Tips for helping your child with maths

Top tips for helping your child with maths

For some people, maths can be your least favourite subject, but it’s an integral part of school curriculums in order to be able to do the most simple sums and up to the most difficult equations.

It also goes hand-in-hand with science-related subjects, especially for those looking to pursue science-related subjects in university.

For those that have struggling children, here are some ways you can help your child, courtesy of this junior school in London.

Break down complicated questions into chunks

Oftentimes, math questions appear complicated because of the way they’re worded. In these cases you should try and break down the question for them. Look at what the question is asking and go through it step by step with your child.

 

Sit with them as they go through their maths homework

Learning for yourself is often a good way you both learn together. See how your child does their homework and how they complete each section.

You can see what areas they struggle with and which ones they can get through without so much help and they have the chance to show you what kind of assignments they do in school.

 

Provide extra learning materials for them

If your child is in need of extra support, then you could look to buy some additional material for them to help them along the way.

Whether it’s additional workbooks, tuition or an extra few hours a week of dedicated revision, it can boost your child’s confidence in the subject and give them a clearer head when looking at maths work.

 

With these methods you can help guide your child through their studies without stress and too many obstacles in the way for your child to manage.

They’ll also thank you for it later on down the line – you’d be surprised to hear what your child will remember you for!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Get in more photos for your family

5 ways to make sure you get in more photos

As a parent I bet you have thousands of photos of your children.  But how many photos of you will they have when they’re older?

If you’re always the one behind the camera, taking the photos, capturing the memories, then you need to make a real effort to get in front of the camera and make sure you’re in more of your family’s photos.

You want your children to look back at pictures of their childhoods and see you there with them.

It can be easier said than done though, to get in the habit of actually being in more photos.  So here are my ideas for 5 things you can try to start getting in front of the camera more and existing in photos for your children.

 

1. Commit to a family photo project

One of the best things I ever did to make sure I get in more photos with my family was to start joining in with the me and mine project.

All you have to do is take a family photo each month.  If you have a blog you can share your photos there, or pop them up on Instagram.  Or you can keep it as a personal project and print your photos to display at home.

The point is just to make a commitment to doing it every month.

 

2. Set reminders to take more photos

When you’re not used to getting in front of the camera it can be far too easy to fall back into old habits of just taking pictures of your children.

So set up reminders as prompts to get in some photos with them.

You can keep it really simple, with an alarm set on your phone each week to remind you to grab your phone and take a group selfie with your family.

Or you can go all out and schedule a family photo session in your calendar.  Plan a day and time that you’ll head out together with the camera and a remote trigger and take some photos all together.

happy family photo on a beach

3. Join in with online communities

Get inspired to get in more photos by scrolling through different hashtags on Instagram, and then commit to taking and posting your own snaps too.

Here are some ideas for hashtags to try:

#MeAndMineProject

#ShowYouWereThere

#ParentsInThePicture

#BeInThePicture

#ExistInPhotographs

 

4. Let go of perfection

Stop overthinking everything when it comes to having your photo taken and remember the real reason you’re doing it.

You’re doing it for your family.  So that in the future they’ll have photos of you to look back on.  So that they’ll have that proof that you were there, enjoying their childhood with them.

And your family do not care if your hair is a bit greasy.  Or if there’s a stain on your top from breakfast.  Or if there’s a load of mess in the background of the photo.

So stop making excuses and waiting for things to be perfect before you get in front of the camera.

Grab your phone.  Grab your children.  Snap a selfie.

Dig out your camera.  Set the timer.  Capture some real, perfectly imperfect memories with your family.

5. Make a deal with a friend to take photos for each other

One of the big obstacles to overcome to get in more photos is having someone to actually take the photos for you.

If you don’t want all your pictures to be selfies but find that setting up a camera and a timer feels like too much work to do regularly, then make a deal with a friend or family member to take photographs for each other.

Whenever you meet your friend and their children at the park, make a point of taking a photo of them with their family and let them do the same for you.

On days out with your partner make sure you hand them the camera or your phone a few times and ask them to take photos with you in too.

Talk to the people in your life about how important it is to you that you exist in more photos.  Ask as many of them as you can to let you take pictures of them, and for them to take photos of you.

 

Hopefully at least one of these ideas will have inspired you to pick up your camera… and then hand it over to someone else so you can get in some more photos!

