Classroom tricks to try at home

9 classroom tricks you should try at home

My children are both in primary school at the moment and as they work their way through the years, with different teachers along the way, I’m realising that we can learn a fair bit from the way the teachers handle things in the classroom.

Here are 9 tricks that teachers use in the classroom that you can try out for yourself at home.


1. Work with your child to solve problems

One thing that the teachers do really well at our school is involving the children in problem solving.  If there’s an issue they don’t just step in and resolve it, they ask the children involved how they think they should move forward.

This is definitely something we should be doing at home as parents as well.

I know I’ve jumped in before and told my children what course of action we’re going to take, when really I should stop, slow down and ask for their input.

Letting them suggest ways to solve problems will teach them so much more than just making the decision for them.


2. Set your expectations in advance

This is something we’ve tried to do over the years.

It’s too easy to forget sometimes that our children don’t know everything.  As adults we know that you don’t run riot in the library, but your young child who’s not been there before doesn’t know that.

So before you go in you need to set your expectations of how they need to behave in that situation.  Explain that libraries are calm places and we don’t run around and shout there.

This is something that teachers do really well.

If the class on going on a trip somewhere the teacher will explain before they get on the bus all about where they’re going and how the children are expected to behave.


3. Display your house rules

Schools will quite often have displays up on the walls that list the rules that everyone is expected to follow.

Our school has a few brightly coloured displays dotted around reminding the children of the school’s ethos of being kind, being thoughtful and listening (to the teachers and to each other).

This is a great idea to use at home as well.

It might be that you put up a list of the things that the children need to do each morning, like get dressed, brush teeth and so on.  Or you could create a list together as a family of rules like knocking before going into someone’s bedroom, or a poster of family mottos like ‘be kind’ and ‘be silly’.


4. Point out when they’re good

When you give a child time and attention when they’re doing something good, they’ll be less likely to act badly just to get your attention.

Teachers do this in the classroom by drawing attention to the children who are behaving nicely, instead of giving attention to those who are being more noisy and disruptive.

You can do the same thing at home by making a big fuss and praising your child when they put their shoes on the first time you ask, or sit nicely at the dinner table.


5. Give them the chance to burn off some energy

Rhys is a really high energy child and finds it hard at times to sit still and focus.  So his teacher will let him round around the yard a few times, or up and down the stairs, to get some of his energy out.

Once he’s done that he’s much more able to concentrate on his classwork.

If your child has a lot of energy then you can use this same idea away from school too.  If you’re going to go somewhere like a museum where you need your child to be a bit quieter and calmer, then give them a chance to run around and burn off some of their extra energy before you go in.


6. Be consistent

When you have a class of 30 children it’s so important to stay consistent with how and when things are done.

The school day follows the same pattern and rhythm pretty much every single day, so all the children know what to expect and what they need to be doing.

When you have this kind of structure and consistency children tend to be calmer, more productive and better behaved than if the day didn’t follow any kind of routine.

You can do the same thing at home by bringing in a gentle routine to your days.

If your child knows that maths homework always gets done on the same night after school there’ll be less battles and less drama over it.  In theory anyway.


7. Learn to adapt to each child

We’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing teachers teaching our children so far.

What I’ve noticed is that they take the time to get to know all the children in their class.  And wherever possibly they adapt their teaching style and approach to the different children.  They work to adapt to the way the children learn, rather than expecting the children to adapt to the way they teach.

If you have more than one child at home then this is definitely something to keep in mind.

My children are so different in lots of ways, and so we have to adapting our parenting style at times to find what works best for each of them.

You might find that your oldest child responds best to a really structured routine, knowing exactly what is happening when, while your youngest is happier in a more relaxed set up where you can go with the flow a bit more.


8. Whisper, don’t shout

A lot of teachers take this approach to dealing with a class that’s getting too loud.

Instead of shouting over the noise, they talk really quietly.  This way the children have to quiet down to hear what they’re saying.

This could be well worth a try at home.


9. Try using non-verbal cues

If the whispering trick doesn’t work to get your children’s attention then try this other classic classroom trick.

Remember in Kindergarten cop when the head switches the classroom lights on and off to get the children to stop running riot?  This is something that teachers do quite often.  It’s an easy way to get attention without having to use your voice.

You can try it at home with your children too.

I know that in our house switching the TV off is a very effective way of getting the children’s attention!



Do you do any of these things with your children at home already?

Are there any other tricks that teachers use that would work really well at home too?

Please do leave me a comment and let me know!

When can my child walk to school alone

What age can my child walk to school alone?

Walking to school is great because it allows children to get some fresh air and exercise. However, it’s not always appropriate for your child to walk to school without an adult.

Of course, this depends on your child’s age, maturity and the general safety of the route. Your child needs to understand stranger danger and the rules of the road so that they don’t get into any type of trouble.

So what age can we let our kids walk to school alone? Here’s some more information from an independent school in Hertfordshire.


When it comes to teaching your kids about road safety, the younger they are the better.

The sooner they start to learn, the more independent and confident they will feel when it does come time to walk to school alone. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut legal age when it comes to this sort of thing; it’s up to you as a parent to decide if you think your child is ready, as you know them better than anyone.


If you have a youngster who pays close attention to their surroundings, is cautious and responsible, then they are probably ready to walk to school alone.

On the other hand, if your child is easily distracted and tends to act a bit silly, then it’s probably not appropriate for them to navigate the streets alone.


Of course, there are other factors to consider.

For example, is the road quiet or is it filled with fast cars during rush hour? Are there other parents and children walking the same route that could keep an eye on your child for you? Are there any dark, dangerous alleyways along the route or is it all out in the open?

Ask yourself these questions and if you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of the route, then don’t allow your child to walk it alone.


There are so many benefits to walking to school, so it’s a great habit to get into with your children when they’re young.

Walking with them from an early age is a great way to teach them about road safety, as well as letting them get really familiar with the route.  And as they get older you can watch them closely and start to judge for yourself when you think they’re ready to try it without you.


This is definitely one of those situations though where there’s no hard and fast rule.  You really need to make the decision based on your child and your situation.


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

How to get through the why phase

How to get through the ‘why’ phase without losing your mind

Parenting, especially in the early years, seems to come in phases.

The newborn phase, the multiple teething phases, the sleepless nights phase.  Knowing that these things are just phases, and they’ll end soon enough, is what has got me through the toughest ones.

And there is one phase in particular that can drive you to the edge of insanity.

The ‘why’ phase.


If you’ve been through it, or are stuck in the middle of it right now, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

That phase when almost every thing you say to your child is met with that one little word.  Why.

It normally comes when children are around 2 or 3 years old and it. is. exhausting.


There is a little trick you can try though, that just might save your sanity.


All you have to do is turn the question back round to them.

Next time they ask you ‘why’ about something, instead of trying to explain the answer to them (or make up an answer depending on how random the question is), try this.

Respond to the question with, “hmm, I’m not sure, why do you think?”


More often than not they’ll come up with their own answer to the question.

Then you just need to nod along, maybe add something like “that sounds about right to me” and then you can all move on with your day!

So simple and so effective when you just can’t come up with another answer to another why.


One more thing that can help when you’re stuck in this phase is to understand what is really happening.

Quite often when our children ask ‘why’ they’re not looking for the type of answer we want to give.  They’re looking for engagement and general information about the subject they’re asking ‘why’ about.

So if your child asks why they need to put their shoes on, they don’t just want the answer ‘because we’re going out’.  Giving them that answer will generally just result in them asking ‘why’ again.

What they want is to engage with you.  To understand the world.  It’s really obvious to us that we put shoes on to go out, but a two year old who is still learning about the world may well still question it.

So when you have the chance, and the patience, try answering some ‘why’ questions with broad information about the subject.  Talk to your child about why people started wearing shoes.  Tell them about the different types of footwear we have, and the reasons we wear wellies in the rain and flip flops on the beach.


This phase can be absolutely exhausting, but if you can see it as your child wanting to learn about the world and make sense of things that possibly make no sense at all to them at the moment, then it can be a bit easier to get through.

And keep in mind that this is just a phase.

This too shall pass.

And in the meantime, remember you can always turn the question round on them if you need a break from the bombardment of whys.


This post is linked up to KCACOLS with A moment with Franca.

Benefits of nursery for young children

The benefits of nursery

Deciding whether or not nursery is the right path for your child can be quite a challenging decision for many parents.

For others, nursery is less of a choice and more of a career demand. Whatever the reason for sending your child to pre-school, you can feel happy in your choice knowing that there are many positive benefits, as explored below by a nursery in Somerset.


Other than allowing parents to continue working, one of the biggest benefits of nursery is that it prepares your child for school.

Essentially, it gets them used to being away from you and allows them to adapt to a learning environment where they have to follow rules and be respectful to others. Their learning will be structured and stimulating, allowing your child to play and develop in an exciting environment.

They will also experience mixing with other children and develop confidence when interacting with adults other than their family members. Nursery staff are specifically trained to create a safe, productive, happy environment for your child.  

When Nerys was 2 I was working from home so she didn’t need to go to nursery.  But we decided to put her in, just for 2 mornings a week, so that she could start to get used to spending time away from me.

The plan was that it would help her when she came to start Rising-threes after her third birthday and it worked out really well for us.  She adapted so well to that class having spent time away from me at nursery.


Nursery is also brilliant for helping your little one make new friends and develop important social skills that they will carry with them through life. Some examples of such skills include talking, listening, sharing and taking it in turns; all important for normal childhood development. 

They can learn some of these skill at home and at baby groups of course.  But the experience of going to nursery is different and they’ll learn so much more there, and have all sorts of different experiences.


Playtime at nursery will allow your child to develop balance and co-ordination and they will have access to equipment that you may not have at home, such as a sandpit or a climbing frame. Essentially, your child will be able to explore and develop a huge range of skills whilst at nursery, from communication and listening to physical development and creativity. 


There are a few other options for childcare, including nannies and au pairs.  And you need to spend time as a family looking at your options and deciding what is best for you all. 

From my experience though nurseries are a great option.  My children both went to nursery for a while: Rhys out of necessity because I was working full time and Nerys out of choice to ease her in to spending time away from me.  We found that both of them got so much out of their time there, and it really did help them both prepare for starting school. 


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Reasons to walk to school

5 brilliant reasons to walk to school

I have to be honest.  I don’t think I’ve ever walked my children to school.

We’ve walked home from school a handful of times.  And when Nerys was just doing half days at school I would walk her home fairly regularly when the weather was nice.

But for the most part now, with both children in full time school, we drive to and from school.

We live 1.2 miles away according to google maps, and it takes us about half an hour to walk there.  So realistically we could do it if we really wanted to.

There are quite a few good reasons to consider walking to school rather than driving, and here are my top five:


1. No worries about traffic or parking

I can’t be the only one who finds the drive to and from school quite stressful at times.

The traffic can be crazy some days, and it feels like we spend the whole journey stop/starting with traffic and various sets of lights on the route.

As for the parking, well I just avoid our school’s car park altogether.

It is absolute bedlam, with people blocking other parents in all over the place.  So I go for a spot on the side of the road, a little bit further away from the school.  And even then, some days, it can be a fight to not end up miles away.

So walking to school instead would be quite nice when it means avoiding all that stress every day.


2. It teaches great life skills

Walking to school for us involves crossing several pretty busy roads.  So it would be a great way to reinforce road safety ideas with the children.

A report from the AA found that children starting secondary school were less likely to be involved in accidents on the road when they’d had past experience of walking to school.

So practising walking to school when they’re younger can be great for gearing them up to do it on their own, safely, when they’re older.

It also lets the children learn some basic navigation skills that they just don’t really pick up sitting in the back of the car.  Letting them take the lead in saying which way to go and telling you when they think it’s safe to cross roads can really help build their confidence.


3. You’ll save money

Think of the money you could save on petrol (and wear and tear on the car) if you walked to school every day instead of driving.

A quick google tells me that the average family could save a couple of hundred pounds a year, which is quite impressive.


4. Walking to school helps children learn 

Regular exercise is known to have a load of amazing benefits.  It lowers stress levels and is great for our mental health all round.

