What value is most important to you?

Written by Emma. Posted in Education

What was your favourite subject at school?  Mine was Sociology and I went on to do a degree in Social Policy before teaching Sociology for the past 12 years.  I was therefore delighted when Chloe picked Sociology for one of her GCSE options.  I think the subject is valuable for many reasons but more than any other I think it is important to understand society and also what makes us the way we are.  It raises so many issues around fairness and how we see and treat others.  It also encourages us to question what influences us in society.  One of the first lessons in Sociology is always about how we learn how to behave.  For most of us we learn this from our parents through the use of sanctions and rewards. We learn the norms of our society as children and these are then reinforced by the other agencies of socialisation like Education, the media and our peer groups.

The norms we teach are based on the values of society and what we class as important.  Being fair is one such norm and that is why we have norms like queuing up and taking turns.  Some norms are easier to teach than others and some very much depend on the age of the child.

For the purpose of this post I asked Erin what ‘being fair’ means and she replied ‘sharing’.  This is true from her point of view and largely refers to playing games and sharing equipment at school.

Dylan who is 10 suggested that being fair is ‘if there are two people wanting to do a job you need to treat people equally’ This is a more grown up response I guess and incorporates the idea of equality and treaing people fairly.  He then went on to consider treating people equally regardless of gender and ethnicity.

Chloe who has started studying Sociology and therefore used to now discussing these themes said that fairness is ‘respecting people’

As a parent we teach this often subconsciously at the moment Erin is struggling with playing board games as she always wants to win and we are having conversations about this.  We make sure we take turns and when she gets frustrated explain why this is fair.  NatWest are also working harder to be fair and also rewarding loyalty from their customers with the Hello / Goodbye campaign.  NatWest have set out to waving goodbye to best offers aimed only at new customers while excluding existing customers, goodbye to 0% teaser rates that cost more in the long run and goodbye to the practice of hiding the best deals online. (Check out this funny fairness experiment video from NatWest)

What do you consider the most important value to teach children?  For me fairness is certainly up there among the top few.  I also think children need to learn honesty and justice.  Again as parents we are role models for this and when Erin was late for school by half an hour because I was waiting for a package that had a before nine o’clock delivery time I so very nearly said we were late due to a GP appointment (of which Erin does have many) but I knew that Erin would soon tell her teacher we were late because of the post!  Therefore I stuck to being honest as it is a value I really expect the children to follow although they are all still work in progress on this one too from the time Dylan spent over £80 on Itunes charges to Erin still telling the most blatant of lies like she didn’t draw on her toys in the felt tip she was caught red handed still holding!

Disclosure: I’m working with BritMums and NatWest on this project and have been compensated. All opinions are my own.

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Student Hacks – surviving uni life

Written by Emma. Posted in competitions, Uncategorized

The little brother cast his net a little wider in September and headed off to University, leaving behind the comforts of home he swapped his pampered life of home cooked meals and lifts from dad to student halls and riding his bike in the rain! A brilliant snap chat showed just how much he was loving the change!  I can’t share it as he swore and this is a family blog!


I have never lived with my little brother seeing as there is 20 years between our ages (that’s a whole other story of what my parents got up to when I left the comforts home to start university :) ) But we are close and I can say that there have been some great conversation since he started.  We have had the ‘ I bought a train ticket to go visit Simon which bit do I need the outbound or return bit’  we also have had ‘why are my white clothes not as white when I wash them’  This preceeded the I ran out of underwear so went and bought more boxers conversation.

Yes like I said he was previously very pampered!!! However we have actually spoken more in the past six weeks than normal thanks to Facetime and social media.

In addition to the little brother I am a former sixth form teacher and tutor and I saw my role as preparing them for adult life be it Uni or leaving home. This was just as important as the academic support to me and I enjoyed watching them develop their independance throughout sixth form.  I am already training Chloe, who is nearly 15, for the next steps in life and here are my three top student hacks to make life that bit easier:


1. Eggs.  Yes that is right, learn what you can do with an egg from poached, scrambled with prawns or perfect for omelettes where you can add everything that is left in your fridge.  Potatoes, ham, cheese, mushrooms, prawns etc can all be turned into a quick nutritious cheap meal.  Learning to cook up some quick, tasty food is so important as eating takeaways soon gets boring and you stop wanting brown food.  Vegetables galore that will keep you full and healthy will soon be craved.  Therefore I think it really helps students if you teach them how to cook in the years before they leave home.  Another staple is mince and I think everyone is capable of making a filling bolognaise  or lasagna.  I remember my now husband wowing me with a carbonara he whipped up when we were at Uni.  I never told him that he was supposed to fry and cook the onions before adding it to the home made sauce he served it with!  The thought was there and I went on to marry him so he did ok!!



2. Draw out cash each week.  Know what your weekly budget is and pay for everything is cash.  It is so easy to overspend or forget you have spent when paying on cards.  I learnt to budget as I carried cash and it meant that is what I had.  A visual reminder really helps stop spending without actually acknowledging that it is coming out of your bank. University is expensive and have fun but don’t add to your worries by getting more indebt than you actually  need to.


3. Finally get online with your Currys laptop and make some money reviewing or bag some freebies. It has never been easier to use today’s modern technology to save money, use voucher sites to get money off coupons when you are eating out.  There are often vouchers for favourite restaurants like Nando’s or Strada.  Voucher cloud is a great app and the vouchers can be redeemed via a smart phone.  Sign up for mystery shopping and you can have free meals out in exchange for your opinions which are collated by filling in on line questionnaires.  Enter competitions online which is a numbers game and if you enter loads you will win its a matter of when.  Join survey sites and sign up for market research with agencies like Podengo who are regularly looking for students.  For me the only way as a student to make easy money like this was signing up to be in police line ups!! However even that is digital now!




This is my entry into the New Student Hacks Competition if you blog you can enter until Monday so be quick!  You can survive Uni with these simple hacks.  Enjoy Uni for it passes so quickly and then life gets more serious!


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A modern printer for the modern family.

Written by Emma. Posted in Uncategorized

The first half term is coming to a close and as I wrote other day it has been a successful one for us although I am feeling the difference of having Chloe starting GCSE’s and Dylan entering year 6.  It is strange really as I look at Chloe and just see myself at that age.

I loved school and enjoyed my time there, I didn’t work nearly hard enough and do wish I had I had realised that sooner.  But the climate has definately changed I know that as both a former teacher and a parent.  There is such more of an expected partnership between the school and home and I welcome that.

I believe that is my role as a parent to continue to be a role model to Chloe and to support her in her studies.  I do check her work and help her with homework and revising for recap tests.  She has taken it seriously so far, she knows that she has to work to do well.  Like her dad and me we got to where we have through hard work and this is something I want the children to realise.

One thing that does help is the amount of technology we have at our finger tips.  I remember going to the library to research topics or even events in history to get work done whereas that’s a fundamental cultural shift now.  The technology is often in the home with iPads, smart phones and laptops it has certainly changed how our students study.

We have been reviewing the Canon Pixma MG7150 over the past few months and that too has made life easier.  I shared my first thoughts when I started working from home but recently I have seen the benefits from a homework angle.  Dylan has been able to print off his work with ease and Chloe likes the remote function as she can print via her smart phone.

In addition to working hard they have also been playing hard this term.  Both Chloe and Dyl have been doing all their sports and socialising with friends in their spare time.  It is all about balance for us.  They know that if school work is done then they get their downtime. Chloe then found another use for the printer!  She has been looking at how she can make her friends birthday / Christmas presents creatively and cheaply as teens don’t have unlimited funds.  She has discovered that she can print off some of her favourite pictures that she has taken with her smart phone and uploaded to Facebook.  She then buys a nice photo frame and personalises it.

We took inspiration from her and recently printed out this selfie that Chloe took of the five of us.

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My final opinion of the Canon Pixma is that it is great!  It has made life that little bit easier for all of us and we have found so many uses for it.  I like how responsive it is and that it works with my phone.  I love how it is used in the practical traditional sense, but it can also provide entertainment and activities for Erin and how the teen uses it socially with the power of social media.


Disclosure:  We were gifted the printer for review.

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Autumn Picnics.

Written by Emma. Posted in Uncategorized

The weather seems to have turned but Erin’s memory of summer hasn’t abated just yet. She recalls with delight the fun we had this summer and the many family outings we squeezed into our days. However it is the changing of the season and I am finding that the winter clothes are appearing I love the richness of Autumn colours and have really enjoyed our walks home from school.  The walk is a short walk but takes Erin quite some time but I really believe it is good to get some fresh air and helps her relax and process the day on the way home.  I have always found that walk home to be the time when you get the most out of what the children have been doing at school that day.

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Autumn is also the time to make the most of those last few picnics and recently we were lucky enough to be sent some goodies from Brioche to enjoy.  My children love brioche and it is a staple in our home.  When the weather is not on our side and it is wet Erin still likes to have what she calls a picnic tea.  This basically means a packed lunch on a plate in the lounge!  She will often host tea parties with her teddy and this is why we decided on a Alice in Wonderland tea party for her birthday next month.

photo 1 (12)

Her favourite tea party items would include Brioche, babybel, grapes and ham.  Thankfully Erin is a fuss free eater and will happily try most things.

photo 2 (12)


With half term coming up we are hoping to fit in a few more outside picnics before the dark nights draw in and it is dark by 4.30.  what are your plans for half term?


Disclosure:  This post is in association with Tots100 and Brioche Pasquier.

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