Tuesday, 11 November 2014

10 Reasons why I'm NOT sending my twins to school yet....


10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem


As the end of the year speeds towards us I seem to be answering the same question over and over .....

Are your girls going to school next year?


Quickly followed by a sharp intake of breath when I say "no, they will be doing another year in their preschool room".

I haven't been asked a question so much since the whole "are they IVF" one everytime I poked my head outside during their first year. I really do despair sometimes that other people seem to feel the need to question and judge others so rudely. But I digress...as I often do.

In NSW Australia children can legally begin school if they are turning 5 on or before 31st July in that year. My girls Birthday is in July so they would indeed qualify as did their now 18 year old older sister 'Miss Teen' many years ago as she has a Birthday in June.

Miss Teen graduated high school last year and is just about to complete her first year of university. She has always done very well academically and I am very proud of her. I sent her along to school when she was 4.5 and it has really only been in the last few years that I began to question that decision.

Miss Teen spent her early childhood coming to work with me in long day care centres and pre school rooms. She was very bright and everyone told me she would 'be bored' if I didn't send her. I did have some concerns because at that time she didn't have the greatest attention span, found it hard to connect socially and was a very sensitive child...but she was clever and ticked all the school readiness boxes. And so I pushed aside my Mummy and professional instincts and sent her to kindergarten and although I don't regret that decision I often wonder if she might have had an easier time if I had just waited that extra year and not given in to pressure from others.

As the years went by there was a fair bit of angst about all her friends being older than her and 'always being the youngest in my class'. She also watched them all getting their licenses and being able to go out to legal venues without her. She always seemed that little bit younger than many of her friends through Primary school and I believe this often led to issues with self esteem and confidence as well as making those important social connections.

I didn't think about any of this when I made the decision all those years ago.

I never thought I would be in this position as a parent again but we were blessed with our beautiful twins and the years seem to have flown and suddenly I am being asked about sending them to school. This time around I have given it a lot of thought and am feeling really good about the decision not to send the girls to start their 'formal education' until they are 5.5 yrs.

So what factors have helped me come to this decision? Many in fact - this hasn't been a decision taken lightly but I'll share what I think have been the 10 most important reasons for my partner and I.

Why won't my twins be going to Kindergarten at 4.5 years?



1. Because I don't think they are ready emotionally or socially


I think we often underestimate the importance of children's social and emotional wellbeing. I've considered all of the following..

I've thought about how well the girls are able to take and follow direction, interact with their friends, cope with differences of opinion or things not going their way.

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem

How well they are able to communicate their needs and feelings with the use of words rather than actions and meltdowns and how confidently they currently share and take turns.

How confident they are with their self help skills, toileting and responsibility for self without others around to help them. How not being as confident in this area might impact them emotionally and socially.

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem

All of these factors impact on children's social and emotional wellbeing over time and to me this has been the area that we have focused on exploring the most.

2. Because I want them to play, enjoy outdoors and just explore childhood for another year


Childhood is fleeting and I fear we are expecting our children to grow up far to quickly now.  I grow a little despondant when I look at the small amount of time children are allowed breaks from classrooms to play and explore outside and get their bodies and minds moving. They seem to be asking them to make a choice between time to eat lunch and time to go and play before they are rushed back indoors again and told to 'focus'.

I know I attended school many (many) years ago now but I remember outside activities and games before classes when I was at school. We came in and sat down having already run around and 'shaken the sillies out'. We then had recess and then at least an hour for lunch.

There was plenty of time to play and also eat. I'm pretty sure our attention spans were a lot better after all that physical activity too.

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I worry about the children who are now being given so many labels because they won't sit still and focus in class. I know Ruby will be one of those children because she learns in a different way to her sister due to her sensory processing needs. It doesn't mean she isn't as 'smart' as her sister, it just means she needs lots of breaks to move her muscles and send information to her brain via her senses in different ways before she can sit for long periods and focus.

