Today is the first day of Jamie’s official home education!

I’m sitting here watching the parents and kids go past our bay window, in their various uniforms, some riding bikes, some walking in little groups, some with parents. It’s an amazing sunny day and full of energy.

Jamie would be starting Reception class today, but we’ve decided to not jump into the school system until either he wants to or we feel the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages. We’ve spent the last couple of years considering this and feel it’s the best choice for our family.

So far today, I got up with the boys and checked my email. A message from SKP was there with a bouldering video (my latest life pursuit!). Jamie was telling me about climbing and how using both your feet will help to climb higher and that children need special climbing walls. He was saying you can use special stones and wood on the walls to hold onto. I was telling him about the soft crash mats on the floor and he asked about the slight blister I got the last time I went bouldering. He’s very switched on about connections. He’s already made two different Lego models this morning and wants to build more!


Jamie name…

Jamie has taken another step on the way to being ‘educated’ by writing his own name!

Claire was with him when he asked how to write his name. She just basically said you know how to do it, so very little prompting, just support. She said the first couple of letters but then he just wrote out the rest.

Apparently he then got excited and cut it out, taking the dot over the i with it! The last time I saw him write his name I had to get him to draw around the dots, rather than freehand.

So, with almost no practising, prompting or coaching, he’s got to this stage. It’s a pretty good advert for autonomous learning to be fair! It really shows what children can do if left to get on with things at their own pace and with their own motivation.

Right now, I think i’m somewhere between the ‘home education’ area and the ‘autonomous learning’ area. I don’t feel a total autonomous experience is fulfilling for either the child or parent, as it means there is no teaching, which can be an amazing experience. But, there is a significant amount of learning that is autonomous, a certain amount of direction from the parents. This direction often just takes the form of introducing a range of experiences to the boys, rather than formal learning, but they both seem to be really interested in books, reading, numbers, as well as running around like nutters!

Autonomous learning is also very important for students, given that a certain amount of work has to be done at home or away from class, requiring self-motivation. This skill was something I was particularly bad at, so i’m very keen to promote that in my own kids as I know how important it is.

This seems to be where we feel comfortable right now and both of the boys are growing noticeably in their understanding and abilities.



It’s strange where inspiration can come from sometimes…

We just received a Christmas card from my sister and her partner. On the front are a number of quotes from the poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, titled ‘I am Waiting’.

The line which really stood out for me goes, ‘…and I am waiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder.’

So, I typed ‘perpetual renaissance’ into Google and the following webpage came up…


It’s an article by an English teacher posting on denverpost.com and really sums up what we’re trying to do with our kids, or that’s the plan anyway! It’s what you see in people all the time. It’s what you see at work. It’s what you hope isn’t happening to society but suspect it already has.

Don’t lose the wonder and inspiration of life.


RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms…

I saw an incredible animation last week which really had a massive effect on me.


It’s a time-lapse animation of a guy drawing a series of marker pen sketches, which run alongside Sir Ken Robinson narrating about the subject of education.

It’s a fascinating and logical 11 minutes and 40 seconds. I haven’t come across Ken Robinson before but i’m going to do some reading up on him (have just added a couple of his books to my Amazon Wishlist!).