Guest Post: Surviving Primary

Wendy sent me an email asking me if I could have a look at her blog and see if I had any feedback.

It’s a brilliant blog with lots of really great suggestions and has helped me with supporting and engaging Miss NHM through her journey at Primary.

Hopefully it helps you too!

Thanks for the great blog Wendy!!!

Surviving Primary

http://survivingprimary.com/

I’m a Mum with two kids at Primary School. It’s always a struggle keeping up with all the different subjects that they cover every term or half term. You try and help your kids as best you can but we all know that time is precious and sometimes you don’t have a lot of time at weekends.

I started putting my ideas down into my blog so that I could remember what resources we used and what home activities we all got involved in, to help continue the learning at home. It contains links to books, home craft ideas, days out, costume ideas and even YouTube videos.

I’m hoping that this blog will help other parents, guardians or carers out there.

Remember to share/comment on the blog. The more interaction it has, the more help to other parents. Let’s share our ideas to make things easier for ourselves!

http://survivingprimary.com/

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

It’s Miss NHM’s 8th Birthday today!!

Wow, she’s 8 already!!!!

It’s true when they say that the days are long but the years are short! lol. It seems like only yesterday that the picture above was taken on the day she was born.

Despite being THE most strong willed little girl and bloody hard to parent sometimes (aren’t all children at some point! lol) she is absolutely the light of my life.

As cheesy and cliched as it is, she’s brought so much joy to my heart.

NorthHantsMum wouldn’t even exist without her!!

Although now she’s 8 that does also mean that the NorthHantsMum blog is nearly eight years old.

I NEVER expected that! I honestly thought I’d end up stopping when she got to 6 or 7 years old but it seems I can’t stop as people have an expectation and it’s too big a part of my life to stop now.

NorthHantsMum was always meant to be for pregnant Mum’s and parents of babies and young children aged 6 and under but it’s gone WAY beyond that now so I don’t feel too bad about continuing.

We’ve decided not to have a birthday party for Miss NHM this year because we’ve got lots of very exciting events planned throughout the year so instead we are going out to one of our favourite restaurants for dinner tonight.

I’m very grateful that Mr NHM has been so helpful with getting everything sorted when my car broke down on Friday which meant I couldn’t get half the stuff I needed too. It never rains but it pours!!

Miss NHM was very excited that Mr NHM was home this morning and we opened all of her presents as a family together and had birthday cake for breakfast! She seemed very happy with her presents this morning although last night she told me she didn’t want to be 8 as that meant she was nearly a grumpy teenager and she doesn’t want to be a grumpy teenager! I agreed with her! lol.

Although I got in trouble for not having a birthday badge ready for her so had to make something up at 7.45am, literally just before we left for school. “Creativity” isn’t one of my strong points, let alone before 8am on a week day (the joys of parenting! lol), but she was happy with her “make shift” badge and has now gone off to school with a bag of gluten free sweets for her peers.

Happy 8th Birthday to my amazing, smart, beautiful, fantastic little girl who is the inspiration and drive for everything I do!

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Facebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

New Year Resolutions: My word for 2019…

I honestly didn’t think I was going to write this post for 2019. Miss NHM and I were sick over Christmas with a nasty cold/virus that completely wiped us out and meant that most of Christmas was spent in PJ’s, coughing lots! 

Mr NHM also decided this was the Christmas he would teach Miss NHM how to play “StarDew Valley” on the computer so they have both been hidden away in the study for most of the week. Which annoyingly means I can’t get to my PC to write anything as it’s in the same room. I have GOT to invest in a laptop during 2019!  

Today I’ve “advised” them I need the study so they need to amuse themselves somewhere else. Miss NHM keeps popping in and saying that Mr NHM has done something or other to annoy her, but I’m hoping they will leave me alone for at least another hour so I can also finish my 2019 MindMap which I’m sort of working on at the same time. 

Annyyyywaaayyy, even though I didn’t think I would get to write this post for 2019 I chose my word for the year about 3 months ago. Or rather it felt like it chose me as I didn’t think about it too much or fret about the choice of word like I have done in the past few years. 

2018 was very tough for many people

Many people have said to me that 2018 was the worst year of their lives. Not even “one” of the worst years, but the worst. 

I’m very lucky to say that although 2018 was tough in places it definitely wasn’t the worst year of my life. We had some amazing family times including our first trip abroad since Miss NHM’s diagnosis which was a phenomenal holiday.  

Miss NHM is getting better and better which has been a huge blessing and relief. Both Mr NHM and I are very happy in our jobs and life feels like it’s calming down, so we can actually enjoy it after the last several years of constant stress!

So I am a bit perplexed with the word that I have chosen for 2019. Or did it choose me? lol. 

My words for the last few years have been:

  • 2010 – contradiction
  • 2011 – motherhood
  • 2012 – adjustment
  • 2013 – exceptional (not always positive!!)
  • 2014 – Me
  • 2015 – Inspiring the year really lived up to this!
  • 2016: health Oh the irony of choosing this word. I have learnt my lesson and try to choose VEEERRRYYY carefully now!!!!
  • 2017: joy and it was filled with much joy but also incredibly tough at the same time.
  • 2018: breathe there was a LOT of that going on throughout the year! lol. 

My word for 2019

I know from past experience that you need to be VERY careful with choosing a word. As I said above it feels like my word for this year has already been chosen for me. Looking at this word now, 3 months after I decided what it would be, I feel excited by it. I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring. 

My word for 2019 is going to be “free”. 

Free

Part of me was very apprehensive when I realised that this was the word that I would choose for 2019. But looking at it now I’m actually really keen to see how this pans out in 2019. 

I’m wondering if this means that I’m going to be free of the past and free of the limitations that I have previously put on myself. Free of those limiting mindsets that we all have. Free to have some more adventures. Free to choose what I want to happen in my life. Free to have fun and explore the world again, post diagnosis. 

Starting 2019

For the first time in a LONG time I feel calm and peaceful about the following year. I feel like I’ve learnt many, many lessons in the past few years and now it’s all coming together.

As I’ve said before on the blog, I don’t believe in all that “new year/new you” crap, but I do believe that the beginning of a new year is a chance to re-assess and decide what’s working and what’s not. I’ve already made several decisions about what I will continue doing in 2019 and what I will stop doing. 

NorthHantsMum in 2019

NorthHantsMum now reaches far beyond me. There is a whole team of us working in the background. It’s been exciting to see how the blog has impacted these lovely volunteers and also to see how NHM has developed further in 2018. 

I don’t know what 2019 is going to bring for me, NorthHantsMum and the NorthHantsMum Community but I am excited to see how 2019 pans out for all of us. 

As always, thank you for all of your support. I know that we are very, very, very lucky to have such an amazing community of readers supporting myself and the team on NorthHantsMum. Thank you especially to the AWESOME team of volunteers who now help out on NHM.

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful 2019 where you have lots and lots of FREE moments :-D. 

Happy New Year!

Louisex

NEW!! Historical NorthHantsMum Posts: An Index

You know those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night, sit bolt up right and say “TaDa!!! Why didn’t I think of that before!!!”?

I had one of those moments last night. 

I need to make it easier and quicker for people to find things that they are looking for on NHM and realised in the early hours of this morning that I need some kind of index. 

So I’ve started working on an index for NHM on the website, so you can see all of the posts that have been published. The index will be ordered by year because this is the simplest way. 

I was told a few years ago that this was a rubbish thing to do, but I’ve realised that it’s actually very much needed as there are SOOO many posts on NHM now it’s become really unwieldy.

Hopefully the index will help you find things quickly. 

If you search on the Menu for “About NorthHantsMum” and then look for “Historical Posts” they will be listed here. You can see the picture of what it looks like on a tablet, ipad, laptop or PC below. 

You can also find the list of historical posts here: Historical Posts 

(If you subscribe to the website and you get this post as an email, don’t forget to KEEP this email so you can find the information easily again ;-))

I only started working on the index today so I’m going to be working on updating this over Christmas. I will let you know when I have finished it. 

It’s REALLY enlightening to see the kinds of things that have been covered on NHM since I started in June 2011. A couple of years ago I deleted about 400 posts which were mainly timely events or small businesses which no longer exist, but it’s really interesting to see how NorthHantsMum has developed. 

Hopefully the index will make it a bit easier for you to find things quickly!!

I’d love to hear your feedback! Thanks! 

My Experience: Coeliac Disease, 18 months after diagnosis

I know several of you have commented that my personal posts have been quite negative for the past few years. This isn’t exactly a positive post either, so please stop reading if that’s not your bag.

Coeliac Disease – 18 months after diagnosis

I’ve already blogged before about how I find the run up to Christmas to be really tough.

This year it’s feeling tougher than ever before.

Miss NHM was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease at the end of May 2017 when she was 6 years old, and whilst she’s doing really well I am struggling with it.

At this time of year EVERYTHING involves food.

There is the school disco with hot dogs, crisps, drinks and sweets. The Brownie end of year party with pizzas, cake and sweets, the class Christmas party with party food, making biscuits to tie in with this terms subject, the fundraising cake sale, the Christmas lunch, Christmas play dates at other peoples houses, the end of term party…

It ALL involves food. Oh and squash of course because she can’t have Robinson’s squash as it has barley in it so we have to double check what she drinks too.

