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Getting Out of the Door with Kids

Getting out the door as a working mother has been one of those challenges I have improved in, but I would still like to nail.  That said my experiences don’t seem to be as tiresome, as my friends so I thought that I would share my experiences.  My daughter is 3 and my son 1.

  1. What it means for them

If I am in a rush with my daughter and son it is for a reason.  Sometimes I can bike with them to Krippe (Kindergarden), but others I may need to get a train into the city.  I decided to explain to them both why we need to hurry up, and what it means to them.  My days are typically loaded to be early, so I have quality time with them in the afternoon.  So I ask them both if they like it when Mummy plays with them after Krippe, and we have lots of time together.  The obvious answer is 'yes' and I explain that’s because we get up early and get to Krippe whilst I go to work.  If we don’t leave now Mummy may not be able to do that.

  1. Independence

 My daughter  continually utters the words “I’ll do it myself,” will at times want me to out on her shoes and jacket, as she sees me do it for her brother.  I then question her asking are you a big girl, and proudly compliment her that she can do that herself, as she is no longer a baby.  She then shows me that she can.

   3. Treats

There are things that she wants to take to Krippe or treats of raisins, so when she is good she gets raisins to take with her.

  1. Friendship and Fun

Both love the Krippe and look forward to their day, so I tend to talk about whether she is looking forward to playing with her best friends (she has two).  This speeds up her motivation to get there and play.

  1. Changing Pace

Overall I try to change the pace, so as not to always rush them.  Albeit we need to get out of the door early in the morning and we only get to briefly say hello to the chickens, and sheep in the morning.  On the way back from Krippe we are walking, laughing and noticing everything that the seasons have to offer: picking acorns, the wild flowers, testing whether things sink or float in the stream.  This appreciation for time seems to work so that they know when I say we have to go it is for a reason, but at the same time we appreciate the stiller moments.

I by no means have things perfect, and sometime that run to catch the train certainly provides me with extra fuel cells on my Nike Fuel band!

Why the Demise of Bedtime Stories is Sad.

I was astonished today to read in the Guardian that parents are not reading bedtime stories to their children.    A Littlewood's survey of 2000 mothers revealed only 64% read bedtime stories to their children, and only 13% on a regular basis.  87% of the parents of the survey believed that bedtime reading is vital to their children’s education and development.

What I want to explore are the reason if there is a recognition of the value of bed time stories, but the inability to fulfil what generations have practiced what are the barriers.  Then what are the potential consequences and share the routine I have with my two.

The Problem

The survey by Littlewoods found that 9% felt too stressed and 13% did not have enough time, but these percentages are tiny.  Over half of the children wanted to play with the TV, Computer or other toys instead.  In reality the problem may be a combination of both.   The National Partnership Survey November 2012 found 80% of working women and 72%of working men said they, their neighbours or their friends face hardships when managing work, family and personal responsibilities.  This is the exact problem WHATIFPA want to address.  If parents are struggling the path of least resistance to use passive entertainment may be easier.  It may be easier to let children divert their attention to the TV or computer.  Where as 91% of the Littlewoods sample were read bedtime stories by their parents.  The time needs to be given to parents to make it easier to juggle, so that they can have the energy to make the effort that generations before us had made.

The Benefits of Reading

Research by Yvonne Kelly PhD found a link between a regular bedtime routine and cognitive abilities at 3, 5 and 7 years.  For example, at age 7, not having a regular bedtime was associated with significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.22), math (beta -0.26), and spatial abilities (beta -0.15) among girls. There were no significant relationships among boys.

Researchers from five universities and from Mathematica Policy Research Inc., in Princeton, N.J., found that when English-speaking mothers in low-income households read to their very young children, the youngsters had greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive scores before the age of 2, compared with toddlers who were not read to very often.  Reading develops language.  Reading both oral and written develops meaning.

Our Routine

My 2-year-old daughter loves books on average she wants 5 short stories a night, and she also loves puzzles.  My 9-month-old son loves touching the colourful story books, and singing.

After bath time the first thing they will want to do in their rooms is do a puzzle.  Then she chooses books in Danish and English.  Some favourites are Jungle Book, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s child.  The Snail and the Whale, The Princess and the Wizard, What the Lady Bird Heard, Peek a Boo books, Danish and English Nursery Rhymes.


As well as WHATIFPA, my doctorate is in the Development of Talent in Children, so this is an area that I am passionate about.


Reading to Toddlers Could Boost Literacy. By: Jacobson, Linda, Education Week, 02774232, 7/26/2006, Vol. 25, Issue 43

What IF we Thought More About Literature, Movies and Computer Games as Aids to Develop Skills and Character in Children?

This piece focuses on how Talent could be developed in children through different mediums, on of the aims of the Talent Development in Children group.

There are a lot of values we try to teach are kids and I have been reading some interesting research on literature, and the development of values.  I thought it would be useful to summarise the different books, films and games I have found so far, and the values that they support. Children can soak up so many different images in their heads; some can be conjured up in a child’s imagination through literature, and others through visual images or play.

1. Challenging the status quo

When we can teach are kids to question how things work, challenge the status quo and think differently this is a great life skill.


Poor, sick Princess Lenore wants the moon so that she can be well again. The anxious King consults his wise men to no avail, and only when he calls on his jester who innovative thinking to solve the problem.


In order to win the treasure of stories Anase who is an elderly man must outsmart and capture 3 clever creatures.

Antz Dreamworks Movie


One ant challenges the community to think differently and change their world as they are actually stronger as a community.

2. Inspiring Others


A toy Indian and his canoe travel from Lake Nipigon to the Atlantic Ocean facing many obstacles, setbacks and detours.  To complete the journey the canoe needs help from external sources like the wind.


Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one's world by flying over it.  It is only when the main character shares the vision with her brother that it becomes possible.

3. Empowering Others to Act


The tsar issues a proclamation that whoever can build a flying ship may marry his daughter. With help and determination, a foolish young peasant overcomes all obstacles and wins her hand, in this traditional Ukrainian folktale.


3 soldiers have to creatively win the trust of a village.


4. Role Modelling


How the old can learn from the young.


President Lincoln's life from childhood. Providing a model for hard work, honesty, visions, tenacity and success.


It's a perfect world, where everything looks right. But ugly truths lie beneath the surface…

It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in The Community wants for anything. Everyone is provided for. Each Family Unit is entitled to one female and male child. Each member of The Community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders, and they never make a mistake.

Jonas, a sensitive twelve-year-old boy, had never thought there was anything wrong with his Community, until one day. From the moment Jonas is selected as the Receiver of Memory at The Ceremony, his life is never the same. Jonas discovers that The Community is not as perfect as it seems. Although they appear to have everything, they are missing something of great importance. It is up to Jonas, with the help of the Giver, to find what long ago had been lost. And so Jonas embarks on an adventure to save the world as he knows it.


With Shealy as a guide, we appreciate anew the confusions and difficulties that beset the March sisters as they overcome their burdens and journey toward maturity and adulthood: beautiful, domestic-minded Meg, doomed and forever childlike Beth, selfish Amy, and irrepressible Jo.

5. Being Different is OK! - Diversity


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This stunning story deals with the severe consequences of intolerance.


Hoping to impress a sexy female classmate, fifteen-year-old Carlos secretly hires gay student Sal to give him an image makeover, in exchange for Carlos's help in forming a Gay-Straight Alliance at their Texas high school.


6. Tenacity


The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong 
Newbery Medal 1955. The children in a small Dutch town try to bring the storks back to nest on their roofs.


Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Weatherford
Award-winning picture-book treatment of Tubman.


The smallest and humblest of creature can dream of greatness and, if faithful to himself and the dream, can become the noblest of creatures.


Chris, a young boy of 6, is playing in the park at Toad Catchers' Creek with his friends when he decides to attempt to cross the legendary monkey bars. On first attempt, he fails and falls to the ground…in the process he loses his self-confidence and is embarrassed in front of his playmates. Chris' father consoles him and tells Chris the story of a Macaw named Screech who was afraid to fly. Screech allowed this fear to dominate his existence until one day, his friend Tracker falls from a branch high in the rainforest. As Screech watches him plummet towards the ground, Screech gathers all of his courage and uses the four magic words that his mother had taught him… I CAN DO IT. Armed with his mother's magic and his true courage, Screech takes off from his nest, catches Tracker and returns him safely to the ground. Screech, now the hero, has realized that he did have the power to overcome his fear and succeed where he had failed in the past.

Once Chris hears the story, his father encourages him to use the magic words and try the monkey bars again. This time he gets all the way across and learns that he too, has the power to grow and overcome his fear. The story ends with his father telling Chris that one day Chris will share this knowledge with his child and he too will know how it feels to see his child succeed.


Frank wasn't satisfied doing ordinary frog things. He wanted to fly, but he was a frog and frogs can't fly. Follow along as Frank jumps and runs and leaps and dives until he finally finds his place in the pond. The companion book on cd will transport you and your child into Frank's world with sound effects and wonderful performances by children and adu

7. Encouraging Heart


An African picture book drawing on the 26 distinct aspects of the alphabet.  It recognises and celebrates the individual contributions of multiple African tribes and cultures.


A story of a family mouse preparing for winter. However, Frederick is preoccupied with gathering abstract things and does not gather enough food for the cold season.  He then utilises his talent 'imagination' to encourage others, and bring warmth at a difficult time.  He had to wait until the other mice were open to his contribution.


8. Taking Responsibility and Accountability


A great book about diversity and empathy. It is wonderfully written in rhyme, and the illustrations are superb!  It teaches children not to just follow the crowd.


From the author of Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson about Teasing comes a tale about taking responsibility for your own actions. Silly and Sassy come to Walnut Grove to visit their cousin Sammy. Silly and Sassy are always getting into trouble. They play hide 'n seek, have frog races, and play dare or double dare. How does this lead to jumping off a bridge? Read I DOUBLE Dare You! to find out how everyone learns that it's not always wise to follow your friends.  Do you accept responsibility or blame someone else for your actions? I hope that I DOUBLE Dare You! helps children think about the decisions they make, and that they try to make good choices.

9. Self-Awareness


Tinkerbell smashes a unique stone that gives life to the fairy tree.  She blames everything on her best friends, and is not fully aware of her own flaws or talents. After a long treacherous journey she turns the mirror on herself and realises her role, takes responsibility and learns form her mistakes.   In the end she creates a solution that makes more fairy dust than any fairy has ever made.

10. Strategic Thinking




What If we took our lessons from children

My children are teaching me so much that the learning process is 2-way.  I thought I would share 4 observations with you:


  1. Rain or shine my daughter doesn’t care whether it’s raining or sunny she wants to go outside to play.  We can often put barriers up on getting things done; like the weather.  Each barrier is as an opportunity, for example, a rainy day is the possibility to go outside and splash in wellies.
  2. No cap on creativity; my kids like to play different animals, and I join in.  We walk like dinosaurs, jump like frogs and slither like snakes.  It keeps me incredibly fit!   However, it does more than that I have to think how each animal moves and sound.  The ability to be anything is something we should keep doing past childhood.  The mind-set to explore with no cap on creativity.
  3. Do what they love.  At the moment that is making ice cream in the play dough machine, colouring, reading, role-playing animals and cooking with mummy.  They are always smiling and seem to be progressing well.  We should do what we love in life.
  4. Spread enthusiasm.  My daughter wants to cook, cook and cook.  I am weary that she sees me role modelling, but she also sees me reading and writing essays for my Doctorate so there is a balance.  What is evident is that we have the ability to spread enthusiasm and passion.

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