Gym-tastic? Or not?!

The other day was a very icy morning, so when I went out to the car and saw the frozen windscreen, I told the children we’d have to wait a bit before we could leave. Eventually, we got in the car but as I got onto the road, I realised that although the ice had melted, the windscreen itself was completed misted and I couldn’t see, so I told the children I needed to pull over.

At this point, my 6 year old son was flabbergasted:

“Mummy! Don’t stop! Sometimes things are difficult but you can’t just give up. You need to PERSEVERE!”

My children attend a Church of England primary school, and each month has a different Christian value as a focus throughout school. This month it was perseverance! After I’d made it clear I wasn’t ‘giving up’ but rather waiting for a chance to be safer, it was all ok!

However, perseverance is a funny one isn’t it? There are many things that frankly, children don’t have a choice over – their entire school days are made up of a curriculum they have to follow, and for many, home life operates with military precision to squeeze everything in that needs to be done – children and adults alike!

Clubs are one decision that my children have always made for themselves. Each term, they choose which school club (if any) they would like to do, and they have regular clubs outside of school too – both do gymnastics, my daughter goes to Brownies and my son is on the waiting list for Beavers, but I have been told that he’s unlikely to get a place before he’s too old to go! They’ve also had ballet, football and swimming but it’s difficult to know when is the right time to let them stop doing an activity – when it’s not ‘giving up’ but rather deciding something isn’t for you, because let’s face it, these after school activities aren’t kind to the bank balance either!

The swimming was the first activity to go – I was adamant that my children would have swimming lessons because I didn’t want them to fear the water, but I also wanted them to know its dangers and how to be safe, however they were so unenthused by their lessons that after a year of begging to stop, I gave in and now they go to public swimming sessions weekly instead – the enjoyment they get from these sessions has completely transformed the way they are around water – it was definitely the right decision, but only because they still swim regularly. My son on the other hand decided to stop going to football, because he didn’t like the fact that some of the other children kept trying to get the ball off him (we had a chat about some of the basics of the game)!

At the moment, Brownies and gymnastics are still happening, but I think the days are numbered with gymnastics as they don’t seem quite so enthusiastic about it as they were, it’s just such a tricky thing as we’re trying to encourage these activities as hobbies, yet when the children aren’t having fun, can they still be hobbies? Sometimes I think the answer can be yes, as my daughter is proof of…

If you follow me on Twitter or read my blog regularly, you’ll know that in my spare time I’m a primary school teacher, music specialist and I also teach privately at home. A couple of years ago, my daughter, aged only 6 at the time said after I finished teaching one night:

“Okay Mummy, I’ve been listening to you teaching through the walls and I think I know the songs now. When can I do my Grade 1?!”

I’ve never put any pressure on the children to choose music lessons just because it’s what I do, and any of you who have seen the amount of work the children need to put into getting ready for an exam will understand the concerns I had when my 6 year old daughter announced she wanted to have a go! It’s not just about performing the pieces accurately, the children also get assessed on their ability to read traditional music notation at sight and answer questions about music that they hear. The ABSRM exams are also very traditional and formal in their approach.

Nevertheless, my daughter was determined that she wanted a go, so I helped her prepare. She loved the performing but we had many tears over the sight singing until one day it clicked. Thankfully this day was literally the day before the exam, but I think both of us could have quite happily given up at times – in fact I went up to bed and found this once:


When the results came out, not only had she passed her exam with Distinction, age 7, she’d only gone and got the highest mark I’d ever seen, not just in my career as a music teacher, but also in all the years I’d been taking those exams, and was subsequently invited to take part in the ABRSM High Achievers Concert! I’m so glad we persevered, and since then she’s got Grade 2 Distinction under her belt, and is getting ready to do Grade 3 next term!


So should we be pushing our children to carry on, or, if it’s supposedly a hobby, should they be able to make the choice not to if it isn’t something they enjoy, to give them the chance to find their niche? I’d love to hear your thoughts!



Project 365 – Week 4

I’m still keeping going! Unfortunately I haven’t got around to commenting on all of your lovely pictures this week and I promise to try harder. I have been looking though and I’m thoroughly enjoying still being a part of #project365!

Here’s my week in pictures!

Day 19

I spend a lot of my work time driving between schools, but Monday was the annual staff training day and I swapped the usual rush hour traffic jams for this beautiful sunny winter walk. A great start to the week.

Day 20

When I finish work on a Tuesday I always have a mini sigh of relief because I work evenings as well as days on these two days, and it’s nice to think that I have my evenings free for the rest of the week. I celebrated with an early night with some guilty pleasure reading!

Day 21

My husband thinks I’m a right hoarder but I never got rid of the books I enjoyed reading as a child. I still have them all but now it’s coming into its own as my daughter is loving reading all my old Enid Blyton books and the like. The one in this picture cost me £1.50 in 1986! I think the modern editions have had some of the words changed to reflect modern times, but we don’t mind – it just means that sometimes phrases such as “Golly, 30 shillings – how simply wizard!” need a little translation!

Day 22

We decided we needed some fresh air after a stuffy day so walked our way to and from ballet, with a little pirouette stop en route!

Day 23

I never really enter competitions but I’ve tried to start doing the odd retweet here and there, you never know! So it made my day when I won a giant Toblerone thanks to their weekly Twitter giveaway. It arrived today and unsurprisingly I had two small volunteers to open it almost immediately!

Day 24

Date night! We’ve just started asking our neighbour to babysit – the children love her and she loves it too – result! So this was our first night out as a couple in so long and it was fab!

Day 25

Following most nights out come days in! We had a very busy Saturday so Sunday turned from a lazy morning into a huge roast dinner and a Lego type afternoon. Just what we needed!

I’m too late to link up to TheBoyandMe this week, but better late than never hopefully!


‘How to Succeed in Life’ by A 4 Year Old

On getting the lead role in the Nativity:

“I think I’m just the right size to wear the Mary costume, and I’m very good at holding babies!”

On learning the art of modesty:

Teacher: “How was your first ever ballet lesson?”

Evie: “I was brilliant. In fact, if you gather everyone round I will do a show for you all!”

At a birthday party: “Now we’re going to play musical statues.”

Evie: “I’m great at musical statues, I will probably win!”

On getting a free meal:

After pushing my friend’s son back to their house when her buggy got a puncture…

“Well, seeing as I’m here, I might as well come in for a play and some tea!”

When my daughter was smaller, my concern was that she would be overshadowed by other children. I’d notice that if we went somewhere, she’d always take a back seat. At a birthday party, she’d hover at the back and be reluctant to join in, she’d let other children tell her she couldn’t join in with things, and she would take it to heart.

I knew that moving to a different county, leaving behind friends, family, home, preschool, and oh yeah, pretty much everything she’d ever known, 2 days before starting school would be daunting, so was fully expecting a few tears, and definitely more of my shrinking violet. That girl who would stand at the back, and know the answer to the questions but not dare to put her hand up to tell anyone.

I was naturally anxious, as any parent is when their first born starts school, and for the first couple of weeks I never went far from home, half anticipating a phone call, but nothing. About a month into school, it was the turn of the Reception class to do their assembly. This was my first real chance to be able to observe my daughter in her new school surroundings, without her being fully aware that I was there i.e. acting how she typically would at school. If it hadn’t been for my son letting out the belch of all belches half way through their celebration prayer followed by “Mummy, I done big burp!” clearly for all to hear, she would have probably been unaware of our presence at all!

I didn’t think anything of it when several of her class got up and stood at the front ready to show some pictures they had drawn, to the rest of the school, and my daughter wasn’t among them. That would be daunting for a lot of adults, let alone a four year old. What did surprise me though was when the next lot of children came out, and my daughter was among them. Not only was she holding her picture, but she then proceeded to explain, clearly and calmly what her picture was, and why she had chosen to do it that way. On her own, and looking directly at her audience. She even projected her voice! I was a little too shocked to be proud at the time, although pride definitely came later!

Since then, there just seems to be a daily occurrence of her growing confidence, so much so, that my concern now is that she gets perceived as slightly overconfident! I’d far rather it be this way, but I’m going to start thinking about some lessons in modesty! I just don’t know where my shrinking violet has gone, although given that my daughter has an answer for everything, I guess maybe I should ask her. I can’t believe I haven’t thought to do that before! 😉

However, when it comes to losing, she’s definitely inherited her father’s sense of dignity…