I will run it next year…I know I said that last year! 

Good luck to everyone running the #LondonMarathon today. 
This was me back in 2007 with my good buddy Sarah. We aimed to finish before they opened the roads again and we did! We made a pact to run it again 10 year later to celebrate the passing of time and prove that aging is no barrier.  I was honoured to be offered a place to run for Children with Cancer and Sarah for Cancer Research UK. Despite numerous attempts to get our training off the ground it just didn’t happen.  The uncertainty of Felix’s treatment and starting my business just did not make the routine of running easy.  Fortuitously, our charities allowed us to defer our place for 2018. 
Needless to say we have beat ourselves up about our lack of determination and grit. Felix has been sorely disappointed that I couldn’t get my butt of the ground to train.  I now need to put my commitment and ambition into action.  I have been totally inspired by the #headstogether campaign and I am now even more determined to make it happen! Watch this space. 
#LondonMarathon #headstogether #childrenwithcancer

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Survival of the fittest – welcome to the school holidays

Here we go, two weeks of unadulterated bliss.  No get ups, no lunches, no routine.  I love school holidays … after the initial 24 hours that is.

The first 24 hours of any weekend or holiday in our house is full of bickering and sniping between my 8, 11 and 12-year-old.  There are the constant put downs, ganging up on each other and sly accusations.  They will then move on to stomping around not knowing where to go, what to do, or who to be with.

I have put this down to them purely needing to reestablish the pecking order.  As in any species, the pecking order is sacred and there is a constant challenge for the top position.  For my children, a return to the family structure at weekends and holidays sees a return to the sibling hierarchy.  Whilst they are at school they know their place amongst their friends, peers and other students.  At school, my 11-year-old is Year 6 and thus ‘top’ of the school yet within the family hierarchy he has to readjust at weekends and in the holidays to being second to the first-born who has always asserted herself as top dog because of her age.  My youngest in Year 3 is one of the eldest amongst his peers being September baby, has a lot of confidence being the third born and also one of the tallest.  At home he has to accept that as the youngest, he is at the bottom of the pecking order which can be a huge adjustment for him.  My daughter, the eldest, is now adept at subtly ‘pecking’ the boys to make sure they know their place; whilst she is in the house, she is alpha sibling no question about it.  Sometimes, this tussle to re-establish their place can only last a couple of hours and they are able to co-exist together again.  However, on other occasions, it can take 48 even 72 hours for the struggle to result in the acceptable hierarchical outcome.  If this is over a weekend, then I am happily waving them off to school on a Monday.

I am intrigued by why children behave as they do.  The conflict at the start of weekends or holidays could just be because of their irritability and tiredness but for me that’s far too simple an explanation.  In my mind’s eye, my children are taking part in a battle of ‘survival of the fittest’ every time they break from school.  Dramatic yes, but makes dealing with these conflicts and battles far more meaningful and interesting!

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How to survive SATs Season – a guide for Parents and Carers

There are families and children up and down the country getting into a real pickle about the up and coming Primary SATs tests.  I am currently taking at least 3 calls per day from anxious parents and carers worried about how their children are going to perform in these assessments and what they should do to help.  All of these families are saying that they are worried that they are not doing enough to help their children and want to know what more they can do to.  There are lots of things that you can do to help your child but none of it should cause stress or anxiety for either them or you!

Children will most probably be spending the majority of their time in school on uninspiring SATs questions focussing on content, question type and exam techniques.  They may also be expected to attend booster sessions and complete further papers at home as a means of making sure they reach their target grade.  This is more than enough in my mind.

SATs tests have no real importance in the real world for your child or their future.

Therefore, in order to minimise any stress relating to these assessments I would recommend the following:

  • Praise hard work and effort  When you see your child trying their hardest, particularly in subjects they find tough, praise their determination and effort above any grades or scores they achieve.  This will help them develop a mindset that encourages them believe that they can get smarter.
  • Encourage a love of learning and exploration If these assessments have unleashed a desire to study and revise then you may want to invest in a quality tutor to satisfy your child’s ambition.  This is also the opportunity to develop a regular study regime in preparation for the transition to secondary school.  It is also   an excellent opportunity to introduce a wider range of subjects for your child to explore as any additional learning will expand vocabulary and critical thinking.
  • Cherish and promote play time Whilst schools and teachers will be encouraging your child to become an independent learner in preparation for the SATs they are still a kid.  Let them be kids, have fun and play.

And above all:

  • Limit SATs talk Unless there is an absolute need to mention SATs then don’t.  Keep the whole thing as low-key and stress free as you can.

Whilst many within the educational profession oppose SATs our children still have to sit them.  As parents and carers, it is our job to protect our children from the unnecessary pressure and stress and avoid the politically motivated furore surrounding them.

Of course, encourage your child to try hard and do well but more importantly let them have fun and play.  Their mental health, happiness and well-being is far more important that any SATs result.

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