Posted in Maths, times tables

## Times Tables – once you got ’em, you GOT ’em!

It’s Sunday night, and The Tween and I were having a long and involved chat about STUFF, as you do when you’re a Tween, it’s Sunday night and you know that the longer you keep mum talking, the later your bedtime is.

We were talking about maths, which is one of my favourite subjects and one of her least favourite ones, and specifically about learning times tables.

“I’m good with all times tables except my sevens and nines,” she announced. “I can’t get the hang of them. I’ve got a mental block. I’ve got a gap in my brain where they should be. My brain simply can’t do them.”

Challenge accepted.

“I bet you can learn your 7 times tables in less than half an hour,” I said. She still insisted there was no way she could do it. Mental block. Lack of brain ability.

“Look, I bet you a quid you can. You do it, I pay you a pound. If you can’t, you pay me. I bet you already know most of it.” Bribery is a common parenting technique in this house, because it works well and involves less arguing. Don’t judge me.

Turns out she already knew 1 x 7 = 7, and 2 x 7 = 14. (“Duh, mother, I’m not STUPID.”)

So for a minute I grilled her over and over – “What’s one times seven? What’s two times seven?”

And then I said, “You know what three times seven is? Twenty one.” And grilled her over and over for another minute, asking her randomly what 1 x 7 is, 2 x 7 and 3 x 7.

I repeated this adding 4 x 7 = 28 into the mix. She knew what 5 x 7 was, so that was added in really quickly, and turns out she knew what 6 x 7 was (“The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything!” – yes, we are Douglas Adams fans in this house!) AND what 7 x 7 was.

Eventually I was randomly asking her ALL the multiplication questions for her seven times tables. If she got it wrong, I didn’t correct her, I just paused, while she tried again.

After fifteen minutes, I asked her to tell me her 7 times table.

Big deep breath. Eyes up to the ceiling, concentrating…. “Seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight, thirty-five, forty-two, forty-nine, fifty-six, sixty-three, seventy, seventy-seven… EIGHTY-FOUR-YOU-OWE-ME-A-POUND!”

Even she conceded that she was surprised she managed it so quickly. Of course, this is still bedtime, and OF COURSE she had to prove she could do it again by reciting it to The Hubster, The Teen, both cats individually and finally me again before eventually getting into bed.

It was worth the pound. AND the £1.50 when she learned the nine times tables the following evening (“It’s called inflation, mother.”)

This is just one of the techniques I’ve used to teach times tables, and it happens to work well with The Tween (and The Teen before her, who never required bribing or mentioning inflation. EVER.), but that doesn’t mean all of our Superstars learn this way! Check out this blog post HERE for more ideas to help get those times tables into brains!

Have a fine Wednesday, lovely people!

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Posted in Transitions, Uncategorized

## Six Things To Know About Transition Days in Key Stage 2!

What the chuff are transition days?

These are the days that your Superstar Student will spend with their new teacher and their new classmates in the coming half term to give them a taster of what their school life will be like as they move up a year.

## Teacher, meet Superstar. Superstar, meet Teacher!

This is a chance for the new teacher to get to know your child! They will have seen the assessments and know what academic level your child has reached in maths and English. They’ve probably talked to your child’s previous teacher! But often they haven’t met your child before, or at the very least, not taught them. This is their chance to find out how confident they are, how they get on with other students, and begin to build a relationship with them.

It’s also a chance for your child to experience the expectations their new teacher has for them – all teachers have different personalities and teaching styles.

## Superstars… meet each other!

If your child is moving from Year 2 to 3, or Year 3 to 6, there is a strong possibility that they are going to a bigger school and there will be children from their year from other schools. This is a chance for them to get to know each other before being thrown together in September. It’s a chance to make new friends, and – let’s be honest here – it’s a chance for them to find out the people that they don’t get on with as well.

If your child is going to a school away from their current friends, they are bound to be worried – schools are very aware of this, and often use transition days to put together a friendship group for them.

## Get to know your way around!

New schools can be confusing places! During transition days, your child will learn where everything is – classrooms, libraries, where to eat lunch, and of course – where the toilets are!

