Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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  1. Just as we have relaxed after our secondary school selection, we are now awaiting the primary school places. We all know that it’s a big world out there, and one of the first major hurdles for your child is the transition from pre-school to reception, or in plainer terms, the move from structured childcare into formal and compulsory education.

    So just what can a child expect to face when starting this new and exciting chapter?

    LLP - Dealing with the change from pre-school into reception

    Reception is a year that is specifically engineered to introduce a child to school but without making it a huge trauma (or in our case a drama!!). Let’s face it, there’s a minimum of 12 years in education ahead so any damage done at this stage could be hugely detrimental. (no pressure here!!) So the emphasis in a reception class is on ‘structured play’ – we are told that it is along the lines of lining up cars and counting them, dressing up but with a relevant theme or playing with a boat in water but discussing how it floats. The idea is for children to learn without necessarily realising they are doing so.

    Mixed in with this of course is a subtle introduction to a mainstream curricular education. Maths, English, Computer Skills and Science will begin to be embedded and the seeds for a love of learning very firmly sown. Add also social skills and respect. Assemblies are a good way of young children seeing how older children behave and ‘show and tell’, where your child can bring in an item from home to show their class, encourages confidence in talking in front of others as well as teaching them to be patient and respectful as others talk. Friendships are encouraged with no differentiation for race, religion or disability. Or to put all this into a condensed way, reception is the year when a child learns the skills that will help them to have a successful education with a hope on exceeding expectations.

    It was also launched last year that children as young as five will be learning programming skills in the classroom, as teaching programming skills to children is seen as a long-term solution to the “skills gap” between the number of technology jobs and the people qualified to fill them. We are already quite a tech savvy family but with more and more emphasis for online learning, it is important that you make sure you have the right package for your children's needs (and also at the best price). We are always searching for the best deails and Broadbandchoices makes finding the right package easy as you simply input your postcode and it then informs you of the best deals on offer, so whether you are looking for a faster service or better value, it is certainly worth a look. 

    The changes ahead can be a myriad of emotions for us parents too (and that is without the talk of algorithms, debugging and Boolean logic). Firstly, there’s the first experience of ‘school-gate competitiveness’, where eager adults move house, use grandparents addresses and even find religion in order to get their child into THE school. Remember that this is just the start, so now is the time to think ahead and assess where your child will move to next.

    Us parents also often feel a mix of excitement as well as deprivation. The little one is growing up, freeing up time and often money, and returning a portion of our lives back to us. I know that she needs to grow, spread her wings and make new friendships but I will miss my little buddy and I suspect there might be a few tears come September (just not sure if they will be hers or mine!).

  2. We have the "dreaded" SATS coming up but SATS- just what does this acronym mean? Is it ‘Simple Addition Tests Sanity’ or ‘Severely Analyse The Schoolchildren’?

    Apparently it actually it means ‘Standard Assessment Tests’ but since their phased introduction starting in 1991, they have become far more than something that can be described as ‘standard’, to the point that nowadays, only the year 6 SATS remain, with KS1 and KS3 tests having been archived to the bad memory file. But despite the science SAT being dropped for our current  11 year olds, it seems that for year 6 students, these tests are definitely here to stay. And with this years SATS (2016) being more rigorous than ever before, just how do we reassure our children that they are nothing to get their knickers, or indeed boxer shorts, in a twist about?

    SATS Educational pleasure or educational pressure- 

    Whether we like it or not, year 6 is a hugely important year in terms of education for our children. We are not talking particularly in terms of academic results, but more as it is the end of an era, and as those parents who have witnessed a primary leaver’s assembly will vouch for, as they all leave for secondary school, your children do go through their own emotional trauma with the overwhelming and very genuine tears to match, and as much as they will miss seeing their friends every day, a lot of the upset is also anxiety about what happens next. Suddenly after being the oldest at school, they will now be the youngest again, but also the way that they work is about to change dramatically. And the point of me telling you this? As much as it is good to protect them from worrying about SATS, actually some anxiety may be healthy and help to prepare them for the next stage in their educational life.

    This also neatly leads into the point that going forward to GCSE’s, qualifications matter when it comes to our children’s future employability chances. The government are placing increasing importance on all of the current youth generation having a qualification in Maths and English and very definitely this can help our kid’s chances of getting a job in an increasingly tough job market. So getting our children used to taking tests can be seen as a good thing. The cleverest of children can get the worst exam grades simply as they are not skilled in taking exams and as harsh as that is, it is reality. My daughter is a Maths whizz but I can see her already becoming anxious about the SATS (which is made worse by the fact that they fall on her birthday week!)

    Exam Stress

    But we can’t forget that SATS are for 11 year olds, and at that age, kids are still very much kids. With hormones starting to whizz around their bodies at a rapid rate, they are very susceptible to panic and stress. However, the biggest reason for children getting anxious about SATS is more often or not the fact that parents are putting them under pressure to do well.  Whether due to their greater importance historically, or parents inevitably comparing their child’s results with others in their class, we are most definitely prone to getting the whole darn thing way out of proportion. We have talked about tutoring recently and how this additional support has been good but I am always conscious not to pile the pressure and try to down play the fact that they are measuring ability!

    As such, my plan is to treat the SATS week just like any other school week. If she is worried, I am just going to play the whole thing down but being mindful that a little bit of stress can enhance performance. If she wants to revise and do extra work, I will let her – it can never be a bad thing. But I plan to give her something to look forward to at the end of the week, like a takeaway or sleepover with friends. Hopefully this will let her know that I understand without making a huge deal out of it.

