The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Keeping Cool

The Weekend Picture No. 52

Splash Down!
As the UK basks in heatwave conditions we have been desparately seeking relief from 2 weeks of 25 degree plus temperatures.

We have experimented with windows open and windows closed. We have closed curtains in the middle of the day and dressed in outfits we wouldn't want to be seen in in public. We have even played havoc with the environment by turning on our car's disappointing aircon.

This weekend we went camping in the depths of Sussex. On the Saturday we visited one of those tree shrouded river banks that Mark Twain used to write about.

The Dubmeister and one of the Signs of Spring made use of a rope swing which appeared to have grown down from one the trees that shrouded the bank. The Dubmeister was particularly keen to fall from the swing into the water - doing it over and over again until his skin turned blue and his teeth chattered.

Tom Sawyer would have been proud.

Speak soon.
JH


Friday, 12 July 2013

Ashes? What Ashes?

Ashton Who? on his way to 98 runs yesterday

The fantastic summer of sport that we are enjoying this year keeps rolling on.

First we had the British Lions beating the Australians.

Then we had "Sir" Andy Murray ending Britain's 77 years of hurt by finally claiming the men's Wimbledon title in a thrilling final 10 days ago.

Chris Froome is currently leading the pack in the Tour de France.

And now we have the Ashes.

The Granddaddy of Cricket Test series.

England and Australia battling it out with the Willow and the ball.

The series has made an epic start. We had 14 wickets tumble on day 1 and the greatest total ever posted by a no. 11 batsman yesterday when Ashton Agar scored 98 in his debut Test innings.

The commentators on BBC's Test Match Special are falling over themselves to tell us what a great sporting spectacle this is.

This is a sporting battle that should be gripping the nation. The boys and girls who were rushing out every playtime with racket and ball to re-enact the heroics of Andy and Laura on the Wimbledon grass should now be doing the same and flinging yorkers and googlies at each other as they re-live the previous day's play.

It's not happening.

A quick survey of my kids' schools indicates that there are still more children playing tennis than cricket in the playground. A quiz of my children's cricketing knowledge tells me that they have no idea who Ashton Agar is and can only name one member of England's cricket team (Kevin Pieterson) - and this at a time when the England cricketers are arguably our most successful sporting outfit.

The 2005 Ashes series genuinely did grip the nation. Children did take to the parks and streets to ape their white clad heroes and for 1 glorious summer we were cricket crazy.

Why is this not happening this year?

Why are my children not in the least bit bothered?

Why can't they tell their Alastair Cooks from their Graeme Swanns?

In 2005 the Ashes was broadcast by Channel 4. Ever since it has been live and exclusive on SKY. Since 2005 Cricket has been chasing the cash of this sporting behemoth. As a result they have had millions of pounds pumped into the sport but at what cost?

Sadly this pursuit has led to Cricket disappearing from the radar for millions of English children. If I were a cricket administrator with a view that extends beyond this summer's payday I would be worried for the future of my sport. I would question whether a big payday today is worth an obscure future.

Cricket is a difficult game for schools to run. It takes a long time to play and it requires a lot of space. As a result it has disappeared from the curriculum of many state schools. It therefore becomes even more important that it gets plenty of television exposure in order to build up cricketing heroes and establish cricketing dreams among the young so that they seek opportunities to play this game which we are currently very good at.

So, Dear Administrators of Cricket - please look beyond the size of your wallets and look to the future - or your sport will die.

Speak soon
JH

PS Photograph courtesy of the Daily Telegraph

Thursday, 27 June 2013

You Can Tell They're Growing Up When ... You Worry About Different Stuff

When the Dubmeister was born he brought untold joy and excitement. We marvelled at his chubby little fingers, his gorgeous gurgling noises, his perfect skin and that indescribeable smell with which all babies are blessed.

It was one of the best days of our lives.

(c) Roger Hargreaves
But, when a baby enters your life he also introduces a whole new level of worry. You worry about everything - from the temperature of his bedroom to the number of times he feeds via the evil inferiority complex creating myths propagated by millionaires made rich by writing books about how to raise the perfect baby. 

We even worried that our cat would devote himself to finding an opportunity to go to sleep on baby Dubmeister's face. Of course he didn't as that would involve being in the same room as the tiny screaming banshee that we had introduced into the house which was obviously out of the question!

At the same time well meaning friends and family reassured us that the phase would soon pass and that as the Dubmeister grew so would the worries pass and life would become a worry free Disneyland where the sun always shone and Dubmeister developed at a textbook rate.

They were wrong!

When a baby grows up you cease to worry about the temperature of his bedroom and the number of times he feeds and you soon realise that the books written by childcare experts are designed to create a sense of panic in the minds of couples going through the most intensely stressful sleep deprived period of their lives. However, that does not mean the worry stops. It just means that the focus of worry changes.

What we worry about now

  • So now, rather than worrying about the temperature of his bedroom we worry about what he gets up to in there instead!
  • Instead of worrying about how often he feeds we worry about how often he sits down to do his homework. Is he doing enough? Could he do more? Shouldn't he be doing better?
  • Rather than fretting over an evil cat who is determined to kill him by fur suffocation we worry about the evils of alcohol and drugs and pick up leaflets from Doctor surgeries and school reception areas which raise the stress levels even further.
I remember as a kid noticing that, if you caught a glimpse of my mum and her friends when they didn't know anybody was looking at them, you could see a far-away, concerned expression on their faces.

Now I am a parent I know why they looked like that. They were parents, they were worried. The two states of mind go together. No matter what the age of your kids might be. Be they four months, fourteen or forty you worry about them.

Speak soon
JH

Monday, 24 June 2013

Lost!

The Weekend Picture No. 51

As you know I was honoured to be listed as a finalist in this year's Brilliance in Blogging Family Blogger Award. The ceremony was in London on Friday night at an impressive venue called The Brewery in EC1Y 4QH.

The ceremony came at the end of an afternoon's conference opened by the lovely Kirsty Allsopp and featuring hints and tips on all things bloggy. I had to go to work on Friday so I didn't get to see any of the bloggy hints and tips. Instead I missed the 5.00pm train into London in order to catch the 5.30 and thereby make my journey much more exciting.

I got into London Waterloo precisely 3 minutes before I was meant to be in EC1Y 4QH so sprinted across the concourse, swore at the lack of underground maps, found an underground map, picked a route and then leapt onto the slowest underground train in London which wound it's unhurried way to The Barbican, exactly 29 minutes after I was meant to be supping cocktails with the blogging glitterati.

