Saturday, 30 June 2012

Just who are naps for?!

There is a popular misconception that babies and toddlers need to nap to rest their brains and regain energy. Wrong! Well actually no, that’s right, but if anyone needs to rest their brains and regain energy it’s their parents! Naps are also for US!

A nap is in fact a brilliantly designed natural piece of engineering that makes your child sleep when you are just about to drop. When you have read “The Gruffalo” ten times on the trot and you can’t see the carpet for Happyland. It’s a chance for you to rest before the adult's version of Cranky land replaces it!
With newborns, babies sleep between feeds which gives you a chance to regroup after you have spent the entire time worrying about whether they have had enough. It also gives you the couple of hours that you need in order to plan leaving the house.

With older babies, the nap is a bit of relief from finding the most stimulating ways of entertaining an awake, yet basically immobile, child without resorting to CBeebies. I can only do so many verses of “Wind the Bobbin Up” before starting to go a little bit crazy so my much-loved Danny Kaye CD was a lifesaver in those days. The Ugly Duckling was practically on a loop!
With a toddler, it’s respite from your house looking like it has been hit by a cross between Hurricane Katrina and a plague of locusts.

For a couple of hours, silence reigns, and there’s a chance for a HOT cup of tea, a bit of reading, a bit of Loose Women and, if I’m lucky, Doctors too, before heading back to the frontline of motherhood.
I say this from the perspective of one whose child has, for the first time ever, NOT had a nap today. And boy didn’t I know it! To cap it all, she chose a day when her dad was away for the weekend so there was no one to share the exhausting load!

She can normally nap for up to THREE HOURS in the afternoon so missing it was a major omission!
I am hoping against hope that it was a one off because we had been out for the morning and she slept for ten minutes on the way home, but although I put her straight in her bed, sleep was not forthcoming!

She was clearly knackered, having been zooming round Butterfly World, but in no mood to drop off when it was more interesting to recount, at length, how she had seen all the “beautiful butterflies coming out of their ‘coons’” (That’s "COcoons" - as we had to keep reminding her in the cafĂ© after getting some very odd looks!)
Given that we had been out all morning I opted to stay in, trying, and mostly failing, to at least get her to have some “quiet time” but as she is a child who doesn’t like to sit still I was fighting a losing battle. I have read countless children's books today, and retrieved toy animals from inexplicable places as some sort of typhoon hit her Little People farm at one stage and she literally recreated the "twister" scene from the Wizard of Oz, rendering herself dizzy.

We have been ballerinas and elephants, and in my case a combination of the two, and made up games with her new wooden caterpillar who she has inexplicably named “Jonjo”.
We have completed sticker books, recited the alphabet, drawn butterflies and annoyed the dog, who was quietly trying to watch the tennis. She was so tired that she was stumbling round like a drunk tryinkg to find his way home. Finally she succumbed and lay on the sofa in front of Ben and Holly while I made her tea.

The bonus was that when bedtime finally came round (very quickly after tea I have to say!), much, I suspect, to the relief of both of us, she was out like a light. Fast asleep before seven!
Now, don't get me wrong, I do want to say that we have had a lovely day, I have loved doing so many things with her, and I don't resent any of it, especially as a working mum - I am just knackered! I suspect I need her nap more than she does!

And don’t anybody dare say it’s because of my age, because name me the mother of a toddler who doesn’t get tired and I’ll point you towards a freak of nature.
As V is a 6am riser I am hoping that she might tag today’s nap onto her night time sleep, but it doesn’t work like that does it?! I am already planning tomorrow's itinerary!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Why I won't home school

As time goes on, I am beginning to think more and more about school. Time seems to be going so fast and it's not long before we will have to start seriously thinking about pre-school, as opposed to day nurseries.

At the moment our child care works - it is delicately balanced, but providing everybody is where they should be and is not ill, it's OK. How on earth we are going to manage drop off and pick ups when V is at school everyday is a whole other post.

Where she will go to school is yet another series of musings, but one thing that I have heard people talking more and more about recently is home schooling. Each to their own but personally, I have discounted this idea.

For many reasons I want to go to work. I enjoy my work for the most part, I want to retain a bit of me and as V gets older and less dependent on me, I will need to have something to do!

There is also the financial side of things, we want V to have whatever she needs and as many opportunities as possible and me working helps with that without a doubt - so - home schooling will not be an option.

But having said that, and despite my worries about the fact that SOME (and I stress SOME!) teachers I have come across can't spell, even if I felt I could give up work and teach her at home, I really don't think it would be for us.

Excuse list?

The following are my reasons - it's up to the reader as to whether they are a list of excuses to justify my continuing to work - I don't think they are!

Also, I think it is important to say that my views are not evidence based, purely my own thoughts on the kind of things that are hard to judge on statistics alone.

Firstly, I think it's important to say that I would and could never hand over all aspects of my child's learning to a school. We will always teach V at home and give her access to a wide range of experiences but I also see school as one of these experiences.

There is so much more that you learn from school than in the actual lessons.

V goes to a day nursery for one day a week and LOVES it - she is a very sociable being and I honestly don't think it would be fair to keep her at home with just me.

Apart from the fact that she would miss being around others, what I taught her would be tainted with my views on everything. I want her to be able to meet a wide range of people and also make her own decisions about what she thinks about things.

Yes - she will probably hear my views at home (I don't keep them to myself!) but by being at school she will hear alternate views as well and I think this is so important.

Plus - she will be an only child so I feel it's doubly important that she mixes with a peer group.

I don't think that home schooling groups would give her the interaction she needs or give her access to a wide range of views and backgrounds.

Hold back?

I have also never considered that school will hold her back. At two, she already knows all her shapes and colours etc, counts to at least 20 and can just about recite the alphabet. She also asks questions like "why is the sky blue?" but I don't think she will be bored at school as there is stuff I can't teach her and am not arrogant enough to think that I can.

I honestly don't know why the sky is blue - is it light refraction? I think I said it was the reflection from the sea! I would have to teach myself a whole lot more before I could even consider teaching her!

If I felt that school was holding her back, then I would supplement all she was learning with more at home - but then I planned to do that anyway.  Schools aren't responsible for ALL children's learning, they are already under enough pressure. She will learn loads at home with me, like she does now.

Plus I am rubbish at maths! I got my O'level (a PROPER exam!) but there's no way I could teach it to her!

I do believe that there are things that I will HAVE to do at home though. I see graduates coming into my line of work who can't spell properly, or construct proper sentences (and they are supposed to be journalists!). I have long been worried about the standard of learning things like this in schools and if I feel she isn't being taught this properly, then I will do it myself!

And woe betide any communication sent home with a spelling mistake in it. The offending item will be swiftly returned and marked with red pen and possibly, depending on my tolerance levels at the time, "Must try harder" written at the bottom. Teachers are SO going to love me!

I believe that you need to be able to express yourself properly in this life. I can help her with written communication, but even though she goes to groups, and hopefully will still do a lot of out of school activities in the future, a school is a vital part of gaining interpersonal skills.

And if you see spelling mistakes in this post - well, then it's another reason for sending her to school!