Helping your child with social skills

Helping your child with their social skills

When you socialise, you can make so many friends and contacts from so many places. For some people it doesn’t come as naturally as others, but it is a solid way of forming bonds with your parents, building relationships and learning about others.

For children it’s also a great way of building their vocabulary and strengthening their speaking skills.

So how can you help your child with their social skills? Read on with this guide from this junior school in Surrey to help your child with their social skills.

 

Get them to join a club

Clubs, extracurricular activities and sports societies are regularly hosted by schools in order for children to progress and use their skills taught during school time in other activities.

A key part of these clubs and societies is to encourage children to speak to each other and make new friends, improving their communication skills.

 

Outdoor play opportunities

Play time with kids is a great way of giving your child the chance to have some fun that doesn’t revolve around learning.

These can be held with other children they know as well – a popular reason why break times at schools are always employed. Playing with toys and other tools boosts your child’s creativity and inquisitiveness.

 

Parent and child activities

In a child’s primary school years there tends to be a stronger focus on involving parents in regular activities or bringing parents into the school at the start and end of a school day. Children gain confidence from their parents a lot of the time and they can use that chance to be happier and friendlier towards other children and friends.

Parents are also invited to a lot of activities that happen in the school as well, like sports days, games days and summer “Olympic” events.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

How you can make a new habit stick

How can you make a new habit stick? Try this little trick.

If you’ve ever tried to build a new habit into your life you’ll know how hard it can be to make it stick.

Even when it’s something you really want to do, or something you know will make you feel so much better, it can be really hard to actually commit to it long enough for it to really become a habit.

There is a trick you can try though to really boost your chances of getting any new habit to stick.

 

It’s all about habit stacking.

This is basically where you stack the new habit you want to build into your life on top of one you already do almost automatically.

Think about the things you do as part of your normal routine.  Things like:

  • Get out of bed
  • Boil the kettle and make coffee
  • Have a shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Take the kids to school
  • Put the baby down for a nap
  • Have lunch
  • Pick the children up from school
  • Make dinner
  • Put the children through the bath
  • Put the children to bed
  • Lock up the house
  • Turn off the lights
  • Go to bed

All of these things are habits that are so ingrained in your life that you don’t really think about them.  They’re things that you just do.

Psychologically speaking, they’re things you’ve done over and over again enough times that the neural pathways for them are incredibly strong and the actions are almost automatic.

One of the reasons we find it so hard to stick with new habits is that it takes time for new neural pathways to form in our brains and, as our brains are generally quite lazy, we fall back on old habits that are already nicely ingrained.

So we stop going for a jog after the school run and go back to sitting down with a coffee instead, because that habit has already been well-established in our lives and our brains.

 

By tying a new habit in with one of these established actions you basically cheat the system. 

Instead of your brain having to work to form new neural pathways for these new habits, you sneak them in to existing ones.

So if you want to get in the habit of drinking more water then you would build this in on top of one of your existing habits.

It might be that you decide that before you brush your teeth in the morning and the evening you’ll have a glass of water.  You’re already in the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day, and this action then becomes the trigger for your new habit of drinking a glass of water.

Instead of just promising yourself you’ll ‘drink more water’, which is really quite vague, you start to tie that new action in with something you already do at a pretty set time each day.

It’s all about finding an existing habit that you can ‘stack’ your new one on top of, in a way that works for you and your life.

You could try things like:

  • When you turn the shower on in the morning you do 10 sit ups before you get in.

The action of turning on the shower, which is something you do without really thinking about it, becomes the trigger for the new habit of doing 10 sit ups.

 

  • After you turn the tv off before bed you do a quick clean of the flat surfaces in the living room.

The action of switching off the tv becomes the trigger for the new habit of clearing away clutter.

 

  • After you take your shoes off when you get home from the school run you change into your workout clothes and do an at-home exercise class.

The action of removing your shoes becomes the trigger to get changed and get active.

 

You can use this habit stacking method with any new habit you want to build into your life.

Just look at the things you do every day, almost on auto-pilot, and find something you can stack your new habit on to.  Doing this will help you stick with it long enough for the neural pathways to form in your brain and the new habit become automatic in it’s own right.

What new habit do you want to start?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Simple ways to be more productive

3 simple ways to be more productive

I feel fairly confident in saying that I’m not the only one whose productivity has taken a hit in the last year.

With the children being at home for such a big chunk of time, and all the juggling of school work and family life that came with that, it’s not really a surprise that a lot of time I’ve felt like I don’t know where to start.

When there’s so much to do and so many things to keep on top of it can be really hard to get motivated and I’m terrible for procrastinating when things feel overwhelming.

If that sounds familiar to you, then hopefully these little tips will help get you going and start to boost your productivity.

 

Limit your to-do list

One thing that is almost guaranteed to lead me to procrastinate is a huge to-do list.

It’s incredibly hard to know where to start when your list is a mile long.

So take some of that pressure off and limit your to-do list to 3-5 tasks a day.

You can keep an on-going master list where you keep track of all the other jobs, but each morning go through that list and pick out the most important things that need to be done that day.

A short list will help keep you more focused on what needs to be done, takes away the overwhelm of feeling like there are a hundred things to do, and also gives you that satisfaction at the end of the day when your whole list is completed.

 

Keep a notebook handy to keep you focused

That master list that I mentioned in the first tip?  Keeping it nearby when you’re working is key to staying productive throughout the day.

This way, the next time you’re working on something and you suddenly remember you need to book the supermarket shopping or put a load of washing on, you can write it down on your list and get back to what you’re doing.

Then when you next take a break you can tackle that task, or schedule it in for tomorrow if it’s not urgent.

This way you stay in the flow of the work you’re doing and you can complete it faster.  When you try and multitask and jump from one job to another (even if it’s just for 5 minutes to put a load in the machine) you break that flow and things ultimately take longer.

 

Follow the ‘one-touch’ rule

This rule.  I have been trying to follow this rule for years and I’m determined to keep trying because it is so good when you manage to stick to it.

When you’re dealing with the post, make a point to only touch things once.

So open up that letter, decide what you’ll do with it (reply, file it, bin it) and do it straight away.  Don’t open it, read it, then put it to one side to deal with later.  It’ll just haunt you.

It’s the same with emails.  Don’t open them unless you have time to deal with them there and then.

This rule can also be applied to things like forms and messages from school.  Instead of looking at them and thinking “I’ll deal with that later”, sort it right away.  Fill in the form and put it in your child’s bag to go back to school, make a note of that fancy dress day on the calendar, or get that £1 coin straight away and put it in an envelope ready to donate.

Whatever it is you need to deal with, this rule of only ‘touching’ things once can make a huge difference in productivity, as well as make life less stressful because you’re not adding to your to-do list by thinking ‘I’ll sort that later’.

It is still weirdly hard to stick with though, but well worth trying!

 

Have you found that you feel less productive lately?

Do you have any other quick tips to boost productivity that really work for you?

 

Coffee review Cafedirect

Cafédirect coffee review

We love coffee in our house.  My husband and I both drink about 3 or 4 cups a day, although he drinks his black while I prefer mine with milk.

We’ve tried quite a few different types over the years and always enjoy tasting different beans and blends to see what we like the most.

So when Cafédirect got in touch to ask if we wanted to try out some of the coffee beans in their range we jumped at the chance.  Cafédirect are the UK’s largest Fairtrade hot drinks brand, so as well as making amazing coffee they’re doing amazing things to improve lives around the world.

 

Cafédirect have got a great range of coffees available on their website that you can order and have delivered right to your door, as well as a brilliant subscription service that means you’ll never have to do a mad dash to the shops for your coffee when you realise you’ve run out.

We were sent three different types of coffee from their range to try at home.

We spent a bit of time looking through the options on the Cafédirect website and were really keen to try the London Fields Honduras coffee, which sounded like a great everyday coffee.

The other two coffees were picked out by the people at Cafédirect, and were perfect for getting an idea of the range of coffees they have available.

 

London Fields Honduras coffee

The London Fields Honduras coffee is described on the packaging as being sweet and smooth, with a well-rounded body.

As soon as you open the bag the smell of the beans is amazing, and we couldn’t wait to grind some up and give it a taste.

 

The beans all come with these little information sheets, which I really love.

They tell you all about where the beans come from and how they’re responsible sourced.  They also include tasting notes to help you identify the different flavours in the coffee.

