Keeping with last weeks post where I told you about the exciting launch of my new business More to Organising- help your child to be more independent and making your life easier by organising with your child in mind!
Pull out all of your books onto the floor.
This helps you see the amount you really have. It can look overwhelming at first. Now I don’t agree with Marie Kondo when she says we should only have 30 books, but perhaps you don’t need all 300 in your child’s space?
Start with your older siblings books first. Any that are too young for them now, put in a pile to move to the younger siblings in the house. (This might be in the same bookshelf, as it might be in the living room or play room)
Any books that are still too old for them, perhaps the content is too old for them just yet but they might read it in a couple of years, pop them in a labelled box and keep for later years, just don’t forget about them)
Any books that are too young for all your children, either donate, give to friends or family with younger children or bin if they are too broken.
When you have chosen the books to keep, and you are keeping them in one room, put the books where your children can reach them! It sounds obvious but to make them more independent, they need to be able to access them themselves.
Put the youngest child’s right on the bottom shelf, and the eldest on the highest shelf. A middle child can usually access younger and older books. It’s also nice when they read to each other.
Now, choose books related to the season that you’re not in, and put away in a labelled box and rotate them. You can keep their most favourite books down, but Halloween books can go away now and be switched out for winter and Christmas related book.
If things are always available, children get bored with them. But also, too many books can be overwhelming!
The one’s that are salvageable, get the sellotape out to fix rips or put flaps back on. I used to be DT coordinator when I was a teacher so rejuvenating well loved, pop-up books is my forté.
This bit can be done with the children. Put the books in piles of the colours. Which ones do you have the most of? Which do you have the least of? If you want to make it into a learning opportunity make tally chart and then a bar chart or pictograms, recording their maths and then ask questions about the information you’ve gathered!
I usually put black, grey then white together. From white I move into yellow, orange then red. Pink follows from red, to purples, blues and then greens. It flows nicely and looks so calming. But also, your child knows what colour their favourite book is. This means they can be more independent without pulling all the books out. It also means they know exactly where to put a book back, meaning they can help you to tidy up making your life easier.
Once you’ve chosen what colour to start with, but the tallest book to the side of the book shelf and go down in size from largest to smallest in that colour, when you switch to the other colour go from shortest to tallest. And keep going, to make that easier, put in the books and then pull the smallest out and put to the front until you’ve got it, that way you can use the books to measure against in the shelf. It just makes the process a little quicker.
When you do this, wipe down the shelves and any books. To be honest, if they are really dusty, maybe evaluate whether you actually need to keep that book?
Oh and I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but go and check under the bookshelf too!
I think it is so important to support our local libraries. The excitement of getting a new book is fun and it costs nothing. Most libraries do story time and singing time for free as well. It’s a wonderful time for them.
I keep library books separate from their actual books because I’ve been there! The day they were supposed to be returned, sorting through their book shelf (this was before colour coordination days) to find said books. Luckily, I could remember what they looked like. But also by keeping them separated, they are more special and you can keep them in good condition.
Make a space for them to read. Cushions, blankets, a den. Make it fun and inviting, snuggle up with them and make Reading a pleasurable activity. Reading is a pre-requisite to most, if not all subjects. Reading even helps in maths when you have those pesky word problems.
Have a time in your week where you read your own book and they read theirs. Children copy what you do. Why should they read if they never see you read?
Also, even when they are competent readers, read to each other. Listening to you pronounce words correctly helps. I thought Hermione was Her-me-own until I went to the cinema. But also, have fun with intonation and different voices!
Show me your newly organised bookshelves!
Follow me on Instagram @more_to_organising for more tips on how to organise with your child in mind.
If you don’t want to do it yourself, contact me about coming to do it for you!
So today, although I will share some books for adults at the bottom, I am very excited to introduce you to my new company, or rather another bow to my expertise.
From being a teacher, where we organise classrooms in areas to support their learning, providing reading and writing opportunities as well as constructions, role play, small world, creative, sensory etc and being a nanny where I organise playrooms, bedrooms, craft cupboards and even kitchens, my love of the organised and how it helps children to become more independent and makes your life easier has become more apparent.
During the pandemic, I joked over a year ago with my boss that I was going to give up Nannying and start decluttering.
Well, I haven’t, and I couldn’t: I love nannying with all my heart. However; I do love organising and I want to share my little tit bits with the world so you can help your children to have more independence and make life easier.
Declutter and donate
Rotate summer and winter wardrobe
Kitchen and craft!
More to books…
I am obsessed with The Home Edit. I use their colour coding methods for books and clothes as it means the children know where to find them AND where to put them away again.
Follow me on Instagram @more_to_organising for more tips
Or contact me if you’d like me to come into your home to organise your children’s playrooms or bedrooms.
More to Organising– organising with your child in mind
Help your child become more independent and make your life easier
I really love Halloween. Not because it’s scary. Because it’s fun!
Carving pumpkins is HARD! I’ve been doing it for years as a nanny. Picking a pumpkin is almost as exciting as picking a Christmas tree. There are factors that need to be taken into account!
Pumpkin carving is the long game and I like that the children are part of it. It’s a great sensory activity, yes it feels yucky, but oh so fun! Even your toddlers can help with that bit. Putting down a wipeable table cloth and using chopping boards can help contain the mess.
Choosing a pattern can also be fun. Screen time with a purpose! Look at all the amazing designs others have used.
If you’re new to carving, pick a simple design.
Or why not draw or print a pumpkin outline for them to make up their own design? This is creative development, fine motor skills but also, if you encourage them to label it, it helps with writing opportunities.
For little ones, they can draw on the design with a marker for you to cut (I’m loving the no carve pumpkin trend) but for older children, making sure you talk about safety, they can certainly help carve it. The kits you can buy from local supermarkets have thin circular ones great for making holes. (See eyebrows in the pumpkin above)
Simple can also be effective!
Also, use the pumpkin to make food! To be honest, I’d mix it heavily with sweet potato because 1) you don’t get much pumpkin from one and 2) for children, the taste is helped with a little sweetness!
I love cooking with children, they learn fine motor skills and food hygiene/safety from chopping, they learn maths from weighing and measuring the water for stock, it’s science too! And a little bit of creativity when tasting and adding salt or herbs etc.
As you know, I believe that there is More to Books than Reading. After being in Italy, I have been reminiscing about how I used to use children’s books to help me learn a new language. Well your books do that in one with Spanish!
We loved the blog learning all about your inspiration behind The Spanglish Girl. Tell us about your new book: The Mexiglish Girl!
The book is about a little girl with a great talent, she can speak two languages! On her visit to Mexico she learns all about the food, culture and traditions but struggles to remember some Spanish words when put on the spot. Her grandma shares some advice that helps Gloria find her confidence when she’s invited to a piñata party.
Other than the Spanish language, what do you think your readers learn from your book?
There are so many things the readers can learn about as the story touches on many themes. They can learn about the day of the dead, how it’s normal for children to not like spicy food as the flavours can be intense, it’s ok to be different and to understand it’s better to be kind to one another than make fun for each other, learn to pause and take deep breaths when times get tough, and to feel empowered for speaking two languages. In addition, I want readers to be reminded of their grandmother and how special a grandmother and granddaughter/son relationship is.
I believe that books bring stories to life. I’d love to know more about your story as an author, we know how your story began; from Spanglish girl to Mexiglish girl, what is next for Natalia Simons?
I decided to be a children’s author because there aren’t many bilingual books for kids that make them feel empowered for speaking a second language. It would have really come in handy when I was growing up. In June, I decided to open my own publishing house called Bilingo Books for the sole purpose of publishing my books. I’m in the process of publishing an ABC Spain alphabet book for those learning Spanish at beginners level, as well a French book which are similar themes to my first 2 books. I’m going to write as many bilingual children’s books as possible and in as many languages as I can. It’s a long process but I know I will eventually get there. I’m also planning on being a bilingual coach for children.
At the end of September, I went to the Childcare and Education Expo. It is such an amazing place to learn more about EYFS and Primary education. I met some inspirational people, all supporting children to learn in this very important phase of their lives.
I met Susan and Katie at their stand, and was smitten by their book, because as you all know, I believe that there is More to Books than Reading.
It was a pleasure to interview them about their passion.
How did Yoginis Yoga come about?
Yoginis Yoga was born from the shared passion of its founders, Susan Hartley and Katie Brennan, to bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to all children regardless of ability or socio economic background. Having taught for many years in nurseries and schools we have been able to reach all children, not just those who have parents or guardians with an interest in yoga and mindfulness or who can afford to pay for out of school activities. It is important to reach these children who are more likely to experience trauma and as such have reduced higher education and job prospects. We know through neuroscience that yoga and mindfulness techniques can help children to manage the stress response and move beyond survival to the fulfil the higher needs as discussed by maslow of love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation and that such learning before the age of 7 years can have a major impact on a child’s future. All children though can benefit, even the most loved and academically able child will not fulfil their potential if they have a sense of not being good enough or are unable to cultivate the awareness to discover their life purpose. In our early days of delivering yoga to children (2006ish), we found that the accepted story telling method of delivering yoga was both time consuming to plan and that not all children engaged with this platform especially in educational settings. Both being qualified yoga teachers with the British Wheel of Yoga, we wanted to follow the traditional yoga journey and format to build skills for life in the same way as reading and writing and that this would be achieved through routine, repetition and structure. Over a number of years we developed what is now the Yoginis Yoga scheme of work, this is based around a ‘grab and go pack’ which is a visual timetable that drives the yoga session. It consists of a set structure with interchangeable activities and postures which the children become familiar with and which enables them to feel empowered to take the lead and become the teachers themselves. One of our most exciting moments was seeing a child with additional learning needs spontaneously take the lead and for both himself and his key worker glow with pride as he did so. A major turning point for Yoginis was when we were asked if we could train teachers and early years practitioners to deliver this themselves and Yoginis Yoga Training was born. We have been delivering our progressive training programme for 4 years and now hundreds of children (ages 2-11) and their coaches who include primary school teaching staff, early years practitioners, sports coaches and childminders benefit from the scheme of work not just in our local area but across the country including the Isle of Man. These key workers are best placed to understand the unique needs of each child and are best placed to bring these skills at the right time and place for best effect to all children in their care. Not only can they deliver a yoga session, they can use their skills to bring focus to learning or to help calm a child. The book ‘Let’s Go Yoginis’ was a direct request of sorts from the children. Sue or ‘Yoga Sue’ as she is affectionately known (the funniest name we get called is ‘Oga’!!!) was asked by the children if she could please go to their house to teach their parents, for a while we just thought this was adorable and then we began to think how we could achieve this. Enter our book.
I love the book! What do you think your readers learn from the book?
We love books too, there’s nothing quite like the smell of a bookstore or the feeling of a book that has never been opened before, not knowing what wonders might lie within, for me this throws me into mindfulness unconsciously. There is so much that our readers can and do learn from the book, although it may appear very simple it operates on a number of different levels. Leonardo Da Vinci said that ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. We love this quote. In life so many things are overly complicated and yoga unfortunately is one of these things, one of our key values is to ‘keep it simple’, and it works!. Children who take part in Yoginis Yoga sessions at nursery or school are able to take home what they have learnt and share it with the wider family, this is an opportunity for us to help break family cycles and so it is important that the book is non threatening and accessible for the whole family. These children can open the book, recognise the image and show their parents how to do it, what we have also found is that children can use it independently to make their own entertainment (as much declining but necessary skill) and to self regulate, this is an important first step in learning to manage their own physical and mental health and wellbeing. This is also true of children who experience Yoginis Yoga for the first time through the book. Using colourful illustrations and photographs means that even those who cannot read are able to pick up the book and use it. Parents can learn to work with their children, introducing them to the book and its contents but allowing the child to take the lead in what they want to do, it is often tempting to feel we need to teach and lead but true learning happens when the child takes ownership. As children learn to read they can use the instructions and develop their posture (we never talk about perfecting or similar words as we focus on fun not form, all bodies are different and there is no one right way, this leads to injury and feelings of not being good enough) there are ideas for exploring the posture and questions to encourage curiosity and conversation. Curiosity can be lost after childhood and we hope that this is reignited and that readers can learn to apply curiosity and wonder and take this into other aspects of life. Children can learn how to use a book, from developing fine motor skills required to turn the pages to using the contents page to find what they are looking for. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s we appreciated the simple things in life, before phones, social media, a million TV channels and so on. We were the children who played out on the street, engaged in risky play, played family board games and made our own entertainment with a plastic cup and spoon on a beach and we were happy. We don’t want children to learn that every activity needs to be accompanied by high tech graphics and sensory stimulation, boredom arises when the brain searches for stimulation and can’t find it. We want them to learn that when you explore, be curious and use your imagination, boredom ceases to exist and the brain grows.
As you have found Kat, the book isn’t just for kids, adults don’t need to be presented with yoga and mindfulness in complicated ways either. Body awareness is one of the most important things that readers can learn from our book. Body awareness is key to learning and although negative thought patterns that cause mental health problems originate in the brain they are experienced as physical sensations and can be triggered by sensory input so it is important build this awareness and learn to interpret the signals, this is how we have the power to heal ourselves or to know when we need to seek help. Body awareness is achieved through movement and ‘play’ in the postures. The postures include all movements of the spine so that children learn to keep their spines healthy, a healthy spine protects the nerves of the spinal cord. Tech next is a condition which is affecting young children and causes spinal degeneration and its associated symptoms at a much earlier age. Breath awareness is introduced in practices which are safe and appropriate for children, they can learn laughing crab, hissing snake and angry cat. The breath is the connection between the body and the mind and helps to calm the nervous system, children can learn to manage their stress response. The sloth teaches children to be still, to have time alone with their thoughts, out of choice not because the social media network has gone down and they are forced to be with their own thoughts. One of the main reasons for the spike in mental health issues as a result of the pandemic was because people were forced to stop and be with themselves, and a bucket load of issues surfaced, regular checking in with ourselves allows us to deal with these as they arise and resolve more quickly. Children learn the Yoginis Yoga promise, this is based on kindness. Kindness is the secret to happiness. When we give or receive kindness we are flooded with happy hormones to beat stress and improve wellbeing. Kind Hearts, Kind Words, Kind Thoughts” is an affirmation which plants a seed and manifests in our lives. It also opens up conversations about kindness to self and others and as such is our tool for co and then self-regulation. Most of all its intention is fun, when we have fun we learn more and are more likely to develop a positive attitude to exercise and wellbeing. Smiling and laughing releases happy hormones and fights the stress hormones, this is cardio protective, increases our wellbeing and connects us with our thinking brain to learn and make good choices.
And a little bit about your journey…
Our journey, it seems, is less of an all inclusive round the world tour and more of an uphill climb with the odd landslide thrown in to keep us on our toes. What we have come to learn however is that when we are faced with challenges we are constantly reminded about how important the tools that yoga and mindfulness have given us are; resilience, tolerance, awareness, acceptance, kindness amongst others.
Our business is not just a business, it is our life’s purpose and we don’t know what else we would do. Yoga and mindfulness has been in our lives for longer than we have been attending Yoga classes, although that’s a long time as well. We often talk with each other about feeling different to others even as young people, my primary school report described me as an ‘enigma’. Although this upset me at the time and caused me self-doubt I now take pride in this as I know it was just me celebrating my uniqueness and I am happy to be me. Sue now understands that she had undiagnosed learning difficulties and like me was made to doubt herself. What we actually find in each other is a complementary whole, not many people can say that about their business partner. Our early experiences explain why we feel so strongly about promoting kindness (including to self), celebrating uniqueness and why we keep it simple and focus on fun not form (our mission) and why we bring yoga and mindfulness to children, because this is what saved us and we wish we had these tools as children. We met in 2007 on our British Wheel of Yoga teacher training course. Sue and I both taught children’s yoga, Sue full time and me part time around my career as an accountant with Greater Manchester Police, we could have been competitors but we both feel that collaboration is better and supported each other. It was when Sue required an operation and I covered her classes that we began to work together more closely having both moved away from story based yoga to more education based delivery. In 2015 my husband sadly lost his battle with cancer and I left my accountancy job as I felt a desire to make a difference. Sue and I have been working as Yoginis Yoga ever since. As a cruel twist of fate Sue’s husband was also diagnosed with cancer and lost his battle around 18 months later in 2019. Covid followed and at times we have thought about giving up but we can’t, it is what we do. We face the challenge, take time to reflect and then we find the things we can be grateful for and find ways to make the best of any situation because we have learnt through experience that you can’t change a situation but you can change how you respond and really that’s what mindfulness is. Our children are a further testament to the importance of our work. They all lost a parent at an early age but each one is individually amazing in their own way, they are not only high achievers, they are kind, passionate and have emotional intelligence that far outweighs that of most adults. They have experienced the mental health challenges that accompany grief, they are aware and can talk about their feelings and know when to ask for help, they offer support to their friends in a non-judgemental way, but they are also able to set their own boundaries and manage their power, taking time to do the things they need to recharge and are not afraid to walk away from people or situations that deplete them. They have bad days but do not allow these to define them, they embrace life and learning and they aim high, in a word they are resilient. Every day we wake up, our work varies but our mission is the same to bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to all children regardless of ability and socio economic background and not just
because it’s a buzz word of today but because it’s what we’ve always done and it’s simply our purpose.
I follow Yoginis Yoga on Instagram and very much love the affirmation cards they post daily. You can follow them across social media here: Links Website http://www.yoginisyoga.uk
At the end of September, I went to the Childcare and Education Expo which was an amazing event for the Early Years and Primary sector.
There were many great exhibitors and one of the stalls especially caught my eye. I truly believe that ‘There’s More to Books than Reading’ and Thinkably proves that too.
Thinkably is a digital library aimed at Early Years and Primary aged children, to help reduce anxiety. They have hard hitting subject matters such as Bullying, Coronavirus, Environmental issues, Extremism, Inclusion, Happiness, Health and activity, Human Rights, Growing up, Mental Health, Racism, Relationships, Slavery, Street Crime, Tech Anxiety and World Wide Issues.
I had the honour of interviewing Dean Horridge CEO and Phil Knight (Chief Creative Officer) about Thinkably.
Thinkably is such an inspirational idea. How did it come about?
PhilKnight said that his son has a friend at nursery who has two dads. When his son came home and asked lots of questions, although Phil tried, he didn’t feel his explanations were quite right. So he wrote a book about two dinosaurs who came across an egg and brought up the baby together. It helped his son to understand better. The Nursery loved the idea and took the book to support all the children to help their understanding. It was in the early hours of the morning, when comforting his son Phil realised that books were a brilliant way to help in other areas, across all subjects, especially with his background of helping explain slavery, anti-terrorism and most recently, making COVID lesson plans.
I really believe there is More to Books than Reading. What do your readers learn from your books?
PhilKnight said the books help to open their minds. From working in difficult areas around the country, his aim was to help young children understand exploitation. Parents and teachers can read the books about the gangs with the children to help see each other’s point of view, to start the conversation.
When writing the books, Phil realised that it helped when the children fell in love with the characters. The children empathised better with Andy and the Dinosaur when discussing racism.
I think books bring stories to life, I’d love to know about Thinkably’s story, we have heard how it started, where do you see it doing?
“Globally. Having Thinkably all over the world. Children’s anxiety levels are high everywhere and this is concerning for parents. The platform has been adding resources to help extraordinary circumstances families have been facing.
We really want to do something good in the world.” Dean Horridge
What made me most excited about connecting with Thinkably is the competition they are running at the moment.
It is an amazing opportunity for all our learners but I am excited because it will engage reluctant writers and readers by giving them a purpose and the chance to do something remarkable!
All they have to do is write 1000 words independently and email to email@example.com by the 29th of October.
The winner will get their book published on the Thinkably Platform, receive 50 copies of their own book and get a life time Membership for their family and their school.
The judges are looking for originality, plot, characters and overall enjoyment.
What tips would you give for budding young writers for their stories to stand out?
Phil Knight said that Thinkably are looking for great use of imagination. Whatever your idea is, don’t think that it won’t work! His most recent book ‘The Remarkables’ is based on children he has worked with that have ADHD and autism. There are no boundaries in writing, take it wherever you want it to go.
Follow Thinkably on social media
I am very happy to tell you that my book, There’s More to Books than Reading has also been published on the Thinkably platform for everyone to read. If you would like a hard copy go to http://www.Moretobooks.com and click on the Amazon link or contact me for a personalised signed copy.
I’d seen that a celebration of banned books was coming up in the diary and thought, oh, the books won’t be relevant to children. How naive I was!
Books have been banned for all sorts of reasons.
James and the giant peach
I was really surprised to see that James and the Giant Peach was on the list so I delved a little deeper. Apparently it was partly banned because of sexual connotations…in which the spider licked her lips…among other things such as being too scary, promoting disobedience etc
I do vaguely remember Harry Potter being talked about being banned when I was a teen, reading them myself. I find it odd and saddening that it’s possible to censor what we have access to read in this day and age. It was mainly about the witchcraft which was deemed satanic and devil worshipping!
Sadly, there are a lot of others that are also banned. I think we should celebrate by reading them all now!
I am totally one of those people who sees a bee on the floor and pours a little water from my bottle so they can have a drink while talking to them.
When talking to children about bees, I always say how important they are and how they would only sting if they are very scared so we have to make sure we don’t scare them as they die if they do sting. (Not like those nasty wasps, they can fly away!)
More to books…
These books for our littlest ones have bright colours and “peep through” lines that your children can follow with their fingers. This can support early mark-making by giving your child a chance to trace meaning their fine motor skills are being practised.
Lift the flap books also help your child with fine motor skills, plus, they are a lot of fun!
The next book relates to the beehive at Kew Gardens which has 1000 lights and music in the key of C relating to the vibrations of the bees in the wildflower meadow all around it.
Did you know, if you eat the honey from local beehives it can help you reduce symptoms of hay fever as they use the pollen of your surrounding area?
Honey also has lots of healing properties and can reduce colds and help sore throats.
Why not have a taste test of different honeys to see which your little ones like best?
As a writer, inspiration comes from anywhere. During lockdown, I would cycle to work up Exhibition Road and along past the Royal Albert Hall.
Every morning and every evening, I’d cycle the hour it took to commute in my own little world, with my own little characters, on their adventures.
While I have been to the Royal Albert Hall before, I felt compelled to come again, post lockdown, to really help my imagination get the words on the paper.
My first time I was here, a new nanny friend had been given tickets for an Orchestral concert to Harry Potter (the second one- ps I hate snakes)
Sitting in the bar before the show, my lovely new friend ordered a bottle of pink Prosecco to which we thought we’d have to squirrel down quickly as we weren’t sure if we could take the bottle into the auditorium. When asking the bar staff, they said “it depends on your tickets” To our surprise, we were in a box, and therefore very welcome to take our bottle in. We also got lots of Harry Potter freebies!
I would like to thank Andy for the wonderful tour, and answering my weird questions which out of context definitely make me sound a little crazy. I have also bought a new Royal Albert Hall note book to scribble down all my new found facts and ideas!
More to books…
So until my book comes out, why not check out this book as there really is #moretobooks than reading when it’s a fold- out history book!