    Fingers crossed!

  3. The love of shopping in our house has continued to increase as both of my girls get older but their individual styles are coming out more and more, whereas I appear to have less and less influence. My eldest is now "too cool" for pretty dressses and fairy prints but my youngest adores pink and sparkly and those things considered traditionally girly. That is why we have fallen a little bit in love with the brand, Their Nibs. 

    Their Nibs design beautifully crafted children’s fashion with bespoke prints, luxury finishings and unique attention to design details. You can get lost in their delightfully English website while you browse around the nightwear, vintage-style girls dresses and bohemian homeware and it was difficult to choose just one piece.

    Their Nibs 

    We are big fans of the "PJ Saturday", so the Fairy Print Pyjamas were the perfect choice for my very own little fairy and we have consequently had numerous debates over her actually wearing them out of the house.

    I wanted to give a fair review of the fabric and how they washed, but that became a challenge as the 4 year old loved them so much, that she didn't want me to actually wash them! Thankfully I managed to get her into some other clothing (as I really did need to leave the house) and got the pyjamas into the washing machine. They washed beautifully and barely needed ironing (although I still debate over whether I should iron PJ's) and they were soon being worn at every opportunity again.

    Their Nibs

    I love the "skinny" leg styling of the pyjamas as this is a style that is a favourite in our house and it suits her slim waist as many pyjamas swamp her and she ends up only wearing the top. 

    The pyjamas are £20.00 and for the quality and beautiful design that you get, I think that it is reasonably priced. When ordering online you can choose 'Send as Gift' for gorgeous gift wrapping and it is little touches like this that make you want to buy from this established brand. Spring 2016 see Their Nibs expand their collection with new Homeware and Ladies Nightwear lines and with existing celebrity fans of their clothing ranges, we are quite sure that we need to be buying a new bedset before the celebrities start buying them all!!

    Their Nibs provide you with beautifully crafted alternatives to children’s high street fashion with bespoke prints, luxury finishings and unique attention to design details. What is not to love?


  4. One of my moms famous pieces of advice to me as a child was “Only boring people get bored”. It certainly worked for me as I never wanted to be boring! Fast forward to now and I find myself using the phrase to my girls and although the children are probably enjoying their much needed time off school far too much (and finding the places I have hidden the chocolate), it is essential to keep their brains well exercised and their body moving, (especially when they come looking to their parents for ideas).

    Here are some tricks that I have found to keep the family engaged and enjoying a stress free term time break. 

    Set up an imagination station.

    Pre holiday - stock up a designated area for messy, creative, an much needed for you alone time play. It can be packed with inexpensive colours and paper, but also lots of household items such as cardboard boxes and empty bottles. These will not normally get used up first by our non Blue Peter generation of kids – the idea is that with scissors and glue you can send them back to their ideas station when the ‘I’m bored’ ever get used. Having basic themes like space, movies, or robots, and sending them away to construct on their own, can give them extra confidence and encourage independent thinking. 

    LLP - Ideas to keep the kids brains working over the holidays


    Quick, cheap and easy to have pre-prepared. There are lots of free downloadable activities to print and do online. Discover a wave of activities that you would never have thought to design on your own. Giving your child the space to craft and built together reinforces social skills and keeps their mind active on positive endeavors.

    Educational Quizzes

    Trying to get the children to do even the slightest bit of extra work can be a challenge for parents but with online quizzes that are designed to be educational doesn't mean to say that they can't also be fun. This isn't necessarily a "free" option but with a site such as Education Quizzes, you can play and try certain quizzes free of charge as often as your child (or you) wishes. Subscription costs just £7.50 per month and when a subscription is taken out, every quiz on the site is playable and the student will then have a permanent record of which quizzes were played, when they were played and the scores achieved. I particularly like that they use multiple choice quizzes for revision because apparently they provide the fastest route to success. The quiz format constantly makes you think and concentrate so that the user moves forward quickly and doesn't feel pressurised, which is good for pre-teens with a desire to get through work as quickly as possible!!

    Indoor science sessions.

    Science activities can be expertly disguised as games by any willing parent and may be as valuable as the science leant in the classroom. Volcanoes are easily manifested with the help of some baking soda and vinegar and scientific gloop, in all sorts of varieties, can be whipped up from common kitchen ingredients. Simply Google ‘kitchen science experiments’ and you will find a wealth of easy ideas online. These activities help to foster skills that your children will need most when they head back to school.

    Create a multimedia journalist.

    What better way to celebrate time together as a family that to document it – well the good, argument free bits. Whether they decorate a notebook, keep a diary, film a Vlog, make a cartoon or create a photo album, it is a rewarding way for the children to practice their communication skills. Undue thanks will (hopefully) come later down the years, having encouraged them to catalogue their childhood ‘boring’ experiences.

    Video Camera


    Encourage Entrepreneurship.

    Have your children pick out old clothes, toys, and games that they no longer use, that you have been longing for them to grow out of. Make a big deal out of all their efforts and show that it is going towards making some extra cash for everyone. Whether you choose to brave a car boot sale together, or get the children to construct a well thought out Ebay campaign, get them making signs, price tags on items, and thinking about money management skills. It is a great way to end the holiday with a reward for all your hard work in rest and play together.