Category Archives: Parents

One ‘New Years’ resolution that will truly impact on family life

Most ‘ New Year’ resolutions fail. The word resolution actually comes from the word ‘resolute’, meaning to be clear about your purpose.

Coping with a global pandemic and the ongoing uncertainty is enough. For the vast majority of people it is not realistic to make any fundamental changes right now or set new goals, we are still in survival mode.

Rather than RES-olutions, I prefer to drop the RE and think about S-olutions.

What is your intention for your family in 2021?

What kind of parent do you want to be?

I would recommend focusing on one main intention, irrespective of the age of your child and their stage of development. An intention is more about a mindset, attitude and way of being then simply a goal or resolution.

My one parenting intention for 2021 is to continually build on CONNECTION & EMPATHY with my children.

Any relationship challenges, sibling rivalry, behaviour or learning difficulties can be helped or improved, if we as parents truly connect with our children and aim to be fully present. (Present does not mean just being at home with them 24/7). Over the last 25 years working in this field, I have learnt that children will cooperate when they feel connected.

To truly relieve some pressure, especially when your own emotions have been triggered, press an imaginary pause button. First connect with your child and focus on understanding, before reacting. If you can offer empathy, you will see tremendous growth in your relationship.

Last year taught me how to develop more resilience, embrace uncertainty and imperfection. I felt a deep sense of gratitude towards my family and learnt to fully appreciate the simple things in life. As we move into 2021, I resolve to maintain that learning and try to be compassionate, empathetic and understanding so I can deepen my family connection.

Another reason why New Year resolutions don’t work, is they tend to be big statements, without setting out the steps to get there. Parents need support to make authentic change. If you want to create an intentional, effective plan to nurture and improve your relationship with your children this year, I would be honored to support you on that journey.

Why not join my ‘Positive Parenting course’ ?

The course can be accessed remotely on Monday evenings 8 to 9:30 pm.

You can join at any time and catch up on missed sessions.

I am starting again on 11th January and you are welcome to a free trial taster.

The whole purpose is to build your connection with your child and yourself that so that you can parent calmly, confidently and with more joy.

A ‘Good Enough Parent’

The start of the new academic year always feels like a natural time for reflection and self-introspection.  Parents may not only consider themselves but also what kind of parents they are and who they want to be: their growth, mistakes, goals and desires.

Being a parent is the most responsible and challenging role we will ever have and it is very easy to lose sight of what our purpose is.  Since the lockdown period, Educating Matters has been busier than ever, supporting tens of thousands of working parents in the public and private sector globally.  So much of the conversation has revolved around the challenge of integrating work and family, particularly during this period and being able to work productively and parent at the same time.

We seem to spend so much precious time impossibly striving to be perfect parents, amidst a ‘self-sacrificing ideal parent culture’ filled with conflicting advice. There is often a large gap between what we expect of a good parent and who we actually are. Comparing, judging, feeling fear and guilt is totally unhelpful and unproductive. All the rushing around for our kids in a fiercely competitive culture is driving everyone crazy (kids and parents). Children from affluent families are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress than children in poverty.

There needs to be more time and space to just be. Perfection at work and at home is unachievable.

Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order on what it means to be ‘good enough’:

• Be nurturing, loving and supportive whilst in control.

• Spend ‘special time’: frequent, predictable, short, scheduled, unstructured bursts of time. Be mindful, conscious and really ‘with’ them.

• Teach values like gratitude– our main role is to raise good human beings, to be the best version of themselves.

• Keep your child safe by setting clear boundaries and expecting children to be accountable for their actions.

• Foster a ‘growth’ mindset (see Carol Dweck)

• ‘Grit’ is one of the best indicators of success in life. The ability to set your mind to do something and stick with it.  (See Angela Duckworth). To raise gritty kids, lose the self-sacrifice and let your child struggle a bit rather than rescuing.

• Allow your children to grow, be independent and make mistakes.

• Help them understand their needs, strengths and weaknesses.

• Regulate your own emotions and reactions, so you can manage their mistakes in a calm, positive way. To do this you need to look after yourself.

• Build a strong, connected relationship – the only way to influence them over time.

• 80% of parenting is modelling.

• Aim for a magic ratio of 5 positive comments to every negative.

• Instill a love of learning – they don’t have to be highly academic.

• Enjoy your child – Love the child you have unconditionally for who they are and not what they accomplish or the child you wish for.

How do you want your children to remember you and the time you spent together when they grow up?

Apps that Set Parents up for Success

Getting more organised is a common New Year’s resolution.  When you are managing your life and the lives of members of the family, the task can feel quite monumental.  Coordinating schedules, goals and needs can become so overwhelming that you feel like you are drowning in information that cannot possibly be kept in your head.  I like to refer to it as the ‘mental load’.  With four children in my own family, I have often felt consumed by trying to keep data and information in the right places.  (I have been known to forget a dentist appointment or lose a permission form in my time.)  But how do you go about making the information accessible to all?

Fear not!  At Educating Matters, we know more than most the importance of this task.  Below are some of the apps that we use or recommend to others to help systemise information and alleviate the stress of managing the lives of those in your family along with your own.

Calendar Apps for Parents & Families

Cozi

Cozi is an amazing app for households to organise their busy lives. Each family member is given a colour to provide a visual cue as to who needs to be where.  This app is shared across devices so that each member of the family (depending on age) can see what is going on.  In addition to calendars, you have shared to-do lists (great for chores), shopping lists and a place to store recipes.  My favourite part of the app is the family journal.  You can share pictures and videos so that no member of the family has to miss out on fun moments from baby’s first smile to a teenager’s awards ceremony.  There is a free version and a paid add free version of this app.

2 Houses

2houses is designed to help separated parents communicate and organise co-parenting  their children.  This app has helped reduce the need for uncomfortable conversations in person which can become heated.  The synchronized calendar allows parents to set custody schedules, input events such as school plays or doctor appointments and even request to swap time for special events.  There is a finance section that shows where a child’s additional financial needs are and who is responsible for paying and when.  The messaging section is especially good when there has been a break down in relationship between parents.  It has end to end encryption and can be shared with an attorney or mediator.  Keeping all communication contained in this space allows information to be shared and provides accountability which helps to keep the tone civil.  There are many other features that help make co-parenting efficient and inclusive.  There are monthly and yearly plans for this service.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is great because it is free and easy.  All you need is an email address and you are good to go.  Google’s colour coding options make it easy to identify tasks and activities.  You can also share calendars which makes life much easier for families with older children.  You can also set permissions for who is allowed to add or delete events.  One of the features I like about this calendar is that it automatically inputs directions to appointments when a location is entered.  Whilst it does not have all the bells and whistles of other apps, it is a fantastic tool for organising your family’s busy life.

Apps for Chores and Rewards

RoosterMoney

Rooster Money is my favourite app for managing pocket money. I also like this app best for teens and tweens chore rewards. This is an app that grows with your family.  It teaches your children the value of the effort they put into actions.  You can set their currency to either cash or stars.  Small children can use it as a reward chart for brushing teeth or even potty training.  As your child grows, you can choose to change the currency to GBP from the Bank of Parents.  As they become more responsible, there is even a debit card they can have that you control.  They see how much they earn and track their spending.  It helps them understand the value of money and to think before making purchases.  There are free and paid versions of this app.

ChorePad

For younger children, this is a fantastic app.  It takes the old time paper charts and digitises them to make them fun and exciting.  You set up daily and weekly chore charts that when completed, lead to stars and trophies.  Many parents like that the rewards are not monetary.  It is very visually appealing to children with many themes and the ability to choose a picture or an avatar for their screen.  The parental screen is kept separate which means that parents are in complete control.  There are free and paid versions of this app.

These apps are only a sample of many that can help with the organisational needs of your family.  Whatever app you choose, the most important factor is consistency.  Choose your apps based on what makes the most sense for your family’s particular needs AND what you feel you will remain consistent in your usage.  This will help you become successful and alleviate your stress from managing your busy family.

Educating Matters includes in their many corporate seminars “Organising Matters”.  This hour is jam packed with useful and achievable information to help working families organise the chaos which leaves more time for family bonding.  Please click here to find out how your workplace can take advantage of our expertise.

New Year = New Parenting Approach

At the start of a new year, people across the globe will be setting new resolutions and goals for 2020.  Whether that’s relating to areas such as work, family, friends, physical or mental health.

If you are a parent or responsible for caring for a child, you may be making similar resolutions year after year but nothing really changes. 

Here are some popular parenting resolutions……

  • Shout less
  • Remain calm
  • Be more empathetic
  • Spend more ‘quality time’ with your kids
  • Be on top of what’s going on at school
  • Reduce screen time for all
  • Teach your child to be more independent
  • Say yes more often
  • Be more patient
  • Be more loving and positive
  • Be more playful and fun
  • Take care of yourself
  • Improve the bedtime routine, morning routine, homework routine, mealtimes, teeth brushing etc

……BUT IT’S SO DAMM HARD & YOU HAVEN’T MET MY CHILDREN!!!!!!!

You may have read numerous books, online articles and blogs, chatted to friends but not found solutions to create real, long lasting change.

Being a parent is probably the hardest job you will ever have but no one really teaches you how to do it and just making resolutions certainly won’t help and can actually make you feel worse!!! 

Without real support and being fully conscious of your thoughts, approach and daily interactions, it can be hard to make effective change.  The vast majority of parents give up by February and go back to their old ways.

I don’t believe anyone gets it right all the time – (I certainly don’t, even with 25+ years of experience in the field of coaching parents and having 4 children of my own to practice on).

It’s far more realistic to aim for ‘good enough’ rather than perfect.

I do however know some brilliant, tried and tested, practical techniques that make a huge difference to family life and work most of the time.

Why not strive for real change and join our ‘Positive Parenting’ course?

If you are unsure, get in touch to ask more or attend a free trial taster session any Monday evening.

  • Help your child thrive
  • Improve your relationship and connection
  • Learn how to self-regulate and manage your own emotions
  • Parent with more empathy and understanding
  • Less shouting, repeating, nagging, justifying, reminding and bribing

Educating Matters are always here to help you reach your goals.

Wishing you a calmer, happier 2020 with your family.

What does it mean to be a ‘good enough parent’?

Naturally the start of a new year is a popular time to make ‘new year’ resolutions. If you are a parent aside from resolutions like making changes to your diet, exercise routine or work patterns, some of those resolutions will touch on making changes to how you parent.

Most people tend to set very unrealistic expectations for themselves, so I think this is the perfect time to think about what it means to be ‘good enough’.

This phrase “the good enough mother” was first coined in 1953 by Donald Winnicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst. … He believed that the way to be a “good mother” is to be a “good enough mother”.

We seem to spend so much precious time impossibly striving to be perfect parents, amidst a ‘self-sacrificing ideal parent culture’ and so much conflicting advice. There seems to be quite a large gap between what we expect of a good parent and who we actually are.

Comparing, judging, feeling fear and guilt is totally unhelpful and unproductive. All the rushing around for our kids in a fiercely competitive culture is driving everyone crazy (kids and parents). Children from affluent families are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress than children in poverty.

There needs to be more time and space to just be.

Perfection at work and at home is unachievable.

My resolution for 2019 is to make ‘good enough’ the goal rather than ‘perfect’.

What is the role of a good enough parent?

Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order but I would be very interested to hear yours.

• Be nurturing, loving, supportive and in control.

• Spend ‘special time’ – frequent, predictable, short, scheduled, unstructured bursts of time. Be mindful, conscious and really ‘with’ them.

• Teach values like gratitude– our main role is to raise good human beings, to be the best version of themselves.

• Keep your child safe by setting clear boundaries and making children accountable for their actions.

• Foster a ‘growth’ rather than ‘fixed’ mindset (look up Carol Dweck)

• ‘Grit’ is one of the best indicators of success in life. The ability to set your mind to do something and stick with it.  (See Angela Duckworth). To raise gritty kids, lose the self-sacrifice and let your child struggle a bit rather than rescuing.

• Allow your children to grow, be independent and make mistakes.

• Help them understand their needs, strengths and weaknesses.

• Regulate your own emotions and reactions, so you can manage their mistakes and ‘misbehaviour’ in a positive way. To do this you need to look after yourself.

• Build a strong, connected relationship – the only way to influence them over time.

• 80% of parenting is modelling

• Magic ratio of 5 positives to every negative

• Instil a love of learning – they don’t have to be highly academic.

• Enjoy your child – Love the child you have unconditionally for who they are and not what they accomplish or the child you wish for.

How do you want your children to remember you and the time you spent together when they grow up?

I do think it’s true when people say that being a parent is the hardest job in the world, with the least training.   If you would like more support in 2019, please get in touch for details about our extended ‘positive parenting’ course, talks in schools, at work or 1:1 sessions.

Wishing you and your families a peaceful, happy new year

Touch Typing

It is very possible that handwritten exams will be phased out in the next few years.  None of my older 3 children ever learnt to properly touch type but I recently read that 7 or 8 is a good time to learn so I want to test that out with my fourth child this Summer.

I got in touch with Sue from Englishtype to discover the benefits

Why teach your child to touchtype?

Touch-typing is one of those skills that has been over looked or gone out of fashion. But as computers have become an essential in most areas of life – school, work, home – the most inefficient part is usually the human / computer interface – the keyboard. In fact, it could be one of the most valuable skills your primary school child will ever learn.

Let’s look at the reasons why every child should learn the art of “keyboarding”.

1. When you type by touch, a different part of your brain is in control

When you can type without looking down at the keyboard, your unconscious is in control of what’s happening (it’s like changing gear in a car – you think it and your body does the rest).

What’s in control is the “cerebellum”; also known as your kinaesthetic (or physical) skill centre, or you may have heard the term “muscle memory” (it’s not actually in your muscles!). It really is “let your fingers do the talking”.

This part of the brain automates processes, operations and skills, so that once learned, the process part is unconscious. There are so many advantages to this part of the brain being in control, for example…

– Type more accurately
– Type faster
– Keep your eyes on the screen, no dividing of the attention between the screen and the keyboard
– Your mind is free to concentrate on content and quality of writing
– It’s a different, effective way to spell; words are finger movements and patterns on the keyboard not strings of letters

If you keep switching between looking at the keyboard and the screen, you’re wasting half your time because your brain is trying to focus on two different things at once.

2. Children who can type have an advantage over their peers

John Sutherland, professor of English literature at University College, says, ‘You want to put wings on the heels of your children? Teach them to touch-type. They’ll bless you for it.’

A child who can’t touch type will produce work at less than half the speed of a child who can; knowing that, why wouldn’t you want to give your child that advantage? More and more senior schools are looking for pupils with keyboarding skills already established. Cambridge University announced in 2017 that exams are likely to move to computer from being handwritten, this shows the future is typed. Don’t let your child get left behind.

3. Primary age is the best time to learn

Touch-typing may seem a rather grown-up skill, but primary school kids are perfectly placed to learn. 7-11yrs is ideal, because their hands are the right size, they have the concentration span, and because they love being on the computer, they’re motivated to learn.

Touch-typing can be learnt later on, either at secondary school or in adulthood, but the later you leave it, the more bad habits you’ll have to unlearn. That’s why earlier is better.

4. It helps children with various Special Needs / Neuro-diversity

Touch typing helps children with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia/DCD, ASD/Autism and Visual Impairment. Succeeding and being able to produce written work also gives a huge boost to self esteem.

Getting the powerful cerebellum/muscle memory involved in spelling completely changes the process in the brain. Words aren’t strings of letters, they are finger movements and patterns on the keyboard.

‘Some dyslexic students find typing easier than handwriting, as the tactile element of pressing the keyboard can help with managing difficult words,’ says Linda Eastap, education manager at the British Dyslexia Association. ‘The multisensory aspect of typing can help the child with letter patterns.’

5. It’s quick to learn and fun with Englishtype

Children can master it surprisingly quickly. Using Englishtype’s unique multi-sensory program and coloured keyboard, most children can get to 30wpm in about 10 weeks, with two 10-minute practices per day. Little and often is more effective than doing one hour, once a week.

There’s a great combination of lessons, games and booster (special exercises to build the automatic skill), all while collecting trophies and gems to get Outfits to dress up your little typing companion, Qwerty the Robot.

6. Your children are unlikely to learn at school

Unlike Australia and America, where ‘keyboarding’ is taught universally, children are unlikely to be taught to touch-type at school. The Government says it’s desirable, but it’s not a compulsory part of the curriculum, so most schools don’t offer touch-typing. Englishtype is designed to be self-teaching with minimal parental input, so it’s easy for children to learn at home.

7. The future isn’t going to be “all voice control”

Ever tried dictating a letter? It’s really not easy. If you give a speech, you don’t just stand up and give it, you prepare, making notes, thinking through what you’re going to say. If you’re going to use dictation software, it takes a long time to train your brain and the computer to your voice, plus even if you master it, it’s not something you can then do in a classroom, exam room, on a train as a student, etc.
There’s been a lot of fuss about this recently with Alexa, Siri, Google – all the technology companies jumping aboard for voice activation. It’s hard enough to get your phone to make a call to the right person or play one track on your stereo, never mind dictate a few thousand words!

Going back to the science for a mo, “thought to speech and thought to script have been shown to be different processes in the brain”. So when you are engaged in writing (with a pen or a keyboard), a different part of brain is activated than when you speak. So if you’re going to learn a skill, learning dictation is just as much a new thing typing. Choose carefully!

8. Being honest, it’s not actually about using your little fingers to type P and Q!

There’s been some research going around from Norway that says you don’t need to be a touch typist to type efficiently.

But they identify the factors that make for efficient and effective keyboard use – all of which are fundamentals in touch typing and won’t get learned otherwise…
– Be accurate: you will never be fast if you aren’t accurate. Just one mistake means pressing 3 keys (minimum) instead of 1 – the wrong key, the delete key and then the right key (and that’s if you spot it immediately), so 300% slower
– Look at the screen not down at your hands, you’re faster because your attention is not divided and if you do make a mistake you spot it immediately
– Type pairs and patterns of letters successively; faster typists show different fingers moving at the same time, the second key moving down as the first key moves up and so on

The best way to learn the things they suggest is to learn to touch type – even if you don’t use your pinkie finger for Q, be consistent (ensures accuracy) that’s what matters. Most people never move past having to look down at the keyboard if they aren’t taught, the eyes stay in control of the skill, and “they will hunt & peck like electro-chickens for the rest of their life” (Prof John Sutherland again).

The Importance of Play

How often do parents get an opportunity to play?   Particularly mums

 Play feeds your soul

 

Play enables children to:

• Express themselves
• Explore language freely, develop vocabulary
• Explore feelings and find out about themselves and others
• Develop co-operation, care, consideration
• Exercise choice and make decisions
• Use mathematical language and develop mathematical concepts
• Develop a range of motor skills
• Adapt, risk taking, problem solving
• Explore a fantasy world of their own creation

For your children play is vital. Play is a child’s work.

Everything a child does, or doesn’t do, influences the next stage of their development. The early years are the time when a child’s brain is developing, making connections and creating a network of skills that are built on throughout their lives.

Play is important for everyone – adults too

Helping Kids Have the Confidence to Shine

Anyone who has kids knows that they vary hugely in character, even siblings in the same environement who are treated the same – we hope! – turn out completely differently. We see that confidence doesn’t come naturally to all yet those who have it achieve more, learn better and are fundamentally happier as a result.

Can all children learn to be confident? I believe they can.

Life for a child is full of up and downs, journeys and paths that are not always certain. A child needs as much confidence as possible as they discover, learn, question and grow through their formative years.

My name is Nadine Shenton and I run Confidence in Kids.  During my sessions with children I focus on the following points which I list here and encourage parents to consider:

1 Appreciate their effort no matter if they win or lose

whilst growing up, the journey is much more important than the result.

2 Encourage practice to build competence which leads to building confidence –

let your child practise whatever they are interested in and don’t put added pressure on them in the process.

3 Let them figure out problems by themselves –

if you do the hard work for them, they will never develop the confidence to work it out on their own.

4 Let them act their age –

they are not your age, they are children, therefore let them act as children. Striving to meet advanced age expectations can reduce confidence.

5 Home life-

What is the home set up? Who does all the talking? What number sibling are they? Parents make many mistakes in the early years, this is normal, do not be hard on yourself, learn from mistakes and move forward.

6 Friendships-

Are they a leader, a follower or one of the team? Do they like their friends or are they trying very hard to fit in? Are they invited to playdates and do they have time to play or is too much time taken up by homework and other ‘stuff’?

In my sessions, I come to understand each child by listening.  I tap into their passions, interests, hobbies and also seek to understand their struggles and hurdles and how these might stop them performing to the best of their ability and lower their self esteem.

Are they stressed for example, under pressure from their home or school environment, anxious, comparing themselves to others or do they constantly hear their parents compare one sibling to another? Not healthy!

Are they hearing messages from a parent that they are ‘shy’ and, as a result, have they come to believe this? It is very easily done and perhaps overlooked by parents but it can have dramatic consequences and lower confidence.

Communication and especially listening is integral to the development of a happy child.

If you would like to know more about how your child can gain confidence, whether for future presentations, interviews or public speaking or simply to see your child smile and blossom … then please see