20th April 2021
The Power of a Book
When our children are tiny, we can often be found reading them a board book, repeating simple animal names, colours and stories. As they reach school age, we are focussed on hearing our children read daily in an effort get them to learn and develop the skills needed to progress. Bed time stories slowly begin to fall off the radar and eventually books can lose priority in the busy schedule of life, clubs, shopping and other pressures at home.
It is well known that if a child hears a different story every day of their life, by the time they are 10 they will have heard 3650 stories, know and understand story language, have their mind blown by the trail and exploration of words and feel as if the characters are friends rather than imaginary figures.
I for one know that the intention to read every day with my son, now 10, was strong during my pregnancy. He was even registered for a library card before his birth was registered! In his early days, and as a toddler, we did look at books, visit the library regularly and share in bedtime stories. As he reached school age, we looked at story books and I encouraged him to learn the high frequency words. However, over recent years, our regular reading has all but stopped. He reads independently and only asks for help if he can’t decipher a word or doesn’t understand its meaning.
I miss those times, when, curled up together we can look at books, guess what will happen next and celebrate the story with the characters and author. He is 10 now and well on his way to being 11 and off to secondary school. So, I ask myself should I still be curling up and sharing a book with him? Be amazed at the facts and information he discovers or play “use it”, a game we invented for new words where each person has to apply the new word in a sentence and we decide who the winner is!
For me personally, I miss the “book time” that we shared, wanting to read on and discover the hook to the next chapter. He is keen but time gets in our way and I give the poorest of excuses not to read. It was the much-anticipated re-opening of our school library today that made me realise how much value and passion my son has for reading and although was off to a very slow start when he was little, has made huge progress in his enjoyment of reading.
Each year group will visit our school library every week and have the opportunity to borrow books both fiction and nonfiction to take home and celebrate with you. The impact of us, as parents, engaging with a book and sharing the story or facts with our children has a greater impact than perhaps we initially believe. Take five minutes, make a cup of tea and sit down with your child to look at their chosen library book. Crofton Anne Dale has one of the most well stocked libraries I have ever seen in a school and our children are able to choose freely, borrow a book and take it home before returning for another.
If you are unsure, or want to support your child with their reading, do contact the Pastoral Team who will be more than willing to help you. Miss Walton, our Pastoral Teacher has some great ideas for engaging with your child’s reading, especially as the children become independent readers.
As a mum as well as a teacher I often find the mornings quite stressful. Waking up feeling like I haven't had enough sleep, panicking that the school uniform is ready, shoes polished, snack and drink in the school bag and that's just for my son! Have I got everything I need for work, can I face breakfast, have I brushed my hair, teeth and put some sort of matching outfit on that is suitable for work as opposed to my lazy Sunday clothes?
I regularly feel like time is slipping away especially in the mornings. I say to myself if I'd just got up ten minutes earlier then I wouldn't be so panicked. What I tend not to think about is how my morning actions are reflected into the feeling of my son. I drop him off early, often with firm words such as "Hurry up" or "Have you got your bag, coat, water bottle?" and then I give him a kiss and rush off to school myself.
During the drive, I am lucky as I drive along the coast through Lee on Solent and get to see the sea which helps relax me, I reflect on what has happened in the previous hour since waking up. Then the guilt comes and hits me like a slap in the face. Why did I speak to him that way, could I have dealt with that issue differently, is he sad that I was cross when he didn't get into the car on first time I asked? Will he have a good day at school? Is his ability to learn or communicate going to be impacted because I told him to hurry up with a firm voice? I hope desperately that he will be OK and that I promise to myself to remind him how much I love him and talk about the day when we get home in the evening.
Upon reflection, what I really need to do is commit to myself to make a better morning routine not only for myself but for my son. He is already racing towards the end of his primary education and in another 5 years he will be racing towards the end of his secondary learning experience. Do I really want his memories of his school days to be me shouting at him to hurry up and get a move on?
