Maths Help Online with the Smartick Method

Recently I found out that one of my twins, H, did rather badly in a maths assessment at school.

He’s only 7 and the youngest in the class. Both of my twins struggle a little bit at school, not to the extent of needing additional help, and because of them being premature August born, it’s almost like it’s to be expected! Which isn’t really fair.

Their teacher (who I really like and who my twins really like too) read out everyone’s results of the test to the class, which meant EVERYONE knew H got the lowest score (9 out of 40)… bless his heart! No one was mean to him about it but a few kids said things like ‘It’s ok, you tried your best’ ….. which singled him out and made him very embarrassed!

He cried when he got home and said ‘I can’t do anything, I’m rubbish at everything!’

I was so annoyed with his teacher…. I don’t want him to feel bad about himself because of a stupid maths test at only 7 years old! I told him in no uncertain terms that he is NOT rubbish at anything and he is in fact the most wonderful human being on the planet…. But something like this could put him off maths and learning for life…. his confidence had really taken a knock so I made a promise with  myself to help him more at home.

smartick method maths kids education

A lovely friend put me in touch with Smartick… an online maths learning platform for kids, as they were looking for bloggers to review their program. I jumped at the opportunity as I really liked the sound of it and felt it was something we could realistically incorporate into our schedule without too much effort.

Smartick is designed in short daily sessions of 15 minutes of maximum concentration. Children need to login every day and do their maths. This helps create a study habit and routine, it avoids burnout and keeps children motivated and coming back for more. Smartick recommends that they do it at least 5 days a week to truly experience the benefits of the program.

We started Smartick during the Easter holidays with the free trial period of 15 days, that anyone can try at any time, and I put all three of my youngest children on it as the age range is from 4-14.

H was obviously the first to give it a go and the animated look of the website made it appealing straight away. We set up his profile and off he went. The first couple of sessions are assessment based, although they look exactly the same as any session, but the answers H gave and how long it took him to answer were giving Smartick an idea of where he was at. The questions weren’t too difficult, in fact some were ridiculously simple…. but this was intentional as going over the basics is the most important aspect of grasping maths. It was perfect for H. Other questions ranged from simple adding and number bonds, some games and then some problem solving questions. I sat with him and helped guide him through each question and it was great to see him get excited when he found the right answers.

smartick method maths program

There’s a temperature bar on the left hand side of the screen which shows gold stars, these add up the more questions you get right! This is a great incentive, my twins love seeing this bar go up when more stars added to their collection!

If the student gets a question wrong, a little pop up box will show them the right answer, and at the end they have the opportunity to do their corrections and obtain more stars! There’s also a fun area for them to go into after the session is finished. The is a little virtual world where they can create their own avatar and are able to spend their stars they’ve earned as money to buy things for their character, like pets and things for their house! It’s so cute, my children love this.

Because none of the questions in the sessions were too difficult and H was able to find most (not all) answers without help from me, he didn’t get fed up, bored or frustrated in any way…. which CAN happen to kids when they get the answers wrong regularly. I’ve also found that online games we’ve tried before where there’s a timer involved, makes both my twins upset if they can’t work out the answer quick enough. It makes them panicky and angry then they just want to stop. Which is absolutely pointless. With Smartick, although there IS a time limit to each question, it’s so long that this very rarely runs out. But it IS useful for times when kids are dawdling a bit!

Each screen is very simple in appearance and incredibly easy to navigate. We are using a laptop but you can use an App downloaded on tablets too.

The Study Program at Smartick is mapped in such a way that allows the student to progress naturally and fully adapt to the level of each student. There are video tutorials when new concepts are introduced and guided exercises when the program has detected that the student is taking too long to respond to certain questions. The exercises are generated on the spot and based on a number of variables that the algorithm behind the Smartick method measures. Among those variables will be effectiveness (if the child has responded correctly or not), the speed of the answers, performance history etc. The platform does not have preloaded exercises, but rather has its own “intelligence” that always seeks the highest level of competence of each student. Always backed up and monitored by a team of educators.

I find this incredible. The program is completely tailored to the unique way your child works!

