24 June 2010

People Who Help Us: Firefighters

At the Stay and Play group we go to we currently have the theme "people who help us" and yesterday we had a visit from a fire engine - cue lots of excited toddlers! They got to see the hose and squirt at a plastic traffic cone and hear the siren (a fair few tears!). The fireman talked to the children about who he was, what he did and explained that fire is dangerous and there was lots of literature for parents to take away about fire safety and stickers for the children. Obviously we can't all have a fire engine visit us at home with real firemen to talk to our children but we can encompass the theme of people who help us into our children's play.

22 June 2010

National Breastfeeding Week

This week is National Breastfeeding Week and one of the things that is often talked about when people talk about breastfeeding is that it is no longer seen as "normal" within our culture. Baby dolls are automatically sold with a bottle and a bottle symbol is synonymous with baby facilities - so what about children's literature?

Lots of childrens books - for example the
Usborne First Experiences Series feature the everyday lives of the characters, which is usually similar to the everyday life of young children – they show all the day-to-day things like getting up, having meals, going to school or pre-school, playing, going shopping, going to the park, going to bed etc. All things which will reassure the reader that his or her life is “normal”.

Often in books toddler age children are shown as having a baby brother or sister - how many of these are babies shown breastfeeding? (Answer very few).

When children grow up surrounded by pictures of babies bottle feeding, it can subtly undermine awareness and confidence in breastfeeding, reinforcing bottle feeding as the dominant norm. Given that the current recommendations from the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation are for exclusive breastfeeding to six months and for breastfeeding to ideally continue beyond this to at least two years, surely we should be showing this in the images our children see? The reasons behind this imagery are complex and often it will simply be that it just doesn't occur to the illustrator as breastfeeding is not part of their experience.

One book that does feature breastfeeding is the Usborne First Experiences story:
The New Baby which has an illustration of Mrs Bunn sat in a chair nursing baby Susie - with the text "Mrs. Bunn feeds Susie." and "When Susie is hungry, Mrs. Bunn feeds her with milk. Susie will need to be fed many times each day."

Please add other children's story books that show breastfeeding as normal.

10 June 2010

Today's Target: Letter Formation

Once children are consistently Mark Making it is time to encourage the correct letter formations. There are many resources to help this but ultimately it is practice that makes perfect - the key is to keep the practicing fun.

Our four year old has been product testing the
My First Wipe Clean a-z letters over the half term holiday and has thoroughly enjoyed himself (and yes he is appearing to be left handed).

09 June 2010

Never too late to learn...

I have just been reading this article entitled "I couldn't read or write until I was 27 years old" and it just shows that you are never too old to learn the skills that many of us take for granted. At Littlesheep Learning we sell resources to help children learn to read and write but there is no reason why our educational games couldn't help an adult too - maybe learning in partnership with their child.

If you are an adult who wants to improve your skills try http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/ or http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/AdultLearning/ImprovingYourSkills/index.htm for more information.

08 June 2010

Down's Syndrome - The Essential Guide

We have been sent a copy of Down's Syndrome - The Essential Guide by Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson to review. This is the third book in the series that they have written (the first being Special Educational Needs - A Parents Guide).

Down's Syndrome - The Essential Guide is for parents who have just received a diagnosis as well as parents who are already caring for a child with the condition and it covers all aspects of Down's syndrome from diagnosis to adulthood.

In my opinion this book is great, it has simple easy to read chapters so that you can dip in and out as things become relevant to you or read it in one sitting. There are facts, parents experiences and a very comprehensive list of support organisations - a fantastic resource for anyone with a child with Down's Syndrome or who is caring for one.

Published by Need2Know, Down's Syndrome - The Essentual Guide is available now from the Need2Know website (
http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk/) or by calling 01733 898103 or emailing sales@n2kbooks.com. Price: £8.99.

07 June 2010

Family Time

We have just had half term and part of the reason why this blog has been postless is that we were spending time as a family (trying to create a new play area in the garden!). I was shocked though to read this news article that says that parents spend on average 49 minutes a day together with their children.

Surely that can't be right? If that is an average some people must be spending no time with their children at all?