I fear that she will be labelled as 'one of those kids' because she won't sit still or focus in the way that she needs to in a classroom. I know just by looking at her when she needs to go and jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes or do some swinging or dancing before she can come back and focus.

I know many will say that I am her parent so of course I know that but how is a teacher expected to?

And what I say to you is that they should know because looking at the whole child and teaching in the way that they need to learn is their job. Unfortunately this aspect of teaching in formal schooling is rarely encouraged or embraced in Australia as yet and I firmly believe that it is the early childhood educators working in family day care and long day care that are leading the push in this area and trying to educate both the Government and the education department about the importance of listening and acting on  the information being passed on by early childhood educators.

The Educators in Ruby and Tara's long day care pre school room understand the unique ways every child in their care learns and interacts. They use play based learning, a wonderful environment, resources and intentional teaching opportunities to support the girls growth and individual journey.

They understand that some children need to run around before they can sit still for periods of time and they work with schools to ensure they pass on as much of this information as possible to support the children as they move onto formal learning. Unfortunately I also know that often this information isn't seen as important or dismissed as 'too difficult or requiring time that isn't available''.

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem

3. Because I believe they will learn more attending their current preschool 


I know we are lucky to be able to afford to send our girls to their preschool. I know that many find this difficult and so sending children to school when they become eligible is a huge drawcard for many parents as it means no more expensive childcare fees.

But I will say that we have made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that we can do this. We have gone without things because I know how very important these early years are to the foundations of a child's learning.

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I searched and searched and sat on a waiting list for ages so that I could send the girls to this wonderful place. There are many educators all across Australia (and indeed the world) providing the same important experiences for children though...in both long day care and family day care.

The search can be lengthy but I urge you not to give up as it is so important to get it right!
I've shared tips for parents choosing centre based care here and home based care here if you are interested in more information about my thoughts on this.

I realise that this isn't an option for all families but I'm just sharing the reasons behind our decision.

4. Because their 18 year old sister started when she was 4.5yrs 


As I mentioned above....having the benefit of hindsight and a glimpse into the future of the schooling world has been a huge factor in our decision!

5. Because I don't like how NSW kindergarten has become so focused on young children meeting academic outcomes and stages.


I don't want this article to become a debate, these are my personal thoughts and reflections and obviously not those of all educators or parents or indeed school systems.

But what I do know is that there seems to have been a huge shift toward expecting kindergarten children to jump from play to meeting unrealistic academic expectations.

I've read the NSW Kindergarten syllabus and let's just say it doesn't inspire confidence. I know there are some brilliant schools and teacher's out there following and implementing this syllabus but the trick for parents is finding them.

I could write a whole post on this topic as I feel quite strongly about it but perhaps for now I will just encourage you to do a little research about the syllabus and curriculum in your area when deciding what age to send your child!

6. Because my girls will struggle to get through a full day of school physically


Ruby still often needs a afternoon nap. At the very least they need some quiet time in the middle of the day to recharge or trust me it gets very ugly very quickly! They don't sleep at preschool but they don't go to preschool everyday...schooldays are very long for a 4 year old!

I have heard many people over the years talk about how their kindergarten children always seem tired or fall asleep in the car every day on the way home. I'm not sure why this is considered by many as a good thing?

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem


7. Because they do not currently have the attention span, concentration and focus required for the current system of formal education (and I'm ok with that..they are only 4!)


Not much more to say about this point really, I think the whole focus and sitting still to listen for long periods is an expectation that is often a little misguided when we talk about 4 and 5 year olds. It's something I don't want to force upon my girls especially when I know the opportunity for physical play will be lacking in school

And please keep in mind I am talking about concentrating for extended periods, I realise of course that they do need to be demonstrating some focus and ability to concentrate by this age and my girls both do.

8. Because it doesn't matter that they can read, write, count and name colours. It doesn't matter that they can tick off all the boxes on a school readiness checklist. They aren't going to be 'bored' or 'left behind'.