It also helps to improve our children’s capacity to learn.

Walking to school can help boost their memories and improve their problem solving skills and their ability to pay attention.  Various studies have found that children who walk to school show better cognitive performance, better reading fluency and improved executive functioning.

All very good reasons to skip the car and start walking to school more.


5. You get extra social time together

As much as I try and chat with my children on the drive to and from school I’m aware that, obviously, I’m not giving them my full attention.

When you walk to school together though you can focus on them so much more.  And with the walk taking a bit longer than the drive would, you have more time together to chat and enjoy each other’s company.

When I used to walk Nerys home from school when she did half days it would take us quite a while, but I loved it.  I knew that before long she would be in school full time and that stage of our lives would be over, so I relished those walks home when we could just be together.


Writing this has made me so much more tempted to ditch the car and walk with the children to and from school.

I think I’ve just got so used to taking the car, it’s become a habit and has started to feel like the only way to do things.  Really though with the children the ages they are now we could easily enough walk at least once or twice a week.

I’d just have to get a bit more organised so we could leave early enough to get there on time.

Do you walk your children to school?  If you don’t, what is the biggest issue that’s stopping you?

Creative writing with children

Exploring creative writing with your child

Most school subjects depend on your child’s ability, whereas creative writing is more about who they are, rather than what they know.

Of course, there are skills involved in creative writing but they aren’t learned by revision and memory, which makes it all the more challenging. There are things parents can do to help their children explore the art of creative writing, as explored below by a Hertfordshire independent school


There are many benefits to creative writing for children.

It allows them to develop a strong sense of self and links academia to well-being. The first thing you can do is help your child feel inspired through their own experiences. Do you take them to museums or art galleries? Are they part of a drama or music club? Do they take long strolls through nature? If your child experiences a variety of different activities, the more inspiration they will find to write. Encourage them to write a diary in which they can jot down any exciting sights, sounds or general ideas. This will provide a basis for their creative writing in the future.


Another way to get your child into creative writing is through their reading.

If your child explores a range of genres and authors, they will soon get to know the main features of an excellent novel. Avid reading also helps children with their spelling and grammar; key ingredients to good writing. Games like Scrabble will have a similar outcome with regards to vocabulary. 


As with most great skills, creative writing can be a lasting pursuit, so the earlier your child starts to explore it, the easier it will become in their later life. You will likely be the first audience for your child, so try to always enjoy what they have written and point out the elements you thought were particularly great.

However, it’s also important to bear in mind that not all writing is created to be shared, so if your child doesn’t want to show you what they’ve written then don’t take it to heart.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

help your child at school

How to help your child succeed in school

All parents want their children to do well in school, but not everyone knows how they can help. The truth is, there are actually lots of things you can do to help your child with their education, even if you’re not a maths genius or a science whizz.

Simply being curious about their school work is a great place to start, because it lets your child know how valuable it is.

Here are some more tips from an independent college in London.


Be sure to praise your child whenever they do well on a piece of work as this will encourage them to keep up the enthusiasm.

However, don’t always focus on grades because it’s the effort that’s more important. Remind your child every now and again how proud you are of them for trying hard. You could even consider taking them out for a treat after you’ve seen them put in a lot of effort on a project or some revision. 

I always make a point of making sure that my children know that it doesn’t matter if they get questions wrong at school, as long as they’ve tried their best.  This keeps the focus on the process of learning, rather than making it all about the end result.


Make sure your child has a quiet and organised space in your home to do their homework.

There shouldn’t be any distractions, like the TV, and all their stationery and other school supplies should be in reach so that they don’t have to waste time looking for a ruler or a particular book. It’s also wise to ensure you’re not too far away during homework sessions because then your child can ask you questions if they get stuck. 


Try and set a good example for your child when it comes to working hard and putting in the effort.

When they’re doing their homework, you could use it as a good opportunity to work on your emails. You are your child’s first teacher, so always think about how to be a good role model and display the behaviour you expect them to display. 

The same goes for things like reading.  If you want your child to read more, then let them see you read more at home too.  Read together with them, and let them know that you read for pleasure by yourself too.


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post