Fortunately, I had my iPhone 3G with me with it's friendly red pin in the map feature. It led me out of the station and 200 yards down a wrong turning and a red faced sprint back to the correct turning and an interminable tunnel.

I finally found the red pin.

Unfortunately the red pin was nowhere near The Brewery. Instead, it had sunk itself into the middle of one of those non-descript council estates you find on the edge of swanky London districts. I wandered disconsolately through the estate craning my ears to catch the sounds of the clinking of glasses and the buzz of witty repartee but soon realised the error of my ways and sought solace in the presence of a friendly London cabbie.

I was evidently in the wrong bit of EC1Y 4QH and was perspiring gently by the time I crashed through the revolving doors of The Brewery, 50 minutes late, blinking into a world of bright lights, bright dresses and even brighter tans.

I expected everybody to turn, tutting towards me, tapping their tablets to tick me off. But Britmums Live was in full flow. The free booze was disappearing as quickly as booze at a blogging event and the volume had been raised to 11. A stray Daddy Blogger adrift in a sea of Mums was unremarkable and it was with a degree of relief that I sank into my chair to await my fate.

Speak soon
JH

PS - No, I didnt win - hence the rather clever title! The Family Blogger 2013 is Mum In The South - you can read her brilliant story of a recent birthday party here. But I did meet some interesting people and would urge you to visit their blogs - try Mutterings of a Fool and Babberblog for blogs by Dads with toddlers, Best Dad I Can Be for some of the funniest writing out there and Life as a Widower - the winner of the Fresh Voice category for his incredibly moving recounting of life in the eight months since he lost his wife, the mother to his 2 year old son.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

We Did It!

The CMN 24 Peaks in 24 Hours Team
This blog has been rather quiet the last few days. In fact ever since I ran through the third of 3 gifts to get your old Dad last Thursday Dad Etc has been marked by it's silence.

I hope you haven't worried.
I hope you haven't called the police to report a missing blogger.

The truth is that I have just been plain shattered since this weekend. A quick analysis of the times when I post will reveal that most posts (like this one) are published well after bedtime and the sad truth is that since this weekend my stamina levels have dropped below zero. Blogging has just not been an option.

Why am I shattered?


Well, I blame the mountains of the Lake District - 24 of which I climbed along with My lovely wife and 21 other lovely people over 24 hours this weekend.


The climb was to raise money for Caring Matters Now - a fantastic little charity which supports children like my youngest daughter who have a rare skin condition called Congenital Melanocytic Naevi. If you're new to Dad Etc or short on memory cells you can find out more about CMN here.

Taking part in this challenge has been such an amazing experience that it has been difficult to know what to type. How do you sum up the weekend in less than 500 words?

Do you share the 4am starts?
The scrambling across scree?
The companionship of newly made friends brought together by a common purpose?

Or do you talk about the aches and pains you acquired over the weekend?
The friends who battled through sprained knees/ pulled muscles and latent fevers just to be able to fulfill a promise?
Mention the fact that it still hurts to go up and down stairs and that some of the peaks were much much steeper than you expected?

Or do you emphasise the triumph of reaching that 24th peak?
Celebrate the fact that the team has almost doubled the target it set?
And urge your readers to keep donating as every penny counts?

Really what I would like to say is THANKYOU.

Thankyou to the friends and family who supported us by donating to the cause and looking after the three monsters whilst we walked up things. Thankyou to our close friends who joined us on the trek and thankyou to my lovely wife for persuading me that it would be a good idea after all.

And above all thank you to E, the smiley girl with CMN, who inspired us.

Speak soon
JH

PS - I will be sitting nervously in the crowd at the Brilliance in Blogging Awards ceremony on Friday evening waiting to find out whether I have won the Family Blogger award. Thankyou again to all those of you who voted for me - it worked! Fingers crossed - I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Last Minute Gifts For Father's Day #3

Say it with a donation

Sometimes it is nice to give a gift which will help an organisation to help others.


The charity I would like to plug today is called "Care for the Family." I have not been asked to plug them, nor am I being paid a penny to post this. I just think they are an amazing charity that do incredible, life changing work.

Their slogan says that they exist "because family life matters" and a quick survey of their website indicates that they live by their slogan.

They currently have initiatives to support Dads, Mums, Single Parents, Grandparents, Foster Parents, Adopted Children and couple contemplating marriage.

I love the way they get into every area of family life and seek to provide really practical help to people in need.

If you would like to find out more about Care for the Family and perhaps make a donation to honour Father's Day please click here.

Speak soon
JH

PS Only 2 days until our 24 peaks in 24 hours challenge - I may not be able to post this weekend as I will mostly be climbing mountains - if that is the case I am sorry but I am sure you understand. The link to my Just Giving page is in the right hand corner of this blog. Thank you.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Last Minute Gifts For Fathers Day #2

Say It With Words


This is the kind of craft-y idea that your Dad will love. The Dubmeister and My Lovely Wife made me one for my birthday. It was the highlight of my day

To make a Word Portait you will need:
  • 1 computer
  • 1 sheet of printer paper
  • A colour printer
  • A picture frame

Shut your Dad out of the room and brainstorm everything that makes him the Dad he is.

You might want to think about his likes and dislikes, his hobbies, favourite foods, bands or places. The list is endless - it is entirely up to you.

Type the list up in an artistic manner, pop it in the frame and Bob's your uncle - one very happy Dad.



Speak soon
JH

Coming tomorrow - Say it with a donation

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Last Minute Gifts For Fathers Day #1

Say it with Sauce

Still stuck for that perfect gift for the Fathers in your life? Still struggling for inspiration for that special man's special day? Just remembered that it's Fathers Day this Sunday and you haven't got a clue what to get Dad? Well look no further - this is the Dad Etc three part guide to the perfect last minute gift for Daddy's Day.



Everybody knows that Dads love bacon sandwiches. And everybody knows that bacon sandwiches are distinctly boring without a splash of Houses of Parliament sauce (HP Sauce to you and I). The clever people at Heinz have realised that there is a glaring gap in the market - the personalised HP bottle gap.

If you want to get your hands on one of these collector items you need to go quickly. Visit HP's Facebook page by clicking here and enter to win a bottle of the brown stuff emblazoned with their name and a special message.

