From the monthly archives: June 2013
Enid Blyton - when I started to believe in fairies...

Enid Blyton – when I started to believe in fairies…

Do you believe in fairies?

My little tribe is of the firm belief that fairies, dragons and unicorns are all areal.

Utterly, totally convinced.

We have a fairy garden in the back yard for the fairies to live in or just take a break on their way to very important business.

Little L and Captain Jack believe that every living creature has feelings, trees, snails, bugs…

We talk about magical creatures as though they are every bit a real as a cat or a dog.  The kids reason, just because you haven’t seen these mystical critters does not mean they don’t exist. It just means that they are very good at hiding. And why not? Since humans can be pretty nasty sometimes to living creatures.

This wholehearted belief in magic and fairies casts a lovely glow of wonder over our home. Treasures are created and left for our little friends in the garden. ‘Signs’ are seen every day, tiny footprints, little flashes of light, shimmering reflections…

I have been asked why we indulge these beliefs, why don’t we teach the kids what is REAL?

It’s simple really.

Because my little tribe believe it to be both real and true.

So why should I question or dismiss what the kids believe in?

In their creative little minds, their beliefs are both real and true.

For me that is as good a reason as any to believe in fairies.

Do you believe in fairies at your place?

Enjoy xx

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How to tackle homework with tears (gorgeous stationery like this from kikki k may help!)

How to tackle homework without tears (gorgeous stationery like this from kikki k may help!)

Growing up, I don’t remember homework being a big deal.

It was more a case of racing through it as quickly as possible so I still had time to get outside and ride my bike or play Monkey Magic (sorry to anyone born after the 80’s – you may not get that one – I was always Sandy by the way, and we made my little sister play the part of Pigsy, yep she still hasn’t forgiven us!).

Oh how times have changed!  With four kids, we run the full gambit of approaches to homework: from ‘no homework policy’ through to rote learning of spelling, violin practice, occupational therapy, and school readiness (am not sure that even existed when I was a kid!).

It’s a bit tricky though to know when you are about to cross the line between helpful parent and hovering stress machine…

So today I thought I’d share a couple of tips/ tricks I’ve learnt along the way:

  • A small amount of time each night beats a BIG night on Thursday.  Captain Jack (Year 2) gets homework each week which is due on a Friday.  So two choices, do a little each night, or have a LONG session Thursday night.We trialled letting him decide the first week of term and the long night at the end of the week was an abysmal failure. He was exhausted, I was exhausted, we were both grumpy and it was like pulling teeth, slowly, with kitchen tongs. Painful.  So, now we do 15-20 minutes every night, and bingo, he’s normally finished by Thursday.
  • Get the whole crew involved. My four kids sit down at the same time each night either at our ‘homework table’ or with the iPad, and all do their ‘homework’. Nobody is missing out, and nobody feels hard done by.
  • No TV until the homework session is done. Some nights, this means no TV for the kids.  Sounds harsh, but it’s been worth it! Fewer distractions, and calmer kids for homework, dinner and then bath and bedtime.
  • Mix it up. We have the homework/ craft table, stocked with pencils, textas, rubbers, sharpeners, paper, scissors, all ready to go.  Here is a fab website if you really want to go to town on your own  table or get some ideas on how to spruce up your study area. Plus we have an iPad with educational apps to keep the kids interested.
  • Make friends with technology!  Use your iPad, PC or iPod to keep the kids interested and learning.  Here are some great apps to try to we also love Mathletics, reading eggs, literacy planet.
  • Keep it all firm but positive!  Sounds tough, but you have to persevere. Kids like adults get a huge kick of satisfaction and personal pride when they finish a project or do well after practising.  It is worth the effort.  Praise the effort taken and don’t be afraid to point out how they could improve.

Have you got any good tips for making homework a little less stressful?

Enjoy xx

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Vilfredo Pareto, perhaps gazing out at Italy or his patch or peas?

Vilfredo Pareto, perhaps gazing out at Italy or his patch or peas?

 

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle?  Sometimes it’s referred to as the 80/20 rule.

In 1906 an Italian economist , Vilfredo Pareto,  noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people, then on a horticultural front, noted that 20% of his  peapods contained 80% of the peas ( how’s  that for diversity of application!).  This principle has since been translated into business, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients, 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers…

So how about applying this principle in your life?

At work, what are the top 20% of things you should be focussing your efforts on?  Tacking the big stuff (your top 20%) first will give you big gains, whilst you could think about delegating the smaller stuff (the other 80%) to somebody in your team (helping them to learn the ropes). If you are in the midst of  climbing the corporate ladder, can you find an opportunity to step up and tackle one of the big tricky problems?

At home, can 20% of your cleaning give you 80% of your ‘clean house’ satisfaction?

I tested this theory out this week. Cleaning our castle takes me about 5-6 hours, which means I should get the most bang out my cleaning buck for about 1.5 hours.  Coincidently (or not – according to the Pareto Principle), this is about the time it takes me to clean our ‘high traffic areas’  kitchen/ living room. Though this is totally unscientific, I found that yes I did feel like I had a much cleaner house after that initial 1.5 hours. Now if only I could find someone to clean the ‘less satisfying’ parts… my kids maybe?

What if I applied it to de-cluttering? I decided to target Little L’s wardrobe – an amazingly large collection of clothes, shoes and accessories (fairy wings anyone) all thanks to hand-me-downs and being the youngest (if the bigger kids get a new top, so does Little L- does anyone else apply this ‘equality’ to their tribe?).  So using the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, I decided to keep the clothes she wore 80% of the time, the items on high rotation.  I employed a highly complex technique of a dedicated (separate) washing basket for the week, then everything left in her giant wardrobe was sorted and most of it donated. Presto! 

Can you think of other ways to apply this handy little principle?

Enjoy xx

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