My twins are not doing the same sessions each day but they quite often like to watch each other and see what the other is doing which is funny, and also means they’re kind of doing TWO sessions instead of one per day!

My daughter, aged 11, is doing ok at maths at school. She’s no mathematician but she doesn’t struggle. There’s always room for practice and improvement, so I was interested to see how she would get on with Smartick. Again, each session starts off with the basics. For her it’s timestables. This is an area that she does need practice on and doing the multiplication sums (which includes some very tricky ones) over and over has been drumming home the core necessities. I just think this is the best way to improve anyone’s maths! Then the session moves on to more challenging topics.

She is really enjoying the program.

H is thoroughly enjoying it too and I can already see him starting to understand concepts that he didn’t get a few weeks ago. For example he’s been working a lot on subtraction and now he knows exactly what to do when he gets questions like this….

smartick method maths

It’s also opened my eyes to how my twins minds are working.

I’ve learned that H doesn’t always read the questions properly and this was, obviously, affecting his results. I am working on this with him now as we go through the sessions. He was trying to reach an answer in the wrong steps but again… now that I know this, I can help. He also gets distracted easily, although I’ve noticed this already improving which is wonderful.

O likes to race ahead with his session. He actually WANTS to do it and asks me if he can do his daily session without me having to tell him! He also likes to get on with it on his own. He is more studious than H though, whereas H is a lot more laid back. O is eager to see his star tally rise so will work fast on his questions to fit more into the time frame! He doesn’t need me to sit with him unless there’s a new topic that he’s not sure about, then he will ask for help.

They both seem to enjoy their little log in area to their own program and the fact that it’s only 15 minutes makes it achievable. It honestly doesn’t even feel like it’s 15 minutes. The sessions fly by.

Parents get the results from their child’s session instantly delivered to their inbox. They can also access the tutor web anytime and check progress. There are detailed metrics on the performance of the student and lots of various tutorials that they can go over to reinforce learning. I like this area… you can even compare how your child is doing compared to the other children their age!

I’m so happy with the Smartick Method. I can honestly say I’ve seen H’s confidence in learning maths already starting to grow and I didn’t want to stop once the initial trial ran out, so we have signed up for another three months! The kids are loving it and I absolutely can’t wait to see what progress has been made at the end of these three months!

If the past two weeks are anything to go by, I’m sure H will be top of his class the next time he has an assessment! But seriously, all I want is for my children to enjoy maths and enjoy learning… and that is exactly what Smartick is giving them.

 If you want to give it a go, sign up now for your FREE 15 day trial and see how it goes.

Stick Man at the Theatre

This afternoon we headed into London to see a live show of one of the kids’ favourite stories – Stick Man.

stick man live

I think if you have children, the likelihood of you having read this book to them at some point is probably very high. It’s one of those brilliantly written stories that as a parent, you don’t mind reading over and over again.

Penned by the amazing Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (creators of The Gruffalo), The Stick Man is a lovely story about, you guessed it… a Stick! Stick Man lives in the family tree with his wife… his ‘Lady Love’ and their ‘Stick Children 3′. One day Stick Man goes out for a run but his day goes from bad to worse when he finds himself in all manner of silly yet dangerous situations and becomes lost! He’s chased by a dog, grabbed by an excitable little girl and thrown around, used as a flag and a nest before ending up in someone’s fire! Will he escape in time and manage to get back to his Lady Love and the family tree?

stick man leicester square

On arriving at the theatre we literally couldn’t wait to get inside! We’ve seen a number of productions at the Leicester Square Theatre, which is tucked away, almost hidden, down a little side road, and it’s a lovely, intimate auditorium. No matter where you sit, you never feel too far from the stage! It’s perfect for children.

There was an abundance of booster seats for little ones, the stage setting looked intriguing and the auditorium was full.

stick man theatre

I had wondered how Scamp Theatre were going to bring the brilliant Stick Man and all the characters to life. It’s a relatively short book with only a few sentences on each page so I was intrigued to find out how this would transfer to an hour long show! Would it be anywhere near as good as the book?

Well let me tell you… it was everything we could’ve hoped for and more.

An incredibly clever, artistic production and superb lively performances by just THREE actors, who took on all the characters from the story. Two men and one woman. They were all dressed in normal clothes but added subtle props and used their incredible acting talents to bring the whole thing to life and completely draw you in from the start. One of the actors used instruments too to help tell the story. The actor who played Stick Man held a prop that looked like Stick Man, but used his own self to act out the role! It really WORKED!

stickman_0145_photo-by-steve-ullathorne

I have to say that the longer the show went on, the more brilliant it got. It kept to the books’ storyline completely and used all the wonderful poetry throughout. The songs were simple but ever so catchy. The actors were animated and hilarious.

What made the show even more special was the inclusion of the audience! From the dog chasing Stick Man… both actors crawling through the isles of the auditorium. The ‘Dog’ even came down our row of seats, stopping at various children to give them a little squeeze… all three of mine were delighted by this! To the big beach ball that we were encouraged to catch and throw around the audience to each other! Again, the kids (and big kids!) loved this and it brought a real sense of fun and togetherness for us all. The energy it created was fantastic!

Such a big, warm, happy, fun part of the show! Love, love LOVED it!

Another scene which my twins enjoyed was with the Swan… where Stick Man is taken to be used as part of her nest! The swan was just a simple puppet on the arm of one of the actors but it’s cheeky character tickled my twins so much! They laughed their heads off and it was an absolute joy for me to witness!

stick man live theatre

‘The Stick Man is Cold’ song was a favourite of mine!

But what I loved most was that the kids in the audience were all having the most amazing time. They were calling out (a little) and joining in. They were leaning forward out of their seats trying to be as involved as possible! One little boy a few seats down from us was calling ‘Stick Man’ really loudly at one point, shouting ‘Can you hear me?’ – We were in hysterics at this and during any other show it probably would’ve been frowned upon. Not here! The actors included it in the story!

The stage lighting and twinkling lights in the set behind the actors created a very magical scene for Santa’s sleigh ride towards the end of the show. The Christmassy feel makes this a perfect show to see at this time of year, and actually, Scamp Theatre productions have been performing Stick Man in the Leicester Square theatre for a number of years now. It’s incredibly popular and I can see why!

I cannot recommend this show highly enough. It blew me away how utterly creative and fun it was. We were all completely bowled over. My children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and said they loved it just as much as the book (and a bit more!)

If you have the chance you simply MUST go and see it. It’s on now until 8th January and you can book tickets here. If you don’t get around to watching it this year, be sure to check back next year and book your tickets nice and early as it usually opens in November!

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the show in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions my own. 

Kidtropolis comes to London

Kidtropolis London

Half term is nearly upon us. Have you got lots of things planned to do with the kids? Or do you prefer to kick back and relax?

I personally like to get a mix of both. I love a lazy day at home more than anything but my children now tend to gravitate towards either playing on one of their devices, or wanting to watch TV. Although I don’t mind this for a while, they can be quite obsessive! Having a few days where I know for sure we will be out doing something fun or interesting is imperative for me. Then I’m not AS bothered about device days!

If like me, you want to get a few things penciled in, and you live near London (or don’t mind a bit of a journey) then why not check out KIDTROPOLIS!

Full of awesome fun, interactive challenges and exciting new experiences, this brand new family event, is coming to ExCeL London this October Half Term on 25th, 26th and 27th October and is the perfect fun-filled experience for families with children aged 12 and under– all for the amazing price of just £13.50!

Your all-inclusive ticket includes admission to all activities, live shows and entertainment.

You can:

Learn free running with Parkour Generations

Opportunity to meet mega YouTuber kid gamesmaster EthanGamerTV (Wednesday 26th)

Meet the Optimus Prime big rig and play with TRANSFORMERS

Chance to meet hit YouTuber Tiana from Toys AndMe who will reveal the ToyTesters.tv top 20 Toys as voted by children (Tuesday 25th)

Break Records with Guinness World Records Live!

Try your skills with Nerf Tri-strike, Zombie Strike and the Vault

Catch up with the Gorgeous Movies YouTube Family (Thursday 27th)

Explore Equestria on the My Little Pony pink double decker bus

Run the enourmous Boot Camp Challenge inflatable assault course

Meet the stars of the Angry Birds Movie

Reach the stars on Spring Free Trampolines

Race Scalextric ARC AIR

Build with Magformers

Take the challenge on the 40 player Minecraft hub

Swim with a Virtual Reality whale!

Jump on the double-decker Gamers Bus

Go crazy in the Gaming Marquee

Meet the team at Fun Kids Radio broadcasting live on site from their Radio bus

See the ToyTesters.tv Awards with the Top 20 toys as voted for by children

Meet a host of costumed characters

Get creative with the Play-Doh workshop

Play with Playmobil

Talk turtles with the Marine Conservation Society

Take to the 8.5m inflatable Helter-Skelter

Plus a whole lot more from Star MonstersDobble, AzoomeeReach Robotics, BopIt, Big Potato, OK play, Spiral Game, Esdevium’s TimelineCortex Play, Gigi Bloks, Playcolor, PopJam, Retro Gaming Marquee, Face painting, Kidesign, Balloon Besties, SAM LABS, Geomag, 8.5m inflatable Helter-Skelter, BigJigs RailVirtual rock-pooling, Seashore touch table and Super 11.

On top of all of this, there will be live shows and entertainment throughout, including ‘Remix the Room’ Created by No. 1 co-remixer of Lady Gaga and Rihanna, E-Bop.tv and the Bopniks. With further top secret announcements still to come, Kidtropolis is 2016’s not-to-be-missed family event.

We have tickets already so we will definitely be visiting… my kids are all very excited! There’s so many amazing companies exhibiting and of course there’s all the YouTube guys that kids seem to go crazy over! We as parents have no clue… but rattle some of these names off to your kids and I bet they will know them. Mine did!

Kidtropolis sounds awesome… something completely new and different. We can’t wait!

For further information and to book tickets, please visit www.Kidtropolis.co.uk

How to Ensure Your Child Is Eating Enough Protein

Protein is a vital part of a healthy diet for a child. Protein is necessary for the growth and development of the human body; it can also be used as a source of fuel if other food groups that provide energy are lacking. Any parent knows that it can be difficult to make sure your child eats a balanced diet, especially if they’re a fussy eater. Depending on their age, children need different amounts of protein. A one to three-year-old requires about 13g, while a four to eight-year-old only needs about 19g, and when they hit their teens they need between 46 to 52 grams a day. With these little tips you can ensure your child is eating enough protein.

Cook Tasty Food Together

Find some recipes that you and your child, or the whole family, can cook together. By cooking fresh food, you will know exactly how much protein is in the meal and how much your child is receiving. Find foods that everyone likes; a fan favourite for everyone is lamb. Lamb is a great source of protein and can be cooked in a variety of different ways. You can make burgers, pies, stews and Sunday roasts. If you get stuck for recipe ideas, there is lots of inspiration to be found online.

But What If My Child Is Vegetarian?

You don’t necessarily need to eat meat to get all the protein you need. Other foods such as avocado, spinach, quinoa, nuts, fruits, veggies and grains are all great alternatives. You should also able to find vegetarian and vegan meats in your local supermarket; these are packed full of protein. You can either purchase them fresh or frozen. These products usually have a longer sell by date, as they are free from animal products.

Packed Lunches

Don’t be afraid to get a bit more creative with your kids’ packed lunches for school.  Make sure you are filling their sandwiches with something such as egg, hummus, chicken salad or peanut butter. By changing it up every day, your child is less likely to get bored with what they eat at lunch time; it also makes it more fun! Instead of crisps or chocolate, put some cubed or string cheese and crackers in as a snack. String cheese can be more fun than a packet of crisps as well as your kids can make it into different shapes. This way it will keep them more engaged in what they are eating. Another couple of great ideas is to include either eggs or nuts as well as some fruits and veggies in their lunchbox.

Experiment with Food

Keep your child interested with food by experimenting. Cut fruit and vegetables into interesting shapes, let them pack their own school lunches, and even encourage them to do interesting science experiments with food. By sneaking a little science into their food, they’ll be learning how to cook different foods for later on in life and will learn which foods are healthy for them.

With these tips it will make it a lot easier for you to ensure your child is getting a well balanced diet, that ensures their continued growth and development.

*Collaborative Post*

All back to School

Things have been rather quiet on the blogging front lately. I just haven’t wanted to sit in front of the computer at all much after my Camp Bestival mini break, then my holiday in France (more to come on those soon… I have a lot to catch up on!)… I guess I just wanted to enjoy the rest of Summer and give my kids my undivided attention.

This summer has been fab! The weather has been great hasn’t it? Last year was rubbish, I remember it being grey and miserable far too much but this year felt like Summer for once! Lots of long, hot, hazy sunshiney days which we made the most of with days out here and there….. or even just in our garden. Or someone else’s!

I didn’t want the Summer holidays to end and I NEVER want my kids to go back to school. I know I always say it but I love being with my children. I love everything about each and every one of them and they never EVER get on my nerves! Well, that’s not exactly true, my Teen does, quite often, but I’m not really including him in this because I didn’t see much of him to be honest… he was always out with his friends and Girlfriend. Or he was working his part time job as a life guard! And anyway, I STILL like having him around me!

My three youngest are pretty much always so well behaved. They all get along (mostly) and they really are a joy to be around. I’m sure that won’t always be the case (Teen was as good as gold too when he was their age!) so I’m appreciating it while it lasts!

But sadly, school beckoned and this week saw the first full week back completed.

It was quite a big year actually for all of them. My Girl started Secondary school and my twins went up to the Juniors.

I was terribly sad about my Girl leaving Primary School but our Summer together helped me get over that (a little) and we looked forward to the new adventure ahead for her.

Luckily, she had done a three day fun course at her new school the week before so had familiarised herself with the school and made some friends, which meant the first day wasn’t so daunting.

She put on her new uniform and looked beautiful. So different. Of course I shed a little tear.

My beautiful girl…

I still can’t believe she’s now at High School… it’s come around so quick. It’s freaks me out how fast time is going by. I’m just not ready for her to grow up yet!

I couldn’t wait to see her after school, give her a big cuddle and hear all about her first day! She was happy and said it had gone well. The rest of the week saw more of the settling in and introductory lessons…. I’m sure next week will be more realistic in terms of working harder and homework etc!

But that’s it. A big milestone hit!

My twins O and H had a big day too. First day in the Juniors.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted to delay them starting school because of being summer borns, and at no time since they were starting Reception have I wanted that more than I did on their first day back.

They’ve literally just turned 7… in August. One boy in their class is already 8. My boys are still so little compared to their peers. I worry about them all the time. They do struggle academically and I know it’s a big jump up again now from Infants so I’m concerned about them coping, but H was rather excited to be going back to school and seeing his friends. O was a little more apprehensive but was still feeling quite happy on his first morning.

Aww, my boys. O looks big in this photo compared to H. I don’t know why because they’re the same size! Must be a weird angle but anyway, they too had a great first day. In fact, they were absolutely buzzing from it if I’m being totally honest! They were chatting away excitedly in the car on the way home, telling me how much they loved it and that they couldn’t wait to go back tomorrow!

Wow! I wasn’t expecting THAT!

This was like music to my ears! And they were still very happy by Friday but were absolutely exhausted. The Juniors has worn them out so it’s time for a complete rest this weekend to recoup!

I’m so happy they’re enjoying it. Let’s hope it continues!

So all back to normal now. I will miss my lazy days with my babies and I’ll be counting down the days to the half term ;)

I hope you all managed to get through the first week back!

Insure with Max

When we think about life insurance, it’s usually about OUR lives. In case the unthinkable happens to US and we can’t work to pay the mortgage, rent and bills.

But what if the unthinkable happens to one of our children? I know it’s almost too difficult to even contemplate, but what if it did?

What if THEY are suddenly (God forbid) struck down with a rare illness that needs round the clock care?

Who is going to provide that care?

Chances are, YOU will be the one who wants to be there for your child in these most agonising circumstances.

You will want AND need to be a tower of strength for your child and do all you can for them. What you DON’T want is to be riddled with worry about how you can possibly do that when you need to work to pay the bills. Even if your partner is still working full time, you still might not be able to makes ends meet and then what do you do?

This is a real, frightening situation that many families have found themselves in and it’s precisely this reason why Insure with Max was founded, to at least help with your financial worries so you can concentrate on giving the care your child needs and deserves.

Insure with Max

For as little as 95p per week (depending on family size and salary and subject to a minimum £49.50 premium), Insure With Max will bring you peace of mind, enabling you to get on with the important task of caring for your precious child.

Child Max, as the policy is known, will reimburse your take home salary for 12 months while you’re on unpaid leave. It’s also flexible to suit your needs. If you want to continue to work part time, the insurers will pay the shortfall between your take home salary and your new lower salary.

It’s very simple…

Insure With Max ChildMax

Child Max is the brainchild of Max, an insurance man by trade whose own half sister passed away when she was 12 years old from a very rare illness. Max saw how financially difficult it was for his Dad and Step-mum, on top of the devastation of their child being poorly. His Dad asked him to come up with a form of insurance because when they wanted to be with their daughter and not have to think about anything else, they had to think about finances. 

I know this isn’t easy to think about, but if the worst was to happen, if you have Child Max, you will have one less thing to worry about.

If you want to know more, take a little look at the video below which explains…

We will be holding a Twitter Chat this Friday at 11.15am-12pm where we’ll be talking all things #ChildMax.. we’d love for you to join us and hear your thoughts on this. There’ll be prizes too so don’t miss out!

ChildMax

Talking to Young Children About Going on Holiday Abroad for the First Time

taking kids on holiday for first time

If you’re making plans for your summer holidays and have decided to take your young child abroad for the first time, you’re in for some exciting and memorable times wherever you choose to go. Kids can learn so much from travelling to other countries and seeing how they are different from home – and what is the same – and it will be a positive experience that will hopefully give them a love of travel that will last a lifetime and lead to all kinds of great adventures.

Travelling with kids can be really easy and rewarding too, and you can find some great child friendly holidays at awaywiththekids.co.uk.

Of course, the first time abroad will probably mean a lot of ‘firsts’ for your child, and it is a good idea to talk to them about some of the things they can expect and answer any questions they have in the run up to the holiday. Depending on how old they are, they may already have some ideas about what the country you are going to is like based on people they know who have been, but these may not always be entirely accurate! Here are some points you may want to talk to them about:

Language

Children who are already confident in speaking and listening may need to be prepared for visiting a country where people will be speaking a different language. Whether they are already aware that people in other countries do speak differently or not, the concept may not really make sense to them until they actually hear people around them all going about their normal lives speaking in another tongue! Explaining that this may mean other children they might try and chat to won’t be able to understand them can also be helpful, so they don’t feel frustrated or rejected if they are the kind of child who likes to talk to everyone! If you want, you can even teach them a few words in a language like French or Spanish and have fun preparing to say them to people on holiday!

Flying

If you are flying to your holiday destination and it is the first time your child has been on a plane, they are sure to have some questions about the whole process, from what happens at the airport to what being on a plane is like. Some kids will be extremely excited about getting to go on a plane, others may be nervous, but make sure you always talk about it as a positive thing that allows you to go anywhere in the world you want (even if you hate flying yourself), and that the people who work at the airport and on the plane are there to make sure you are safe and happy so everyone (including grown ups) has to do what they say.

Other Differences

Get your child excited about some of the things they might get to try, see or do on holiday, so they can build up a picture in their mind of what it will be like. Explain what the weather will probably be like, some of the foods they can eat, and about things like the beach.

Kids tend to be less stressed when they have an idea of what to expect, and so thinking about things they can relate to positively already like sunshine and ice cream can help them look forward to the holiday even if they have no point of reference yet for some aspects of it.

Collaborative Post
%d bloggers like this: