Our Blog

Welcome to our blog where we discuss all things relating to parenting and education of our little ones.


1. Pumpkins

No doubt you will have already noticed that it is Halloween this weekend! So we thought it'd be appropriate  to share our pumpkin alphabet dot to dot.

This activity is from Month 11, near the end of the 1 year Zest 4 Learning programme. Month 11's theme is all about 'Time', and the activities discuss seasons, months, days of the week and telling the time. Here we are practicing the alphabet with this pumpkin dot to dot which relates to the Cinderella story also covered this Month.

Just click on the picture to download and print off your copy.

Pumpkin activity

You may have already been busy making fancy dress costumes or pumpkin carving. But if you're like us, Halloween has suddenly crept up and we just haven't found the time to carve our pumpkin yet.

So we thought we'd share these simpler no carve pumpkin ideas, which also allow for more participation from little hands.

Use masking tape to mask your child's initial or make a face and then let your little one loose with the finger paint to cover the pumpkin... can't guarantee this is less messy than traditionally carving up the pumpkin, but at least little ones can be more actively involved. 

 

Source: Young House Love

Or take a look at these other great 'no carve' pumpkins we've found if you're looking for inspiration... Source: HEB.com

Have a great Halloween and don't forget to sign up to the Zest 4 Learning Programme to give your child a building curriculum of educational activities that inspires conversation, builds general knowledge,  and improves dexterity skills.

Get your child's monthly subscription pack on it's way to them by signing up on our website http://www.zest4learning.co.uk/subscribe/ and have fun whilst giving your child the best possible start.

Have a great weekend. Carole x

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2. Starting school Sept 2017? How best to prepare your child!

We all want our children to start school fully prepared and with less than a year to go until their first day, you will be thinking about how you can make the most of your child’s pre-school year and help get them off to a flying start.

So, what does my child need to know before starting school?  We asked Reception teachers and teaching assistants which skills benefited children the most as they entered their first year in school and we've listed their top 5 answers.

The answers may surprise you! Whilst being able to count and starting to learn to read are important especially for your child’s self-belief, there are additional life skills that will benefit your child so that they can engage with all aspects of school quickly and with confidence.

So we'll start counting down from number 5 and moving to our number 1 spot... (Which is one of the first things mentioned by ALL of the staff who contributed). 

5. Listening Skills. 

From the school register at the start of the day, to story time and constant instructions throughout the day, it is important your little one has learned to listen and also to communicate appropriately. 

Playing schools with teddies or toys is great practice for listening for their name in a register. Taking turns when it comes to speaking and listening is vital and part of this is learning to put up your hand to speak.

We all know the importance of reading to your child too. In addition to daily reading, having discussions and conversations as often as possible will develop their conversational skills. Playing board games gives opportunities for following rules, taking turns and accepting defeat! At Zest 4 Learning, the fun games and activities in your programme are designed to encourage discussions and build effective communication skills.

4. Social skills and Confidence.

Getting your child used to spending time away from a parent will benefit them when they start school and will help avoid emotional meltdowns.

All children are different and some are so much more anxious than others, but if you have an anxious child there are things you can do to help. 

If possible, get to know the children they will be starting school with before they start.  Seeing familiar faces and knowing names will make it a more familiar place.

Although tears are very common on the first few drop offs, and sometimes last for several weeks, it is usually only at the separation and your child is soon distracted by the day's activities. This article offers more ideas to help.

http://www.mothersalwaysright.com/five-ways-to-deal-with-separation-anxiety-at-school/

3. Recognising and Writing their Own Name! 

The first day in a new school is daunting for every child. There is so much to take in and new routines to follow. This routine is made easier for everyone if your child can already recognise their name. For example, finding their coat peg, where their tray is and which cardigan or jumper is theirs. Being able to write their own name on the back of their pictures and other treasured work is vital if work does not get misplaced.

At Zest 4 Learning we are offering a FREE template name writing sheet you can print off. It is personalised with your child's name so they can get practicing straight away.

To get yours just email me with their first name. carole@zest4learning.co.uk 

2. Getting Dressed Independently.

Now they can recognise their own name in their ‘clearly named’ uniform, getting it off and on again independently is the next challenge!

Most infant uniform is kept simple: Velcro shoes, slip on pumps and elasticated waist bands and when you have finally purchased the uniform, time them getting changed into their P.E kit and back again! Add an extra challenge to this by turning t-shirt or jumper inside out. As a jumper pulled off is often inside out... Can they sort this out and still put it on again?  

So already you can start getting your child to do as much as they can when dressing. Yes, it can take much longer at first but ultimately it will make life easier. Just bear in mind that if a teacher is needed to help dress a child and this takes just 1 minute... Times that by 30 children = 30 minutes and the PE lesson is over before it’s begun. 

And so what came in at number 1? What aspect was mentioned by all the teaching staff we questioned...? No it wasn't that copious amounts of wine should be supplied to the stressed out staff... Only a minority of those surveyed mentioned wine... (You know who you are!) It's not the ability to wipe your nose on a hanky rather than sleeve, or use a finger as a means of extraction! (this was strangely only mentioned by a few!) Nor is it the ability to tidy up as this will soon be learnt as part of the day’s routine. The most essential and import thing your child needs to be able to do...

1. Please be fully Toilet Trained! 

By ‘fully’ they don't just mean dry and out of nappies, it means that they can independently take themselves to the toilet, know how to wipe, flush, re-dress and wash their hands before leaving the toilets.

Reports of "too many bits on show outside of the cubical" were common. If you have a little boy they can practice aiming skills with a floating ping pong ball and maybe have them experience urinals too. We received numerous anecdotes which included children's requests to be wiped after a poo poo, never having flushed a toilet themselves before and help needed replacing clothes, especially the girls struggling in woolly tights! 

We know accidents will happen and if your child is prone to this, send in spare clothes and let the teacher know so they can remind them to go to the toilet. But please help them practice the basics of toileting independently before they start school. It helps with their confidence too and by feeling all grown up. And don't they just grow up oh so quickly...! 


You might want to take a look at this best selling book

What Every Parent Needs to Know: How to Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Primary School by Miranda Thomas and Toby Young (Viking £14.99)

This has some great advice in addition to the self-confidence and competence that can be gained from the number work, phonics and reading skills gained in the Zest 4 Learning programme.

So why not give your child the confidence to excel at school by enroling on the Zest 4 Learning pre-school programme. Their learning journey will take them from counting to sums, from letter recognition to reading, all delivered through fun activities, games and crafts.

For a limited period, we are offering a 20% discount.

So there's never been a better time to start their learning journey! To get your child's personalised Zest 4 Learning start up pack go to www.zest4learning.co.uk/subscribe and enter the Promotional Code: Z4LProud20 valid until Oct 31st 2016

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3. Make the most of the Summer with these 10 cost effective ideas for outside fun.

Suddenly June has crept up on us and it is now officially summer time!

Getting children outside in the fresh air, playing and being active is great for their well-being and they learn so much whilst playing. Most importantly these summer days will become the fond childhood memories that they will look back on. You don’t need expensive toys and equipment, what is so much more important is spending time interacting with your children.  We have come across some great outdoor play ideas in recent months and so we wanted to collate and share them in one post.

If you don’t have access to a garden of your own, maybe you can invade a willing relative’s garden, take to the park or suggest these ideas to your local playgroup or nursery.

We have trolled the internet to find 10 fabulous ideas that look the most fun without breaking the bank! We especially like number 9 as it’s created by us at Zest! Zest 4 Learning is a pre-school learning programme and if you like the types of activities we suggest here then take a look at our pre-school learning programme at www.zest4learning .co.uk and make sure you sign up for our future newsletters.

1. Dens and Tents

Kids love hiding away in a secret place. A simple sheet over a low clothes line and a blanket to sit on can be as good as any expensive shop bought Tepee. Add cushions, bunting and leave them with their favourite soft toys for some imaginary play.

http://www.shelterness.com/9-easy-diy-outdoor-tents-and-teepees/

Or make a semi-permanent reading den.

If there are resources to hand have a go at building a den together. It could be a mini one for dolls or toys.

http://www.forest-explorers.co.uk/education/

2. Sand and Gravel pits

My daughter spent hours playing in her sand pit with diggers and also burying toy dinosaurs and excavating them! So I would highly recommend finding a place in the garden to create a sand, or gravel and stone, play area. But remember to protect it from cats - as they notoriously like to use these as their toilet!

http://digthisdesign.net/decor-furnishings/kids-backyard-playgrounds-that-play-friendly-with-nature/

If you don’t have the space in the garden a large tray could do the trick!

And if you’re brave enough, let them have some fun with mud and tractors!

http://tamingthegoblin.com/2012/07/

3. Outdoor Black Boards

Outdoor blackboards are great to get creative with or play word games on, such as hangman. And thankfully the chalk dust is less of a problem being outside! Just get some plywood and paint it with black board paint (most DIY stores stock it) they can be very easy to make.

You can use your black board to keep scores for games (maths skills practice too!).

http://homezilla.net/kid-friendly-backyard-ideas/yard-games-this-tiny-backyard-isn-t-just-kid-friendly-it-s-pet/

4. Outdoor Games

Create some target games to keep them entertained. Throw balls, bean bags or small soft toys into hoops or suitable containers.

www.ideasparamama.com/category/ aprender-jugando/page/2/

Or play "get the balloons into the laundry basket!"

https://uk.pinterest.com/birthdaylawn/ outdoor-kids-party-ideas/

Or fill those balloons with water and stand back as they have some batting practice!

http://northeastohiofamilyfun.com/water-balloon-games/

5. Create an Assault Course

Assault courses are great for physical skills and maths too if they time themselves! As well as the ideas suggested below you could add in a target throwing game, egg and spoon, sack race or hurdles.

http://www.amyscookingadventures.com

6. Get Planting

Learning how plants grow, especially if they’re ones we can eat, is important stuff to know and can encourage your child to try new foods they have grown themselves. A little vegetable patch or herb garden in a corner or a large pot is a great idea. Sun flowers are great too or try to grow a pumpkin you can then use at Halloween. Most garden centres will sell easy to grow, child friendly, seeds.

http://theimaginationtree.com/2016/05/ inspiring-outdoor-play-spaces-kids.html

Up-cycle those grown out of wellies!

http://donkeyandthecarrot.blogspot.co.uk/ 2011/08/my-obsessions.html

7. Make a Secret Garden

http://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/collection/gardening-for-kids

Help them create a secret garden for fairies or maybe a dinosaur jungle in the plants and weeds!


http://www.funathomewithkids.com/ 2013/06/not-fairy-garden-dinosaur-garden.html

8. Or make a Race Track

If you have a patch of grass you don’t mind chopping into then this is a brilliant idea.

http://mumsgrapevine.com.au/2014/08/kid-friendly-garden-ideas/

9. How about a Scavenger Hunt?

This can be played individually or in teams. Send them off to collect the items… But give some boundaries as you don’t want them to pick your prize flowers! Make sure they collect only a fallen petal or the flower of a weed in the grass. The pdf document can be downloaded here! 

Garden Scavenger Hunt pdf's 


10. Get Arty with Nature

Using clay or Plastercine and a collection of sticks, leaves or stones get creative. Give the trees some faces or make them on the patio.

http://thinlyspread.co.uk/2013/06/05/ garden-crafts-meet-the-little-folk/

Just threading leaves on a thin stick looks amazing! There are even more great ideas on the link below.

http://artfulparent.com/2014/06/10-nature-art-projects-kids.html

And then when it all gets too much … just take a nap!

http:// ideasparamama.com/category/ aprender-jugando/page/2/

Enjoy your summer.

