Change can be a scary thing for children of all ages. Unfortunately, in most cases it is unavoidable. Children go through so many changes even within the first years of their lives, they may have to give up a dummy, change from nappies to underwear, they learn new skills and information and have to deal with a range of new conflicts every day.
Few of those changes are within a child’s control. Which is why routine is so important to establish from an early age. Routine allows a child to feel safe and in control when changes occur that are outside of their control.
By offering a routine to a child, you are providing a solid foundation in their lives- so that they can rise to the occasion to handle big changes when they need to.
Many parents are concerned that structure can prevent spontaneity and creativity in children. However, routine actually encourages creativity in some ways, where we can make a comfortable environment for a creative child to thrive.
Benefits of using routines with your kids
1. It can stop arguments
If children know that they have to brush their teeth and pick up toys before bedtime, you don’t have to keep telling them. You just have to refer to the written chart.
2. Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities
Over time children learn to do the chores without being asked. Children love being in charge and take pride in having a sense of independence.
3. Regular routines help keep a schedule
Regular routines help kids get on schedule, meaning you won’t be late for the school run again.
4. Routines help establish those connection moments
Routines free up time for you to spend quality time with your child.
How to structure a routine (including free printable)
Write a list of your child’s daily tasks. This can include anything from brushing teeth to making their beds and packing school bags. Try to include your child in these tasks, and ensure that some of these tasks are actually fun activities.
Ensure they are realistic. The idea of having routine is that you will be consistent in enforcing the routine. Consistency is key.
Once you’ve written a list, establish which activities will be daily and which can happen on certain days. You may want to save treats like outings for the weekend. Make sure you include your child’s extracurricular activities in there if they have them. Pop them into the attached chart and stick it to the fridge, or somewhere where it can be seen easily.
Each night, talk to your child about the next day’s activities. Be easy on them though, some days the routine may not be viable- just make sure to get back on track as soon as possible.
Spring is in full bloom, so now is the perfect time to get children out and about in the garden.
Regular hands on experiences with plants, animals and insects provide an essential part of
learning and development. Gardening with children also helps to support their emotional and physical health and wellbeing.
The Early Years Framework encourages children to be aware of the world around them. Being outside gardening, children will be able to observe the weather conditions, which can lead to a discussion about seasons. From there, learning can be directed to the best climate to grow vegetables in, and then into the entire process from seed to consumption. Children can then be taught how we can even recycle our leftovers into compost and start the cycle all over again.
Having the opportunity to learn where their food comes from, children may even be more open to trying what the food tastes like when it has been harvested.
All that digging, raking and pushing wheelbarrows can work up a sweat! Not only does gardening with children encourage them to be physically active, it also helps develop fine and gross motor skills.
It’s not just physical skills that gardening with children encourages. Children working outside together are encouraged to take turns with the range of tools provided. This means they must work as a team to reach their goal together—an essential skill in their social development.
There is a huge sense of achievement in gardening and it can be a great tool to build self-confidence. Watching plants grow from seeds and nurturing them provides children the perfect opportunity to connect with the environment.
Here are the top 5 vegetables to plant this season:
Easter egg hunts can teach colour recognition, basic maths problem solving, beginner reading and even fine motor skills.
Here are some tips to incorporate learning into your Easter egg hunt:
1. Each child has their own colour
This way you can ensure that no one hogs all the eggs and you don’t have too many tears if someone misses out. Colour recognition is an important skill to learn too!
2. Set a target
Tell each child how many eggs are hidden in their colour. Ask them how many they’ve found, then ask how many are remaining. This incorporates basic maths skills into the hunt.
3. Make your own baskets
Using (child-friendly) scissors teaches fine motor skills that will be essential for when your child starts school.
4. Make a note of all your hiding places
Melted chocolate down the side of the couch is never a good look, so remember where you hid the eggs! For older children, you could leave a clue attached to each egg—this is great for comprehension and early reading.
5. It doesn’t have to be chocolate
You can buy tiny plastic eggs in different colours. In the eggs, you can put little prizes like toy dinosaurs, etc. Alternatively, hide some letters of the alphabet in each egg—the child then gets a prize that corresponds to that letter.
6. Most importantly, have fun!
It’s all a game. There will always be time to incorporate learning into everyday activities. If your child isn’t into the counting, or making the basket, just roll with it. It’s all about having fun and enjoying spending time together.
2. “Don’t play with your food.”
By default, a lot of children love anything that seems to be ‘naughty’. It may be plating up their meals differently. Try using a spiralizer to make ‘noodles’ from vegetables. Let them eat with their hands or serve up a platter of finger food for dinner!
3. “Children eat first—we eat once they’re in bed.”
We are always told that kids learn so much from watching us, so eat your dinner with them! If they see you enjoying healthy food, they'll soon become interested enough to taste that spinach and avocado smoothie as well… and maybe even enjoy it too!
4. “We don’t snack between meals.”
How many of us do this? We are making dinner, there is a pile of chopped veggies ready to go and our children come up to grab some. We tell them, “no, that’s for dinner.”
But if they want to eat veggies right now, why not let them? Even if they fill up on veggies for dinner, nothing is wrong with that. Maybe even have another pile on the chopping board that is for them that they can grab.
5. “Go outside and play while mum cooks dinner.”
Something that is widely encouraged by experts now is to get your child/children to help you make dinner. It may take a lot longer and require more patience, but teaching them how to use the peeler, or cutting up food with them, gets them involved in the process. They feel proud that they helped make the food, which makes the eating part more enjoyable for them as well. It also teaches them about food, learning what different veggies are and discussing the ingredients as you go.
At the end of the day, you are the only one that knows what’s right for your child, so just go with it and ignore all the supposed ‘food rules for children’. You know you want to!
For a child to be comfortable in themselves, it is important that we encourage a sense of belonging within their learning environment. Ways in which you can foster a sense of belonging range from having regular routines in place, to learning about the wider world.
Last month, our blog discussed the importance of regular routines to encourage responsibility in children. Once you have established those routines, you’ll be pleased to know that they form the basis of a child’s education.
From a healthy routine, children feel safe and secure. Routine encourages a sense of belonging. Once a child is secure in their environment, it is important that they understand that not all cultures are the same. Not only will this strengthen their own sense of belonging within their community, but will also help them form friendships later in life.
Chinese New Year: how learning about other cultures can foster a sense of belonging
Towards the end of January and beginning of February marks Chinese New Year; a celebration of the start of a new lunar calendar, celebrated by nearly a sixth of the world’s population. A significant event to a culture other than your own is a fantastic opportunity to teach life skills.
What is Chinese New Year?
In 2017, Chinese New Year falls on January 28th. It continues for 15 days. The celebration is never on the same day as it revolves around the time it takes for the moon to go around the Earth (the Lunar calendar).
What’s with the animals?
The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao [pronounced: sheng shy-oh], is based on a 12 year cycle. Each year in that cycle is represented by an animal sign, and 2017 marks the year of the Rooster.
And the colours? How do they help with a sense of belonging?
Red clothing is considered essential around Chinese New Year. The vibrant hue is thought to ward off the mythical monster, Nian. Traditionally, children are given red envelopes with money inside. If they sleep with these under their pillows, it’s said to bring good fortune and happiness.
ACTIVITY: What year was your child born in? This link has a calculator to work out the year, and will then link to their traits.
A new year means a new start for you and your wee ones! Why not get the children doing housework? After all, studies have shown that children who have regular chores do better at school!
Now that the new year is in full swing, its time to re-assess those resolutions. Everyone makes them.
"This year I will lose weight."
"Get a promotion."
"Spend less time online."
But how many are realistic? And how many people get their children to make the resolutions? In all honesty, most promises made at midnight are made under the influence of a few too many champagnes, and forgotten about quicker than they were conjured up.
Our children are usually tucked up in bed. They wouldn't even know a new year had begun if it wasn't for us. So this year, what about leaving the promises behind and starting afresh as the holiday season draws to a close?
Getting children to make 'resolutions' is not about making them 'better people.' After all, in your eyes they will be absolutely perfect already. Resolutions are about setting routines. Finding age-appropriate chores and incorporating them into your day-to-day living.
"This year I will help Mum with the washing up."
"Start making my bed."
"Get myself dressed."
The trick is to find a happy medium; a chore they will take pride in doing, and that will give them a sense of responsibility.
By having your child take ownership of that chore, you are teaching them life skills that are essential for greater success in school and adulthood. After all, research shows that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification.
Most of all, children want independence. They want to be able to say, "I did this all by myself." So give them that gift in 2017!
Children doing housework - where to start?
Get your child talking about what chores they notice being done around the house. Ask why they think the chores need to be done.
Let your child pick a chore he or she will be most comfortable with. Don't worry about whether it's big or small; it is the action in itself and the routine that you want to encourage, so it needs to be realistic.
Suggest a reward they might like if they continue doing that chore most of the time throughout 2017. Maybe a family day out, or a trip to see someone special.
The most important thing is to remember that it's about setting a routine and sticking to it. It might not happen every day, but provided it happens most days you can be pretty pleased you've done an awesome job teaching an essential life skill: responsibility.
Age appropriate chores
Children doing housework is not such a scary concept when you break it down into achievable tasks according to their age group.
Ages 2 to 4
Ages 5 to 6
All of the above, plus:
Ages 6 to 8
All of the above, plus:
Ages 8 upwards
All of the above, plus:
Disclaimer! In writing that above list I would like to note that my daughter Amelia is 2 ½ and is already learning to use the washer and dryer. She loves it! So this list is just a guide, but you can start MUCH earlier than you might think.
Don't underestimate the capabilities of your children, they are cleverer than we think!
What jobs do your children (or the children you nanny) do around the house?
Share with us in the comments below!
We recently came across this blog post from Netmums that discusses how The Raisin Test could help predict how clever and focussed your child is going to be at school.
It sounds a bit strange, but once you read the reasons behind it, it kinda makes sense. Could be an interesting thing to try with your toddlers?!
In 2012, the Government introduced the Pensions Act. This Act means that every UK employer must provide eligible staff with a workplace pension and contribute towards it. Employers must also automatically enrol qualifying workers into the scheme by the Staging Date assigned to them by the Pensions Regulator.
This legislation applies to all employers, including Nanny Employers.
What does that mean for me if I’m a Nanny?
That means that, if you qualify, you will be enrolled into a pension scheme. If this is the case, your employer will have to send you a letter telling you that you've been enrolled. If you haven't been enrolled, you'll still get a letter that will explain why.
To meet the criteria for automatic enrolment, you must be:
What if I don’t automatically qualify; can I opt in?
If you do not meet the criteria to automatically qualify, you can still opt in if you are aged between 16 and 75. However, your employer does not have to contribute if you earn less than the Lower Earnings Limit, which is currently £5,824 per year (i.e. £112 per week or £486 per month).
What if I qualify to be automatically enrolled; can I opt out?
If you have been automatically enrolled, you can choose to opt out. However, you need to do this within the first month in order to receive a refund of any contributions made.
It’s important to note that no pressure can be put upon you from your employer to opt out!
How much will be contributed to my pension?
At present, the total amount of minimum contributions towards pensions is 2%. However, from 1st October 2016, this will increase to 5%. This will then increase to 8% from 6th April 2018 onwards.
Here is a helpful table to breakdown how those percentages are/will be made up:
Earnings basis for contributions
In order to receive any employer contributions towards your pension, you need to be earning between the Lower Earnings Limit (£5,824 per annum) and the Upper Earnings Limit (£43,000 per annum).
Opting in and employer contributions:
If I decide to go ahead with a pension, can I transfer it (e.g. if I’m moving back to my home country)?
We asked our friends at Nanny Tax about this one, as it will be a common situation our KiwiOz Nannies will face.
The basic answer is yes; you can transfer your pension—so long as you have a pension set up in your own home country (e.g. KiwiSaver in NZ) that you can transfer it to.
What if I want to withdraw my pension rather than transfer it?
Unfortunately, it’s not that straight-forward/easy to withdraw your pension.
If you need to withdraw due to bankruptcy, you can negotiate with your pension provider to withdraw some of your contributions—however, they would likely charge a fee for this.
If you need to withdraw your pension for other reasons, then pension providers will answer requests on a case-by-case basis. Our friends at Nanny Tax said that pension providers probably would allow it if there were good reason for the request, but providers are not obliged to comply and may well charge a hefty fee. On the other hand, some pension providers may have stricter rules and may not allow withdrawals at all. This could be something to bear in mind when choosing a pension provider.
My Nanny is part-time; will I have to set up a pension for her?
Yes – even though your nanny might not need to be enrolled she has the legal right to join a pension. That means that you need to have a pension in place for her to join.
What if my Nanny doesn’t want a pension; do I still have to enrol her?
If your Nanny qualifies for automatic enrolment, you are legally obliged to enrol her. However, your nanny can always opt out of the pension scheme once they’ve been enrolled if they don’t want to take part.
When will automatic enrolment affect Nanny Employers?
Automatic enrolment is being introduced gradually. The day the new legislation applies to you is called your ‘Staging Date’. Your Staging Date is decided by the last two characters in your PAYE reference.
I’m a Nanny Employer and have received an Automatic Enrolment Letter; what does this mean?
If you’ve received an Automatic Enrolment Letter, it means that it is now less than 12 months until your Staging Date—which is the date from which you’ll have to provide a workplace pension scheme for your Nanny.
You may have also been sent a letter asking you to nominate a point of contact for automatic enrolment—also known as your AE Contact. This is the person that the Pensions Regulator will contact regarding all of your nanny workplace pension obligations.
From there, the next step will be to choose a workplace pension scheme, and then check whether your Nanny qualifies for a pension. If she does, then you’ll need to:
The short answer is no; it is actually illegal for you to ask potential employees whether or not they plan to opt in or out. A good comparison here is if you were to ask a potential employee whether or not they plan to get pregnant in the next year or so!
If you have any further questions about workplace pensions for your Nanny, or if you’re a Nanny and want to find out more—please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your KiwiOz Consultant, as they’d be happy to help!
If you're a parent considering hiring a nanny, you may have found there is more to consider than first meets the eye!
Nannies are official employees, and as such you are legally required to fulfil professional employment standards. That means you need to provide an employment agreement, be clear on hours, salary, holiday pay, sick pay, annual leave, etc., and organise nanny tax. Your nanny is legally eligible for standard employment rights such as redundancy pay and a workplace pension.
NET OR GROSS WAGE ARRANGEMENTS FOR NANNIES
There is a lot of confusion around whether to offer your nanny a net or gross salary. Along with other industry leaders, we highly recommend you to implement a gross salary nanny tax arrangement with your nanny.
If you agree a net nanny salary, you are in the firing line to absorb all of the additional costs that build up over time as a nanny employer. For example, if you agree a net rate of £350 per week, you will be liable to pay NI on top of that. If the NI rate increases, you will be liable to pay for the increase, as your nannies net rate is set.
If you had agreed a total cost (gross) of £450 for example, then this will include your nanny's PAYE. This is just one small example of how a gross rate benefits the employer.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that once you're all set up as an employer, it's easier than you might think to administer a nannies employment. You can organise nanny payroll and tax yourself, but for a relatively small fee you can get a nanny tax agent to do it for you, so you don't have the hassle of the paperwork.
KiwiOz Nanny Agency London works with a reputable nanny tax partner to deliver our families an industry leading tax and payroll service. To find out more, please contact us today for a free, no obligation chat about your needs and how we might be able to help.
We look forward to hearing from you!
With the new school year fast approaching, we thought it would be great to help get you starting to think about ways to prepare your children for the year ahead.
It’s also a really good idea to get yourselves organised well in advance, as there are always heaps of things to tick off the ‘back to school’ list leading up to the first day back. These could include things like ensuring all school books have been purchased, signing and sending away any forms, making sure all uniform requirements are met, buying new school shoes if necessary, labelling of belongings, etc. It’s always a great idea to get your children involved in these things too, as it will help them learn some organisational skills!
Beat the post-holiday blues
We’ve all had solid doses of the post-holiday blues, and the end of the summer break may see your little ones suffering the same fate. The best way to help mitigate this is to get your children excited about the new school year, and to get them thinking about what it is they’re most looking forward to. Get the conversation going about what they hope to learn, what teacher they’re hoping to have, what friends they are banking on being in their class, or even simply talk about the more practical side of things like transport arrangements.
If, over the school holidays, your children have fallen out of their usual morning and evening routines, then it’s a good idea to slowly reintroduce them again before the first day back at school. We don’t want tired and grumpy kids to deal with now do we?! Doing this will also ensure that their first week back at school isn’t too overwhelming, especially if after-school activities are at play as well. A good way to do this is to slowly bring their bed time closer and closer to normal each day leading up to the first day back, and to take the same approach with when you wake them up in the mornings.
Is your child feeling anxious or starting school for the first time?
If your child is feeling a little anxious about going back to school, or is about to start school for the first time, then you may need to take a few more detailed steps with them before their first day. It’s good to help them discuss why they’re feeling anxious, and help them think of ways to overcome the difficulties they are feeling. If you, or someone you know has also felt these things in the past, then it would be great to use these as examples to show them that they too can overcome their fears.
If they're feeling apprehensive about the transport side of things, then you could always do a trial run with them (and with your nanny if you have one!). Or, if they’re feeling scared about not knowing anyone, then it can be a good idea to arrange some playdates with other parents’ kids’ who you know will be attending the same school. It will help put them at ease if they know they’ll have a familiar face to look for on their first day.
Or perhaps they’re suffering from a touch of separation anxiety? This can be the biggest challenge for many children. So that it’s not such a shock when the time comes, facilitating ‘practice goodbyes’ by arranging small separations can be a really good idea. Aha Parenting suggest that you develop a good parting routine as well, such as a hug and a saying like “I love you, you love me, have a great day and I’ll see you at 3!”
It can also be a really great idea to help familiarise your child with anything new (related to school) as much as possible. For example, taking them into their new classroom before the first day of school will help them feel confident that they know where to go. If there are any orientation opportunities available to you and your children, then take advantage of them!
Discussing a plan of attack should anything ever go wrong is another fantastic way to help your child feel prepared, as we can never anticipate everything that could happen during a school day. Come up with a plan for when situations may not go as planned.
Also, if they’re completely new to school, then it can be great to help your child practice certain social skills. For example, how to use public toilets and explaining that at school there are separate toilets for boys and girls. Or practicing how to unpack their school bags at school, and practicing eating their lunch out of their lunchbox. If your child will be wearing a uniform, it’s also good to get them used to how it is supposed to be worn.
Finally, when the big day arrives…
…try to remain as calm as possible in your interactions with your child(ren) so as not to add to any apprehension or stress they may have toward starting or being back at school. It’s always important to remember that children pick up on their parents’ feelings and behaviour, and will only mirror the vibe you’re letting off!
That’s not to say you won’t be having your own emotional responses to your child going back to (or starting!) school, so it can also be useful to look looking into ways you can support yourself with this.
The third post in our MummyHood Made Easy Series is straight to the point! 3 easy things to do OUTSIDE with the kids. As usual, we're encouraging self led exploration and learning.
Welcome to the second post in our Mummyhood Made Easy Series. The series is all about making the lives of parents and nannies that little bit easier! This post is something that I'm sure many of you can relate to – meal planning!
Welcome to the first post in our Mummyhood Made Easy Series. The series is all about making the lives of parents and nannies that little bit easier!
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