Miss NHM is actually really good at checking things herself but she’s only 7 years old and she can’t be expected to check everything, although she is getting really good at asking if something is gluten free or not.

I have to check Every. Single. Thing. that she eats or drinks.

At this time of year it is utterly draining and relentless.

Coeliac Disease is a lifelong auto-immune disease for which there is currently no cure, that is triggered by eating gluten. I’ve mentioned before about how cross contamination is a really big issue when you are a Coeliac. It’s awesome that gluten free food is becoming more widely available but having to explain to people, and remembering to explain to people, the risk of contamination, that one single crumb will mean that Miss NHM is sick for a month, is exhausting.

It takes Miss NHM about a month to get over being poisoned. It affects her health, her emotional well being, her studies, her sleep. It affects everything.

It’s getting to the point where I have to say to some people in our lives that every time they poison (gluten) her they increase her risk of stomach cancer in later life. Which is so frustrating when Mr NHM and I work so very hard to ensure that she isn’t poisoned.

Recently Miss NHM was poisoned (glutoned) by a member of our extended family, even though I provided all of her food for the visit. As a result of Miss NHM’s immune system being compromised by being poisoned, she then caught a stomach bug which has taken her much longer than a “normal” child to get over. She’s very pale and very exhausted, not least because gluten free carbs don’t have the same amount of energy in as “normal” carbs. We are hoping that she recovers in time for Christmas.

We now literally have no one we can trust to look after Miss NHM that can look after her properly. I have some wonderful close friends who have offered so that Mr NHM and I can have a break but Miss NHM suffers from anxiety at being left with others because of everything that has happened too her and my lovely friends already have enough to deal with in their own families.

When I went public about Miss NHM’s Coeliac Disease earlier this year, another Coeliac parent commented that this disease really shows you who your real friends are. This is so very true for us. We’ve noticed that we don’t get invited to as many things as we used to. This might be because we are getting old and miserable (facepalm) but I also think it’s because people are just too scared in case they poison Miss NHM. Which I totally understand it’s just hard to cope with sometimes.

Having said that we have often been overwhelmed by how understanding and supportive people can be. Many of our friends have been wonderful about it. Other parents, who we have never met before, have gone out of their way to organise food and birthday cakes and birthday parties, to ensure Miss NHM doesn’t feel different or miss out. This has restored my faith in humanity on a number of recent occasions.

There are more good things. Miss NHM doesn’t know any different because this is really all that she’s known. She also suffered with “brain fog” pre-diagnosis so there are huge gaps in her memory from when she was younger. She is so good when she’s offered things that have gluten in, particularly by children at school who hand out home made goodies on their birthday, and will always give them to her teacher.

Her school have been absolutely amazing, soooooo much better than The Prison. Her class recently went on a school outing and the teacher went to the same place a week before, to scope it out and ensure that Miss NHM wouldn’t be poisoned. Her teacher has also ensured that all of the ingredients for their recent class baking were gluten free. The Brownie Ladies have also been absolutely fantastic. There are lots of activities which involve food at the Brownies but they always review every item with me in advance and I’m not expected to go and get alternatives for them.

It’s just tough at this time of year. Christmas seems to be ALL about food. It’s great that we can get more gluten free alternatives than we could even at Christmas last year but it’s making people aware of the risk of cross contamination which is the real challenge and explaining just how serious it is.

At the moment, the beginning of December, I am literally living for the 21st December, when Miss NHM breaks up for the Christmas holidays and Mr NHM and I have two weeks off work. We get to relax and know that we don’t have to constantly check all food and drink. We are hoping to brave it to the two local restaurants that we feel safe that Miss NHM won’t be poisoned at (both are accredited restaurants with Coeliac UK). We won’t be seeing any family this year because it’s just not worth the drama or stress of Miss NHM being sick for ANOTHER month.

So yeah, this isn’t a positive post but this is my life at the moment. NHM is a blog that’s supposed to be a bit about my experience of being a Mum and this is my current reality.

I know that come January we can heave a sigh of relief that we got through it and we won’t  have to really worry about food until July when the end of the academic year starts. And we have much to be thankful for, not least that it normally takes 12-13 years to be diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and Miss NHM was diagnosed in under 3 years.

If you are struggling at the moment, for whatever reason, just know you are not alone.

Thanks for reading to the end ;-).

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum on TwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

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Facebook has deactivated the NorthHantsMum FB Page

On Thursday, when I discovered that Facebook had moved my FB pages into a Business Manager, I moved them out of the Business Manager because I have no idea what it is and I don’t want to use it as it’s clearly yet ANOTHER attempt by FB to make money out of me.

Facebook moved my pages into the Business Manager with no warning.

Again.

I was then advised by FB that they would be removing my admin rights from the pages and deleting my FB Pages within 24 hours.

At first I was absolutely LIVID.

How DARE they do this. AGAIN!

Three years ago, in 2015, they “decided” to change my profile to a page and it caused me an extreme amount of stress and grief.

However, this time I was a bit more prepared. I’ve put systems in place to ensure that if FB decided to screw my business over again I would be prepared. (I know NHM isn’t a business, it’s a not for profit, but I class it as a business given how much time and effort it takes several of us to run!)

On Friday, I woke up with a great feeling of relief and calmness.

The decision has been made for me.

Every 6 months to a year Facebook does a massive change which “screws” those of us who are running small businesses.

I am absolutely sick of it. The time and effort it takes to get things “back on track” after another Facebook algorithm change or changing the notifications so no one can see what you post. I just don’t have the energy for it anymore.

I also learnt this week that Facebook track all of the websites that you click on from the device that you’ve connected to Facebook from (I kind of knew this already). I’m fairly sure that should be illegal!!! I also learnt that they own WhatsApp.

Ironically, in the past two weeks I’ve been moaning about FB to the Small Business Networking group and some of the Mum’s on the school run, so I wasn’t that surprised when it happened this week! lol.

I intensely dislike the way Facebook are trying to exploit people and I dislike the ethics of the company.

SUBSCRIBE!!!

Never miss a NorthHantsMum blog post again!!

As I am soooo over Facebook and their ridiculous changes that are only there to try to make money out of people, after 7.5 years, I’ve decided that I won’t be having an FB page again.

Someone had already commented on the annual NHM Survey that it was confusing having so many things being posted in so many different places.

So, from now on, you can subscribe on the website (see picture below) to receive the posts via email and you can add me as a friend at “Louise nhm Smith”.

What it looks like if you are subscribing via a tablet, iPad, laptop or PC (top of the page on the right)

That’s it.

I will no longer update the “NorthHantsMum FB Page” and if FB choose to delete the page – well, that’s up to them.

You can’t search FB pages anyway so it makes much more sense to keep the content in the website alone.

You can still share posts from the website to Facebook as the functionality is available at the bottom of each post on the website.

Subscribing on a Tablet, iPad, PC or Laptop

It’s much, much, MUCH easier to subscribe to to NHM on an ipad, tablet, PC or laptop.

So if there is any way you can get hold of one of those, definitely try to subscribe there as the subscribe box is at the top of the screen on the right hand side (see the picture above with the text under it).

Subscribe on a phone

If you are trying to subscribe via a phone, the best way is to scroll to the very BOTTOM of the home page, as far as you can go (past all of the posts) and then scroll BACK UP slowly:

  • past the “Categories”,
  • past the “Navigation Menu”,
  • past the “Random Business Directory Listing”,
  • past the “Recent NorthHantsMum Posts”,
  • past the “Search NorthHantsMum”
  • and “Subscribe to NorthHantsMum via email” will be just there.

It takes much longer to explain than to actually subscribe on a phone! lol.

Email me to Subscribe

If you can’t work out how to do the subscription on the website, please just email me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com with the email header as “Subscribe” and the email you would like me to subscribe you with.

Hopefully if you subscribe you won’t be subject to FB and the limitations that they place on what you see from NorthHantsMum as subscribing on the website means you won’t miss ANYTHING that is published on the website.

It would be awesome if you were able to share this post with others who you know are active followers of NorthHantsMum.

As always, thank you VERY much for your support and understanding and thank you in advance for subscribing on the website.

Thank you!!!!

Louisex

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum on TwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

My Experience: The end of Y2

You may have noticed that I’ve been going on and on and on about our experience of moving Miss NHM to a new school so I thought it was time to write something about my experience of Y2.

Four days into September 2017 term we removed Miss NHM from her old school.

The school pastoral team were arrogant enough to do completely the opposite of the comprehensive care plan that myself, Miss NHM’s paediatrician and Miss NHM’s GP put together over the summer and made Miss NHM sicker during her first week back at school. I have since found out that it was illegal for them to do this, based on the Department for Educations “Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions” comprehensive document.

Needless to say that was the icing on the cake after two years of despicable treatment of my daughter.

It was an incredibly stressful time. During that week that Miss NHM started her new school my car broke, the washing machine gave up the ghost, my Mother had what the professionals thought was a mini-stroke and it was the Sitting with Jane Bench auction at which the Teaching Assistant, who had been subjecting abuse at Miss NHM for months, was also at.

(When I reflect on that time, I still wonder how I didn’t end up in the nut house!)

We decided on the Friday evening that Miss NHM would never be going back to her old school.

On the Monday morning I rang round all of the local schools and was beyond delighted to find that one of my favourite schools had one space left for her (I’d already visited a few in June and July in anticipation of her old school still being beyond sh*t).

We were so, so, SO lucky and I thank our lucky stars every day that she’s now at the school she is at.

They have been….FANTASTIC!! I literally couldn’t ask for a better school. ALL of the staff are so lovely and compassionate. It’s such a brilliant school and Miss NHM has THRIVED  since she started in September 2017.

Seeing her get better over the past year as a result of just over a year of the Gluten free diet and seeing her in such a safe and happy environment has made my heart sing on a number of occasions.

She’s made some wonderful friends and she really has grown into a healthy and more confident child.

Her anxiety when she started at her new school was through the roof and I was extremely concerned about the impact of moving her to a new school but we realised we didn’t have any choice and despite her anxiety and Coeliac Disease she has completely flourished at her new school and I am eternally grateful to all of the staff at the new school who have helped with this.

Now that she isn’t in pain all of the time her reading has gone off the charts! I’m having to go to the library to borrow books for her as she’s read everything at home and for her year in school! (did you know that you can now borrow 30 books at a time on a children’s library card? Thanks Su for the heads-up!)

Her maths is still behind because she missed most of YR and a lot of Y1 as she was so poorly but she’s getting up to speed quickly.

She has lots of friends in her year and is WAY more chatty that she used to be (double edged sword) probably because she isn’t in pain now. It’s been wonderful to see that she’s been in a year where the children are all down to earth and, apart from one child, there has been no bitchiness or nastiness.

Even the school Mum’s are all lovely. Yes, there are a few cliquey’s but nowhere near as many nasty Mum’s (there were lots and lots of lovely Mum’s there too!! Just in case my friends from there are reading! <facepalm>) as there were at the old school.

With hindsight we probably should have moved Miss NHM to another school earlier but we were struggling with getting her well again and that was our focus. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and when it happens when the time is right.

I’m thankful that we moved her AFTER her diagnosis so that her “unexplained” sickness didn’t carry with her and I’m beyond grateful that the “new” school have been so fantastic.

Based on my experience, if your gut is telling you that your child isn’t happy in their current school have a look around at other local schools and go and visit them. Literally everyone I know who has moved their child to another school has found it a very positive experience for the child in question.

I’m really looking forward to Y3 and seeing how Miss NHM continues to bloom, to become more healthy and overcome her anxiety and thrive. Thank you to those of you who have supported us along this journey so far! I’m very, very thankful for all of you!!!

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

I’m now on holiday until the 4th of September 2018! WHOOOP!!!!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I’m going to (properly) take the summer off from NHM this year.

This means that I won’t be posting daily on NorthHantsMum.co.uk although I will still have “recur” post working which means that historical posts will be re-published to NorthHantsMum FB Page every afternoon, around 4pm.

I also have a backlog of posts that I’ve promised to publish so will get to those at some point next week, but I won’t be “accepting” any new posts on NHM for the rest of the summer.

I need a break! 

I am still happy to take anonymous questions on “Louise NHM Smith” over the summer and I will continue to share posts from others that are useful for the NorthHantsMum Community.

However, I will be out of the country from Friday 17th August until Tuesday 4th September so will be doing NOTHING on NHM then.

I will still be working on my “day job” during the summer but I plan to spend more time with Miss NHM and to dramatically reduce the amount of stress that I normally have to deal with during the academic year.

It definitely feels like the last few years are catching up with me and I desperately need a “proper” break.

September Emails

I am quite worried about being bombarded with emails in early September, so if you already know about class changes, etc, please email them to me now and the NHM team and we will work on them in the background.

If you plan to send me emails about class schedule changes, etc, please note that it may take me a few weeks to get through them when I get back from holidays.

Please also ensure that what you send me can just be copied and pasted into the Class list as I don’t have time to format stuff anymore.

If you have any questions at any point, please don’t hesitate to get in touch but apologies if I don’t come back to you quickly.

I’m really, really, reeeeaaaalllllyyyy looking forward to a bit of a break!!! I hope you have an AWESOME summer too!

As always thank you for your amazing support!

Louisex

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Facebook PageFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

Questions I would ask if Miss NHM was starting YR now

I’ve learnt a few things during the last three years, since Miss NHM started school.

We’ve changed school in that time and we’ve experienced two very different schools as a result.

These are the questions or the things I would be thinking about if Miss NHM were to start school all over again.

As I’ve said here before, I’m very aware that I only have experience of two schools so please take this with a pinch of salt.

You don’t have to agree with me and that’s fine. These are just my ramblings, as a parent, on what I would be asking or considering if Miss NHM was to go back and start school again.

Oh and apologies to any teachers or teaching assistants who read NHM and take offence to any of this. I think that the majority of you do a PHENOMENAL job under very difficult conditions and I’m very thankful for all of your efforts.

Visiting Schools/Questions to Ask

“What are your objectives for the school?”

“What do you want the children to get out of their time from school?”

If you are visiting lots of schools I would recommend seeing if you can get some time with the head. They are top of the food chain at the school and as everything flows down from them it would be important for me to understand what their “ethos” is for the school.

I would ask them about what their objectives are for the school and what they expect the children to get out of school. If they don’t mention the word “fun” at least twice during that conversation I wouldn’t even be considering that school.

If all the head or the teachers talk about is education and maths and english that would be a red light. For me, infants school (in fact all school) needs to be not just about education but also about the welfare ofeach child and how the school would support that.

I believe that there needs to be a fun element in school. Children should not be expected to sit at their desk all day long, especially not in YR.

I would also be VERY reticent if that head teacher came across as very cold and didn’t share anything about their thoughts or feelings. This will reflect throughout the school.

Length of service of the teaching staff

“How long has the head teacher been at the school?”

At Miss NHM’s first school the head teacher changed during the summer holidays just before she started YR. Parents were not informed and I only found out about this by accident. It was handled appallingly by the school and things changed dramatically from when we originally saw the school to when Miss NHM started school. To the point that we didn’t even know when Miss NHM would be starting school until a month before. This should have been an early warning sign to me.

Also, it was clear that the head teacher had no idea what they were doing and this reflected in Miss NHM’s experience of YR.

“How long have the teachers in YR been at that school? ”

This is really important. It’s very interesting to note that often when a new head starts, a lot of the existing staff leave within 6 months, so you will essentially be starting with a brand new staff team.

School Visits

We were given a tour of one school by a parent governor. I wouldn’t attend this tour again. They did not give us a clear picture of the school and we only found this out once Miss NHM started at that school.

I also attended another school visit that was led by children who attended that school. This was a DREADFUL way of seeing a school because it wasn’t possible to ask questions as we went round because the children were unable to answer them. Or maybe that was the idea…

Visit during the school day

As I’ve said before I would also ensure that my visits were during the day time whilst the existing children were in the school. This is VERY enlightening. If the children are all sitting well behaved behind desks, that wouldn’t sit well with me after everything we have experienced.

In YR children should be free to roam. Their focus should be on play activities. I would stand in the YR rooms and turn around slowly and take in the environment. Are the rooms free flowing? Are there mostly toys and sensory items available for the children to play with? Are several of these outside? These are the kinds of things I would be considering as a parent.

School Uniform

“What’s the policy on school uniform?”

Are the school really, really strict on school uniform? This speaks volumes to me if they are strict about uniform in infants school.

Particularly if they demand that the children wear logo’d T-shirts. The stress that we went through because Miss NHM wouldn’t wear logo’d T-shirts because they scratched, is still firmly etched in my mind.

“Extra” classes

“Does the school allow for any other “classes” during the school day?”

I know of some schools that have extra classes during the school day that parents can pay for. Things like sports, music and art, the stuff that the government doesn’t deem important enough to be included in the school curriculum on a regular basis.

If the school doesn’t allow external providers into the school, to me, this indicates the philosophy of the school.

Forest School

“Does the school have any provision for forest school.”

I know of several local schools that have forest school and I’m GUTTED that Miss NHM missed out on this at her school as they mainly do it for the YR and Y1’s in her current school and her old school didn’t have forest school at all.

The children turn up in casual clothes and spend the day outside. The fact that some schools recognise how important it is for young children to be outside would be important to me.

Holidays during term time

“What’s the school policy on taking a child out of school during term time?”

This was my “killer” question when we were going round to view schools before Miss NHM started YR.

All the schools will say the same. It’s illegal, the children will miss out on their education and become illiterate, stupid and will fail at life, you’ll get fined, blah, blah, blah. However, it’s not WHAT they say it’s the WAY that they say it. One head teacher of a school we visited literally tried to rip my head off after I’d asked her that question.

Her response made me think very long and hard about whether I would want my child in a school where the head felt it was appropriate to behave like that with a very reasonable question from a parent who was new to the schooling system.

Failing YR

“How does a child fail YR at this school?”

If a teacher or head teacher balks at the word “fail” then that’s what I would be looking for. If I got a long spiel about how children fail YR for whatever reasons, I would NOT be sending my child to that school.

Time outside

“How often are the children allowed to play on the school field?”

Does the school even have a school field and if they do are the children allowed to play on it or is it “just for show”. I would also want to know about break times and the times that children are allowed outside.

For example, if it’s a heatwave are children still allowed outside to play in the shade during their break times or do they need to remain in the sweltering heat in the classroom?

Additional Needs Children

“How are children with additional needs treated at this school?”

Even if I didn’t have a child with additional needs this would now be a key question for me.

Having seen the IMMORAL and inhumane way that Miss NHM was treated at her old school and having heard that several other children with additional needs have now been removed by their parents from that school, I would want to know exactly what the school was doing to support children with additional needs.

Even if my child didn’t have additional needs I would want to meet the SENCO and the ELSA of the school so I knew who these people were and I got to see how sympathetic and understanding they were.

You never know if your child is suddenly going to need extra support, like we did, and knowing these people in advance and what their “ethos” is would be important to me.

Reception Staff

Having experienced two school receptions I know EXACTLY what I would be looking for.

If the receptionist on the front desk is rude, dismissive or patronising, this speaks volumes about the school.

They will potentially be the first person that you speak too or meet. If they can’t be civil or understanding of a new parent who has no idea what is going on, I wouldn’t want my child at that school.

If the reception staff are bubbly and happy and very willing to give you advice if you are a new parent then this is what I would be looking for.

Sports Day

“What happens on Sports Day?”

This is a bit of a random one but having experienced two very different Sports days at two different schools I would want someone to explain to me what happens on sports day.

If there is no mention of Mum’s races, Dad’s races, toddler races or teacher races this would raise a red flag for me.

For me, Sports days should be a really lovely family affair and if parents and families aren’t invited to take part and it’s just about rigidly following the “structure” of the schools Sports Day, I would be concerned.

Primary Schools vs. Infants Schools

“Is the school a Primary or an Infants school?”

In my naivety before Miss NHM started school I was adamant that she went to an Infants school because I thought it would be better for her to be with children roughly the same age as her and that she would be with lots of her peers.

However, now that we’ve been through two schools I would ALWAYS opt for a Primary school, for many reasons.

Primary schools are normally smaller schools with smaller years, so instead of 3 or 4 classes of 30 children in YR you have 1 or 2 classes of 30 children for each year in a Primary school.

Younger children are also mixing with other children a lot older than them and I have only seen good things come from this. Miss NHM is in awe of the children in Y6 and is always trying to emulate her favourites.

Also, if your child is in Infants school you then have all of the anxiety and stress when they move from Infants to Juniors. I have several friends at Miss NHM’s old school who are living this reality and it looks like it’s quite stressful. Not knowing what the new junior school will be like can be very worrying (they often operate independently of the infants school), as well as stressful wondering about how things “step up” in Y3.

Go with your gut

Most importantly, I would trust my instincts. I wouldn’t let Mr NHM do some of the school visits on his own because I was busy working and trying to look after Miss NHM whilst she was still an un-diagnosed Coeliac. I would want both of us to go and see ALL of our local schools either together or independently during school time.

I wouldn’t just follow the system and think that the school that’s closest to us has got to be a “good” school because aren’t all schools “good”? (No, they aren’t).

I would trust my parenting instincts and if a school didn’t feel right for whatever reason, even if I couldn’t verbalise it, I wouldn’t send Miss NHM there.

When you go into a school and you speak to the staff and the children you will just “know” which school is right for your child.

I hope this hasn’t been too stressful to read for new parents who are due to join the schooling system soon.

Hopefully it’s given you some things to think about that I had never considered when Miss NHM started school. (I wish I had had the benefit of reading this post when she was 3 years old!)

Good luck!

What would you add to these questions?

Feedback from NHM Readers on this post:

Alison: “Some interesting points although I was rather shocked to find out that the school closest to you might be the only one you got even if you didn’t chose it.” 

Leanne: “Lots to think about although your bit about infant/junior schools I would say is unnecessarily worrying for parents who live where there is only a choice of separate schools and no primaries. There are also some enormous primaries! I’ve taught in both and I don’t think the type of school has been a significant factor in children’s happiness.

Also-no teacher or parent races at sports day would not raise a red flag. For every parent that enjoys that sort of thing, there is one that dreads it and hates the thought of letting their child down. Also, the more races there are, the longer the children are sat doing nothing which is especially not great during this hot weather!

I totally agree with listening to see if the HT talks about more than just English and Maths.”

Lucy: I’d add that your child isn’t legally required to be in school at all. It’s your choice how and where your child is educated.”

Leanne: “Oh and it is worth knowing that you can take your child out of school legally until the term after they turn 5 (when they then have to be in education). So if your child is 5 in May, for example, you can take them on holiday any time during their Reception Year but if they are 5 in November you only can for that first term.”

Lizzie: “Couple of things I would like to add. Firstly, your child is not compulsory school age until the term after they turn 5 so it is your right to choose how much they attend until then. Also, if your child is born 1st April – 31st August you can apply to decelerate them and start them at school a year later at age 5. You can ask for them to start in reception.”

Lizzie: “In regard to forest School – I am a forest School and outdoor learning teacher. If you really want forest school make sure it isn’t just one class that get the opportunity, look for a school that continues the provision throughout the school every year to get the most from it. Also, don’t get hung up on forest school itself. There’s schools out there that don’t have actual forest school sessions but outdoor learning and is embedded across the curriculum throughout the school. If a school values outdoor learning they will be telling you about it before you ask.”

Other questions to ask suggested by NHM Readers

Good Afternoon Everyone! I’m putting together a post with questions to ask and things to look out for when visiting Infants/Primary schools. I’ve had some great suggestions in the YR 2018 group but thought I’d ask the whole of the NHM Community if they have any suggestions? TIA 

Charlotte: “Ofsted report, exam results, behaviour management, teaching method as in topic based etc, class sizes, mixed year classes or years on own”

Mary: “Ask about toilets and the dignity of children when using them.”

Lisa: “Mainly go with gut feeling but also look at how happy/polite/well presented the kids are, how much homework do they get in each year, after-school clubs, staff turnover, parent involvement (trips etc), friendliness of staff particularly office staff, how often parents get feedback (i.e reports/parents eve)….”

Victoria: “You can ask all the questions in the world but you will ‘just know’ when you’ve found the right one for your child. When forming questions think about your child’s needs, current ‘academic’ interest, emotional maturity and then base your questions on that. In some way generic questions about OFSTED, sat results are not really going to give you the answers you need!”

Hannah: “Look for how the staff interact & engage with the children. I’d want to know more than anything else that staff would be able to build a positive relationship with my child (no matter how difficult they were being) so they would feel safe and happy… only then will the learning etc take place.”

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My Experience: Body shaming 7 year olds

On Saturdays, after Miss NHM’s swimming lesson, her and Mr NHM go out for a “Daddy Daughter” date, so they can have some quality time together and have a chat.

It was during their “Daddy daughter” date on the morning of the Royal Wedding when Miss NHM suddenly said to my husband: “Daddy, I need to be skinnier”. Just matter of fact, in the way that my daughter is.

It was so out of the blue and not related to what they were discussing and he was so shocked that he just asked her why she thought that.

She said “Because ***** says I’m too fat and I need to be skinnier”.

He continued to be so shocked that he just changed the subject. When he got home he asked to talk to me in private and told me what had happened. I was just as shocked. I had NOT anticipated dealing with things like this when our daughter has just turned 7 years old.

We agreed that we wouldn’t make a big thing about it but would try to re-iterate a positive body image.

However at dinner the next evening I made a flippant comment about it being really healthy and Miss NHM piped up with: “good, I’m glad it’s really healthy as I’m too fat and I need to be skinnier”.  I was so shocked again, but slightly more prepared, so I told her that she is definitely not fat and her body is just perfect as it is.

(Miss NHM already has challenges with food because of her coeliac disease and she is anything but fat.)

I emailed the head teacher on Monday who had asked me to keep them informed previously, as it’s not the first time that Miss NHM has had things like this happen to her.

The head teacher confirmed that body shaming at 7 years old isn’t as rare as you would think.

A few days later I spoke briefly to some trusted parents in the playground and a couple of the Mum’s of girls said that their 6 or 7 year old daughters had also said, at one time or another, that they were “fat”.

WOW. Just WOW. What is our society coming too?

I was very naive in thinking that because we don’t have a TV Miss NHM would be avoiding this type of thing. I hadn’t expected some of her peers to be projecting it instead!

Miss NHM hasn’t mentioned it again since that weekend but she’s being kept away from the other child in school because of their negative impact on Miss NHM anyway.

I’m sharing this not because I have any answers. I don’t have any, but in case any other Mum’s and Dad’s are freaking out about their young children saying things like this, you are not alone.

If anyone has any specific professional advice about what to do with this, then please do let me know.

I don’t know whether it’s right to not make a big thing about this with Miss NHM or whether we should be talking to her more about these things.

Why is parenting so hard at times?

Louise: I wrote this a few weeks ago and I’m not as worried about it anymore as Miss NHM hasn’t mentioned it since but it does make me a little concerned about the future and what that might bring. 

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