Carole x

Carole Hender is the founder of the Zest 4 Learning, a pre-school home education programme. We create competence, confidence and a love of learning with our exciting monthly subscription box. Zest is an innovative programme that supplies learning activities and all the resources in a fun and structured format . Find out more at www.zest4learning.co.uk 

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4. Can you help us with this little challenge?

Take a moment to read why we believe making your child feel Proud is so important, and hopefully you'll want to take up the challenge detailed at the end. We'd love your feedback on whether making a concerted effort to 'Make them feel Proud' made a difference.

The importance of feeling Proud.

Keeping our children entertained and making things fun is the aim of all children’s activities. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an indoor game or outdoor rough and tumble, whether socially interacting or solitary pretend play or on an electronic device. There are benefits to all these types of play. It's great to see children playing and having fun! But is having 'fun' enough?

Fun only has a short shelf life, it obviously means they’re happy and it will hopefully tire them out, but it doesn’t, on its own, have much of an impact on a child’s self-image and worth. A much more important emotion we should aim for our children to experience is to ‘Make them feel Proud'.

When a child feels proud of something they have done or achieved, it has a positive impact on their self-esteem and confidence. These positive emotions form part of their self-identity. However if, for example, a child is constantly told he’s naughty, he will see himself as naughty and act accordingly, because that is what he believes he is and what everyone expects of him.  Conversely if you praise a child when they act kindly or creatively they will start to believe they have these values. That’s why at Zest we believe it is vitally important to make your child feel proud of their good behaviour and creativity.

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing ideas and resources you can use to ‘Make them feel Proud’. The first ideas are here…

1. Verbal Praise

The most obvious thing we can do to make a child feel proud, is verbal praise. However try to be specific with your comments. Don’t just say… “Well done.”

Make sure you get their attention, because what you want to say is important, not an off the cuff remark. Explain ‘exactly’ what they have done that you admire and why.

For example, “Joshua, I really liked the way you shared the toys with your friend today. That was really grown up and kind of you.”

Make sure you praise good behaviour and achievements, artwork, etc. But don’t overdo it. If you constantly tell them every little thing they do is brilliant, it will dilute the effect and make it seem insincere.

2. Certificates

The second idea to make a child feel proud is ‘certificates’. They are widely used in schools as a reward and to build a sense of pride. 

At home, it can also be a good idea to use certificates if there is something your child has done you feel deserves one. Often our children can cause us to smile with pride or they may bring a tear to our eye and yet they are oblivious to our emotion. So tell them. Print off this certificate and present it to your child for something, even a small something, they have done this week.

And so to the Challenge..

Every day for the next week look for an example of good behaviour or something they done you can verbally praise. Take the time to stop what you’re doing, get their full attention and praise them, ideally at the time of the event, but it could be at bed time when you reflect on the day. Even on a bad day try and find something!  And by the end of the week find something they have done worthy of the certificate. Feel free to print off the one shown above  Certificate.pdf 

Please let us know how you get on by commenting on our face book page. https://www.facebook.com/Zest4Learning

Over the next few weeks there will be more ideas and resources you can use to ‘Make them feel Proud’ so please sign up to our newsletter in the green box on our homepage so you don’t miss them.

                                       

Zest 4 Learning is a pre-school Learning Programme. Each month’s pack is addressed to your child and conveniently supplies everything you need to complete the exciting educational activities. The programme covers pencil and scissor control, numeracy and literacy skills in fun to do themed activities. Zest aims to create confidence and a love on learning that will stay with them for life.

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5. 5 Simple Ideas for THANK YOU Messages

Christmas is a manically busy time when you have a family. We all enjoy the present opening and have the best of intentions to write to each and every one of the senders with Thank You notes. But it can be a chore after the event and Thank You messages often get forgotten or put off for weeks!

So here are 5 quick and easy ideas that may help make it less of a chore this year and show your child's appreciation of their presents.

