LIKE Aunt Annie on Facebook

LIKE Aunt Annie on Facebook

LIKE Aunt Annie on Facebook

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Are our kids getting ruder?

My mother had an amazing ability to freeze the atmosphere instantly when she disapproved of something.  Heaven help me if I should fail to say please, thank you or excuse me; she never needed to punish me for such omissions, because my fear of that Kelvinator look was enough to jog my memory before I opened my mouth.

Add to that the fact that she always demonstrated perfect manners herself, and there was never any question that her children would grow up to be ill-mannered little thugs. She was an awesome mother, and I was hell-bent on pleasing her.

Perhaps my upbringing wasn't completely typical, but I do know that back then, both my teachers and my friends'  parents had a low tolerance for other people's children who forgot their manners.  And they didn't sit and stew, either- they had no hesitation in correcting such children quite firmly. 

Have things really changed so much these days?  Why are parents and teachers complaining about children's manners, or lack thereof? And why do parents feel less free to correct or comment on other people's children when they behave appallingly?

Maybe it's as simple as the constant stress of being a working parent, being all things to all people, torn in too many directions at once.  We forget to teach manners, or just don't have time.  Maybe our own manners have been swept away by the 21st century's pace and problems. 

And maybe we're too scared of the prospect of conflict with other parents to open our mouths when someone else's child is rude; certainly there seems to be a much greater range in parenting styles than was once the case, and convictions about parenting are deeply held and defended.

Anyway, let's be proactive- what can we do to make sure our own children have good manners, and how can we encourage other people's children to treat us with respect too?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mat time puppet show script: Cleaning Mr Crocodile's teeth

This script will work with any cute puppet whose mouth opens and shows teeth, but I've found a crocodile the most engaging with preschoolers. Some toddlers find him a bit scary, so you might like to choose a different animal puppet.

A few hints for using puppets to teach skills

Puppets are a fantastic medium for teaching children in a non-threatening, non-confrontational way. A teacher can be stern with a puppet who has 'done the wrong thing', and tell the puppet very firmly why that was the wrong thing... and a little child who's just done exactly that wrong thing will get the message, without feeling so confronted that they burst into tears. You can let the puppets demonstrate new skills, and ask the children to help them- it's much less scary to try something new with a cute puppet.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What makes a parent resilient?

One of my friends posted a link on Facebook to a list of tips for making your child more resilient.  The tips are great- you can find them at

resilient kids

Another mum commented that what she really needed was a list of tips to make HER more resilient! So what the heck- here are my top ten tips for parental resilience.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Focus at mat time, plus a funny handwashing song

Today I walked into a preschool I'd never been to before.  I asked the staff my usual questions about the kids- how old the children were and what their names were, who had special needs, who would need help to focus at mat time and so on.  I was told that mat time was something of a problem, as several children simply wouldn't sit still and ran around the room, distracting all the others, and that the staff were wondering how best to deal with this.

By the time 'mat time' actually happened a couple of hours later, I'd done some pretty intensive preparation by learning all the children's names and trying to form some basic relationships, particularly with the children who had been identified as needy or 'difficult'- and just as well, because I ended up running that mat time by myself.

How did I form relationships with 18 kids I didn't know in a few hours? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

A tidy room versus creative chaos

I have to admit that I'm not a naturally tidy person. (If you could see the desk I'm writing at, you'd know what I mean by that!!) To me, the mess that surrounds me is a living, creative thing (and no, I'm not referring to mould cultures!)- an archaeological layering of yesterday's ideas and today's inspirations, last year's study notes and last week's topic lists. I can usually put my hand on what I want right now.

But when I realise that I've lost a month's worth of bills under there somewhere and the late charges are mounting, I start to get stressed, cranky and lethargic all at once. It's time to stop creating, overcome the apathy and have a tidy-up session. It's a balancing act which I'm still working on.

The same balancing act of breathless creativity and overwhelmed non-coping applies to your small children, and your attitude to the often appalling mess surrounding them when they play helps to determine what sort of learning they are allowed to do. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A prejudice-busting story for Valentine's Day

I've been asked to write a kids' story for Valentine's Day that's more inclusive than the usual boy-meets-girl style.... so here it is.  Feel free to copy, print and read to your kids.  And thanks to the brilliant free site for the ready-made illustrations.