Even moving within the same school to a different classroom can feel very unfamiliar. It’s a chance to settle in to a new classroom, which in Key Stage 2 will be their base for the next school year.

## Learn the daily routine!

Moving to Year 3 from Year 2 will probably mean learning different daily routines. Learning where to line up, what to do during registration, when they can use the library, what time are breaks and lunchtimes – some or all of these may be different.

Many schools have staggered lunchtimes too – changing years may mean that your child goes to lunch earlier or later than the previous year. Changing lunchtimes from 12.00 to 12.30 was one of the most challenging things for me as an adult when I moved from working mainly with Year 3 and 4 to working with Years 5 and 6! I always made sure I had a snack at break time or my stomach would start to rumble – loudly – dead on 12.00!

## Time to have some fun!

It might be art, it might be science – it might be introducing the first topic that they will cover in the coming first term. There will almost certainly some PE activities. There will definitely be some ‘getting to know you’ activities. All of these activities are designed to start building the relationships between your Superstar, their new teacher and their new classmates.

## (And the most important reason…)

Fear of the unknown is a big thing for everyone, and our little people are no exception! Being able to meet teachers, classmates, spend time in new classrooms and new schools is a good way to ensure that they are as relaxed as possible about joining their new class or school in September – and then they can enjoy their summer holidays!

Remember – all schools should welcome additional contact with your child should he/she have ongoing worries about the new school year, so please don’t hesitate to ask to speak to the head teacher, your child’s new teacher, SENCo or welfare officers if you need to.

Here’s wishing you – and your Superstars – a fantastic last few weeks in their current class!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Posted in Freebie Friday

## It’s Freebie Friday!

Wow, how is it Friday already? This week has gone by in a blur – it’s been half term holiday here at The Homework Fairy Godmother Hideout and I swear both my kids have turned into stomachs on legs with the amount of food they’ve consumed!

So hear are are four new bookmarks for you to print out!

For best results, print out on cardstock, or on paper and laminate.

Save those page corners!

Happy Friday, lovely people!

Posted in Mental Health, Transitions, Uncategorized

## … and how you can help!

It’s half term, summer is here, Year 6 SATs are over, surely our kids are breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying life, right?

There are many kids (mine are two of them!) who are looking towards the end of this school year with some trepidation. The end of the school year means change – change of class, change of teacher, change of classmates and for our Year 6 and Year 2 kids – change of school.

Here’s five things your kids might be worrying about – and how you can help!

## I don’t know my new teacher…

Virtually all schools now run transitions days or weeks where children get to spend time with their new teacher in their new classroom. However, these days are often right at the end of the summer term – your child may be getting worried before then!

What you can do:

• take a look at your school’s website or reception/office and look at the photographs of the staff. Chat to them about the different teachers they can see. How many do they know? What would they tell a new kid about the teacher they have had this year?
• talk to your child’s teacher. They should be able to arrange for your child to meet teachers that they may have in the new school year.

## The work will be too hard…

Schools are really good at sharing current work in displays around school, on their websites, and now even on social media! Our kids can look at this and think to themselves, “I’ll never be able to do THAT!”

What you can do:

• Remind your child that this work is what has been produced AT THE END of the school year – those children have learned a lot since September and probably wouldn’t have been able to produce that work at the beginning
• Reassure your child that their new teacher will KNOW your kid’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses BEFORE the new school year starts – their current teacher will pass on LOTS of information to the new one!

## I won’t be with my friends…

This is a tricky one. While teachers DO make an effort to make sure that every child has friends in class, if your child is being placed into ability groups (as is usual moving to a large secondary school), your child may not be placed with their best friend if they are of differing abilities. And sometimes, certain friendships might not be conducive to effective learning… I remember being split up from my best friend in my third year at Junior School because we just wouldn’t stop talking and distracting each other!

What you can do:

• Reassure your child that they will get to see their friend at breaks and lunch times. You might want to arrange for them to see each other after school or at weekends so they can spend more time together
• Remind them that you know how hard it is to make new friends sometimes, but they will get to know other people in their class
• Talk to their current teacher – they can take friendship groups into consideration when new classes are being organised

## I won’t be able to find my way around…

This was a huge worry for The Teen when he was in Year 6 and getting ready to transition to High School. He has the directional ability of a drunk bluebottle, so I admit I was a tad concerned too!

