Finnish School System vs the UK

Finnish School System vs the UK

The Finnish school system is worlds apart from our current UK system. Are we in a position to be able to implement these kinds of changes in the UK?

The Finnish school system is worlds apart from our own but can we learn from this system? Can we make changes to our own education system and produce the same results?

Questions like these are asked about our current education system all the time. We are told that more children leave primary school unable to read than ever before. Exams are getting easier and our schools are oversubscribed and unable to cope. We have an increasing shortage of teachers and many that do teach hate the politics they have to endure! So where next?

There are no standardised tests

There are no standardised tests for children. The matriculation exam is the only mandatory test and it is set at the end of Vocational Senior High School. While in the UK children from the age of 6 are tested for their academic abilities.

Many say that without this testing system that we have in the UK it would be impossible for teaching staff to assess a childs progress. But the figures from Finland show a very different story. Their figures show that Finlands education system is far superior to that of the UK with 66% of students attending university and 93% of students graduating from High School.

Teachers have to be highly qualified

Finnish teachers have to sit a Masters degree before they are allowed to step into a classroom. Teachers are picked from the top 10% of the highest achieving graduates and because of this, they are given far more respect. Society grants them the same status as other professions, such as Doctors and Lawyers.

There are also many routes into teaching in the UK, with such shortages in qualified teachers this does seem to be quite a sensible option. But does that mean that our teachers are less qualified? Is children’s education severely impacted by a lack of quality?

Teachers have more freedom in the classroom

Teachers in the UK have to follow a strict curriculum with very little if any room for experimenting or change. This is one of the issues that teachers have is the lack of flexibility in the current curriculum that they teach.

The curriculum in Finland is less structured, there are no set texts and as the children are not tested there are no exams to teach towards. Lesson plans allow for greater flexibility and teachers are given complete control with regard to how they teach.

Another reason that Finland appears to lead the way is that because their teachers have such strong academic backgrounds they are fully supported. Their education system is not political so there are no boundaries to schools or teachers using experimental teaching techniques.

Homework isn’t widely used

It is not the case that there is no homework given in Finnish schools there is just significantly less of it than in British schools. In Finland, most of their education happens in the classroom which limits the amount of homework to begin with.

Due to parents knowing that their children are being taught by some of the most educated people in society, they fully support and back the teaching staff. This then means that time would otherwise be spent doing homework is spent building relationships with family and friends.

Children do not start school until they are 7 years old

Children do not start formal schooling until they are 7 years old. This is one of the biggest differences between the Finnish school system and the UK. Up until that time, they will usually attend a preschool, which 97% of children attend. Their preschools are also free to all!

This preschool time is all about learning through play, socialising rather than any academic learning. Now, this sounds very much like the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Foundation Phase that has been introduced in both England and Wales. The basic principles of these new curricula are learning through play rather than fixed academic lessons.

Finnish system in the UK feasible or not?

The Finnish education system could not be easily implemented in the UK. But that does not mean that it should be completely discounted. After all, the education of our children and generations to come should be the top priority.

Small changes are still changes and can be put in place with the least disruption. Could this be the way to repair our own education system? It could be the difference between us having a generation of thinkers, entrepreneurs, and problem-solvers or not!

Elon Musk school, Ad Astra a fresh new curriculum.

Elon Musk school, Ad Astra a fresh new curriculum.

Elon Musk is better known for his electric car than for his school. Ad Astra is the private school available fully funded to his employees.

Elon Musk is the CEO and co founder of Tesla. He oversees all product design, engineering, and manufacturing of the company’s electric vehicles, battery products, and Solar Roofs. You are more likely to know him for the Tesla electric car, although for most of us they are out of our budget!

But what you probably did not know about him is that he also opened his own school called Ad Astra.  Ad Astra is no ordinary school, its curriculum is very heavy on science, math, engineering, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. The original purpose of the school was for Musks own 5 boys to attend but now the school has 30 students aged 7-13.

Elon Musk – Ad Astra

Elon Musk has some very different views on what children should be learning and what he deems to be a waste of time. Ad Astra brought these views to reality. Musk believes that studying human language, music and sport are fruitless. Instead, ethical and geopolitical problems are debated by the children.

In the next breath, the children are constructing weather balloons, battling robots or blowing things up (all in the name of education). The children decide on at least 50% of the c subject matter.

Elon Musk tuition fee

Elon Musk funds the school and there are no tuition fees for those children that attend. According to taxes submitted for Mr. Musk, it shows that he has given $475,000 to the school each year. This seems somewhat extravagant for a school that has only 30 pupils.

Children that think?

Elon Musk has produced an environment in which children can think for themselves. Where they can decide the ethics of each situation and also crucially when to make those tough decisions. 

Are these children better prepared for this brave new world than those that have studied a conventional curriculum? Have they missed out by not studying language, music, and sport? By not studying the arts will these children be devoid of human emotion?

Conventional Education

There is no comparison between a conventional curriculum and that of Ad Astra. A curriculum that is heavily devised by children, will only work for the type of child who is of that disposition. For those children that are not academic, the Ad Astra form of the curriculum would be unworkable.

Access to better facilities, better equipment, and far better entrepreneurial opportunities will set these children apart. Unfortunately, without a complete overhaul of the current education system and some serious financial input, anything like Ad Astra is simply unreachable for most schools.

Convential or Ad Astra?

Can you imagine what a school with 300 pupils could do with the same amount of financial backing as Ad Astra? While the Ad Astra kids are asking for flame throwers for an experiment there are schools that do not have enough basic equipment such as books, pens or pencils.

The world in which this generation of children are growing up in is a far cry from the one that many of us did. With this in mind surely our education system needs to move with the times. It needs to provide more opportunities for our children to think ‘outside the box’.

Ad Astra children will be better equipped for critical thinking and problem solving that is certain. However, how will they fare in a conventional school once they are too old to attend the Elon Musk school? The true test of the unconventional but interesting teaching style of Ad Astra will then be seen.

Our Education system is broken, can it be repaired?

Our Education system is broken, can it be repaired?

The UK has an education system that appears to be broken. Is it able to continue as it is or does it need to be redesigned taking influence from europe.

The British education system was once the envy of many countries. Is this still the case for a system that appears to be failing our children! What other options are available to us? Do we need to look elsewhere for reform and inspiration?

An Education System that is failing

As parents, choosing the schools that our children attend is one of the hardest decisions that we have to make. We are potentially determining their educational path for the rest of their lives. We are determining the opportunities that will be available to them and the culture, friends, and obstacles that they encounter.

Our education system can’t really be that bad, can it? GCSE grades continue to rise steadily across the UK, even amidst claims that the exams are getting easier. Exam regulators have been quick to state that exam pass rates don’t increase greatly because exam standards are kept the same across the board.

With reports that GCSE exams are getting easier, are we not taking away from all the hard work that our children put in. The endless hours of revising and coursework. The stress and worry they endure. Not to mention the extra hours that school staff gives up to ensure that each of our children reaches their full potential.

In the past few years, there have been claims that many children are leaving primary school unable to read. But is this the fault of schools or parents? Teaching a child to read should surely, for the most part, be the parents’ responsibility and not that of our oversubscribed schools and overworked teaching staff.

Other options available in education systems

There are other options available to us as parents. Some are not practical for many parents but there are some that show promise.

Homeschooling is an option that is available in the UK. I have to be honest, in my opinion, I do not agree with homeschooling and believe that children need to be in a school environment with their peers. This helps them with their social skills and gives them the opportunity to experience activities that they would not be able to if homeschooled. But I do have mum friends who either are or intend to take this route with their own children and I admire their dedication to their children’s education.

Another option is the Montessori approach. In these classrooms, you will find children of mixed ages learning through concepts and the use of natural materials. It is very much a child-centered education system based on observations of the children. Designed to encourage children to follow their instincts and interact with the environment around them.

Looking to Europe

Our education system requires some serious reform and reorganisation. But where do we look for this inspiration, it has to be to Europe, specifically Finland. They have one of the top education systems in Europe. A system where children have no formal education until the age of 7. Children attend preschool, kindergarten, and daycare that is free to those on low income and heavily subsidised for others.

The Finnish education system is based on learning through play. This is an aspect that British schools have tried to replicate in the form of the Foundation Phase for younger school children. Creativity and a ‘joy of learning’ are at the heart of their curriculum and they are not ashamed of this at all. Teachers are well trained and respected by both parents and politicians alike. There is no OFSTED-school inspection but instead, they use a system of self-assessment.

Broken or not?

To say that our education system is failing seems to be an exaggeration of the truth. Yes, our education system has problems, faults, and issues. But at the end of the day, we as parents should be taking responsibility for teaching our children the basic building blocks such as reading, numbers, and writing. However, it appears this may not be the case.

Does our education need a change of pace and to be brought into this new decade, of course it does. We need something fresh and different that helps create a generation of free thinkers and entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to make mistakes and fail. This I believe is the only way that we as a country will be able to succeed in this world!!!

Potty training – The signs to look for and the highs and lows

Potty training – The signs to look for and the highs and lows

Potty Training – First hand experience, signs to look for and the highs and lows of this final frontier to becoming big kids.

Potty Training!

These two words can send cold shivers down the spine of the most seasoned parents. It can be difficult, messy and upsetting. Similarly, it can also very quickly become a competition in a group of seemingly normal adults.

So when is the right time to start potty training? 

Speaking from experience you most definitely have to wait until your child is ready. At 30 months I felt the peer pressure of my son not being potty trained. While his younger friends were and had been for a while. As a result of this pressure, I tried unsuccessfully on two separate occasions. I worried did he have some sort of developmental delay. Honestly, it was very stressful for both of us as my little boy was just not ready. 

It is best to wait until they are giving you signs. These can be things like they are aware that they are going to the toilet or they want their nappy changed straight away. It could even be that they show interest when you go to the toilet. The NHS website will give you more details of what to look out for.

Where to start with potty training?

So once your little one is showing signs that they are ready, you need to choose a method that is right for both of you. My advice is to do your research and decide on one that suits you. There are several different methods from the take them to the toilet every 15 minutes (just not realistic for most parents), the Three day Method to Potty training in a day. Then you need to have all your supplies ready such as potty, pants/knickers (a silly amount), cleaning supplies (lots of them) and a huge bucket load of patience and time.

You have to take the plunge, decide today is the day to start potty training and stop using nappies during the day time. You can not go back and forth between pants and nappies during the day as this can become very confusing for your little ones.

The next step is to accept that there will be mess, accidents and probably tears (mostly yours) along the way. But remember that this is a huge step for your little one. This is one of the last frontiers they need to conquer before finally being crowned a ‘big kid’.

First-Hand Experience

We used a method loosely based on a combination of everything I had read on the internet. He wore his own clothes but started with no pants on. I watched him like a hawk for any tell that he needed to go. His signal was to stand very still and hold himself, so when he did we rushed to the potty. Sometimes we were successful other times we were not. Day 1 of potty training was exhausting and messy but by day 2 to 3 he got it with no accidents. Two weeks on we have only had one accident. We have been on days out and shopping trips without any problems. Although, I am always well prepared with spare clothes and potty in tow.

Success or failure

So what do you count as a success in the potty training minefield? well if any pee or poo actually makes it to the potty- that is a huge win! Do a potty dance, shout hooray on top of your voice, whatever you do to celebrate.

Not every day will be a success and there will be days where accidents happen.  Don’t worry this happens to all children when they are first learning and practicing their new ‘big kid’ skill.

My pre-parent self never thought that she would worry so much about another persons wee and poo as much as I do now. This is one of the lows of parenting, where you realize there are no boundaries as to what you will talk about with another adult and even complete stranger. Yet the joy on their face when they realise they can do it themselves is worth every mess, tear, and frustration that you will ever feel. Remember this is just the beginning…..

Nursery, Are You Ready To Let Go of Your Toddler?

Nursery, Are You Ready To Let Go of Your Toddler?

Releasing our little ones into the big world can seem daunting, but nursery is often a realm of positivity, happiness and wonderment.


The Nursery Visits

I visited nursery after nursery. They all came ‘highly recommended’. The thumbs-up came from friends with happy, well-adjusted kids, so I expected to find a setting for my son without any issue. Wrong! I saw six childcare places in total. With each visit, I became more disheartened. None of them felt right – there was always a small something that didn’t sit right with me. In the end, I gave up. Some nurseries seemed too chaotic, others too dull and non-engaging. I thought one was dirty, and another had miserable staff. Maybe I caught them on a bad day; perhaps not. I was not prepared to take the risk.

There Was No More Delaying It

I kept my two-year-old at home with me for another year. But then, of course, came the time to start hunting again. Well before he had turned three-years-old, I felt that he needed much more than I could continue to offer him at home.

He was ready to go on ‘bear hunts’, to build bubble machines in the sunshine and to make and fly a kite on a Tuesday morning. Playing in mud kitchens, regardless of the weather, and to learn some phonics made him happy. He was eager for interactive play with a bunch of friends. I knew it was time to introduce him to the joys of building a ‘home corner’ out of boxes and helping to paint the living room wall with fifteen other three-year-olds. Making boats to go on imaginary adventures in, exploring healthy and unhealthy food choices as part of a group and playing on interactive tables were all awaiting him. It was time to start discovering the big world for himself, and I knew I had to find a way to let him do it.

I Struck Gold

I visited one nursery and struck gold.

It was not a nursery I had seen previously. No one had recommended it, and we knew no one that attended. It was perfect. I knew straight away that this particular nursery was the right place for my boy. My gut instinct felt satisfied!

The Journey At Nursery 

Exactly one year ago, my son began his new adventure. It was expensive until we received the 30-hour funding from the government. When he started, he did not talk (perhaps the result of being the youngest of four), and he refused to eat pretty much anything that wasn’t sweet. He still wore nappies in the day and loved nothing more than his dummy. Fast forward one year and he speaks beautifully, is very happy and understands so much about the world around him and his place within it. He speaks a little French, loves a bit of ‘Pyjama Drama’ and is very partial to some Spanish frittata or spicy couscous for lunch! Surprisingly he quit dummies and nappies within the first month of starting, and his progress has been quite astonishing. He skips into ‘school’ (as he calls it) with a big smile, every day.

Take Your Time And Be Selective

Each setting is different, as are our kids. My boy would have felt out of his depth in a vast, bustling nursery and unhappy in one that was too strict. However, for another child, they could have been the absolute perfect choices. Trusting YOUR gut instinct, as a parent, is the best judge of what is right for your child. Of course, if I had needed to work when he was two-years-old, I would have continued searching for the place that we eventually found.

The Benefits of A Nursery

Pre-school education is a choice. In my case, it has provided my son with so much happiness and confidence and is preparing him brilliantly for big school. He knows how to wait his turn and how to share, the importance of being kind, respectful and having good manners. He’s learnt patience and that feeling of utter pride at accomplishing something new. He is able to stand in front of a group of kids and explain a story or describe a character. We discovered his love to draw, paint, make glorious art, spell his name, remember songs and actions and put on a bit of a show. He understands all about the weather and how to plant a seed and watch it transform into a beautiful flower with care, attention, water and sunshine.  He has learnt we are all different and to be tolerant of those differences.

I could never have given him all that.

Kids Are So Capable

When you find the right setting for your child, truly marvellous things can happen. It’s hard to release them into the ‘wild’ of the big world where they have to manage without you, but when you do, you realise just how capable they are and that their potential is limitless.

Children With Autism – What You Need To Understand.

Children With Autism – What You Need To Understand.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a vast spectrum and presents itself in many ways. What can you learn when working with children with autism?

Children With Autism Are Complex

After entering the childcare industry over 6 years ago with very little knowledge or understanding the autism spectrum, it felt wrong that I had reached adulthood without possessing any concrete information about the very complex condition.

Six years later, I have gained a real awareness of how many children and their families are affected by Autism.

My first role involved caring for children and young people who were diagnosed to be on the ‘severe’ end of the spectrum. It was very hard to gain a perspective on what to expect. It was a real eye opener.  There I was, on day one – having my first real experience of seeing children who were rocking back and forth; flicking their fingers vigorously in front of their face; who would make strange noises at random moments; who would repeat words back to me.  It was a little unsettling at first, because I did not know how to communicate with these wonderful people, and they did not know how to communicate with me. If it was puzzling for me, it was 100 times more puzzling for them.

Understanding & Communication Is Key

To be able to communicate with children on the spectrum, you first need to be able to understand them. I needed to figure out why they covered their eyes with a blanket; or why they touched every object they passed. Imagine standing back-to-back with someone you know, and then getting them to draw an every-day object without saying what it is. This will give you perspective of how crucial it is to be able to communicate. There are other ways to communicate of course: Finding alternative words to use and using other senses.

To the uninformed person, covering your eyes could be portrayed as rude. For children with autism they may cover their eyes because there is too much going on around them to be able to process or cope with. They may be close to breaking point, therefore an ability to shut out their often-extreme senses is a necessity, and a coping mechanism in avoiding potentially challenging behaviour.

Be Realistic

When a child or young person reached a tipping point in being unable to control their emotions, it was hard for me to witness because I had never been in a position to see it before. Their behaviour can be manifested in many ways – and were usually random and totally out of the blue. Why? I often questioned whether I had caused it. They were fine a minute previously. Yes, they may have been seemingly fine, but children with autism have a proverbial jug inside their heads. Everyday occurrences we all take for granted can take longer to process – which can consume huge inner effort and resources. If this jug fills up and spills out – their ability to function decreases. Jugs could spill at any time. And I needed to understand this.

Nothing Beats Experience

Workshops and reading books on the subject are great, but I learnt 90% about autism by being with the children daily. It is about observing, playing, chatting and laughing together.  This approach has been invaluable in increasing my understanding.  In-turn, it helped me provide the children with the best possible care and attention they needed. With the combination of ‘on-the-job’ experience, self-research and professional development, it became a lot easier to understand children with autism and the challenges they, and their families face.

Its The Simple Things That Count

For children with autism, it is important to remember the small things because this is what they may need for their ‘jug’ to reduce. Simple things, like remembering they may need extra time to process everyday events we all take for granted – such as a request to tidy up the toys. This may take 30 extra seconds to process and therefore action, than somebody not on the spectrum. It may even take an hour. The important thing is to not bombard them with too many instructions all at once. They require patience from others for an effective two-way communication channel to exist.

Children With Autism Can Provide You With Priceless Moments

Entering their world is joyous and challenging at the same time. The awareness of the spectrum disorder as a whole is slowly gaining the attention it deserves thanks to the great work that charities such as Child Autism UK does. Just being able to connect with children with autism and having a little say in developing the lives is priceless.

Baby Weaning, Do You Need A Plan?

Baby Weaning, Do You Need A Plan?

Happy babies, full tummies and food in your hair. The highs and lows of weaning your baby.

The Competition Between First Time Mums

I didn’t even know what a butternut squash was but because Annabel Karmel told me I should get one, cook it and serve it to my 5-month-old, I did and she loved it. It was the year 2000 and back-in-the-day when we started weaning at 16-20 weeks; and no-one had heard of baby-led weaning.

In my new circle of friends, all of us being first-time mummies, we talked endlessly about the boiling or steaming of carrots, the virtues of mashing up bananas with avocados and why none of the babies seemed to like broccoli. The competition was always there under the surface. Which baby was the best eater and whose little darling “absolutely devoured” exotic fruit? There was never any mention of baby food jars. Heaven forbid one of us should actually open a jar, stick in a spoon and feed its contents to our child!

All That Matters Is The End Result

Back in the day when I tried so hard to do it perfectly and felt so imperfect because all my child wanted was Ready-Brek, I soon learned that having a satisfied child was more important to me (it’s amazing what fruit and veggies you can hide in a big bowl of Ready-Brek). Fast forward 19 years and 4 babies later and I have resorted to many a baby food jar, many a microwaveable meal and have yet to purchase a vegetable or baby food steamer. I have silently stuck my fingers up to the Nigella’s of the kitchen. I mean, who has the time? Most of us work or are running around after other children and have loads of commitments and never-ending to-do lists. As long as your child is fed nutritious baby food, does it really matter how you get there?

I was always grateful to have a stack of supplies in the cupboard for the day when the top of the food-mixer lid blew off or I forgot to defrost the 3-5 ice cubes of lovingly prepared red pepper purée. Or, importantly, for that day when my screaming child threw my beautiful apple compote on the floor and refused my (non-steamed) carrots. I was always a little miffed, although honestly relieved, when the jar of baby Bolognese went down smoothly with no fuss what-so-ever. My very loose baby weaning plan all worked out in the end as child number one is now a healthy 19-year-old who eats all world foods, still loves Ready-Brek and berates me because I don’t like falafel!

What Is Baby Led Weaning Anyways?

I had a baby of weaning age in 2015 and I didn’t even know about baby-led weaning. I discovered it for the first time at the crèche, where I saw a child with mashed-up food and chunky bits spread all over the high chair tray. She was eating with her hands, was happy and smiling and… to me it looked like utter carnage. I remember feeling quite ancient and old-fashioned because I knew nothing of this new-fangled baby weaning system, although I did know not to try and shove baby rice in a 16-week-old as we now were advised to wait until they were 6-months-old. The childcare worker told me to “try it out” and that “everyone’s doing it.”

Whats All The Hype About?

I tried it out. I talked about it with my latest set of mummy friends. Everyone was, indeed ‘doing it’ and everyone did, indeed, love it. The dolloping of mixed veg, chicken and sauce all over my child’s high chair tray was enough to give me sweaty palms and a few extra grey hairs. Watching him handle chunky bits and not puréed food made me nervous and my baby, floor, clothes and sanity all took a hammering. I watched him sit in that high chair for ages, terrified he was going to choke (which he never did). I desperately wanted to follow what everyone else was doing, but it made me anxious.

It didn’t take more than three or four more baby-led weaning attempts for me to revert back to my year 2000 comfort zone. I did modernise, though, by giving him lots of finger foods in-between me spoon feeding him puréed and semi-puréed baby food. It was cleaner, less stressful and he still learnt to eat by himself. Now, aged 4, he’s a whizz with a knife and fork and is willing to try anything at least once.

In The Words Of Frank Sinatra, ‘I Did It My Way’

I followed my semi-modern method with my fourth baby.  It was a good experience and at least there was a lot less mess to clear up. To boot, I was not spending each mealtime clutching a fistful of baby wipes and manically cleaning every little splash in sight like some possessed woman. By making meal times as pleasurable and stress free as I could, I believe that my kids have all gone on to take real pleasure in food.

I’ll have them all eating falafel before you know it.

Toddler Meltdown. When It All Gets Too Much

Toddler Meltdown. When It All Gets Too Much

When toddler temper tantrums are out of control, they may just need a little bit of doing absolutely nothing at all.

Toddler Meltdown Meant Bunnies Thrown And Leg Bashings

There seemed no logical reason to hurl the bunny across the floor. It wasn’t a real bunny but still, the poor thing didn’t deserve to be thrown, full pelt, across the bed and head first into the wall. It landed face down on the floor, next to the previously thrown bear and pillow. The quilt was next in line. Except, given its size and awkwardness for throwing, it received a leg bashing instead. Two, tiny three-year-old legs were raining blows down on the quilt with as much force as my little man could muster. His face was getting redder, the bed was getting messier and the tears were starting to stream down his face. This was a major toddler meltdown.

Fireman Sam Caused The Fire?

The cause? Fireman Sam. Or rather, lack of. I had made the mistake of giving an iPad to my toddler, before bed. It was just for a short time, whilst I ran around getting school uniforms ready for the next day, picking dirty washing up off the floor and doing a whole host of other mundane mummy jobs that no-one likes doing but that have to be done regardless. I was over-worked and just needed to get everything done. He was already tired and ready for sleep and I had just given him electronic, visual and auditory stimulation that he didn’t need. When it came to switching off the never-ending fires, that seem to occur on a daily basis in Pontypandy town, the boy flipped. Usually, he settled well. We had our little routine and I was often back downstairs in 10 or 15 minutes.

Not tonight.

OK, So It Was Me And Not Fireman Sam

I’m sure that I am not the first to have an overstimulated toddler that won’t sleep. The overstimulation signs were obvious, and it was my fault. Classic signs of being unable to cope washed over him and it took me 40 minutes to rock him to sleep. I sang Old MacDonald softly to him the entire time. At first, he cried and struggled but then, as he calmed down, he started joining in with suggestions of ‘cat’, ‘fish’ and ‘crocodile.’ Finally, he fell asleep in my arms, which was a relief because I was rapidly running out of animals.

Easier Said Than Done When It Comes to Toddler Tantrums

I’ve seen the effects of toddler overstimulation before, so I knew exactly what I had done. Too many back-to-back activities (swimming, ballet, mini-football) or simply a big dose of sensory overload (noisy party, Christmas, family gathering) can cause a toddler to feel totally overwhelmed. The result is toddler temper tantrums. They become unable to communicate and use tears instead to demonstrate their feelings. They refuse to carry out simple instructions and can become aggressive. The best way to deal with this is to change the environment or remove the stimulation, calm things down and reduce the exposure to visuals, sounds and maybe people. Helping the child to feel safe and calm will always work. Anyone who has experienced toddler tantrums in public know that this is sometimes easier said than done.

Downtime and Individual Play Time Are Key

It is difficult to know how much we should and shouldn’t expose our kids to. It is said that the human brain develops more, and at a faster rate, in the first 5 years of life than at any other time and thus exposure to stimulating environments is an important pre-cursor for learning and development. That said, every child needs to be able to experience downtime and individual play time. There is nothing wrong with scheduling nothing at all and letting children use their imagination to stimulate them. In fact, it is an important part of their development.

All children are different, and every parent will come to know how much activity and stimulation their child needs. Of course, we all make mistakes (like I did) because this parenting job is a really tough gig and we all get some things wrong some of the times.

Our Plan To Prevent Toddler Meltdown Now Works For Us 

In our house, one after-school/nursery activity per week seems to be enough. Weekends are spent going to birthday parties, swimming and day trips out exploring but nothing is set in stone. If we feel the kids are tired, we just stay at home. It’s flexible and I like it that way. We all have jobs and probably other kids to juggle, so it’s not easy to get the balance right. At least we know that the kids will tell us, in their own toddler meltdown style, if we are getting it wrong.

We try so hard, as parents, to get it right. We strive to do the best we can because we all want happy, healthy children who are developing skills and talents. If we are lonely, or raising small people alone, it can be especially tough. In these instances, or just when life gets too much, Fireman Sam can, indeed, ‘save the day’ because sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. At other times, it’s amazing how much time an empty box and a toddler’s imagination can buy you.