1. Take a photo as your child opens each present and try and capture their excitement, or get your child to pose for a photo with the gift. The image can be sent electronically with a thank you message or print it out as a thank-you card. (Just add your name to our e-newsletter mailing list to receive this Thank you card template as a word doc. www.zest4learning.co.uk  look for the green e-newsletter box!)


2. Take a  photo of your child(ren) holding a chalk board or banner on which they have written THANK YOU. Or use magnetic letters on a baking sheet. This one image can then be sent to all of the senders with a personalised message.

3. Trace your child’s hands and cut them out, then send them as a thank-you “round of applause.”

4. Write THANK YOU in white crayon, then have your child paint over it using watercolors. The paint won’t adhere to the crayon, so the message will show up.

5. Record a video of your child expressing their thanks, then E-mail the link to the recipient. Take care to check your privacy settings before uploading anything to social media sites.


Have a great Christmas from all of us at Zest!  xxx





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6. Simply Brilliant Seasonal Crafts

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there are some great ideas here that can be adapted to wintery pictures.

Zest 4 Learning advocates working together with your child and enjoying being creative and having fun. With a bit of guidance even a young child can make these stunning Christmas cards and simple lantern.

Simple Tree Lantern

This is so simple and so effective! All you need is a battery operated tea light, some A4 Green card, coloured tissue paper, a hole punch, scissors, Pritt type glue and Sellotape.

Help your child to draw around a small plate to mark out a circle the same width as the A4 card, and cut out the circle.

Fold and cut this in half. You now have two semi circles from which you can make two tree lanterns.

Use the hole punch to punch out lots of circles. You will have to fold the card to reach all areas of the card but it should easily flatten it out again. The more circles the better, and it doesn’t matter if some holes overlap.

Stick coloured tissue paper over the holes on the one side and add some glitter or sparkly stars to the other side. Then make the card into a cone shape by sticking together the two edges with Sellotape.

Place over a battery operated tea light and see the lights on the tree glow. Don’t be tempted to use a real tea light candle, it will catch fire!

Leaf Christmas cards.

Go out scouting in the garden or park and collect some Holly, Ivy, conifer leaves or any other suitable green leaves you can find. In the examples below I have used the Holly and Ivy, conifer and a leaf from my Magnolia tree (which is still green even at this time of year!).  It is a good opportunity to remind your child never to eat any berries or leaves the find. The leaves will entually brown and dry out but a real christmas tree dries out too.

This conifer leaf was stuck down with pritt and then decorated with glitter glue, sequin gems and balls of tissue paper.

On this card a leaf from a magnolia tree was decorated as a Christmas tree.

The holly and ivy leaves were stuck to card with Pritt glue and flattened under a heavy book until they stuck. Then they were decorated with glitter glue and the hole punch was used to create berries from some red card.

The conifer leaves can be made to look snow covered with white paint or a white wax crayon. They were then stuck to the card and decorated with silver glitter glue and a star.

Bauble card

This bauble card was made by cutting a circle out of black card and making a stained glass window effect with coloured tissue paper, this was stuck behind the window and a few silver stars added to the front. A silver pen or glitter glue can add the bauble string. Placing a battery tea light behind the card lights up the bauble like a stained glass window.

Fingerprint Cards.

Mass produce some quick and easy cards use finger printing! A white thumb print with a smaller finger for the head can make snowmen or robins or whatever your inspiration decides!

Just using some hole punch snowflakes, twigs for arms, wobbly eyes and bits of paper you can create a variety of designs.


Remember if you subscribe to Zest 4 Learning your child receives an exciting package every month, personally addressed to them, with fun educational activity sheets and all the resources required. We even include the scissors!

Enjoy yourselves

Carole x

founder of Zest 4 Learning.

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7. Free Autumn Activity Ideas and Resources.

We have collated some great Autumn themed ideas, including Zest's Adopt a Tree activity. Make sure you also scroll down for the free sample down-loadable Zest Activity Sheets, hiding at the bottom!

ADOPT A TREE

One of the activities we revisit in the Zest programme is "Adopt a Tree".

Choose a deciduous tree that is convenient for you to visit. At the moment the leaves will be turning into their beautiful autumn colours, and there may be some fruit, acorns or conkers to collect! Take a photo of your little one next to the tree. Collect some leaves of various colours and either laminate them or press them in a old heavy book. In the  Zest Programme we remind you to revisit your tree every three months, with a new activity sheet asking you to discuss how it has changed, get a new photo and collect something from the tree. Your photos and collections are kept together in the Zest scrap book. It is amazing to look back at the year and discuss how the tree has changed and see how your little one will have grown!

AUTUMN LEAF ACTIVITY IDEAS

Some other great ideas we have found. Gather up a bucket of leaves and make your own designs.


Just using circles and triangles of coloured paper, a couple of wobbly eyes and a few collected leaves you can make these amazing owls!

Painted leaves can make great Halloween ghosts or make leaf faces!



 

Or make an autumn leaf hedgehog! Copyright DLTK’s Inc. photo used with permission’

SAMPLE SOME ZEST 4 LEARNING ACTIVITY SHEETS

D sheets are for Dexterity and crafts related to the months theme. Have a go at this Pencil Control Activity Sheet D8.pdf

L Sheets are Literacy based, including stories, rhymes, letter recognition games, phonics, moving on to reading and writing. Have a go at this Letter Recognition Activity Sheet L20.pdf

N Sheets are Numeracy based, including number recognition, counting, shapes, and mathematical vocabulary. Have a go at this Longer and Shorter Activity Sheet N17.pdf

Remember if you subscribe to Zest 4 Learning an exciting package arrives every month, addressed to your child, with all the required activity sheets and resources.



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8. Having Fun with Phonics

Following the recent 'Introduction to Phonics' talk by myself from Zest 4 Learning, the lovely Sharon of  Panda Education, Hannah from Osborne books and hosted by Carys at Worcester Learning Zone, several parents have asked for the presentation slides. So here they are with a link to the PowerPoint file at the bottom, if you have the technology to be able to view it!

Sharon had already explained some of the vocabulary and how phonics is taught in schools (you can find her at http://www.panda-education.co.uk/).  My remit was to offer practical tips with ideas of the sort of things parents can do to support their child.

First we discussed the importance of parental influence on a child's learning and introduced the ORIM framework.

Then we looked at  practical things you can do, stressing the importance of enjoying books and reading environmental text. For example, M is easily recognised and the sound /mmm/ with help of the Mc Donalds  logo!

We discussed how conversation skills are vital too.

Finally, we looked at specific activities and games. "I spy with my little eye.." & "I hear with my little ear..." are brilliant games you can play anywhere, that reinforce letter names and sounds.

Have a “Today’s Letter” challenge to find printed examples of that letter and pictures of things that begin with that sound, throughout the day. You may want to collect things in a scrap book using a page per letter until you have the whole alphabet.

You could make some letter and corresponding picture cards, and games like pairs, snap, bingo can be played with them.

Challenge your child to collect a small item from around the house beginning with each letter. Collect these items in a box; you can call it your “letter box”. Try and collect an object for each letter so you have 26. E.g. a – ant (plastic I hope) or a picture of an arrow, b – ball (small one), c – crayon or coin, d – dice, e – envelope etc. some letters are more challenging you might have to find pictures of some.. try google images. You can do this over several days concentrating on a few letters per day and when you have them all in your box you can use them to play more games. E.g. Challenges to sort them in to alphabetical order, play treasure hunt games, hide and seek and timed matching games.

Most importantly of all, just make it fun.

Carole Hender (founder of Zest 4 Learning)

These are just some of the activities from the Zest 4 Learning Programme that supplies literacy, numeracy and creative activity sheets and all the resources you need.

Powerpoint for phonics.pptx


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9. Craft competition Winner!

Following the successful launch of Zest 4 Learning at the Worcester Family Fayre we have chosen a winner of the butterfly / dragon fly craft competition.

Olivia (aged 4) produced this wonderful butterfly. We were impressed by the attention to detail and her colourful design. She has won a hamper of craft goodies!

Well Done Olivia!



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10. 3 ways parents can influence their child's educational outcome! Part 1

Don’t worry I'm not going to suggest here that you move house to a better catchment area or fund private education. The suggestions here cost nothing, other than your time. I want you to be aware of research that surprised me. Research that makes us reflect on our beliefs about what our children are capable of; how we treat them; and the importance of taking an active interest in their education.

For over a decade I studied several modules that interested me with the wonderful Open University. This included child development, educational issues and I ended up with a degree and then a Masters degree in Psychology. At the same time I was mum, wife and working in primary schools. I found it somewhat incredulous that some researchers I studied had become famous for reporting child behaviour, that to me, and I’m sure most parents and teachers, was blatantly obvious. For example, Vygotsky's concept of 'scaffolding learning', is a clever phrase for what every parent already does when they support and model an activity before a child learns how to do it independently. However amongst the obvious there was also research that surprised me, challenge my beliefs and has changed my way of thinking.

Three particular studies seemed especially relevant and in this blog I will relay the first. Which relates to EXPECTATIONS AND LABELLING.

1. EXPECTATIONS AND LABELLING There is famous and slightly contentious study from 1968 by Rosenthal and Jacobson called PYGMALION IN THE CLASSROOM. It demonstrates how a child fulfils expectation, or to put it another way, how the academic outcome of the children in this study was influenced by the teacher’s belief of their ability. The teachers had been told that certain children had been identified to be on the brink of a period of rapid intellectual growth; in reality, these students had been selected at random.

The curriculum was the same for all the children in the class, with the only difference being the teacher's expectations. Yes, you guessed the result. The children they had high expectations for, outperformed the other children. The expectation and attitude the teacher had towards these children was deemed to be the cause of a significant intellectual improvement over and above that of their classmates.

Why should this happen? There is a sense of self fullfilling prophecy here. If you expect something it is more likely to happen. For example, I believe I can usually easily find a free parking space in my local High Street. This is a road with around 40 spaces where you can park for free for up to 20 minutes.  I usually find a space. However, my partner says "it's always full, there's never any where to park". He doesn't often get a space and pays to park in the car park. Why am I ‘lucky’ enough to get a space and he never can? It's only because "I believe!" (Gospel singing, hand shaking, style!) 

Seriously, I know there's around 40 spaces and a max 20 minutes stay, so by the law of averages someone should be leaving every 30 seconds or so. So I'm looking out for the shopper just returning, or an indicator about to go on. My expectation is that if there isn't a space now, one will be there any second if I look out for it. I drive accordingly whilst looking out! My partner expects a full line of cars, so that's all he'll see. He doesn't notice the guy sat in his car putting on his seat belt, because he's driving a little faster as he's already expecting to park in the paid car park.

How does this relate to our children?

Similarly, if we expect that our child will be silly, they will probably act silly, because we will have been subconsciously projecting our opinion onto them. Even by saying “stop being silly” we are labelling the child’s as silly and they will identify with that label. It is much better to say “stop your silly behaviour”, because this criticises their behaviour choice, not the child’s identity. A child who internalises their label will tend to meet those expectations, and the adult who has labelled them will be noticing behaviour that supports their view and disregard other behaviour and it all becomes self-fulfilling. If we believe they are clever or artistic the same can be true.

So I can’t stress enough the importance of positive Expectations and the problems of negative Labelling. Take time to notice the positives attributes in your child and focus on them. Believe they are good, kind and intelligent and let them hear and feel that belief you have in them. Let them hear you tell your friends and family about their positives, not the negatives, and there is a better chance they will fulfil your positive expectations! But please don’t let this overly stress you and make you feel a bad parent when they do misbehave and you feel they must be the naughtiest child in the world! We all have those moments, please just try and focus on the good times and pick up on the small things and nice gestures your child does.

Most of all relax and have fun!

Carole - founder of Zest 4 Learning


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