This Honduras coffee is described as, “well rounded body, soft mouthfeel with smooth notes of sweet molasses, caramel and praline” by one of Cafédirect’s coffee roasters.

It is a really lovely everyday coffee, very easy to drink either black or with a bit of milk.  The sweet molasses flavour definitely comes through and gives it that bit more of an interesting taste than some other everyday coffees.

This was the coffee we picked out, and it definitely met our expectations.

It can be a bit hit and miss sometimes when you order things like this online, but the detailed information and tasting notes on the product description on the website really help you pick out coffee that will suit your tastes.

 

London Fields Myanmar Ruby Hills

The next coffee that we tried was the London Fields Myanmar Ruby Hills beans.

This coffee was picked out for us by Cafédirect and we were both really curious to try it.

 

This coffee is described as bright and aromatic, with flavours of elderflower, raspberry and vanilla.

It smells just as amazing as the Honduras coffee beans when you open up the bag, but the difference in flavour once the coffee is brewed is incredible.  This coffee is much lighter, and has an almost floral taste to it.

The tasting notes that come with it describe it as having a, “Delicate aroma of vanilla and elderflower, followed with a juicy pop of raspberry and candied orange peel”.

 

London Fields Burundi Nyiagisguri

The last coffee that we tried was the London Fields Burundi Nyiagisguri, which was one of Cafédirect’s limited releases.

Along with their regular coffees on the website, Cafédirect offer limited edition coffees which, as you’d expect, change regularly which I really like.  It’s a great way to try out new coffees that you otherwise might not come across.

 

The Burundi Nyiagisguri coffee is another one that we might not normally have picked out as it has a lighter body than we would normally go for.  But the flavour profile sounded really interesting and we were both keen to try it.

It’s described as having notes of green apple and brown sugar, along with caramel flavours and these really do come through, making the coffee that bit more complex and giving it a bit of extra sweetness.

I really liked this one and think that when it’s made with milk it’s a really lovely coffee to drink at any time of the day, although Steve found it a bit too light-bodied for his tastes.

 

All in all we’re really impressed with the coffees and the service from Cafédirect.

The website is really easy to navigate, with nice clear descriptions of the different coffees they have available.  There’s a great choice of different coffees on offer, which is big enough to have a good variety of strengths and flavours but not so big that it’s overwhelming.

Along with the coffee beans you can also buy equipment like coffee grinders and cafetières so you can make the perfect cup of coffee at home.

 

If you’re a real coffee fan then they also offer a subscription service so you can have beans or freshly ground coffee delivered to your home.  You can choose from weekly, fortnightly, or monthly deliveries, and decide what sort of coffee you’d like to try, from bright and aromatic to rich and chocolatey.

 

The coffee is more expensive than the beans and ground coffee you can find in the supermarket but for real coffee fans, especially those who like exploring new blends and flavours, I do think it’s worth it.

It can be really easy to get stuck in a rut with things like the coffee you drink every day, and Cafédirect can help you break out of that rut and try some amazing new coffees, without even needing to leave the house.

You can’t really go wrong with that can you?!

 

Disclosure:  I was sent this coffee for the purpose of this review, but all words, opinions and photos are my own.

Water bottles Super Sparrow

Super Sparrow drinks bottle review

My family and I have been using reusable drinks bottles for years now, and we’ve been through a few different types with the children to find ones that are leak-proof, easy to drink from and easy to keep clean.

Some claim to be leak-proof but have a cap that can really easily be knocked open, resulting in soaking wet school bags.

Others have caps and spouts that are almost impossible to keep properly clean and hygienic.

So when Super Sparrow asked me if we wanted to test out some of the water bottles in their range I was really excited to see what they had to offer.  And I think we may have found a winner here in our search for the perfect reusable drinks bottles.

 

Super Sparrow have 4 different styles of drinks bottles to choose from, and we put 3 of them to the test.

We were sent a wide mouth stainless steel insulated bottle, a standard mouth stainless steel insulated bottle, and 2 Tritan sports bottles.  The range of bottles that Super Sparrow have is spot on in my opinion.  There are enough choices to suit pretty much any needs, but not so many that it’s impossible to make a decision.

The only trouble we had was with picking what colours we wanted, because there were lots of lovely options we could’ve gone for!

If you’re looking for new drinks bottles for your family, then here are our thoughts on the different types that Super Sparrow have to offer.

 

Super Sparrow wide mouth stainless steel insulated bottle

This is a lovely, classic drinks bottle which is perfect for so many different situations.

It’s available in 3 different sizes, 500ml, 750ml, and 1000ml and no matter which size you choose the opening is a really wide 66mm.

My husband chose the 750ml bottle and is really happy with it.  It is quite big in your hands and, obviously, holds that bit more water so it’s great for a day out or just to have on the table next to him to remind him to keep drinking through the day as he’s working.

One thing we were pleased with is that, even though it’s a pretty big bottle, it still fits in the stretchy pocket on the side of his backpack so it’s really convenient for when we’re out and about.  There’s also a great, sturdy handle on the cap which makes it comfortable to carry on its own.

The bottle uses stainless steel double-walled vacuum insulated technology (try saying that five times fast!) to keep hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours, and cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, which is incredible.  On a hot day at the beach it’s so nice to be able to have a perfectly cold drink on hand to cool us all down.

The outside of this bottle (and the other stainless steel ones in the range) has a matte texture which makes it nice and grippy.  This along with the little arc in the middle of the body of the bottle make it really easy to hold onto and drink from.

 

Super Sparrow standard mouth stainless steel insulated bottle

This is the bottle that I picked out for myself and it has barely left my side since it arrived!

Like the wide mouth bottle it’s a pretty classic water bottle at first glance but there are some little details that really make it great.  It’s available in 5 different sizes, from 330ml which would be great for lunch boxes or short trips out, to 1000ml which is perfect for big days out or keeping you hydrated throughout the day without having to keep refilling.

I opted for the 750ml bottle which is perfect for getting me to drink more while I’m working at home, but still great for popping in my bag when we go out.

Like the wide mouth bottle that Steve picked, this one fits really nicely into the side pocket of my backpack so it’s always nice and accessible while we’re out at the beach or the park.

It also has the same stainless steel double-walled vacuum insulated technology as the wide mouth bottle so it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, as well as being completely leak-proof.

What I particularly like about this bottle though is the fact that it comes with 2 interchangeable caps.

One of them is a simple screw on cap that comes off completely to let you drink from the open mouth of the bottle.  The other cap is a sports cap with a straw that flips out so you can drink really easily on the go.

You also get a spare straw and a little straw-cleaning brush in the box too, which is really useful.

 

Super Sparrow Tritan sports bottles

These are the bottles that we chose for Rhys and Nerys and they’ve been a huge hit, with both them and me.

They love the bright colours, the handy carrying strap, and the fact that they’re really easy to drink from.

I love the fact that they’re completely leak-proof, really durable, and nice and easy to clean.

The Tritan sports bottles from in 3 sizes, 350ml, 500ml, and 1000ml and they’re perfect for school lunchboxes and for popping in a bag for a day out.  They would also be great to take to the gym to keep you hydrated as you work out.

They’re made from BPA free plastic so there’s no worries about anything nasty leeching out into the children’s drinks.  They’re not insulated like the steel bottles, so they don’t keep drinks hot or cold, but they’re still perfect for the children to take to school and on trips out to the park or the beach.

What I really love about these Titan bottles is how nice they are to drink from.  There’s no valve or anything, so once you’ve popped the top open the drinks flow freely so there’s no frustration from the kids when they’re really thirsty.

The caps themselves are great because they lock into place to keep them safely closed, but are still really easy to open.  You just have to flick the catch down and then press a button for the cap to open up.

 

We’ve been really impressed with all of the Super Sparrow water bottles that we’ve tested, and they’ve quickly replaced the other bottles we used before.

I love the fact that they’re all completely leak-proof so we can chuck them in our bags when we go out and not worry about them leaking everywhere.

I also love the smart little features like the carry handles, and the fact that they’ve clearly been designed to make drinking from them as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Whether you need a water bottle for your children to take to school, for family days out, or for taking with you to the gym, there’s something in the Super Sparrow range that would fit the bill perfectly.  And with a huge range of colours to choose from you’ll be able to find something to suit every member of the family!

 

All the drinks bottles are available from the Super Sparrow website and from Amazon.

 

Disclosure: We were sent these bottles for the purpose of this review but all thoughts, words, and images are my own.