Just because they can write their name, count numbers and talk about colours doesn't mean they are ready. I know there are many 'school readiness' checklists and these do play an important role but they shouldn't be your sole indicator of whether a child is ready for school as you can see from the reasons I have already discussed above.

Even if a child is excelling cognitively it doesn't mean they will be bored if they don't attend school, it just means they are ready to be further challenged in their play based learning. There are always ways to extend a child's learning journey that are appropriate to all areas of their development...not just one.

10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem

9. Because they are going to be in school for a long, long time...I'm not concerned about this being a race to the end, I want it to be a slow continuation of their learning journey...and when they are ready it will.


There are 13 years of formal schooling ahead of them, I'm not convinced that waiting until they are 5.5 yrs will ensure they are left behind or alternatively ensure they will excel academically.

Neither forms a basis for our decision, what does is the fact that I am able to give them a little more time to find the pace they are comfortable with. I don't see the point in rushing them, I'm just aiming to give them a better chance to learn in the way they need to in the years to come.

10. Because I know my children, I know what they love to do at the moment, how they explore and learn and why they enjoy doing it this way. 

And because it is our decision as their parents.



10 Reasons why i'm not sending my twins to school at 4.5 years even though they could! Mummy Musings and Mayhem


The points above are our personal thoughts and reasoning, you might totally disagree with me and that is perfectly fine, you don't know my children and I don't know yours.

The age you send your child to kindergarten (or kindy, prep, reception, transition, pre primary depending on what area of Australia you live in!) varies across our nation and I have absolutely no idea why but it makes it an even more difficult decision for parents to make unfortunately.

Ultimately though, no matter what part of the world you are parenting in, it is a personal decision that should be made based on your children and your family's own unique needs, values, interests, strengths and perspectives!

And please don't think I am against formal education or teachers...that is most certainly not the case, I just think it is an important decision with many different factors to consider and we shouldn't feel pressured into thinking otherwise.

I wish you luck on your journey....just quietly I'm also pretty happy not to be sending my 'babies' off through that school gate just yet..

Do you have a middle of the year Birthday child? How did you decide when the time was right?


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Warm Wishes...



Saturday, 25 October 2014

Analysis, Reflection and Evaluation in Early Childhood Programming.


Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem


As early childhood educators we are expected to develop and follow a planning cycle to ensure that all children in our care are supported to follow and extend their learning journey. There are principles, learning outcomes and different guidelines according to where we live that must be taken into account but for the most part it is important that educators develop a planning cycle and method of documentation that suits their own individual style.

You can read more about my own planning cycle here but today I wanted to explore the evaluate and extend part of the cycle as I have been receiving quite a few messages from readers asking for help in this area.

As always with my posts for educators, please remember that I share how I interpret things and how I have previously learnt through my own formal training but also through my own personal experience in different care environments. It may not be what you have been told or what your Director or Coordinator or Scheme requires so you need to be aware of that as you read.

I do always encourage educators to question methods and procedures if they are being forced upon them though. You are a professional and as such have the right to question and seek clarification for the work and processes expected of you. But to do this means coming from a place of knowledge and understanding and confidence in your own planning style and systems so that you can confidently engage in debate.

So you've done your observations on the children in whatever format suits your style...now what? An observation isn't much use to your overall planning if you haven't reflected, asked yourself questions about the observation you recorded and then evaluated the answers. Without this step it is just an observation and that my friends has been a waste of your time. And no one wants that.

So let me break it down for you.....

What does evaluating/analysing an observation mean in simple terms? How do I start?

Well here's what I always ask myself when I reach this step. I learnt to do this over 25 years ago now during my training but I still think the questions are relevant, I have just incorporated a little of the language and context of the Australian EYLF now as well.

 5 questions to ask when you make an analysis of your child observation.


1. What learning took place here? (This is where I now reflect upon the EYLF outcomes and use the language of that document to guide my my responses...not listing specific numbers though.)

2. What strengths and interests can you identify from this observation?

3. Is there anything in this observation that concerns you from a developmental perspective? What can I do to support the child's learning in this area? Who do I need to speak to about this?

4. How could I further support and extend this child's interest/strength/learning journey?

5. Is this learning observation significant - can I plan future experiences from this observation?

I personally think the last question is very significant. There is no point trying to plan your environment and experiences for a group or individual child if the observation or learning that took place isn't meaningful.

When you first start taking observations it can be easy to fall into the trap of writing down every little thing a child does. With experience though you will see that it is more worthwhile to think about what you see happening in front of you first, engage with the child and if you feel it was significant write it down later. 

I like to take lots of photos, I never take notes as i'm not there to just observe every day. A child doesn't want to see someone sitting there with their head down writing notes as they play. They want you to engage and be involved in their play even if that just means knowing you are there watching them and not actually directly involved.

I can hear many of you saying now "But how do I know if it's significant?" (I know, uncanny aren't I? )

Ask yourself....

1. Did I just wish I had the camera with me to capture that moment or did I just take 50 shots of that experience/group/child/activity because it blew me away?

2. Did I want to share that moment with a co - worker or the parent/carer?

3. Did I think of a particular EYLF outcome (or they suddenly made sense) when I saw this particular interaction?

You'll need to think about how you want to document your observation evaluation. Some people do this underneath or beside their observation. I use my forward planning form as I find it easier to keep a sequence going and show clear linking if I keep all steps together. It makes it a little clearer in my mind (and I need that as there is usually so much going on in there lately and frankly I usually do this program step with a glass of wine in hand...!)

It doesn't matter how you do it, just be consistent so you always know where to find the information when you need it.

So now you have a written observation (in the format you prefer e.g learning story, anecdotal, photo collage etc), a review and evaluation from this observation of the learning outcome/strength/ interest that took place....now what do you do with it? You plan and extend!

Still with me? Hang in there, it's not an involved process, I'm just breaking it all down for you into easy to understand steps ( I hope!)

So let's explore how we extend from our observation and evaluation of learning.

6 Questions to ask yourself when planning extension activities


1. How can I further extend this child's learning or interest in this area...where can we go from here?

2. What specific activities could I plan that might fit into the program for not just the individual child but also the group?

3. Do I need to plan for an intentional teaching experience or just provide the environment and resources required?

4. What is my aim by providing these extension activities? (You might like to reflect on the learning outcomes and area here)

5. When do I plan to put this particular extension into the program? 

6. Is this extension a short term or long term goal?

I write a summary answering these questions on my forward planning form and then add to my fortnightly plan in the 'Individual Focus" box. No codes, just the name and extension activity planned. Parents or others reading my plan don't need to see all the specifics, I have the information all in one place on the forward planning form if I need to pull it out.

Ok, final step in the cycle.

Planned Activity Evaluation/Reflection


This is usually pretty brief for me. I come back to my forward planning form, write down the date the extension activities were completed and anything significant I observed. You might ask:

1. Was the child interested in the experiences provided?

2. Did the group join in the planned activity, experience, intentional teaching opportunity? How?

3. What would I try differently next time?

4. Was there any parent feedback or input regarding this experience?

5. Can I extend or further challenge?

6. Were there learning outcomes achieved?

Now you are back to the beginning of the cycle of individual planning! If you are able to keep reading without falling asleep I will take you step by step through how I do the above cycle. But please keep in mind that this is a system I have developed because it works for me. You could do something entirely different but the principles are the same overall.

Ok, deep breath people, stay on your learning journey (ha...see what I did there?) ...here's one I did on one of my own twins as an example for you...I hope it helps.

Step 1 - Do your observation

This is an example of my photo observations - pretty simple, the photos really tell the story.

Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Step 2 - Complete Analysis & Forward Planning

Complete an analysis of the learning observed in your observation - decide whether the observation is significant and  extension would be useful to the child's learning journey. (blue column)

Step 3

Think about and document possible future planning/extension activities (purple column)

Step 4

Plan for when you will provide your extension activities...it might be in one week, it might be over a number of weeks. Make sure you write the dates down. (green column)

Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 5 - Plan and include on program 

I then add the planned activities into my 'individual focus activities' box. No numbers or codes, just the activities.

Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 6 - Complete the cycle

When the activities have been completed I go back to my forward planning form and do a short evaluation of the activity/intentional teaching. (yellow column above).

I hope that made sense! If you have any questions just ask in the comments section below.

I'd love to know if you have a similar system or have been struggling in this area!

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Warm Wishes...



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recycling Fun with Rubbish and Pallets!

You know we love to make play resources from recycled pallets and this one has been on my list for quite some time. Well if I'm honest, not my list, Daddy's list!

He has again made my vision become a reality and says it was one of the easiest of my 'bright ideas'  to build. When I posted a picture of our finished pallet sink a few weeks ago on my facebook page it proved very popular so I promised to share with everyone how we made it.


Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem


I think it turned out beautifully and I had just the right spot in the sandpit ready to go!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I'm often asked where we get the items we use in our recycle and upcycle projects so I thought I would take you on a little journey through one of our favourite places to visit on a weekend.

I know that probably sounds awful to most of you reading but I just love looking through other peoples trash and finding something I can turn into treasure for very little cost and i personally think it is an important learning journey for children to be involved in to.

We live in such a throw away society at the moment I like to show my girls that you don't always need to go and buy something new. We wander around our local revolve store and talk about what things might have been used for and why people might have brought them to the dump (tip, trash). It's not hard to spend an hour there!


Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Our twins Ruby and Tara love to explore and investigate and tell me how we could use things if we take them home...they are ever hopeful and never see trash, just treasures to be rescued!


The revolve centre is located in a big shed at our local dump. It is an initiative of our local council and houses an eclectic collection of used goods that people have disposed of but that have been rescued from the rubbish pile and offered for sale at usually very reasonable (dare I say cheap!) prices.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem
It's not pretty but serves such an important role in the sustainability practices of our community...and is a magical place for early childhood educators like me!!


There are indoor and outdoor areas and with a bit of creativity and imagination you can find a use for most items there. Some weeks there is a lot to choose from, other weeks not so much but that is the fun of the hunt!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem
On this particular visit we found this little beauty and my dreams were finally realised...yes I know I really need to get out more but stay with me, it gets more exciting!


We dragged out a few pallets from the stash under the house (doesn't everyone have a stash of pallets under their house?) and began to lay out the pieces.


Doesn't look like much here does it? 

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Let's break construction down to a few easy steps...

Step 1


His patient self took a few boards off another pallet and measured them against the sink length. You'll need two long pieces of pallet timber to form the length and two shorter pieces to form the width.


Step 2


Lay your pieces out to form a frame as shown below, check measurements again


Step 3


The frame should fit the sink easily, test by laying it inside your makeshift frame before screwing your frame together to form a secure tray.




Step 4


Now you will need 4 short pallet lengths and 1 long length to make a frame with legs like the one shown below. Notice that the front boards of this pallet have now been taken off to use. 

Screw together at the legs, the back of the pallet will form your kitchen sink cupboard/splashback.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 5


Screw the frame to the standing pallet and you are ready for the final few steps already! His patient self also added a pallet length to the top to form a small shelf and neaten the look a little.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 6


Now secure the sink frame you made earlier to the stand and cross your fingers that the sink still fits!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Drop the sink into the frame and you are ready to 'dress' your sink. We use a bucket under our sink holes if  we are playing with water so we can recycle it onto the garden.

Even if you don't fill the sinks with water though there are so many ways to use this new resource.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Have to say my girls do love to wash their dishes in the sandpit though and who am I to stop this beautiful role play...certainly saves the sudsy mess normally following these same helpers in my own kitchen!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Yes, I do love it when a plan comes together and yet again we have managed to turn someone else's trash into a little treasure for our backyard playspace.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Does your council have a recycle centre where you live?



If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow me on FacebookBloglovin and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!


Warm Wishes...




















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