Little Lovelies from Liliputians.com

“Clip it” — Now that’s a slogan we need in this house! We are always looking for pretty and practical hair accessories and so we were really happy to be introduced to Liliputians.

hyde park headbandWe were sent a few styles to review and they’ve been worn out and about by my two very curly-locked little girls.

The Hyde Park headband joins a drawerful of plastic and fabric-covered headbands, but this one seems truly the most comfortable. No horrible poking feeling behind the ears, in the words of my four-year old. And it looks good. It sits and stays put. She’s worn it to school. . . and, quite unbelievably, she’s worn it all day!

The Marylebone flip clip is probably the favourite of the bunch. It’s a distinctive colour, nearly a duck egg blue but slightly greener, and unlike a plain metal slide, it’s gentle. Despite a generous bow, it doesn’t sort of tip over or move around. It stays put. I’ve clipped it onto locks of hair or a small French braid.

marylebone clipsThe Cotton Tail is a well-made scrunchie. No trailing hems and the fabric is a soft, satiny cotton. Easy to pin up ponytails. And easy to take out.

cotton tails

. . . and a Cottontail hair scrunchie.

The quality of Liliputians’ hair accessories is very good indeed. At prices of £1.99 – £2.99, these pieces are extremely good value for money, considering I paid £4.99 for six horrible metal hair slides from H&M recently.

liesl headband

Rockin’ the Hyde Park headband in an urban scene. Worn with ivory cotton and tulle skirt and fluffy Hello Kitty print hooded jumper. Groovy.

Covered in soft, well-finished and substantial fabrics and trims, these are well made and will, trust me, be well used.

Thanks to Lili from Liliputians for entrusting us with her lovely products for this review. Now go and have a browse in the online shop: www.liliputians.com!

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Fair Weather Fun with Ilford Sea Rangers

Ilford Sea Rangers will set sail during the Summer Half-term holiday, May 25th – 29th in two traditionally rigged sailing vessels exploring the Essex East coast  from Brightlingsea Essex.

Sea Rangers
The Crew, dubbed SRS Barnehurst, after HMS Barnehurst, is part of a national uniformed, voluntary youth organisation, SeaRangers, for girls aged 9-21. Principal activities involve training girls in nautical matters, outdoor pursuits, community work and life skills for girls from every background.
Ilford Sea Rangers, SRS Barnehurst celebrated their 70th birthday in 2013. They’ve sailed during the Summer months at Fairlop Activity Centre every Friday evening since 1963. The Crew is led by three experienced Officers. In the Winter months, the Crew meet at Gants Hill Methodist church from 7:30-9:00pm for socialising, team building games, knot making, first aid, and to explore new activities and follow a recognised training programme. The Crew also enjoy outings, notably a recent trip white water rafting in Lea Valley.
lea valley white water rapids

Photo from VisitLeaValley.org.uk

For the half-term trip, the Crew of 20 girls and five adults will embark on a programme to include team building, competitive fun, RYA Sail Training, on-shore excursions and driftwood BBQ. The ships plan to anchor off a beach or cove each night to give crews time to socialise and talk over the days’ adventures.
The cost of the trip is £200 per girl, including food, the use of ships’ lifejackets and foul weather gear. Girls must be aged rising 13 at the time of sailing. No previous experience of sailing is necessary and a few berths were still available (yes, hammocks!) when we spoke with them this month, so please do contact them if interested in the trip or joining the crew!
So. . . Ahoy! And you adults out there can join me in wishing you were a teenager again.
Contact SRS Barnehurst Skipper Jenny Colclough with your interest: jcolclough23@gmail.com

Our Daughter in India

As the mother of  two girls and one of three sisters myself, the statistics about rape are a permanent reminder of just how unsafe the world is, to a person. The fact is that one in four women will be raped; this fact holds true in that within the number of girls and women named in the previous sentence, one indeed already has been raped and another the victim of childhood sexual molestation. We are middle-class, educated. . . . It doesn’t matter.

Indias-Daughter-leslee-ud-008

Fillmmaker Leslee Udwin pictured with the mother of two of the convicted rapists– the one who killed himself in prison after the arrest and the other whose interview forms the major narrative of the rape in the film. / Photo from the Guardian.

I watched Leslee Udwin’s documentary, Storyville: India’s Daughter with my husband last night. Originally set to premiere on the BBC and worldwide on International Women’s Day, March 8th, the BBC moved the airing upon hearing that the Indian government had banned the film from airing in India. It’s not surprising, given the level of corruption and openly-held misogynistic views of women held by some of the men speaking in the film. I was safely in my living room, viewing the dark side of human sexuality and power, a case of a desperate need for social and political change.

It’s a story of an amazing girl with amazing parents, “traditional people with modern values,” says Jyoti’s tutor, a young man whose words, in their very breath, held hope of the way forward for India — with compassion, respect, kindness. Such was his regard for his friend, Jyoti Singh.

Storyville was remarkable in its restraint. Udwin never showed Jhoti’s adult body. She was allowed to disappear into the river with the dignity of her family’s sacred and loving burial offering. As someone in the film said, it became about more than her. Jyoti’s story engendered an uprising of the voice of young people, their departure from the “old ways.”

And the film never became angry. In the end, it seemed to say that there was enough anger in the crime that is the basis of the film. And we all were exhausted from that alone.

Storyville isn’t a case of prejudiced editing or filmmaking, though I’m sure many will make this accusation in an attempt to save face — I am referring to the resistance of the Indian government to the issue of endemic sexual violence, as discussed in the film and as now witnessed in the government’s banning of the film. — But it’s not a face worth saving. I would say to those people to think, instead, of all the faces that are worth saving.

Storyville is available on iPlayer for a short while and will air again on BBC Four on International Women’s Day — Sunday March 8th at 10pm.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/mar/01/indias-daughter-documentary-rape-delhi-women-indian-men-attitudes

Girls will be . . .

Gender-stereotyping---is--008I’ve got two girls, and adults very often call one a “tomboy” and the other a “girly girl,” even though they both love princesses, playing dress up, climbing tall things, being active, building with blocks.

Even I am guilty of thinking of them in these sort of different types or labels which carry with them a set of preconceived and gendered ideas.

So why do we insist on labelling or typing children? And is it potentially damaging or limiting to their sense of self?

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2015/feb/23/sexist-assumptions-young-children-gender-stereotypes

Oh, Just the School Starting Age Issue. . .

Excerpted from the University of Cambridge article “School Starting Age: the Evidence“:

“Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.”

In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously

– David Whitebread

130924-back-to-school

“Back to School”. Homepage banner image by Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr Credit: Nick Page from Flickr.

In England children now start formal schooling, and the formal teaching of literacy and numeracy at the age of four. However, the UK’s Department of Education states clearly that compulsory school age is five.  Children born in the summer months, like mine, spend the entire first year at school in Reception class before they reach compulsory school age. Yes, she will be playing. But she will also start her journey in formal learning, in a formal setting, learning phonics and arithmetic, even ICT.

Am I happy about this? Not particularly, no. I am much happier to have her at home singing her ABCs, visiting the playground, playing with her sister, and freely using her imagination. At least, we have secured the consent of her school to allow her to attend part-time during the Reception year.

I have witnessed the Herculean efforts of the campaigners who head the Summer-born Campaign, giving advice to parents with similar concerns about deferring or delaying admission for their child to primary school. They do this day and night, answering queries that Local Authorities and the Department of Education will not. They help parents to exercise their rights under the law, to wait until their child is five to start formal education, in the Reception year. These parents are successful sometimes, but sadly, some–even those whose children were prematurely born or have developmental issues–are flatly and discompassionately denied. One can only guess that bureaucratic expediency is chosen over the welfare of these children. Or else what?

In our case, we are simply concerned that, but for a few weeks, our daughter would have started her journey in formal education next year. So we lose an entire year at home. We have been reassured by anecdotal evidence that she will cope, and because she’s bright and self-motivated, she will “do well.” Our response is, “Yes, that’s great. We agree. But we wanted that to start when she’s actually of compulsory school age.”

charlie and lola too small for school

Read by Pre-School Platinum of YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8fdu9PMgNo

There is a universe of common sense in the Charlie and Lola book, I am Too Absolutely Small to Go to School. In it, Charlie asks four-year old Lola, “Don’t you want to read words?” and Lola answers “I don’t need to read words and I’ve got all my books in my head. If I can’t remember, I can just make them up.” Lola eventually consents to go off to school, but on her terms. And the school depicted in Charlie and Lola is hardly one of ‘schooliforms’ and rules and formal lessons.

We understand that not all children have the supportive, loving and stimulating homes they so very much deserve, and that this is behind the impetus of the current government to consider the start of formal education at an even earlier age. But is starting formal education in the tender ages going to be the answer to Britain’s social problems? Because it does seem as if recent gestures by Education ministers are aimed at curing social problems rather than reforming the Education system.

And clearly, the research presented by Cambridge, states that the start of formal education, to promote educational goals, needs to go in the OTHER direction.

So here we are, stuck in a malfunctioning politico-educational system in which academics, educators, and parent-led groups are becoming advocates for childrens’ rights and doing battle against Education policy makers and politicians who can’t see the forest for the trees. As a reminder, the government’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that there is an “obligation to ensure that the child’s best interests are appropriately integrated and consistently applied in every action taken by a public institution.”

The Research and Political Action

“A recent letter signed by around 130 early childhood education experts, including Whitebread, published in the Daily Telegraph  (11 Sept 2013) advocated an extension of informal, play-based pre-school provision and a delay to the start of formal ‘schooling’ in England from the current effective start until the age of seven (in line with a number of other European countries who currently have higher levels of academic achievement and child well-being).

We were curious about where the UK stands in relation to the rest of Europe on this matter and, indeed, how these children are faring in comparison with ours.  Compulsory ages for the start of school throughout Europe from the National Foundation for Educational Research’s web site:

4

Northern Ireland

5

Cyprus, England, Malta, Scotland, Wales

6

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey

7

Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania , Poland, Serbia, Sweden

So have you seen now that the countries who start later have the best results from education?

Let’s use research—-our own and that of the experts–to help determine Education policy that’s in our childrens’ best interest. Let’s leave the anecdotal evidence to the chat boards.

Please read David Whitebread’s original article here.

In England children now start formal schooling, and the formal teaching of literacy and numeracy at the age of four.  A recent letter signed by around 130 early childhood education experts, including myself, published in the Daily Telegraph  (11 Sept 2013) advocated an extension of informal, play-based pre-school provision and a delay to the start of formal ‘schooling’ in England from the current effective start until the age of seven (in line with a number of other European countries who currently have higher levels of academic achievement and child well-being). – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.MpcyBeRB.dpuf
Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest. – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.MpcyBeRB.dpuf
Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest. – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.MpcyBeRB.dpuf

Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.

In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously

David Whitebread

– See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.MpcyBeRB.dpuf

DIY? Yes!

We_Can_Do_It!

“We Can Do It!” is an American wartime propaganda poster produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for Westinghouse Electric as an inspirational image to boost worker morale. The poster was seen very little during World War II. It was rediscovered in the early 1980s and widely reproduced in many forms, often called “We Can Do It!” but also called “Rosie the Riveter” after the iconic figure of a strong female war production worker.

This is Rosie. Rosie the Riveter, for those of you who don’t know her. She is a widely recognised image in American cultural and feminist circles; the poster girl for self-empowerment and self-reliance.

I stared at this poster for the better part of three years. It was hung in a classroom in which I often taught British Literature by the History teacher whose space I shared. She was a staunch feminist. I, in comparison, was a mouse.

But that soon changed. As the role demanded more of me, I met it and became an outspoken champion of whatever needed championing. And it felt good. To help someone out, to shout loudly about something that was ignored, to participate in the human debate. And I’ve been that way ever since. Looking at Rosie every day, I felt solidarity with that idea. Yes, of course, I could do it!

I also lived on my own then, and that meant doing whatever needed doing–fixing an in-sink disposal unit, changing the headlamp on my car, paying the bills, wiping and reimaging my PC. I did it myself. I didn’t even think of asking for help.

And then I got married. And left Rosie on another continent. For a while, I still carried on doing my thing, being myself. I pulled up carpets and replaced them. I dug up our entire overgrown back garden and landscaped it. And I enjoyed doing those things as I enjoy working with my hands.

But motherhood and the feeling of depending on another soon took away my hard-earned independence. It wasn’t my husband’s fault. He is an advocate of finding your own solutions to problems and we give each other the space “to work it out” before calling for help. That’s very much why we make good partners.

Nonetheless, I have often felt, since becoming a mother and a wife, that I should just let him take the lead when something needs fixing. Because I am busy doing other things. Because I can’t be bothered. Because it is part of this role of mother and wife to defer these things to your husband. I lapsed into this paradigm in which I take care of the children and he takes care of the house.

Thankfully, our washing machine broke down again the other day and I snapped out of it. Previously, I’ve had electricians and servicemen in. DH has had a turn at fixing it as well. This time around, he tried and couldn’t fix it. Muttered something about not knowing what else he could do. A little voice spoke up in my head. Why couldn’t I try to fix it? What could possibly be so difficult if all these other people had done it? And I realised that I had lost my mojo and that the little voice was calling it back.

And so I Googled the error code, shut off the power at the mains, found the hexagonal spanner, dragged the behemoth out from the cupboard, loosened the bolts on the top panel and had a look. And I saw nothing wrong. [Shit.] But I fiddled with a few wires and Eureka! it was working again.

Of course, it has since relapsed and I’ve had to call my father for advice on how to fix it properly, but hey. At least it feels like I am back in the saddle again. And Rosie and I have found each other once again. I have put her (a postcard) on the fridge as a reminder. And as a good example for my little girls who will see Mom and Dad using both spatulas and hammers equally.

Summer-Born Campaign Reports Positive first meeting with Chairman of the Education Select Committee

An update signalling progress from the Summer-Born Children campaigners!

summerbornchildren

Graham Stuart MP On Tuesday 13th May 2014, summer born campaigners Michelle Melson, Pauline Hull and Stefan Richter, together with Annette Brooke MP, met with Graham Stuart, Chairman of the Education Select Committee in his Parliament office.

The following is a summary of this meeting:

*Having already forwarded our January 2014 summer born report via email, we summarised the very serious problems being experienced by parents of summer born children, both during attempts to enrol their child in school at compulsory school age and later in their education when forced to skip an academic year, and we outlined our growing concerns about how the Department for Education is handling the situation.

*Mr. Stuart was very shocked by some of the cases we described, and expressed some surprise at the opposition to allowing admissions flexibility for summer born children; he was already aware of research showing disadvantages for some summer born children, and suggested that allowing…

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