It's completely free and it will make his day.

So go on spoil your Dad - get him one!

Good luck!

Speak soon
JH 


Tomorrow - Say it with words - The DIY Word Portrait


Sunday, 9 June 2013

One Week To Go!

The Weekend Picture No. 50


In exactly one week's time My Lovely Wife and I will be climbing 24 peaks in the Lake District in exactly 24 hours in order to raise money for Caring Matters Now. We signed up for this challenge over a year ago and have been training for it since last September.

And it's nearly here!

There are two possible reactions to this. You can either shrug your shoulders and just get on with it.

Or you can panic, ask your mum for a sick note and hide under the duvet.

I am tempted to opt for the latter. However, my Mum has chosen this weekend as the weekend when she MUST take a week away in Wales - so the sick note is out of the question.

I guess we need to just get on with it.

So, on Friday afternoon we will be piling into the car and heading north to Hawkshead in the Lake District where we will meet the rest of the team, be briefed and try to sleep before embarking on the challenge.

Over the following weekend we will ascend a total of 13,986 feet and walk for two 12 hour stretches. We have both put in a lot of training. However, to be frank, we have no idea what we are letting ourselves in for!

The money we raise will be going to support the work of this fantastic little charity that is so close to our hearts. You can find out more about their work here. The team we are going with have already raised enough to pay for a Research Assistant to look into possible treatments for the condition and it is great to know that every penny raised will be of value. Thankyou to all those of you who have already sponsored us. If you have not yet done so - and would like to - then you can click here to visit our Just Giving page.

Thankyou.

Speak soon
JH


Friday, 7 June 2013

You Can Tell They're Growing Up When ... You Can't Do Their Homework

Happy Days!

As a diligent parent I have always been more than happy to help my kids with their homework. Listening to my loved ones' reading has always been a joy, reading back their latest piece of fiction is never a chore and sitting alongside them as they puzzle through a page of sums is one of life's pleasures.

Until now!

The Dubmeister has now hit 13 3/4 and the Dubmeister is very good at Maths.

He is so good at Maths that he is in the top set for the subject and regularly outperforms his top set classmates in tests. The Maths that he does is far beyond number lines and times tables.

He is into Quadratic Equations, Sohcahtoa and Pi.

He has reached that stage when Mathematics becomes a language that only the very fortunate understand.

I did not realise this fact yesterday when I offered to test him for an upcoming test. I confidently expected to be able to ask him some tricky and yet fairly straightforward sums, perhaps a little bit of simple algebra, before sitting him down to a lesson on how to discover the answer to that perennial question: "What does x equal?"

It didn't work out as expected.

Working out the angles of polygons and parallel lines was simple enough. But then came Factorising, Multiplying Out Brackets and (horrifically) Using N to work out Quadratic Sequences.


Trying desperately to maintain my dignity I decided to ask him to teach me just how to use N to work out a Quadratic Sequence - nodding sagely every time he paused for breath. However, within 30 seconds I realised that I had lost focus and had no idea where N fitted into a Quadratic Sequence. Or even, what on earth a Quadratic Sequence is.

My horror enfolded further when I realised that he had stopped talking and was asking me just how I would use N to work out a Quadratic Sequence.

Being a proud man I tried to bluster out an incoherent answer that could possibly sound like I had been listening and understanding everything my son and heir had been patiently explaining.

But he wasn't fooled.

"So Dad," he said, sighing patiently at his dopey father, "if we take that all into account, what does 3 take away 2 equal?"

"3?"

It is when you find your son explaining his homework to you a second time only this time more slowly and with pauses for questions to ensure that you are still listening - that you realise that life has changed for ever.

No longer can I claim the wisdom of the elders over him  in all things. I may well have 29 years on him, however, when it comes to Quadratic Sequences I cannot hold a candle to his youthful understanding. It has passed into the misty, forgotten corners of my teenage school experience - like many things mathematical.

Speak soon
JH

PS There are more musings on "You can tell they're growing up when ..." here.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Review Of Lego City Undercover For The Wii U



We love the Wii in our house.

We love the Nintendo party compilation and pitting our Miis against each other in Nintendo tennis and we like to tell ourselves that we have completed a real work out after running a virtual 100m in London 2012 - Wii style. The Wii is a genuinely family centred console.

So you can imagine our excitement when we were offered the new Wii U and one of it's most exciting new offerings - LEGO CITY UNDERCOVER - to trial.

The box was excitingly large and the packaging suitably difficult to break into to indicate that the Wii U was a very good thing indeed.

The Wii U pimps itself as the family's all in one entertainment centre.

And in a way it is.

Aside from the obvious gaming potential you also have the ability to connect to the internet, pick up Love Film and/or Netflix with a free 30 day trial, make video calls and laugh at your Dad trying to immortalise himself in the pixelated art of the Nintendo Wii-U (why do I always look like a ginger Joe 90?)

And there are many things to love about the Wii-U and Lego City Undercover.

We love the fact that you have 2 viewing screens - the TV and the screen within the controller which acts as a sort of command centre for the Undercover game.
We love the fact that the controller is easy to use.
We really love the fact that our old Wii games can still be played on the Wii U. It is genuinely refreshing and very rare to see that Nintendo did not decide to throw the baby out with the bath water and make us go out and buy new games for our machine.

In Lego City Undercover you play the part of "legendary police office Chase McCain" on the trail of hardened criminal Rex Fury. Using an array of disguises, Chase McCain's free-running skills and over 100 vehicles you have to capture him and bring him to justice.

This offering has all the features you would expect of a Lego game. The controls are intuitive, the game play relatively easy to understand and the Lego men and women walk and run in the stiff legged way you would expect them to. They also break into pieces when hit by cars - which is always amusing.

The one drawback is the game was only designed as a one player game. The Dubmeister loved the PC version of Lego Star Wars. One of the reasons for that was the dual player potential of the game. It was great fun to go on missions en famille, armed only with a light saber and a mouse. Lego City Underground does not have that facility which is a surprising oversight.

But that criticism aside this is an imaginative game which will keep your kids (and yourself) amused - especially if you have any lego nuts in your house.

Speak soon
JH

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

The Weekend Picture No. 49

E and the Dubmeister beside the seaside, beside the sea
It was hot yesterday so we did what all right thinking English men and women should have done.

We went to the seaside.

We piled down the A3 to Southsea where we joined the throngs and had a great day for the following reasons:

1. The seaside is much nicer than the town when it is hot.
2. Southsea has Clarence Pier which sells food that is cooked in layers of fat and grease and tastes all the better for it.
3. Clarence Pier has an 80's throwback fun fair with rides that make you scream and/ or puke (if you have indulged in a number 2 (see above)) and a sound system which features up and coming artists like Duran Duran, Belinda Carlisle and Sinitta.
4. If you get bored of number 3 you can always hang out next to the hovercraft terminal and try to avoid getting sprayed as it powers into it's landing station.
5. The D-Day museum is fascinating, moving and eye-opening.
6. It didn't rain once!

Speak soon
JH

Monday, 27 May 2013

My Kids Have Turned Me Into A Criminal

The (Bank Holiday) Weekend Picture No. 48

The Crime Scene

It all started back on 31st March. Since then my criminal activity has threatened to take over my life. It has led to me lying, covering my tracks and jumping at the sound of approaching footsteps.

I am not proud of myself.

But, equally, I do not feel that I am totally to blame for this life of crime into which I have found myself thrust. Like so many who have gone before me I feel that the root cause of my criminal behaviour is not found within my nature but within the nurture that my family have provided.

In this case I blame my kids.

In March my 3 growing children were given a mountain of chocolate to celebrate Jesus's resurrection. I even wrote a post about the quantity of sweet stuffs with which they had been blessed.

Now, when I was a growing kid a ton of chocolate would have been an excuse for me to gorge myself until I was hyperactive and then sick on Mum's favourite rug. I was a normal child with a consideration for others.

My children are not like that.

The picture above is the chocolate that remains in our house TODAY - 8 weeks later!!

They still have chocolate - 8 weeks on. How does that happen?

So, for the past 8 weeks I have been bothered by the gnawing hunger that comes when you are within feet of unclaimed chocolate which my children have (no doubt) deliberately left within reach of their weak willed father.

And, for the past 8 weeks I have been nibbling at the edges of their eggs, their bunnies and their assorted Easter orientated treats and, like the hardened criminal I am, covering my tracks (or tooth marks).

And yet, still we have chocolate left in the house.

Do these kids have no consideration? Do they not realise what they are doing to their own father?

Speak soon (unless they catch me first)
JH

PS You may have noticed that I have a new badge on my blog this week. I am in the final of the BiBs Family Blogger of the Year Award - Wahoo!! Thankyou so much to everybody who voted for me. The decision will be made on the 21st June - so watch this space, cross your fingers and send large wads of cash to the judges (the last comment was clearly a joke) You can find out more about the award and the quality competition I am up against by clicking here.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

When You're There, Be There

The Weekend Picture No. 47
From www.blog.laptopmag.com
I love my iphone and I love my kids.
 
I love spending time with my kids and I am rarely, if ever parted from my iphone.
 
In fact, if I am parted from my iphone then I tend to come out all in a fluster.
 
I am often, on the other hand, parted from my kids. And I am rarely to be found all of a fluster when I am parted from them.
 
As a result, I was challenged this morning by the minister at my church when he relayed some advice he had been given this week.
 
"When you are with your kids, are you really with them? Or is your attention distracted by the device in your pocket/ on your coffee table."
 
That challenged me because I often find myself distracted by emails pinging in, breaking news stories on my Sky News App or by tweets and other equally vital missives from the outside world that have found me because my iphone has made me permanently available. Or rather, because I have allowed my iphone to make me permanently available.
 
So, I have made a pledge. When I am with my kids and my lovely wife my iphone will have to play second fiddle. It may find itself being shut in a drawer or even being switched off.
 
When I am with them - I will really be with them.
 
The outside world can wait.
 
Speak soon
JH

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Helping Your Teen Revise


The sun made a brief appearance approximately 1 week ago, the hayfever sprites have started to play havoc with your nostrils and wasps have returned to ruin your picnics.

All these phenomena can only indicate one thing:

Exams are here.

And with exams comes revision.

Some parents are born lucky. Their children take to revision like ducks take to water. Those parents can skip this post, pat themselves on the back and pour themselves a long, cold G+T to celebrate instead. But for the rest of us - this is the Dad Etc guide to helping your teen revise for their summer exams.

1. Find them a place to study

Routine is really important to establish early for the studying teen - and routine includes studying in the same place as much as possible where their books and stationary are easy to hand. If they're lucky it will be a desk in the bedroom - if not a quiet space at a table downstairs. Commit that space to them for the duration of the revision period.

2. Help them to plan their study

It's really important that teens have a study plan that they stick to. Help them create a revision timetable by identifying the subjects that need the most work - this website might help - and then hold them accountable. Display the timetable on the kitchen fridge and speak to them about how it went each night.

3. Make sure they make time to play

Revision for exams can become all encompassing - however - Jack was not a dull boy because he found time to play alongside his 9-5 drudgery. Make sure your teen is taking time off - for some that will be easier than others!

4. Build in praise and reward

The weeks of revision can stretch before your teen like the Sahara before a parched explorer without an oasis in sight. Look for opportunities to praise and reward your teen. Buy in their favourite treats, rent their favourite movie, cook them their favourite meal. A little goes a long way in incentivising the revising teen.

5. Partner with them

Revising is a solitary and sometimes frustrating task. It is so much easier when you know that there is someone else going through it with you. Promise to partner with your teen in their revision. Offer to test them, learn with them and learn from them (one of the most effective techniques to reinforce learning is to teach another - offer to be their pupil). Talk to them about their progress every day and walk their revision walk with them.

Good luck to you both!

Speak soon
JH

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Joy and Pain of Saving

The Weekend Picture No. 46


M with her prize
The Signs of Spring have different attitudes to money. M is a saver. She likes to scrimp and save, watch the pennies and hoard great piles of copper coins in the hope that they will turn into a treasure of great worth given the passage of time.

E on the other hand is a spender. Money burns holes in the size of her pockets the size of Moshi Monster collecting cards. She is a sucker for keeping up with the Joneses and would far rather spend her cash than save.

Until this weekend it has appeared that E's spend today, worry tomorrow attitude has reaped dividends as she can boast the latest Blott rubber and other brand specific moulded plastic items whilst M has slipped behind the times as she squirrelled away pocket money and birthday/ xmas earnings in her Enormous Crocodile money box and avoided toy shops and other emporia of temptation.

That is until this weekend when The Kindle arrived!

M has been saving up for a Kindle for as long as she has been on this planet. She loves reading and spotted a friend with one 200 years ago and has ever since set her heart on owning this most unlikely of 10 year old "must-have gadgets" She reached her £69 target on Wednesday (when she found a £10 note from Christmas in a forgotten corner of her bedroom). We immediately paid for it.It arrived on Saturday! M can't take her nose out of it.

Is E proud of her sister's saving habits?
Has E been inspired to take a leaf out of M's book and start saving for a rainy day?

Has she heck!

E can't bear it.

E wants a Kindle and E wants one now. She does not want to save "because it will take ages".

Her brand specific plastic moulded items have been forgotten and replaced in her affections by The Kindle!

It's tough growing up.

Speak soon
JH

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Terrific Tomatoes!

The Weekend Picture No. 45

They're growing Dad!
We have been enjoying the unseasonable bank holiday sunshine this weekend. As soon bank holiday comes round we join the hordes at our local DIY superstore, don gardening gloves and paint specked clothes and do something useful in the garden

This weekend we have been mostly cutting grass, weeding flower beds and killing ants.

E and I have also been lovingly tending the tomato plants we have been growing as part of Heinz Tomato Ketchup's Grow Your Own campaign. They sent us seeds, a watering can and a natty pair of branded gloves - all modelled by the green fingered E - and have set us the challenge of growing our own tomatoes.

Well, not being one to shirk the challenge of communing with nature and producing a bountiful harvest, I have enlisted the kids to help me grow tomatoes and will keep you updated as to our progress over the coming months - Heinz have promised us a reward if we do so - so it's everything to play for!

Speak soon
JH

PS I am delighted to announce that Dad Etc has been shortlisted for the Brilliance in BloggingFamily Blogger Award run by Britmums - Thank you everybody who has voted for me already. I am up against some very tough competition (15 mummy bloggers and me - it takes a brave man!) so would be eternally in your debt if you felt that this blog was worth a vote. You can vote by clicking on the button on the top right of the page or by clicking here. There is only a week left to cast your vote so please don't delay but vote today - it takes a matter of seconds and would make my life complete. Thank you so much - and fingers crossed.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Screaming Child on Public Transport Dilemma

The perfect scene for a 4 year old tantrum
 Picture the scene.

A packed commuter train out of London. Not a seat left to be had. Rain teeming down outside. Passengers immersed in newspapers or electronic devices.

You join the train with your 4 year old.

You have just had a great day doing London's sights - Natural History Museum, 10 minutes on a double decker bus and then an additive packed tea at Burger King, Waterloo. It has been a memorable day.

But days like that come with small print. You are exhausted. You would like nothing better now than to sit on one of those occupied seats and fall asleep reading Metro's "Guilty Pleasures". But, a) there is nowhere to sit, b) 4 year old is wide awake and c) Since another kid pressed the "please let me off the bus" button on the double decker he has been in one of those moods. Nothing has been good enough.

The train is not blue. The Burger King meal toy was the wrong variety and he has just remembered that you said no to buying him the roaring dinosaur at the Natural History museum shop.

So, he kicks off. He complains about the colour of the train, he asks for another sweet and then when it becomes clear that you are not going to do anything to meet either of these perfectly reasonable demands he launches into a high pitched, peak volume tirade about how unfair everything is.

How do you respond?


I ask the question because this is the situation which faced my Dad on the way home from London recently. He was stood next to the father who was the object of said tirade on a packed train out of Waterloo station.

The father's response was not to snap back at his son with the righteous fury of a weary parent, nor was it to admonish the boy in any way whatsoever. Rather, the dad's response to his son's tirade was to ignore him.

The son eventually got the message and calmed down - but my dad had to endure the screaming which ensued whilst the message got through.

But, is that the right thing to do in a packed commuter train? By ignoring the child, was this well intentioned father actually subjecting the rest of the train to an ear bashing which a) they did not deserve and b) ruined their journey home?

Should we modify our disciplinary strategies to the situations in which we find ourselves? Or is consistency the key?


Speak soon
JH

PS I am delighted to announce that Dad Etc has been shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging Family Blogger Award run by Britmums - hence the rather flashy looking button at the top of the Blog. I am up against some very tough competition (15 mummy bloggers and me - it takes a brave man!) so would be eternally in your debt if you felt that this blog was worth a vote. You can vote by clicking on the button above or by clicking here. Thank you so much - and fingers crossed.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Please Vote For My Dad

The Weekend Picture No. 44

Vote Dad Etc ... Please!
I got a very nice surprise on Monday.

On Monday I discovered that I had been shortlisted for an award.

I have never been shortlisted for an award before so did not know what it would feel like.

Now that I have been shortlisted I can tell you that it feels great!

The award I have been shortlisted for is the "Brilliance in Blogging" Family Blogger Award. I am one of 16 blogs vying for your vote to be named family blog of the year!

To be shortlisted I needed to be nominated first - so if you nominated me - THANK YOU.

I now have one more favour to ask - before you click off this page - would you mind casting your vote please? All you need to do is click on this link, scroll about half way down the page and tick Dad Etc in the list of Family blogs.

That's it, job done!

If this is the first time you have visited Dad Etc and you are not sure whether you want to vote for me then here are three of my favourite posts - have a read and then ... well, it's up to you.

This is the post when my 7 year old daughter, E, teaches me the importance of empathy for our fellow man.
In this post "The Signs of Spring" (my daughters) can't help competing with each other.
And in this post I share a secret I was once taught to a happy marriage.

Thanks so much again.

Speak soon
JH

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Is The Glory Worth The Pain?

Dreaming of Olympic Glory (c) BBC

I put M through torture this week.

I blame the Olympics!

One of the aims of London 2012 was to Inspire a Generation. The vision of Lycra clad superhumans winning gold for Team GB was meant to inspire the slovenly youth of the United Kingdom to get off their settees and try something new instead.

Well it certainly had that effect in our house. Particularly with the sporty spice of the family - 10 year old M.

Since the Olympic flame was extinguished she has joined a cycling club (Laura Trott), thrown herself into Netball, thrashed us all in innumerable running races and expressed a desire to join the school's Hockey club.

It is all fantastically inspiring.

But, Hockey is a game that features sticks and balls.

And sticks and balls do not get along with pearly white, perfectly formed teeth.

So, the responsible parent gets themself online or down to the local sports shop to purchase a piece of brightly coloured rubber called a gum shield.

Said parent then carefully reads the instructions before fitting said shield without a hitch, a tear or a moan.

And said sporty daughter is then ready to plough her sporting furrow to Olympic Gold.

Hah!

Well that's what it says on the box.

That's not what happens in the Dad Etc household when Dad is in charge.

This is what happens when Dad is in charge:

Dad reads the instructions carefully and heats the orange and blue plastic in boiling water until it reaches melting point at which point he rams it into his 10 year old daughter's mouth causing her to writhe and scream.

He then tells her not to worry because "this is what is supposed to happen" and squeezes her cheeks against the molten plastic with one hand whilst forcibly closing her mouth with the other and counting to 20 elephants as she squirms in agony.

Finally, she swills cold water around her mouth and tests the gum shield for fit.

Unfortunately said shield did not stay in place so Dad had to read the instructions again, dump the shield in freshly boiling water and do it all over again.

Sadly, as proved in my post, Why Mum Knows Best, Dads sometimes just get it plain wrong.

I tried twice more with this miracle of modern engineering, each time failing to make the shield stay in place, each time chastising my daughter for not biting hard enough or squirming too much.

Finally, unable to bear it any more, my wife rode in to save the day. She immediately spotted that our little M had a new tooth coming through (how did she know that?) - so was unable to close her mouth properly, scooped her onto her knee and made everything all better.

Dad meanwhile cursed his lack of feminine intuition and retreated to the shed to try to fix something inanimate.

Speak soon
JH

PS I am very delighted to announce that Dad Etc has been shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging Family Blogger Award run by Britmums - hence the rather flashy looking button at the top of the Blog. I am up against some very tough competition (15 mummy bloggers and me - it takes a brave man!) so would be eternally in your debt if you felt that this blog was worth a vote. You can vote by clicking on the button above or by clicking here. Thank you so much - and fingers crossed.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

That Is a Mad Eye Deer

The Weekend Picture No. 43

Mad Eye Deer at Longleat
We were at Longleat Safari Park two weeks ago.

We saw lions, rhinoceroses and hippoes. Our car was sat on by monkeys and we had meerkats ducking between our feet. We laughed at the porcupines and the anteater.

But the highlight for the Dubmeister was Mad Eye Deer. Halfway round you get to pay to feed the deer. You pull onto the side of the road and, in a reverse of a MacDonalds' Drive Thru the Deer gather by your car window, mouths open, napkins around their necks and knives and forks at the ready.

The greediest of the deer was Mad Eye who worked her way through our bag of treats without pausing for breath.

She is called Mad Eye Deer because  ... Well, you see if you can work it out.

Speak soon
JH

Friday, 19 April 2013

Being a Dad Has It's Perks


Party Ring Anyone?

Like many prestigious roles in life the role of Dad is not without it's perks. Here are my 5 mostly shallow perks of fatherhood.

Tastier than Keira?

1. Dads get to go to kids' films

Fed up with movies with plots out of a Dostoevsky novel. Squeamish about blood and gore? Rather laugh at a cute monster than lust over Keira Knightley? Get to be a Dad - because Dads get to watch kids movies and kids movies are clinically proven to be better than films with subtitles and/or a dark subplot.

2. Dads get to eat party food

There is no greater taste on earth than the flavours created by factory boffins to adorn kids party food. The brightly coloured delights that are Party Ring biscuits, Iced Gems and fruit jelly just beg to be eaten by the discerning gourmet and as a Dad at a birthday party you get to choose your own treats and eat as much as you want.
Just offer to clear up after the party guests have gone and hoover the sweet treats before anybody else gets their hands on them.

3. Dads get to watch their kids perform

Dads are men of rock. Their bottom lips are rare to wobble and their tear ducts are criminally underused. However, put a Dad on a touchline or in the audience when their kids are the stars and you see a different beast altogether.
Watch them swell with pride and choke back emotion as their progeny relives the dreams of their dim and distant past.


4. Dads get to read bedtime stories

If I ever get invited onto Desert Island Discs and am asked what luxury I would take to my desert island I know exactly what I would ask for:


There are few things as bonding as reading to your child just before bedtime. We started when the Dubmeister was 2 weeks old and we haven't looked back. I am lucky enough to be home before my kids go to bed most nights - and the nights when I don't get to read to at least one of them feel much emptier than those when I do.

5. Dads get to be heroes

Every man needs to be a hero and as a Dad you get to live the dream. The dads of pre-schoolers bask in the glow of toddler adulation as they wield a hammer with expertise and panache (in their children's eyes). For a precious period everything we do is wonderful. Every muscle we own is taut and every car we drive is faster than Lewis Hamilton's.
Man was made to bask in a dose of glory and the Dads of the very small get soaked in it.

from www.alotedbabe.blogspot.com
Speak soon
JH

PS More musings on being a Dad Alone here, on the changing relationship with our children here and a list of reasons why Dad Knows Best here.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

In Praise Of The Children's Party Industry

The Weekend Picture No. 42

Can you guess how old E is?
E had her 8th birthday party today. Since she could speak she has been desperate to have a birthday party at our fabulous local leisure centre. The response has always been: "Not until you're 8". Well, now E has turned 8 we had run out of excuses so Daddy got onto the phone with his flexible friend and booked a Secret Agent party for 14 excited little girls for today.

We have never had birthday parties so easy as we did today.

We wrote the invitations.
We posted the invitations.
We paid the money. And that was about it. Because once we turned up this afternoon we mostly just stood and watched.

And then we came home.

The kids had a great time. Our house didn't get trashed and somebody else cut the crusts off the sandwiches.

It started getting a little hairy at 4.40 when the party had 10 minutes left to run and the food had all gone - but a quick game of Chinese Whispers averted any meltdowns and eased us home to parental pick up time.

We have always loved hosting children's parties but there is a lot to be said for chucking cash at it instead.

Speak soon
JH

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

How To Survive Your First Year In Blogging

Dad Etc is one today.

Dad Etc turns one today! Wow. In some ways I am amazed that it is still going. Blogging has been a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. There have been times when I have completely lost my blogging mojo or when other events have conspired to stop me from poring over a keyboard to produce a potentially interesting post.

However, I am still at it.

12 months have passed and I am still blogging. Why?

Well, I guess that must mean I enjoy what I am doing. I love the opportunity it gives for creativity, for interaction and for a completely free hand. It is still a thrill to read a comment by somebody on something I have written or to be featured on Mumsnet - so thank you! It is fantastic to think that there are some out there who are patient enough to follow Dad Etc - thank you again.

I thought I would mark my first blogiversary by offering 5 pieces of advice for anybody considering embarking upon a blog - I am no expert but like any good teacher I like to pretend I know what I am talking about.

1. Pace yourself

When I started blogging in April 2012. I was full of ideas and snappy one liners. I could have spent hour after hour blogging. I posted 8 times in three weeks - whilst I was on holiday - only to completely run out of steam as the holiday finished and work kicked in. I only posted once in the whole of May. I wish I had known about the Schedule button back then - it has become one of my best friends.

2. Tap into Blogging Expertise

There is so much expertise out there  - and an awful lot of friendly, helpful people. Get yourself onto Mumsnet, Tots 100, Love All Blogs and Britmums (other parent friendly blogging networks are available - but these seem to be the most helpful in my experience). Sign yourself up to Twitter and start following like minded bloggers and American uber bloggers like Bruce Sallan and Annabel Candy. Post on blogs you like and don't be shy about asking for advice.

3. Build a habit

Routines are really important in blogging. Lots of bloggers post a "Silent Sunday" post, I post a Weekend Picture as often as possible. Having that routine of a definite post each week really helps because I know that most weeks I will be able to post a Weekend Picture and posting once seems to encourage me to post a second time

4. Don't Obsess

It is very easy to obsess about your blog. I often find myself sneaking a peak at my pageview count, tweaking a potential blog banner or musing over what to post in my next twitter update. Blogging can become a time consumer. I have noticed the irony of writing a blog about family life only to find myself spending time on a solitary pursuit (writing) when I could be enjoying the subject of my blog instead - so be careful!

5. Enjoy

I have come closest to giving up when blogging has become a chore - as just something else to squeeze into an already overly busy life. So, if there is one piece of advice I would give - it is to enjoy it! And if you don't enjoy it - stop! Find a routine that works for you - don't compare yourself to other bloggers - and enjoy what you do.

Have fun.

Speak Soon
JH

Monday, 8 April 2013

Training in the Spring Snow

The Weekend Picture No. 41

The Peak District in the Spring
In 2 months and 8 days time The Lovely Wife and I will be lacing up our walking boots for the 24 peaks in 24 hours charity challenge in the Lake District in order to raise money for Caring Matters Now.

Caring Matters Now is a charity which works with children with a rare skin syndrome called Congenital Melanocytic Naevi or CMN.CMNs are large birthmarks which can cover up to 80% of a child's body. In addition to the obvious cosmetic impacts CMNs can also cause developmental delays and present a slightly raised risk of skin cancer.

Caring Matters Now works to support those with CMN, raise funds for research and raise awareness of the condition. It is a small charity that makes good use of every penny. It has done a huge amount for E, our youngest, and because of that we have decided to pack blister plasters and a stash of Kendall Mint Cake for an assault on some of the Lake District's most awesome peaks (Scafell Pike anyone?)

In preparation we are taking every opportunity that presents itself to walk up things. Next week we are walking the Thames tow path (distance for stamina) and then the Surrey Hills (more hills!). This past week we have been in the snowy wasteland that is the Peak District in the Spring. We spent Thursday walking 13 miles on the Kinder Scout Plateau in the Peaks and sinking thigh deep in snow drifts whilst avoiding slipping off the ridge path to a grisly end. This weekend's picture was taken just before we joined the ridge path - hence the smile.

Friday was an easier walk of (only) 8 miles from Hathersage in Derbyshire to an amazing pub called "The Barrel at Bretton" It stands atop one of the peaks with it's own panoramic view of some of the best scenery the UK can offer. The picture below is a valley we crossed en route to the pub.

Abney, Derbyshire

We have now hit our fundraising target - for which we are hugely grateful - THANKYOU! - however, we are still taking sponsorship and would love to break the £2,000 barrier. So, if you would like to sponsor us please visit our JustGiving page which you can get to by the button on the top left of the page or by clicking here.

Speak soon
JH

PS Only 4 days left to nominate for the BIBs blogging awards. I have put myself forward for 2 categories - please click on the badges to nominate or you can click here. Thankyou.

PPS - This blog is 1 year old on Wednesday (!!) Watch this space.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Why Dad Knows Best

Dad Knows Best ... Naturally!
Mums are great - as I hope I proved in my 2nd most popular post ever - but nothing can beat a good Dad. We have all (hopefully) known one and we would all (hopefully again) like to be one. So with that in kind these are my 5 reasons why Dads know best. As ever, this list is based on genuine non-research.

From www.dezeen.com

1. Dads Can Dance

There is not a dad on this earth that can't dance. Dads even have their own dance - called imaginatively "The Dad Dance" - not everybody can do it and it takes years of effort to master - but it is guaranteed to stop a dance floor.


2. Dads Fix Stuff

Favourite toy broken?
Remote control lost it's battery?

Bring it to dad. He'll know what to do. Still not working? Well that's because it's just not meant to anymore honey.


3. Dads Don't Need Instruction Manuals

Got a new piece of flatpack furniture with one of those thick manuals in Gujarati, Flemish and Swahili?
Bring it to dad. He won't even look at the manual because he knows best. Who needs an instruction manual when you have hands like those.


4. Dads Are Funny And They Know It

There is no doubt about it - dads can tell a joke and they would love you to hear it. A dad is so skilled in this area that he can tell a joke over and over again and find it just as funny the 1000th time as he did the 1st time he shared it.


5. Dads Come Cheap
If the average Dad had his way he would wear the same clothes combo day in and day out. He eschews the frivolity of fashion in favour of wallet watching and a sensible pair of slacks which were built to last.
Need a haircut? Go for the Dad cut - scientifically proven to save you 75% of the Mum snip.


Dads, do you agree or have I missed something vital? Mums, am I being fair?

Speak soon
JH

PS If you enjoyed reading this post and you have a few moments to spare I would be hugely grateful if you could take some time to nominate me for the "Best in Blogging Awards 2013" I have put myself up for 2 awards which you can access via the link in the right hand column of this blog or by clicking here. Nominations close on the 12th April. Thank you!

PPS For more reasons to celebrate everything "Dad" visit my favourite blog ever - Dads are the Original Hipsters and enjoy everything that made our Dads the cool icons they really are.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

It's Movie Night!

Including a Review of Sainsbury's New Flavoured Popcorn Range

It's DVD and Duvet night

One of our favourite family traditions was stolen from Rob Parsons of the brilliant charity "Care for the Family". The kids love this tradition. We choose a DVD, drag down our mattresses and duvets, munch on popcorn and snuggle down together for the night.

Although the fact that I wrote this entry at 2.25am because I couldn't sleep scrunched up on the sofa, surrounded by my nearest and dearest, may indicate that this is not a wholly practical idea - but the kids love it and I am unlikely to forget this night in a hurry - and that's what it is all about huh?!?

This week we were treated by Sainsbury's Bank Money Matters to a copy of Madagascar 3, the one in which Alex and his unlikely pals (a giraffe and a hippo getting it on!? Are you sure?), try to get back to New York by joining a circus and avoiding the evil French policewoman who is on their trail. We love the Madagascar movies (mostly because of the penguins), and although No.3 is not as good as it's older siblings there was enough good stuff in there to keep us all amused until lights out.

Sainsbury's were also good enough to provide us with some of their Smoked Paprika and Salt and Vinegar popcorn from their new range of flavoured popcorns to review (also available in Cheese and Chive and Apple and Cinnamon flavours). We are great lovers of popcorn - even when it gets into our bedding - but these new flavours were not for everyone. The Signs of Spring (aged 7 and 10) turned their noses up - too spicy for their delicate palates. The Dubmeister and my lovely wife loved the Salt and Vinegar version whereas I went potty for the Smoked Paprika - which is far too moreish!

The Sainsbury's Flavoured Popcorn range is on sale at £1.50 for a 75g bag.

Speak soon
JH


Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

The Weekend Picture No. 40

19 eggs divided by 3 kids equals hyperactivity

As you know we have three children.

Between them they have managed to garner 19 Easter Eggs this season. That is despite our local supermarkets suffering from an Easter Egg famine from Good Friday onwards.

That is 6.3 (recurring) eggs each.

Is that some kind of record?

Speak soon
JH


Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Day My Daughter Made Me Think

The Weekend Picture No. 39

I went to London with 7 year old E yesterday. We had a lovely afternoon with our friends from the charity Caring Matters Now (read about the charity challenge my lovely wife and I have signed up for here) and then on the way home I promised her a Macdonalds milk shake.

We were walking through a rainy Covent Garden discussing which flavour she might choose when we walked past a man sat on the pavement, cap upturned. He asked me if I had a few pennies I could spare and I lied that I didn't and that I was very sorry.

As we walked away and I entered into an internal dialogue about how I was right to have said no because he would only have spent the money on drugs E interrupted my train of thought by saying something that made me think.

"I feel really sorry for that man"

"Who?" I asked, knowing exactly who she meant.

"That man we just walked past, the one sitting on the wet pavement. I feel really sorry for him."

"Yes, it's very sad," I said, "why do you feel so sorry for him?"

"Well, because he's got nothing and he's sat in this really rich place, and he's got nothing. It's really sad... Can we give him some money?"

And I turned and looked at her, and I felt the rain dripping down my collar and I watched the wealth pushing past us, and I thought to myself; "She is absolutely right, it is tragic that this guy is sat on a wet pavement in the middle of Covent Garden and he is being forced to beg for money. And here I am discussing flavours of a drink I want to buy my little girl which she doesn't really need and I am lying to a guy who actually needs the money. And it takes a 7 year old to point out what I should have done all along."

So, I dug into my pocket and we made our way back up the pavement and I gave E the quid which she dropped into his pathetic upturned hat and as we turned to go I squeezed her hand because I am so proud of the girl she is becoming.

Speak soon
JH


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Making the Most of Parent Teacher Consultation Evenings


As the days grow longer and the term draws to a close the thoughts of teachers, parents and pupils turn to Parents Evenings.

Are there any 2 words that can strike such fear and trepidation into the hearts of parents than "Parents Evening" (or Academic Review Days if you selected a whizzy school for your offspring.)

And yet Parents Evenings need not be such a frightening reminder of the inadequacy of our own school days - rather they should be taken as an opportunity to build a working relationship with the adult(s) we entrust with the education of our pride and joys.

As a parent and teacher with over 1,000 parental consultations under my belt, here are my 5 top tips for making the most of Parent Teacher Consultation Meetings.

1. Go


There are not many opportunities in the school year to meet with your child's teacher to discuss their education. Most senior schools give you one opportunity per year, junior schools and the more forward thinking secondaries might give you 2 or even 3. So when the opportunity comes, grab it! What does it say to your child about the value you place on his/her education if you cannot be bothered to find out how they are getting on at school? It was no accident that the school I taught at with the worst record for behaviour and academic performance was also the school with the lowest turn out at Parents Evenings (30% at one Year 8 evening). This is a particularly important role for Dads to play. We are so often absent when it comes to our kids school lives so lets take these opportunities when they present themselves.

2. Do your research


The best consultations I hold are with parents who have done their research. Sit down with your child before the evening and find out about what they have been doing in class. What do they enjoy? What do they find difficult? Have a look on the school website and get the gist of the syllabus on offer. A teacher is much more likely to step away from the safety of bland pronouncements about how well your child is doing if you can ask them questions about specific aspects of the work they have been doing this term

3. Ask what you can do to help


I love it when parents ask me this question. It shows that you care and that you see yourself as playing an important role in the education of your child. Very few parents ask, however - so next time you are at a parents evening make a teachers day and ask them the question!

4. Don't go over your time slot


Parents Evenings are one of my favourite activities of the academic year. It is great to discuss a pupil's progress with the people who care the most. However, they are exhausting. So, please remember that you are not the only parent the teacher will be seeing that evening. You could be one of 30 - so if you have a 5 minute slot, aim at 4 minutes and give the teacher 60 seconds to drink his tea and find his bearings before he meets with his 7.25.

5. Remember it is YOUR child you are discussing NOT YOU!


It is easy to take teachers' comments about your child personally. It is easy to feel that a constructive criticism of your little one is actually a personal criticism of you. It is also easy to assume that just because you enjoyed History, or hated Geography, your child will do the same. Try to put your child first and place them at the centre of the discussion.

Speak soon
JH

PS If you have a Year 6 pupil who is about to start secondary school you might like reading this post on how to prepare your Year 7 for big school.
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