So, what can I change? I will set my alarm for 6.30 in the morning which will give me time to wake up slowly, have a shower, make a cup of tea, open the window and breathe some calming fresh air. I will get my clothes ready the night before, pack my work bag and make sure I have a water bottle ready filled. I will talk with my son about the mornings, how it makes both of us feel. I will be honest with him and share how I feel. We will work on improving the morning routine together. Communication is key and children are a very open to having parental feelings explained but not blamed on them.
Reflect on your own morning routine, is there anything you can change for the better? Have a chat with your own child. Ask openly about how they feel being dropped at school, a child minder or relative's house. What can they change to make the morning routine easier? Working together is key to make the school learning experience have maximum impact.
Our priority is to ensure your children are relaxed and ready to learn at Crofton Anne Dale Federation. We will always work with you to support morning routines and transition into school every morning.
For specific support , please send an email to
26th March 2021
Sharing lunch with the children and listening to them laugh and joke together is always a pleasure. Having The Mess as part of our provision allows us to offer this home like environment to support and encourage all manner of skills. Social interactions are especially important following the disruption we have all witnessed this year and I know children are really enjoying seeing their friends again and we are really enjoying seeing the children too!
Spring has finally arrived and it is lovely that we are able to do activities outside during our ELSA time. Sharing, taking turns and being part of a team are life skills, which we nurture during our sessions.
19th March 2021
As pastoral educators we support the development of the children in our care through a variety of activities in school. Combining self-challenge with fresh air and support, we run 2 Forest School sessions a week for children who need to build their resilience as well as other skills. These are led by qualified Forest School Leader and teacher Miss Walton who works in school two days a week.
The ethos behind Forest School is to develop interests, skills and passions that can be applied at home, in school and elsewhere. Resilience forms a huge part of this skill development and through activities that create challenge, such as problem solving or preparation for a project, children develop a sense of wanting to achieve despite feeling like they may fail or the outcome may not be as they wish.
Gentle support and verbal reassurance form a big part of developing resilience in children. Positive language and open questioning can support a child from feeling frustrated to wanting to have another go at a challenge and complete it.
If your child struggles to hear “Just have another go” or “Try a bit harder”, then why not change your approach with more open language:
“I can see that you are frustrated, how could we solve this problem together?”
“Could we work together to complete this challenge? Perhaps you can show me what you would like me to do to help you?”
Subtle verbal support or a thumbs up can often support a child recognise their successes rather than the words “well done” which mean very little. Be specific, verbally or visually encourage and celebrate the road to resilience with your child.
For specific support , please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete a Parent ELSA Referral Form which can be found in the pastoral section of the website.
16th March 2021
When children need extra support in school, this can be for a variety of reasons. Here at Crofton Anne Dale Federation, we pride ourselves on getting to know the children as individuals, working alongside to support them not only with their classroom-based work, but also developing their social and emotional confidence.
Today, Miss Walton was able to spend time cooking with a child who had been developing confidence at coming into school and settling to work without additional support. Each day the child achieved this, over the previous 2 weeks, they earned an ingredient for a recipe. Prawn curry was the meal of choice and Miss Walton and the child worked together at becoming professional chefs in The Mess kitchen to achieve the recipe.
"I was excited to cook because I felt proud of myself for achieving the breakthrough of getting to school every day without a wobble. I felt like a professional chef because I used the large knife, smashed and peeled the garlic and cooked in the frying pan next to the hot hob which I haven't done before."
4th March 2021
Little Miss Grumpy, Little Miss Chatterbox and Little Miss Sunshine, otherwise known as the Pastoral Team, would like to welcome you to our blog! We celebrated world book day by dressing up as the Little Miss characters from Roger Hargreaves books. Little Miss Sunshine (Mrs Rae) and Little Miss Chatterbox (Miss Harper) both started the day feeling a little bit Yellow on our Bounce check-in scale and Little Miss Grumpy
(Mrs Price) was feeling very Orange. Thankfully, they used some of our strategies to Bounce their emotions back to Green, so even Little Miss Grumpy was feeling calm by the end of the day.
Check out our blog each week so you can see all the activities we do with children to help make their days greener and calmer.