What you can do:

• make sure your child goes to transition days – the high school The Teen goes to now does a whole transition week, where the Year 6 kids spend five days in with their new form tutor. They learn their way around as a group, and by the end of the week feel much more confident.
• most schools are happy for you and your child to visit the school after school hours so you can look round again – this is often REALLY useful if your child feels intimidated by the sheer size of some of the students! Most Year 10 and 11s tower over me, let alone The Tween!

## I might get bullied…

This one is very, very common. Our lovely Year 6 kids going to high school or Year 2 kids going to Junior school are used to being THE BIGGEST KIDS in their school. They are the big fish in the little ponds, and going back to being the youngest again is daunting. ALL SCHOOLS should now have a policy on bullying, and should be proactive in making sure it doesn’t happen – but it still can.

What you can do:

• Check out the new school’s policy on dealing with bullying – it should be on their website, and if not, contact the school office and ask for a copy.
• Find out who you need to talk to if your child is bullied – I found The Teen’s Year 7 form tutor and the head of year both fantastic to talk to, and very effective at dealing with a particular issue The Teen had. Make sure your child knows who this person is!
• Stay calm – sometimes our kids worry that we will go storming in, protecting our beloved babies roaring like a lion – and they feel we would make the situation worse. Even when you are spitting bullets, keeping calm is essential when both TALKING ABOUT and DEALING WITH bullying.
• Reassure your child that IF bullying happens, you will work with them to deal with it.

I’d love to know how your kids are feeling about the new school year in September! Hit me up on Facebook here or on Instagram here – or leave me a comment below!

Posted in Freebie Friday

## It’s Freebie Friday!

Guess who’s on time this week? MEEEEE! So here’s your Friday Freebie of four bookmarks, reminding you this week to Believe, to Dream, to Hope and to Love.

For best results, print out on cardstock, or on paper and laminate.

Save those page corners!

Happy Friday, lovely people!

Posted in Freebie Friday

## Freebie Friday… errrr, I mean Monday!

Last week was a little on the stressful side in this house! Firstly – SATs. The Tween didn’t stress as much as I anticipated, thank goodness, but she was utterly exhausted at the end of them. She was very clingy and needed company a lot more than normal, so I switched off from work, social media and we did mum-daughter stuff! Cookies were baked, we drew, we watched films, we sang, ate a shit-tonne of chocolate and she’s back to her usual bubbly self.

Secondly – we had our old bathroom ripped out and a new one is almost in! (Yeah, I really didn’t think that timing through, did I!) We have survived with a bathroom with a sink that didn’t drain, a bath that had no working hot tap, a leaky toilet cistern, a black hole under the bath, and ratty old lino on the floor for nearly two years. The only way to have a bath was to run a hose from the hot tap in the sink – and the hose didn’t stay on by itself, so you had to hold it in place, or it leaked into the sink that didn’t drain – it wasn’t pleasant! Even though we are going to have a fantastic bathroom at the end of it, changes to routine are not easy for both Teen and Tween – and me! – to handle, so we all can’t wait for it to be finished!

So my usual Friday Freebie is (just a teeny-weeny) bit late – but better late than never, right?

Have a wonderful week!

Posted in Freebie Friday, Uncategorized

## Freebie Friday – New Bookmarks!

It’s Fri-YAY! Can I get a whoop-whoop at the back?

Here’s some free cute bookmarks for you to print out and use!

For best results, print on cardstock, or on paper and laminate.

Keep those page corners pristine!

Posted in Freebie Friday, Uncategorized

## Freebie Friday!

So who doesn’t like a freebie?

Here’s some free bookmarks for you to print out and use!

For best results, print on cardstock, or on paper and laminate.

Never turn down a page corner again!

Posted in SATs, Uncategorized, Year 6

## Aargghh! SATs Stress!

SATs week is nearly upon us – Key Stage 2 SATs (that’s Year 6) will begin on Monday 13th May with the SPaG tests (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar), with the reading test on Tuesday 14th May, Maths Papers 1 and 2 (Arithmetic and Reasoning 1) on Wednesday 15th May and the final Maths Reasoning paper on Thursday 16th May.  Key Stage 1 SATs (that’s Year 2) will also take place in May, but the exact week will be set by individual schools.  The phonics check test for Key Stage 1 will be on or after Monday 10th June.

This can be a highly emotionally charged time for our kids.  Even if you have a very calm child (The Teen wasn’t worried about the tests themselves as he liked working on his own in silence!) the anxiety other children may feel can also influence them (I once had to go in to school to calm down The Teen who was hyperventilating and shaking because so many of his friends and peers were upset and worried).

So how can we help them? Here’s a few ways!

Affirmations

Teaching our kids positive affirmations can help their self-esteem.  Keeping the affirmations short and snappy and getting them to repeat them after you say them, or write them down on a post it note or diary/journal may encourage resilience.  I’m sharing some affirmations every day over on Instagram this May!

Listen

We can listen without judgment, or without trying to solve the problem for them – being able to vocalise their worries can be incredibly valuable to a child.  It is really important to try to JUST listen – I know we all want to jump in with our views on what needs to be done to help because we just want to make it better but knowing that we will listen without interrupting can really help our kids to open up!

Praise

Give as much praise and encouragement as you can – about anything you can!

“Thanks for emptying your lunchbox, that’s a big help!”

“I’m incredibly proud of you for …”

“I missed you while you were at school/while I was at work today…”

Sleep

Sleep is SOOOO important!  Having a lack of sleep not only contributes towards low mood and anxiety, it’s not going to help them concentrate during these last days of revision or during the exams!  Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep, and that they are getting some time away from the ever-present tablets and phones they are so often glued to.  Getting to bed a bit earlier but having time to read is a fantastic way to help them relax.

Keeping it calm

Yes, they’ve left their dirty clothes in a pile on the floor again.  Give them a bit of slack – choose your battles wisely over the next couple of weeks and try not to react if they are more irritable than normal.

Roll with the differences

They might be more clingy than normal, or they might isolate themselves more than normal.  Check in with them regularly – a quick “Do you need anything?” will reassure them you’re there for them.

Have something to look forward to

You might want to do a countdown to a summer holiday, or get them involved in planning a day trip or meal out for after the exams.

Journaling

Some children may find that writing a diary or a journal can help with anxiety.  Being able to write down their worries or fears can be a way to vent their emotions safely.

Outside interests and friends

If your child wants to keep up with their outside interests or their friends outside of school, this is a great way to take their minds off their current worries.

Eat healthily

Yes, I know that getting vitamins into some children is like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle (how The Tween has managed to survive considering his idea of five a day is the number of chicken nuggets he wants to eat is beyond me) but eating well really helps with feeling good and using their brain!  Although they might not feel like eating before their exams, encourage them to eat breakfast!

Try some relaxation techniques

Laughter, stretching, deep breathing, exercising, listening to music and meditating are all activities that increase the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains.  You might like to try some of these together (The Teen has just read this over my shoulder and said, “Fat chance, mother!” but perhaps your child is less contrary than mine is!)I

Here’s hoping we all get through this SATs season as unscathed as possible!

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Posted in Mental Health, Uncategorized

## Mental Health in May!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States – and it’s seventy  years since it was first started in all the way back in 1949.  Here in the UK, we are coming up to Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts on Monday 13th May – ironically, this is also SATs week for our Key Stage Two kids, when they are likely to be more stressed than usual!

As parents, we feel confident in picking up our children when they fall – putting plasters on grazed knees, soothing away nightmares, giving Calpol for a fever, but dealing with their mental health can be frightening and make us feel helpless.

Throughout May I’ll be sharing hints, tips and resources to help YOU help your child if they are becoming anxious or worrying about school, friendships, bullying, loneliness, body image, exams, the new school year and new classes/schools.

And remember – mild anxiety and worries are normal parts of life for all of us, adults and children alike.  But if you think your child is at risk of harming themselves, or are constantly struggling with anxiety, low mood or depression, please reach out for help: