Saturday, July 19, 2014

End of term and an unexected gift

Yesterday at the end of the school day there were the tearful goodbyes from B and his friends in the playground at home time.  There was the tradition of the '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown' that the Y6's did to countdown their days at Primary school.  It was something we thought we wouldn't get, but we did in the end...even if it was late and school had ended and other children were coming out...still it meant a lot to the parents, and I am pleased they did get to do it.

I can't believe my son has finished Primary school!  I had to go to his secondary school to complete some forms, and even I felt weird going in there....was like being back at my secondary school, even though I didn't go there!

Bronte's class teacher was leaving, and as she handed Bronte over to me, she mentioned she had a photo for Bronte that she thought we might like, so she gave us a copy of this picture:

It was taken at the Teddy Bears picnic earlier in the week.  Bronte had fallen over at lunchtime and ripped her tights, apparently it was just a small hole that she kept pulling....ooops.  Still, it sums her up totally!
I am so grateful that she took the time to print out another copy and give it to us, it's a lovely picture.
I am trying to tell the children how nice it is to do things for people, and how just a little tiny gesture (like this) can mean much more than words can say.  Expensive gifts are great, but it doesn't need to be big or expensive to make someone smile.  Wouldn't you agree?
The teachers who are leaving are going to be greatly missed.  I wish them all the best for the future xx

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Struggling to find the words to say what I want to say

Bronte's Nursery teacher is leaving this week, she is retiring.

She has been at the school for her entire teaching career, apart from when she had a break from teaching to have her family.

She is quite possibly the nicest person you could ever meet.  Of course with three children all spending up to three years in her care (she works as part of the Foundation Stage Unit so children, depending on their birthday could be in nursery for two years, and then what used to be called the Reception class for one year), I have gotten to know her over the years.

When I found out she was leaving I was in a panic.  You see, she helped me A LOT when Phil had his hip replacement, not in the fact that I knew her out of school and she did lots for us, but in the 'tell me how he is, tell me what is happening, how are you?' sort of sense - EVERY DAY during what turned out to be the darkest days of my life.  I suffered both anxiety and depression, something that to this day I am still tormented with.  Her and another teacher, did this, but this teacher much more so.  In fact, every time she has the time to do so, she will come over and ask about Phil's progress, even to this day.

I wanted to say thank you.  I wanted to give her the gifts personally.  More importantly I wanted to tell her how much she helped me.  Bronte did a thank you card, and I got a retirement card.  It wasn't enough.

I wanted a thank you letter - a handwritten one.

But how so you tell someone how much they have helped you, during your darkest days...without sounding like a complete loon?  Because to her, it was probably nothing, she probably does this to so many people, she is that nice....she may not have realised the impact of her words and her kindness.

The reality was the letter took a LONG time.  I got worked up, stressed and every second I thought about it brought tears to my eyes.  Even thinking about it NOW brings tears to my eyes.  But I did it.  It was perfect.  I am so happy with the words I wrote, I could not believe how easily they came in the end - like it was meant to be.  Admittedly, I wrote the letter with tears streaming down my face, but I did it.  It could not have been written any better.

I went down after nursery earlier today, something I was dreading and spent 10 minutes or so chatting with her.  I am pleased that I did not send the cards and present in with Bronte.  This lovely teacher, she will be so greatly missed.

Disappointingly, the parents were not allowed to organise anything from all the parents as we were not allowed to ask for money for the two teachers leaving, despite collections being made for other staff who left this year.  I am very disappointed, but at the same time I felt that I could not go against the Head Teachers wishes, I just hope that she got covered in gifts from all the parents and that the staff gave her an amazing send off.  It is no less than she deserves.

End of term teacher gifts

Today is the day before the last day of term, which means it is the day we send in the end of term teacher gifts.

Why today?

I send the teacher gifts in to school on the day before the last day of term.  After the first Christmas when B was in Reception class and I saw how many things the teacher got, I decided to take ours in the day before.  The kids have never questioned this, and even they think it's a good idea.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with giving flowers and chocolates, and we have given these in the past, I do like where possible to try and give something that can be kept.  Something to (hopefully) remember MY child by. 
This year I had to buy for FIVE teachers.  Bronte is in the Foundation Stage Unit and has one teacher and two other FSU teachers, two of whom were leaving (and had taught all three of my children) and B and M's teachers.  B is leaving this year also, so wanted to get his Teaching Assistant a little something.

Phil said (for the teachers who are leaving) 'get them flowers and a bottle of wine!' so that was his input.

For those who do prefer to send in flowers. Aldi had some lovely bunches of flowers for £3 and Pound Stretcher had the little 'thank you' boxes of chocs for just 50p. A great little thank you for Teaching Assistants or helpers?  We stocked up on these!

So for the leaving teachers, we did as Phil suggested, and also their main teacher present.
This is what is being sent in this year:
The prints are from Janet Bell greeting cards, which I have mounted in a square frame.  I really love the way these have turned out.  In fact I am going to now make some for me!  I hope the teachers like was a nightmare trying to centre the print right in the middle....took much longer than I expected as the mount in the frame when you but it is for a much smaller picture.  The children chose the designs - from the top left Bronte, B, M and the bottom two were for Bronte's teachers.
Plus, on another note I think sending in wine could also a bit risky because how do you know the person is a wine drinker?  Or prefers red, white or rose?  Unless you ask someone beforehand, I suppose, which is what I did this year.
Actually M had a male supply teacher from Oct-Dec last year and I asked him what to get as I had never brought for a male teacher before. Luckily he said red wine, so that was what he got.  He then said it was his first ever teacher gift.  I guess supply teachers don't get much luck when it comes to gifts.
Do you get teacher gifts?  What do you choose?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to keep kids entertained over the summer in the garden

Six weeks of summer holidays will soon be upon us.  B and M play out in the street and surrounding areas, including their friends houses.  We always know where they are, and they each have a mobile so we can contact them if we need them.

Bronte is nearly 5, and we feel too young to be playing out, so aside from letting her in the garden, or on the grass outside our house, she is pretty much stuck at home, unless we go to the park or somewhere like that.

I wanted to make sure there is enough in the garden to keep her busy and entertained over the summer.  I have looked around at our outdoor toys and what is on offer in the shops at the moment.

Bronte has a little patio chair from last year, in a Peppa Pig design which is a bit like this Hello Kitty one, and we already had a skipping rope and a little pop up tent from some time ago.  She also has a very old battered scooter which still works.  But these on their own aren't going to be much fun now are they?

I don't have a very big budget for this, so I am shopping around for cheap things.  So far I have managed to pick up from Tesco a foam sword (which Bronte loves as it goes nicely with her pirate dressing up outfit!), another skipping rope, and a skittles set.  From Wilko, as they had a little bit bigger selection in store - a paddling pool, some chalk sticks, an ankle hopper (much to her delight!) and a small Hello Kitty ball for just a small outlay. 

She put the chalks to good use creating this hopscotch:

Bronte was also lucky enough to get another skipping rope from her buddy at school, so although we have three, they are all different, and it means that her and M can skip at the same time without fighting over the skipping rope.

There are a few other things I would like to get for the garden.  Wilko have a much bigger selection of items online, which I believe you can get sent to store to collect.

Of course another option is a large blanket and a selection of toys.

I think all in all, we might just get there this summer.  Do you have any other suggestions for keeping children safely entertained in the garden?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

School traditions and B's look back over his years in Primary

We, as a family, have a number of traditions related to school, all of which I have created myself over the years. 

We take photographs on the first day of term.
I make a conscious effort to get to know the teacher (many of whom I now know already).
We give Christmas gifts to each class teacher.
We take in a little bag of chocolate hearts on/near (depending on half term) Valentine's Day for each class teacher (B started this tradition).
We give an Easter Egg to each class teacher (M started this tradition).
Now my shifts have changed, at least twice a week I collect the children, and make polite conversation with the teachers.
We give end of term gifts to each class teacher, and small boxes of chocolates to some teaching assistants (that the children choose).  We also send a card to each class teacher, and one from myself and Phil to thank the teacher for their efforts during the year.
Last year I started to give flowers to the Head Teacher and secretary at the end of term.

Many of them you will perhaps do some of these yourselves, and you may just consider it to be one of those things that you do, but for me, they are an important part of the children's school lives.

You may also think that I go overboard, but the gifts don't necessarily need to be large, just well thought out.  I will share later in the week what we are giving the teachers this year.  It actually does not cost a lot when you think about it.  And who doesn't like to be thanked for their hard work?

It is times like this, with B leaving primary school this year when the hard work and dedication pays off, and you get to create something like this:

Beautiful, don't you think?

There are 19 children in B's class who are moving to four different schools, and I would like to wish them all the best of luck in their future.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bronte makes me smile :o)

At the moment I am once again going through a tough time with my anxiety and depression.  It is a very dark place at times.

Bronte never fails to make me smile, no matter how bad my day is.

She is adorable.  I may be a little bit biased on this one, but in my opinion she is a lifesaver.  She has helped both me and Phil though our hardest times.  We would be lost without her. xx

Friday, July 11, 2014

One tired little Pirate!

Bronte had a pirate party at school today.

She was telling me what music they had at their party and I asked if they played 'Agadoo' and she askes what that was.  I sang a couple of lines to her, and she looked at me and said, 'did you just make that up?'.  LOL Clearly the party music from my days is not cool enough for her!

Anyway, she clearly had a good time, because she is ZONKED!

Such a cutie xx
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