Tuesday, 27 August 2013

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "Back to School, oh no!" - Bookish related things to help ease you and your kids back into the school routine

Three words that strike terror into the hearts of children (and joy into their parents!)
For this week's slightly belated #ReadItMD13 Theme Week we're looking at books designed not only to get your children back into something educational, we're also looking at books that can help children who are nervous about "starting big school" - sitting down with a new teacher, new friends and a whole new school.

So let's kick off by diving back into the archives for some of our favourite school-based books.

"I Want A Friend" by Tony Ross (The Little Princess Series) is a fab little book that sees the normally bombastic and quite mischievous Little Princess slightly on the back foot as she starts big school for the first time. Seeing everyone else seemingly happy and carefree and playing with their friends, The Little Princess realises that even being royalty doesn't mean that things are easy. Soon though she meets someone else in the same boat, a child who also doesn't have a special friend, and then another - and another, until there's a whole gaggle of children who come together and realise that searching hard for a friend is tricky, and often the best friends are right under your nose. A very nice little book for helping children through those anxieties about meeting new people and making new pals at school.

Oh how we love Splat the Cat! Rob Scotton's wiry haired little moggy has been on lots of adventures since his first book but in his very first outing we find out that Splat also had a tricky first day at school.

Read and re-read by us, we loved Splat packing Seymour his trusted mousey sidekick into his lunchbox as he (grudgingly) sets out to learn how to be a cat at cat school, and all the things that cats should and shouldn't do. Chase mice? What a terrible thought!

Soon though Splat teaches his teacher and classmates a few lessons too - that mice aren't food, they're friends - and there's really no need to chase Seymour around when he's such an adorable olive-nosed little fellah.

Splat will soon be popping up again in the next book "Scaredy Cat Splat!" which should be hitting shelves in time for Halloween.

In Emma Chichester-Clark's fabulous "Blue Kangaroo" books we meet the lovely Lily and her rather special 'friend' - a blue kangaroo. Again, a book that deals with the anxieties and worries of that first day at school, Lily decides to take Blue Kangaroo with her on her first day. We loved the way Emma 'voices' Lily's concerns as being Blue's (you'll see what we mean when you read this wonderful book). Lily actually ends up enjoying herself so much that she forgets Blue Kangaroo entirely, leaving him at school to have a lot of fun all on his own overnight!

We always expect the very best from Emma and we get it in spades - and it's a timely reminder for me to hunt out the rest of the Blue Kangaroo series as this one was utterly brill!

During the holidays, one of the hardest things to keep going was Charlotte's interest in self-reading.
With the aid of the Oxford Learning Tree Phonics range, it's easy to get back into the swing of things and in particular the "My Phonics Kit" starter pack is fab for taking children away from the books and onto the computer for some enhanced reading, phonics activities and learning.

There's also a whole host of brilliant exercises, stories and activities on the fantastic Oxford Owl website. Like most parents, we really struggle to marry together reading for learning and reading for pleasure (in fact it's a real concern when Charlotte's confronted with a new Biff Chip and Kipper book and can't actually distance herself from the fact that it's a 'school' book and not a 'home' book - despite the stories being pretty good fun in some of the advanced Stage 4 books). These sites and resources really do help though, so they're worth diving in if you're trying to get your children back into a bit of a learning routine to help ease them back into school without a huge jolt.

There'll be more from us on the subject of getting back to school or starting school for the first time as the week progresses so stay tuned!