Relationships Matter


In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

We know our kiddo’s rely on us for everything in the early years. Their needs are basic – feed me, change me … and love me. Whilst exhausting at times, it’s pretty simple, once you’ve got the hang of it.

The process might be simple, but the importance and the necessity are pretty complex.

Did you realise that building that relationship with your little person (loving them!) is shaping the way they learn, communicate, think, problem solve and generally cope with the world, and life ahead?

When we play with our little people we’re demonstrating our interest in them – showing them that they are important to us and nurturing the bond between us. This builds their confidence to explore the world.

The process has also been called ‘serve and return’ and basically describes the to and fro exchange between you and your child.

This interaction helps to create the neural connections needed for cognitive function, communication and social skills.

Research has proven that when children are exposed to regular nurturing and attentive contact with their parent or caregiver, their brains are better primed for later learning, memory, executive function, behaviour control, problem solving, social skills and lifelong health.


So, take time to play with your little people. I know my own kids love it when I stop my ‘work’ and just focus on playing with them. We’re all so often caught up with the busy-ness of life and looking after them, that we forget they just want US (their parents). To play. That’s it. Read our article on getting started.

And if you lack inspiration in that department, then we’ve definitely got you covered, with over 200 games and activities to choose from. Start your FREE TRIAL now.

Have fun!



In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

We’ve created a load of extra stuff to help with keeping all the little superstars amused.

Do you need help or inspiration for keeping the kids busy during this strange time?

My kids’ school is doing a great job of sending projects and activities to us, but I’ve made up a few of my own that are part Pinterest research and part tailoring to my kids attention/abilities.

And whilst I’m keen to maintain their level of learning via school suggestions, I’m conscious that a lot of things right now are online. So I’m trying to think of activities that can take my kiddo’s offline for a bit. Yes, we’re online right now, but let’s call this research. Once you have the tools, move away from the screen and either enjoy some time with the juniors or give yourself some breathing space to get on with work!

I’d love to hear your feedback or show us what you get up to #movelaughlearn and @movelaughlearn

All these (and a few more) are also available at Move, Laugh & Learn on Pinterest

Have fun!

6 happy Halloween hacks, without the social contact!


In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

Does your family ‘Trick or Treat’? As a child, my family didn’t. It just wasn’t a popular thing to do where I lived.

Now I have kids of my own, I have to say, I’ve never really been a fan. But for the last couple of years a group of my friends with kids have met at our local park and then wandered along a friendly street gathering the treats. It’s been a nice thing to do and the kids have loved it. Especially because they’re out after dark! Never mind the stash of treats they haul.

This year’s a bit different though isn’t it?

It’s not safe to knock door to door and ask for treats from several different houses; there’s the families that don’t want callers; and the families that don’t want to ‘trick or treat’ even in non-COVID times.

So, I started thinking about how I will help my kids enjoy Halloween this year and what alternatives could be just as fun. Here’s the list I came up with. If you try any of these fun little ideas, do let me know.


1.Dunk for Apples – we always did this on ‘Bonfire Night’. Get a tub and fill with enough water to have some apples floating on the top. Using some blue-tac, stick a coin to the bottom of some of the apples – this is the ‘treat’! Each person must use only their mouth to try and catch an apple. No hands allowed! *Play it safe with this one*
2.Halloween Pinata – hang it from a tree in your garden or a door frame if you’re playing inside..
3.Pumpkin Hunt – use real mini pumpkins or paper cut-outs. Each one could have a ‘trick’ (e.g. clean the toilet, unpack the dishwasher) or a ‘treat’ (e.g. 2x chocolates).
4.Pumpkin Play – play bowls or basketball with mini pumpkins. You’ll need one mini pumpkin per player plus a bigger one to aim for. Place the larger pumpkin 3 or 4 metres away then each player takes a turn to hit the big one with their small one. The player whose pumpkin is closest to the big one wins. Use a washing basket or hula hoop to play the basketball version.
5.Halloween craft afternoon – just you, or your chosen crew. Enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows together while carving pumpkins, making masks or colouring in Halloween pictures.
6.Slime Search – fill a large bowl or small bucket with chopped up jelly (green’s best!) and hide wrapped sweets or other treats all through it. Each player must be blindfolded and has 5 seconds to reach in and grab their treat. Add some tricks too if you like!
Whatever you get up to, stay safe and have a happy Halloween.

How to stay active during lockdown


In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

Staying active during lockdown life is really hard. Add that to poor weather and no outdoor space of your own, it might seem impossible. And that’s not even mentioning motivation, or lack of!

But… it doesn’t have to be hard or take a lot of effort. Your choices aren’t as limited as you might think. We’re here to help.

Researchers say that play is the main form of physical activity for our little humans, and the best thing you can do is spend time playing with them. It doesn’t really matter what that is, you just need be active.


Gross motor skills (the big movements like running, jumping, climbing) as well as fine motor skills (the smaller movements like drawing and picking up small objects) are all important and make up physical development.

Age appropriate obstacle courses are a great way to test out all sorts of movements. Using a safe space you can use cushions and sofa’s to build obstacles, then add a station for sorting small toys into bowls or drawing a simple shape.


… and suddenly, those obstacles turn into mountains to explore, rivers to cross, and nuts to store for the winter! Pretend to be explorers, mountaineers, clowns or wild animals. Kids love to mimic animal actions and noises and they’re really easy to copy.


Kids love nothing more than playing with their parents. You’re their number 1 role model. Having fun with you is the ultimate. So get involved with the game.

As well as bonding with your child – which is pretty awesome – you’ll find yourself feeling better, and maybe it’ll even get you moving a bit more too. Win-win


All you need is a space, big or small, that’s safe to play in.

You don’t need any special equipment or kit. Regular household bits and bobs can easily be used to make all sorts of different games.

Take a look at our Equipment Alternatives list.

Grab your FREE Instant Yay! Play Pack.

Check out our other blog about Getting Started.


As well as promoting health and wellbeing, physical play …

  • Improves body mastery, required for sitting at a school desk, among other things
  • Offers your child chances to learn and develop new skills, which helps self esteem and confidence
  • Physical development supports brain development and problem solving skills
  • Promotes listening skills and following instructions.


So, if you’re looking for activities to do at home for kids, babies or toddlers, check out our FREE Instant Yay! Play pack to get you going. We’ve done all the planning for you, so all you have to do is play.

8 Reasons kids need to move - besides the obvious ones!


In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

Simply put; movement supports your child’s development in all aspects of their life.

Sure, we know the physical development of motor skills, strong bones, muscles and healthy heart, all of which are all SUPER important. But what about all the other really important areas that are less noticeable? Let’s talk about them too.

1.Movement builds new neural pathways in the brain. That means our brains get better at learning new things, responding to stresses and recovering from any kind of brain injury.
2.Movement encourages more tactile learning, or physical learning, and muscle memory. This is called kinaesthetic memory. Often, we can learn and retain new skills better when we move.
3.Movement improves spatial awareness or orientation. You’d be amazed at all the ways we use spatial awareness. All day, every day as we move through life and space! It also plays a part in learning the order of numbers and other maths problems, understanding directions and map reading, maintaining personal space in social situations and even understanding grammar and sentence structure!
4.Movement supports balance. Sounds basic, but without balance we wouldn’t be able to move around without injuring ourselves!
5.Movement encourages children to express their emotions and release stress and anxiety. Notice how much better you feel after a good run or dancing to a great song? Same thing. (read more about this here)
6.Movement helps develop cooperation and interaction. As children move through the different stages of play, they eventually manage to play cooperatively. This skill is crucial later, for school, sports and life!
7.Movement promotes confidence and helps self-esteem. If your child can move with strength and ease, they will naturally be able to carry out physical tasks. When they manage one thing, they’ll have the confidence to try the next, and just like building blocks, their ability and confidence will grow.
8.Movement improves concentration. This one’s closely linked to the first one, and you may wonder if concentration really matters for pre-schoolers…well, I’d say it helps with parent sanity! Whenever I play with my kids for a few minutes I have noticed that I can leave them to amuse themselves for a little while afterwards. I’ll either leave them with the bits and bobs we’ve been playing with or give them another task. They’re able to get on with something by themselves – which signals coffee break for me! What’s actually happened is the movement has increased the blood flow to the brain which is making those neurons fire up and get ready to learn.
More and more research is being published which proves how good – and important – movement is to the learning process.

Why not challenge yourself to get your family moving more this March?

Happy playing!

x Pam

Read our other inspiration blog about getting started with a new habit, to help you get moving in March.

Grab your FREE Instant Yay! Play Pack by registering at the bottom of our home page – a week of moving to kick start new habits.

Check out all our other inspiration blogs.

Physical literacy and 30 days of active play


In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

We’re bouncing like the Easter Bunny into another month at Move, Laugh & Learn and this month we’d like to help you create your very own activity Activity Action Plan!

Don’t worry, we’re still going to share awesome play planners every month for squad members, but this is about making physical activity part of your every-day routine.

Think; trying new things, finding out if you like to move a different way, and then rewarding yourself when you’ve cracked your goals.

But first, have you ever heard of ‘physical literacy’?

What’s that? I hear you ask! (or maybe that’s just me…)

Well, dear Mummy, Daddy or Grandparent Reader, read on and let me enlighten you.

Physical literacy is the term that looks at activity from the view of the whole person, which includes your emotional, physical and mental engagement in physical activity – how you behave, think and take part.

But for our purposes, let’s simplify things.

Physical skills are like literacy skills. When we teach kids how to read, they start with simple words and build up their vocabulary. The same applies to physical skills with simpler movements building up to perform more difficult activities like riding a bike or playing football. Like building blocks, each skill needs the one before it to make sure it’s strong.

Why does physical literacy matter?

When kids have new and positive experiences with physical activity, they come to know that active play is fun. This leads to a strong motivation to want to be physically active and play other sports and learn new skills. Overall, this promotes an active lifestyle which ultimately leads to good health habits later in life.

The psychological benefits…

Here’s some ideas;

  • Bunny hop races across the living room/down the hall
  • Skip around your garden
    Bounce on the trampoline100 times (my bladder can’t cope with that, so I run around it while the kids bounce!)
  • Walk up and down the stairs 5 more times than you normally would (so for parents, that’s 1005 times, instead of 1000!)
  • Create a fun little workout for yourself; do it once on the first couple of days, then increase. For example 6 star jumps, 6 high-knees, 6 heel taps, 60 seconds jogging on the spot.
  • Pick your favourite song and dance like crazy to it. Then pick 2 fave’ songs… The Prodigy works well in our house!

Confidence! As each new skill or movement is mastered, kids build confidence in their body’s ability. That means they will have the confidence to get involved at school, in class, in PE and in the yard at playtime. Have fun playing club sports and making new friends. Having the confidence to enjoy every opportunity. And that’s all we want for them isn’t it? Of course it is!

Now that we know all of that, let’s get back to the business of building the April Activity Action Plan for your family.

First, and this is really important, don’t plan to do something huge or time consuming if you know it’s unlikely to happen. Start off with manageable things that you will do. But also think about trying out a new sport or activity a couple of times during the month – when you have the chance.

Second, plan to reward yourself (and your family) at the end.

Here’s a template I’ve come up with, you don’t have to follow my suggestions, but you must write it down! There’s also a blank(ish) template for you to think about your own ideas.

As you make your plan, think about where you live, what works for your family, when you’ll be able to do the activity, and best of all what makes your family laugh!

If it’s fun, you’re more likely to get it done.

And here’s some ideas for rewarding your family for all that activity:

  • Movie night, with all the trimmings.
    Family disco.
  • Sleep-over in the living room / camp in the garden.
  • Birthday-party style afternoon; balloons, party food, pass the parcel, all of it.
  • Theme park visit – once we’re allowed!
  • Picnic adventure at a local park.

Rewards should be something you can really look forward to as a family and get excited about. Think about how your family likes to celebrate a special occasion? That’s the charm.

Whatever you manage to do all contributes to your, and your children’s, physical literacy journey. You’ll be able to notice what you like and what you don’t like. Make sure you do more of what you do like, but either way, it’s all good!!

Here’s to an April that has you and your kids hop, skipping and jumping with joy – remember the sillier and fun-filled, the better!

Oh, and Happy Easter too.

7 ways to make the most of every day


In Uncategorised|1 October 2021

For us in the UK, May brings with it warmer days and lighter evenings. Lockdown restrictions are easing too, which makes for more choice of daily fun.

Hopefully for those of you in Australia, May is offering cooler days. Reports from my family in Perth say it’s been a long hot summer. And, thankfully, restrictions there haven’t been too limiting (with the exception of travel).

May is also the month for observing Maternal Mental Health Week, with 5 May being World Maternal Mental Health Day

Having suffered myself, particularly after the birth of my first child, this cause is close to my heart.

I delivered both my kiddos in Australia and received excellent mental health care. Whilst I had great support, it was still a process that took a long time to work through and come to terms with. I’m grateful for the support and care of my family, particularly my husband and my mum, without whom my story would have been quite different.

I’m 9 years down the track now; there’s still bad days, but they’re to be expected, and tackled accordingly. The good days far outweigh them.

On that note, rather than tell my story, I thought I’d use this blog to offer a positive message in a way that’s easy to do, but can be quite powerful.

A friend recently suggested I write a DONE list, as opposed as a TO DO list each day. Of course, being the Queen of Lists that I am, I thought this was a great idea, but I still needed my ‘To Do’ list!

Now, each week in my diary, I have a large sticky note with all the tasks I intend to achieve that week, leaving the space under each day free to write my DONE tasks.

Happy days! It’s SO satisfying.

The next part of this little trick does require a bit of light reflection – pretty difficult with tired kids needing to be fed, bathed and put to bed at the end of the day! For me, this takes place quietly at bedtime, which actually works out well because it ends the day on a positive note.

And the question is; how have I made the most of the day today? (or, what is one positive I can take from today?).

I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s ‘the kids avoided hospital’, or ‘they’ve been fed’! Or even, ‘I won’t be doing ‘that’ again’. But most days I can find a ray of sunshine somewhere, about something.

I’ve put together 7 tips and tricks to help you find ways to notice how you’ve made the most of your day so that your ‘DONE’ list can sparkle.

1. Make your ‘To Do’ list, with space for your ‘Done’ list!

Be realistic with your list. You can even use a nice colourful pen to write down your achievements (if you’re a stationery nut like me!)

2. Get some exercise.

Every day. Anything will do, even just a 10 minute walk or some active play time with your child – which is a double whammy by the way; exercise for you + bonding time with them.

3. Have a shower.

Sounds simple enough but it makes you feel so much better! I used to bring mine into the bathroom, secured in a bouncy chair and sing whilst I was showering. It may not have been relaxing but I was clean and felt good for it.

4. As a family, tell each other the best thing about your day.

It’s interesting where these little chats can lead. Try, ‘what did you do today that made you smile?’ It’s good to help kids reflect on their day too.

5. Find ways to laugh twice during the day.

Tip; Google “funny parenting quotes” if you’re struggling.

Laughter is a stress reliever and even just smiling will make you feel better. At the end of the day, you’ll write down ‘I laughed twice today’, then you’ll remember what you laughed at and probably get another chuckle out of it.

6. Notice the weather; good or bad.

I love watching the weather, whatever it’s doing. There’s a mountain outside my kitchen window and I can see the rain coming before it hits, or I can see the haze of a summer’s day. I love a broody sky and I also love a bright blue sunny sky. Drink it in and soak it up. What for? Being in the moment, just for a moment.

7. Give yourself 5 minutes to cuddle your child.

Don’t do anything else at the same time, just enjoy the connection. I often feel like I need to take a picture to capture the moment, but all too soon the moment has passed. So just cuddle. You’ll remember it and so will they.

Obviously you’re not going to do all these every day. But if you can manage one, once, then another on another day, soon your list will be colourful and you’ll find so many other ways to feel good.

And don’t forget, it’s OK to write ‘they’re alive’ on those days that are JUST TOUGH.

Finally, remember to call on your friends if you’re having a bad day. That’s what friends are for … in good times and in bad.

Take photos of YOU with your babies! I had a really hard time finding pictures of me with my first as a baby (probably something to do with how low I was feeling). This one is a rare one of me when they were both little. x

Shout out to the Dads!


In Uncategorised|30 September 2021

Dads. Well, it is Father’s Day in June (in the UK), so let’s give them the stage for a minute.

In our house, we have the ‘traditional’ set up of Dad leaves the house to work, Mum works in (and from) the home and is generally around for the kids. We’re fortunate in that arrangement and I’m grateful for it.

My own dad passed away when I was young, so my Mum did everything (whilst grieving) which meant it wasn’t possible for her to be present, as I am. It would have been so tough for her, raising four kids alone, so I have the utmost respect for all Mums (or Dads!) who are flying solo, whatever the circumstances.

Dads, or at least a strong male influence, if one is available, can have such a positive impact in a child’s life. But a lot of the time we give all the kudos to mums, and Dad-people are often overlooked.

Did you know that post-natal depression happens to Dads too?


Dad’s life changes massively as well, but they haven’t had the crazy hormones or internal disco to get them used to the idea that another little human is coming into the world.

And Dads feel that immense pressure to take care of the child (and the Mumma) too. For some, that intense feeling of responsibility can knock the best of men off their feet. (Just like it can to us Mums!)

Recent research studies have shown that when fathers can be actively involved with their children, those children ‘do’ better.

Apparently, the impact starts during pregnancy. If the Dad is more involved then, he’s more likely to be involved once Baby arrives.

When fathers respond to their baby’s cries and help with the day-to-day care giving, a greater attachment is fostered. Secure attachments between father and child, last well into adulthood and help with academic and social development.

Kids want their dads to be proud of them, so they strive to do well. In turn, when dads show their support and affection it promotes strength, self-confidence and a sense of well-being in their children.

Other studies have found that fathers can have a huge impact on language development in children. They often ask more questions than Mums and use different words. This helps children’s vocabulary grow, leading to better language and conversational skills. Highly developed language skills correlate with better academic achievement. If a Dad-person isn’t available, maybe ask a trusted male friend for a chat?

Apparently, the more time Dads spend playing and engaging with their children, the better their maths and language development is at around 10 or 11. (that’s a random one isn’t it!)

My personal favourite one here … when Dads get involved with looking after the kiddos, the home is a more harmonious place! Yep, the research also notes this, because, when the care is shared there are less arguments, and less conflict strengthens the home relationships and also has long-term benefits for children. Boom.

But to be fair, as we’re giving kudos to the Dads here, the opposite could be true if you’re a stay-at-home-dad!

On that note, I’d just like to say ‘thanks’ to my husband, father of my children, and all-round great guy. He’s been hands on since well before kids. We’ve always shared everything 50/50. Our lives have twisted and turned and we now live, as I said, in a ‘traditional’ arrangement of me taking on the lead with our kids, but he’s present and engaged and involved. For which I’m grateful, and I know my children’s lives are far richer for it.

May the Father figure in your life enjoy his Father’s Day, and remember how important and valuable his involvement is. May he also spend the day being jumped on and pulled at by small wonderous humans he helped to create!

Summer days ahead...


In Uncategorised|30 September 2021

Summer holidays are literally just around the corner!

(Sorry if you’re reading this in the Southern Hemisphere)

I recently took a 12-month maternity cover contract which means my mind has been occupied with learning the ropes of a new role, instead of planning for the six-week summer holiday ahead. (Thankfully, it’s a school-based job which means I get six weeks off too!)

So yesterday, I took a few minutes to think about my plan for the summer days ahead, and of course, to write this post.

I like to have a vague plan for the weeks of holidays because if I don’t, I’ll end up procrastinating and suddenly, it’s lunchtime and we’re still in our pj’s. Don’t get me wrong, those days are lovely too. But it’s easier to enjoy those days when the rest are bursting at the seams with adventures.

And of course, there’s the added challenge of Covid in the world, so visits to ticketed attractions must be planned ahead of time.

A few 'ticketed' attractions are on The Plan.

Last year I set myself and the kiddos a challenge to visit a new beach every week. We had some amazing days at some amazing places. I had no idea North Wales had so many beautiful beaches to explore. I rediscovered how good a beach day can be. As well as being free of charge! (You can have a look at last year’s plan here.)

Beaches are staying firmly on The Plan again this year.

The idea for new discoveries worked out so well, I’m going to repeat the concept this year.

I’m thinking of making the most of my National Trust membership and discovering a new site every week. The bonus is that they usually have extra activities happening during the holidays which makes the visit even better and easily fills a whole day.

The other great thing about National Trust is there’s usually shelter of some description for rainy days. Which means, plans don’t need to be changed, just the clothes! And who doesn’t love a splash about in a muddy puddle?

Making the most of memberships is on The Plan.

No summer holiday break would be complete without a bit of a clear out too. There’s another day, devoted to those bigger jobs that you never quite get around to during term-time. Sigh.

Clear out the cupboards is on the The Plan.

Another idea, new to The Plan this year, is a park day with other families. A few mums from school have agreed to meet up one day a week, weather permitting, to play games. It’s a great way to keep the kids’ connections going. And the bonus is that the kids generally amuse themselves and us mums can have a proper good natter!

Picnic at the park including coffee catch ups for Mums is on The Plan.

And there we go. That’s The Plan pretty much sorted. It’s so therapeutic putting it down on paper!

It’ll look like this:



Post-weekend sort out / jobs at home


National Trust discovery – pack wellies and spares!


Theme Park / zoo / movies


Beach day


Meet friends at the park


Family adventures

Depending on what we decide for the weekends, the only day for big spending is Wednesday when we visit an attraction. Result!

NB obviously all of the above will be in accordance with the latest Covid restrictions and guidelines, and at a healthy social distance! Well, adults anyway, we all know the kids have no concept of personal space.

Happy holidays everyone! x

Surviving the Start of School - From Head to Parent


In Uncategorised|28 July 2021

Guest blog from The Unyoung Mum.

(you can read more of Karen’s tales here, and I assure you you’ll love them!)

How many times have I stood there?

How many times have I smiled a reassuring smile to welcome a fresh-batch of parents?

All those encouraging nods as they comment on how low down the chairs are, the smell of school dinners and their recollections of how much smaller primary school seems. All the confidence that this school was the right choice for their child. The heart-felt promises that their most precious gift will be in the best possible hands.

But this time, the shoe is on the other foot for me. I am the one nervously shuffling in, notebook and questions at the ready, with a desperate smile that says: “love my child please.”

It very quickly dawned on me how I had underestimated as Head of School, the magnitude of this milestone – the lurch in the very core of parents as they see their baby, their dependent baby, take a leap towards standing on their own feet.

But switching hats I know that however daunting for parents and guardians to leave their offspring at the gate, that Reception class is a place of warmth, of exponential growth and one of the most exciting times in schooling.

Where Do I Begin?

So, where do you start in preparing your prized possession for this momentous step? This one is easy – you have been doing so since birth.

All those conversations, that time you let them loose with the scissors or tweezers, looking out for the number 18 bus – every single bit of encouragement and reinforcement has helped upskill them for ‘big school!’ Yep – even watching 23 episodes of Blippi back-to-back has given them an in-depth understanding of the world. Big tick!

But what’s this with the changes to the curriculum? She’s not writing her name! Should I be worried that he always skips number 16 and 17? I need concrete ideas I hear you cry!

Take A Breath

There have been changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in the UK and these will be rolled out as of September 2021. But frankly, no matter where you are in the world, there are certain things I would be concerning myself with and an awful lot that I would be quite happy to leave to the professionals – curriculum changes included.

My concerns are focused on fostering a child who is excited by learning, inquisitive, resilient, confident and able to put his socks on! Lately I’ve started to worry that maybe I haven’t done enough academic prep for him. I haven’t drilled him with letter sounds. He doesn’t have much interest in mark making. He can’t write numbers. But then I check myself and think of his passion for snails, how he hunts numbers in the environment and his love of singing “Twinkle, Twinkle” (changing the lyrics for comedy value). I’ll take word play, a sense of humour and fascination of nature over a perfectly formed letter ‘A’ any day!

Still no ideas!” I hear you holler. OK – I’m on to it.

Here’s what I will be focusing on over the next eight weeks in the run up to STARTING SCHOOL!

My Top Tips For Preparing For School

There have been changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum in the UK and these will be rolled out as of September 2021. But frankly, no matter where you are in the world, there are certain things I would be concerning myself with and an awful lot that I would be quite happy to leave to the professionals – curriculum changes included.

My concerns are focused on fostering a child who is excited by learning, inquisitive, resilient, confident and able to put his socks on! Lately I’ve started to worry that maybe I haven’t done enough academic prep for him. I haven’t drilled him with letter sounds. He doesn’t have much interest in mark making. He can’t write numbers. But then I check myself and think of his passion for snails, how he hunts numbers in the environment and his love of singing “Twinkle, Twinkle” (changing the lyrics for comedy value). I’ll take word play, a sense of humour and fascination of nature over a perfectly formed letter ‘A’ any day!

Still no ideas!” I hear you holler. OK – I’m on to it.

Here’s what I will be focusing on over the next eight weeks in the run up to STARTING SCHOOL!

My Top Tips For Preparing For School

Disclaimer: I’ve never had a Reception Class myself. Frankly they scared me a little. All that snot and the changing for P.E. – my comfort zone was firmly in Year 6! But I’ve worked with enough Reception teachers and observed enough lessons from a leadership position to know what helps. So please consider these tips from one parent to another but with a grounding of twenty years in a school setting.

1. Getting dressed

Twice weekly your little person will have a P.E. session. Now I struggle with trying to get one child dressed in the morning. Put yourself in the position of a teacher and assistant with 20-30 little people trying to shoe-horn themselves in to socks. Do them a favour – support your young folk in getting themselves dressed and undressed. And label everything! Every darned sock! Making it a challenge often helps. Have a timer – can they get their socks off quicker than last time?
2. Finger dexterity

So they’re not writing. Don’t panic. There’s plenty of things you can be doing in preparation for writing. Finger strength and fine-motor skills are the prerequisite for good pencil grip. Get them squishing playdoh balls, using tweezers, cutting with scissors, squeezing spray bottles, pressing their thumbs to fingers in a race and painting, drawing and using a range of mark-making equipment… All will help with dexterity and strength to support that tripod grip and writing stamina. Don’t be scared to leave the rest to Reception.

3. Playing with sounds

If your child has attended a nursery or preschool you may find that they’ve done some work around letter sounds but explicit phonics teaching is not expected till they gate-crash Reception. If your little one is anything like mine, they can recognise the sound of some letters. I take no credit for this. Ben the Train on Amazon Prime is solely responsible for any phonics development (that and a slight American twang to his accent). It is so important to make sure you’re pronouncing the ‘true sounds’ if you’re practising phonics, for example ‘mmmmm’ instead of ‘muh’. If you’re after some support, try Mr Thorne Does Phonics” on YouTube.

The pre-requisite to representing sounds on paper as a letter is hearing them. I cannot stress enough the importance of hearing the sounds in words. In the car we play lots of games. I Spy is great. “I spot something beginning with ssssss” using the sound rather than the name of the letter.

Another one shamelessly pinched from the ‘Letters and Sounds’ (the UK government scheme used by many schools) is sound treasure. Have a play tray with different objects. Can they ‘bin’ the object that don’t start with your focus letter? Can they put the objects in the treasure chest that do (an image of a bin and chest could be used to sort or just two containers)? Start with their interests: Harry will be very familiar with ‘t’ thanks to trains!

4. Name Recognition

Every morning they will need to hang their coat up. They will often find name cards to mark their place at an activity. Names pop up everywhere in Foundation Stage so it’s a real bonus if they can spot theirs.

Magnetic letters are great to move around. As are tactile activities e.g. tracing letters in sand and playdoh letters. Can your child find the letters of their name from a tray filled with dried chickpeas and stars with letters on (get the tweezers out for added fine-motor skill bonus points)?

We played a game where I had pairs of cards: one had the correct spelling and the other had a letter altered. The element of challenge was all my son needed to spot a Harry from a Barry!

5. Sharing is Caring

Something we’ve struggled with, particularly as a result of being locked away without peers or siblings during lockdown, is the capacity to share. I can’t emphasise enough this is a learned skill and not something we are born with. Don’t, like I have done, beat yourself up if everything is ‘mine, mine, mine!’

Playing games with turn-taking is one way to support this, helping your young folk realise we can all have a turn. My one-stop-shop for games ideas is the Move Laugh Learn website. Not only will it get them physically active, they will have the opportunity to develop their capacity to share whilst having quality time and fun with you.

6. Play Dates

A longgggg summer looms ahead. If you’ve been used to term-time early years provision, then you are on fun duty for the next 6-8 weeks. What better way to help them socially than to organise some play dates with their new classmates?

If you haven’t already swapped numbers with some of the new mums then I will bet my bottom dollar that a cheeky Facebook post on local sites will hook you up with some of their fellow September starters.

You’ll have the chance to let them run off some steam, make bonds with their peers and practise so many of the areas we’ve already mentioned.

Don’t Panic

It can be a daunting prospect but know that every school wants your child to not only survive the transition but thrive. If you’ve got worries and concerns, don’t hold them in. Children do their best when home and school work together so never be afraid to talk to staff – I bet whatever your worry; they’ve dealt with it before.

But most importantly, enjoy the process as much as you can.

Over the next year you will see your child flourish and grow in every area!

Sit back and wonder as you hear them talk of the world, of friendships, of how they dealt with a problem… as you hear them read, watch them count and see them write!

Send them off with a lump in your throat and a smile plastered over your face. Then sit back and enjoy a hot coffee without the soundtrack of Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig.

Want more of Karen’s wisdom? Check out her blogs here.

About The Unyoung Mum:

Having spent almost twenty years in education, working with little people, everyone believed it would be a breeze – I’d know what I was doing right? As Harry has hit the ripe old age of 799 days (that’s two years and two months of sleep deprivation), I felt it was time to embrace my sterling successes and spectacular fails as a first-time and full-time mum who is the fabulous side of forty…(read more)

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