The power of education at the right time in the right way

Two stories. One shows the power of early years education, the other a sad story that raises a judgement call on identifying the best learning environment for children who are deaf or hard of hearing…

Preschool improves academic success

A new study from Oxford University suggests that far more pre-schoolers end up taking an academic route into university than those who do not have the same educational start. The research, funded by the institution’s education department, found that children of all backgrounds who receive a preschool education are almost twice as likely to go on to sit AS-levels and those who go to preschool were “significantly” more likely to take four or more AS-levels or three or more A-levels. The Guardian

 Deaf school to close

Administrators have confirmed that the Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate is to close, despite a petition calling for Kent County Council to provide funding and support to keep it open attracting over 10,000 signatures. BBC News

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Nativity at night-time

Nativity, it’s the month when parents, grandparents and carers get the chance to see their little loved ones sing and do their best to say words they have been practicing for weeks. 

For us, it was our son’s last nativity at pre-school. He was a Roman soldier. My husband asked if he needed a sword and my daughter said: “He’s counting the folk not killing them!”

When we arrived the other soldier had a sword and the teacher had to occasionally swipe it away as she was helping the children with their lines.

My son was acting like a teenager, with his spiked up hair he pulled faces all the way through, barely said his lines and didn’t sing one word.

Then after it was all over he ate a mince pie and then larked around with the three wise men, playing with cardboard crowns and lots of running around in circles. The adults meanwhile drank mulled wine and listened to the results of the raffle.

When my son went to bed, he then sang all the songs perfectly before drifting off to sleep…..typical!

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Finding another me

When a Mum goes back to work, organising childcare is both complicated and a real emotional wrench. When I picked up my baby boy from pre-school today, he helped himself out of the school as soon as he saw my car pull up. I picked him up and he pressed his little chubby cheek so close to mine and cuddled me so tightly. The lady who runs the school had to tell him not to run out of school again because its dangerous but she wasnt as stern as she would have liked to be because he was just too cute. Although he is 3 he knows how to work the look. That is going to come in very handy when he is older.

I also face the issue of what happens with our 2 Jack Russells, who will have no-one to spend the day with when I return to work. I need doggy day care too. In fact the more I think about it, the more I realise how much of our current lives depends on me being at home working part-time.

But….as readers of my previous blog posts will know, somethings gotta give.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Surprise vacancies

Every now and then I decide to have complete memory failure over my previous baking and cooking attempts and embark on a new chapter in my home-baking career.

These attempts are normally assisted by Tana Ramsay whose book on family cooking seems to understand the need for Mums to freeze things and prepare stuff in advance to reduce cooking time.

She also understands that every once in a while us Mums need me time, and highlights the benefits of kneading dough, to exorcise the frustrations of life and build up a bit of upper arm strength at the same time.

So, I decided to make my own dough and I was surprised how satisfying a process it was to create a dough and the bake it into ‘danish pastry pizzas’. It was particularly surprising to find that they were edible.

Today had a couple of other surprises in store….

I had the chance to go riding this morning (I dont have the money to own a horse I hasten to add, I just bum free rides when owners need their gee gees exercised…..in the boom time I used to get paid for it).

I encountered a ‘bridleway closed’ sign. It wasnt on a big red road sign but there was a diversion (smack bang in the middle of nowhere). I followed the diversion and came across a muddy bit which we ploughed on through until my horse’s rear legs appeared to give way. He had been sucked into a vat of clay. He is 17.2hh so for him to slip like that is highly unusual. By the time he recovered we had clay everywhere even up on his cheek and by his ear.

I later went to collect my baby boy from pre-school and discovered that at the tender age of 3 he had been chosen to play Joseph in the nativity (mainly because he is like a parrot and will repeat everything you say – none of the other boys in the pre-school were that interested in saying the lines). So he now has his first script to learn. My daughter was Mary when she was at the pre-school,so she is thrilled that he is following in her footsteps.

When we picked her up from school and told her, she immediately launched into rehearsals and asked baby boy to repeat ‘Is there any room at the Inn?’

He said…..’no’

Think perhaps he should be the innkeeper.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Seeking solace in a day job

Phew! I feel like a demented hamster just jumped off the spinning wheel. My head is also about to explode – if I was a computer my CPU usage would be maxed out. Feel in need of some primal scream therapy, but, I saved my neighbours’ ears by glancing out the window and noticing the crescent moon looking perfect. It’s either a crescent shape or the bottom of a ball that’s lit up – depending on which way you look at it. I prefer the ball as it makes you think that there is light somewhere that it is making it shine a bit like when the bedroom door is ajar and the light shines through from the landing. 

Anyway I am getting a bit carried away with that analogy. On another topic…… I was struck dumb when the manager of my baby son’s nursery said that she took no salary from the nursery’s income to keep the fees affordable for parents and to keep investing in the nursery. She works full-time so this is taking self-sacrifice to the limit. I asked “But how do you survive?” and she was embarrassed to ask the question so changed the subject to my son. She is not the only kind-hearted person who works in childcare for next to nothing. The manager of my daughter’s pre-school also worked all the hours possible to keep the nursery running and never took sick days. Her pay was negligible and she hadn’t had a pay rise in years. She put the children and the nursery before herself. I mentioned to my son’s nursery that I thought she was similar to the manager of my daughter’s pre-school. I mentioned that she used to do fostering as well as pre-school and the nursery manager said she would like to do that too. These people are few and far between and they are amazing. However, society abuses this generosity and makes it harder for people who do nothing but give.

I could have suggested she put the fees up so that she gets a fairer deal – I think I will tomorrow. The Government is making it harder for women to work with cuts to child benefit and the childcare element of working tax credit and I rely on that to make money after I have paid the nursery fees. But why should the Government and people like the nursery manager bust their guts to subsidise low wages? It’s a vicious cycle that is difficult to find a solution – maybe start looking at the salaries of fat cats and a fairer distribution of wealth and then you might be getting somewhere.

The nursery though gets no support from the company that it provides a childcare service too and that is shocking. So we have to do all we can to fund-raise for new facilities. For example we need equipment for a new outdoor area that we have finally been granted only through much protest from fellow teachers (the culprits are the senior management of a private school).

The nursery and pre-school managers are the ones who ultimately come out on top though. They have sought solace in their work through the positive effect they have on the young lives of those they care for.  That’s better than any pay cheque. But it’s wrong that those working in childcare work for low wages – they are looking after the most precious people in our world and deserve respect and reward even though they will never ask for it.

I am blogging every day for Unicef and aim to riase a £1 a day through this blog. If you can support this campaign please visit my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.