It’s the new academic year, currently the burning issue for most school owners and administrator is about increasing school enrolment. The Nigerian private school industry is highly competitive and saturated. How does a school start out and attract its target parents/children?
“Business has only two functions – Marketing and Innovation” (Peter Drucker)
One of our followers on Facebook suggested a topic on healthy food components to be packed in the lunch box for kids and we have decided to put together our thoughts on this area. Packing lunch boxes daily for three months multiplied by three terms yearly can be a very difficult task. Even if you are the kitchen whiz woman, running out of idea of what to pack is inevitable. And the truth is most of us don’t have time. I see those “super women” on social media cooking up artistic and creative meals but if you are like me, we really want something we can quickly put together or throw into the snack box.
For many, it is not about what to pack rather what is healthy, so resist the temptation of just giving them junk food every day. And lastly, you still want to send something that the kids would enjoy.
So, we need snacks that are:
- Easy to prepare
- Kids would love
- Can be eaten cold
And here is my list of snacks ideas for our school lunch
- Fruits – if your child loves fruits, this is a sure snack. And you can vary it from day to day – oranges, tangerine, banana, apples, pineapples, pears, watermelon and grapes.
- Biscuits and cookies: Try as much as possible to limit sweet treats. If you want to include add something sweet, a sweet plain biscuit and cookies or oatmeal bar should suffice.
- Pastry- donuts, pizza, but keep this minimal. Maybe once a week
Remember to keep it healthy, vary the snacks, limit junk food and pack reasonable portions.
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My 3-year-old seem glued to screens, either watching TV, playing with phones or tablets. And i’m not the only one – all around me are little kids even younger than 2 years on one device or the other. For a lot of us busy Mums, it’s the easiest solution to keep them captivated and “quiet”. And when we see how easy they are able to navigate through the apps, we are amazed – they are truly digital natives.
Is screen time really bad for children? Why limit their screen time?
Screen time in itself is not bad. What is more important is the need to create a balance. The need to ensure children spend time outside playing where they get to exercise as well interact with other children and build social skills. And when they do spend time on screens like TV, mobile phones and tablets, ensure the programs are age appropriate, interactive and educational.
Here are a few tips to make time spent on screens as productive as possible:
- Schedule plenty of non-screen time into your child’s day: Unstructured playtime is important for building creativity, so young children should have time to play away from screens every day.
- Be with young kids during screen time and interact with them: Be there with them when they are playing educational games or talk about something you see together in an age-appropriate TV show or video.
- Research games and apps before getting them for your child: There are thousands of apps and games that claim to be educational, but not all of them are. So ensure that the games and videos watched on the screen are appropriate for your child.
- Keep devices with screens out of your child’s bedroom after bedtime, and don’t allow a TV in your child’s bedroom as this can distract from sleep and sleep is very important for a child’s developmental growth.
- Be proactive as parent: Proactive parents identify how to use screen time as fun tool that teaches the child reading, nursery rhymes, numbers, counting etc. Educational apps like 9ijakids is one way to merge the love for devices with learning and fun. However, this must never replace outdoor play and other social relationships that are critical for your pre-schooler.
On a final note – today’s child is drawn to phones and tablets like a bee to honey. But remember the big question “What are they doing on the tablets and phones? Use their love for devices to help your child learn without realising. Using fun educational games like 9ijakids is one way to ensure that their screen time is both FUN and EDUCATIONAL.
Download 9ijakids games today and kick off FUN LEARNING.
I remember attending the first PTA meeting when my child was a preschooler and I felt lost with all the new words being thrown around – fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, etc. So, you don’t feel the way I did, if you are newbie parent and your little angel will be off to school at the of this summer, here are a few common preschool terms to get you started
- Preschool: A preschool, also known as nursery school, playschool or kindergarten, is an early educational program where children combine learning with play. Children are most commonly enrolled in preschool between the ages of three and five.
- Montessori: Montessori is a method of education that is based on child directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori classrooms , children are allowed to choose their work while the teacher serves as a guide.
- Student centered learning: A philosophy that revolves around the idea that students learn better when they are the ones driving the learning with the teacher acting more as a guide. In a traditional classroom, a teacher would assign a book and children were given no choice, In a student-centered classroom, children are given a choice of what book from a list they can read.
- Development milestones: There are general guides on what your child should be able to do at different ages. The development milestones look at what your child has achieved in terms of movement (gross and fine motor), cognitive, language, emotional and social. Its important to remember that children reach developmental milestones at different times.
- Gross motor skills: Are skills your child needs to move and coordinate their arms, legs, and other large body parts and movements. So, crawling, running, jumping and going up and down stairs are gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills: Fine motor skills are movement using smaller muscles of the fingers, hands, and wrists, and, to a lesser extent, toes, feet, and ankle. When your child picks things up between his finger and thumb, buttoning his shirt, he’s using his fine motor skills. When your child uses fork or spoon, twist doorknobs, unscrew containers and holds a pencil, these are all fine motor too.
- Cognitive skills: refers to mental capacity your preschooler acquires to think, make decisions, and solve problems. The key cognitive skills for preschoolers are: asking questions, problem solving, color and shape recognition, understanding fact and fiction, understanding cause and effect and simple reasoning
- Sensitive period: This is a period when a child’s interests are focused on developing a particular skill or knowledge area. This means this is the time the child is most receptive to learning a particular thing and it’s the best time to teach it. E.g. the sensitive period for reading and writing is between ages 3-6yrs.
- Constructive play: When children use blocks, LEGOs, or other materials to make buildings or towers. A teacher might say: “Fatima made a pretty complicated castle during her constructive play today!”
- Dramatic play: When children pretend to be someone else, such as a firefighter or doctor, and they make up scenes and dialogue. A teacher might say: “We’d love to have you bring a few items related to going to work for the children to use in their dramatic play.”
- Exploratory play: When children discover how materials work. For example, when playing with water or sand, children explore how to fill and empty buckets. A teacher might say: “Today Osaze discovered how to use a bucket to build a sand castle during his exploratory play!”
- Self-regulation: How children learn to control their feelings and their bodies. For example, if a child wants to play with a toy her friend is using, she asks for a turn rather than grabbing it. A teacher might say: “I’ve seen so much grown in children’s self-regulation. At the beginning of the year children sometimes just take a toy they want even if another child is using it. Now I hear them ask if they can use it.”
- Social and emotional development: How children learn about feelings. It helps them feel good about themselves and helps them understand the feelings of other people. A teacher might say: “We are supporting children’s social and emotional development by reading books about friendship.”
As your child clocks 2 or 3 years old, one of the very important decision to make centers around choosing a preschool for him/her. There are so many preschools with so little information on them and this makes the whole process a daunting task. And because we know that early years are critical in setting up your child to be successful, selecting a quality preschool is very crucial.
In selecting the best school for your child, it is more important to find the “best fit” NOT the perfect school. Best fit means an environment that will help your child thrive and be their best.
Here are a few important tips to consider when looking for the best preschool for your child:
- Ask for referrals: Its best to shortlist schools based on referrals from close friends, family and pediatrician.
- First impression: Don’t take anyone’s word for it, visit the school to get a feel of the preschool. What are your first impression of the school in terms of safety, cleanliness, teachers, environment, class size, etc.? What you are looking for is a clean safe and child friendly environment.
- Safety: When it comes to preschoolers – Safety is key. What are their policies around the safety of your child from the moment you drop off till pick up? Did they consider safety when planning layout, furniture, resources, play area, common area and even interactions among children, etc.?
- Environment: Is the environment child friendly? Does it have an outdoor play area? This is important because play is very critical for preschoolers. Is the environment fun, joyful, active and nurturing? They must not miss a yes to these questions.
- Teachers: This is one of the most critical elements of the school. What are their teacher’s qualifications? What were your first impressions of the staff? Do they obviously care about the children? Do they appear caring and nurturing in their dealings? Does it appear that they enjoy what they are doing? What is the teacher to child ratio? Ideal is between 7 to 10 children per teacher.
- Curriculum: What is their curriculum like? Look for rich content, hands-on-learning and developmentally appropriate play. Is outdoor play a key component of their curriculum? Is there music, arts, craft, science experiments, sensory activities, handwriting, etc.?
- Class schedule: It would be good to have an idea of what the daily schedule for your preschooler is like? How long is the schoolwork? Is there enough play time? Remember children learn best through play so it must contain lots of play both indoor and outdoor play to help with fine and gross motor skill. Also, there must be enough nap time
- Communication: What is their process for communication between the school and parents. Most importantly, how do they pass on individual communication about your child? Because it is important you know how your child is doing based on expected developmental milestones.
- Discipline: How does the school handle discipline? How do they encourage positive behavior? What is their overarching philosophy on discipline? Remember, education is not about learning Math, Reading and Writing but the total child.
After your visit, the final decision will depend on budget, location and what is the best environment that would allow your child to thrive. Trust your instincts.
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August is bidding farewell and September is crawling in. For many parents, September is often dreaded because its ushers in the back-to-school expenses. Yes, it’s the time to pay school fees, buy new school supplies and ultimately struggle with kids who may not be ready to resume school after long days of summer holiday. How do you manage all the bills? A new school year doesn’t necessarily mean everything must be new and you must break the bank. Manage back to school expenses by reusing items from last year’s school supplies. Keyword “REUSE’ ‘and you can do that without feeling any guilt.
Here are supplies you don’t necessarily have to spend money on this new school year
Stores have new beautiful and inviting backpacks that are sure going to catch your child’s attention if you take them out on shopping, but you know what? Stores will always have new backpacks with never seen designs every back to school season. How long are you going to keep changing backpack every year? Now the idea is except your child’s backpack is shredded, nothing stops you from using it for several years. This is one reason I consider high quality backpacks that are built to last/. If this is what you have and they are still in shape, go ahead and use it and save that naira for something else
Lunchbox and Water bottles
Lunch boxes and water bottles are generally reusable and that should not make the school supply list this time except for extreme reason. The price may not be over the top as such however, there’s no point buying what’s not needed or what you already have.
You may never need to include this at all as the old ones can be made new again. How can you do this? Depending on how many leaves you buy for your kids, a times they barely exhaust the sheets and you can simply tear out the used parts for them to make it look new, you could also check out the ones used by siblings and cousins… what do you think? it’s just an idea.
The same applies to uniform, vests and underwear. If the uniform is still in good shape, reuse it and take it out of the list.
Shoes and Socks
Put your back to school supplies on a budget by focus on only important things that you have no two options for. Except the shoes are old and the socks are torn, you might just need to spend time washing and cleaning those sneakers to make them look new and back to life.
So, go check those last year’s items that are still in pristine condition and consider reusing them before rushing out to get another. This way, you are not only saving money, you are also subconsciously instilling some financial literacy skills in your child.
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Have you seen the memes that say ”My mother’s prayer keeps me going’‘? ”I come from a prayerful black woman; I can never fail “? They appear like ordinary memes, but they reflect the importance of mother’s prayers on their children. For we adults, some of the grace we enjoy today were all a result of our mothers’ prayers. I remember growing up, my mum will come to our room very early in the morning, lay hands on our heads and pray while we are half awake. Those things were meaningless to us back then but to her, she was simply sowing into our present and future. As parents, one of the best ways we can prepare our children as they prepare for back to school is by praying for them.
Here are 4 back to school prayer ideas for your child
- Blessing and Protection prayer: Pray for blessing and protection upon your kids in the new school year, guidance and favour and the grace to have positive healthy relationships with peers and teachers.
- A teachable spirit and motivation to work hard: The key to understanding and doing well in school is having a teachable spirit. Form a prayer around this area and the grace to be open to what they are learning. Pray against forgetful spirit and resistant to learning.
- Godly influences and friendships: Evil association corrupt good manners, pray against negative influence. Also, pray that God will protect them from conforming to the ways of the world.
- Confidence to stand up for what is right: Pray against peer pressure and the grace to resist it, the courage to speak against indiscipline (cheating, stealing, bullying, etc.) and any teaching contrary to what you teach them as parent.
- Kindness spirit: Kids need to be taught how to be kind or show kindness to people around them. Pray for God’s gift of kindness and compassion for them as they start a new school session. It is our responsibility to raise Godly kids and we need God to help us succeed. Therefore, there is not much we can achieve without praying for our kids
You may tailor these prayers according to the needs of your child. If your child is struggling with any subject or if you notice his/her result in a subject last session wasn’t encouraging, you could pray along that line too. And one last thing, don’t pray alone, let them say after you, let them imitate whatever you say and learn the act of talking to their maker.
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So, let me guess you have a head full of activities for your kids this summer, right? What are you trying to avoid? Boredom? You are not alone. Probably only one in ten parents don’t struggle with piling up activities for summer just so the kids don’t get bored. Somehow, on paper, that sounds like top-notch parenting, but it’s a bit less impressive in practice.
Boredom is something we fear. Most parents become unnecessarily worried when they hear ‘’mummy I’m bored’’ forgetting that in the actual sense, boredom is a major part of our lives. And making our kids handle it head-on just might be one of the best things we can do for them. Yes, the best way to handle boredom is to do nothing about it. At first, it can be a tad worrisome, they will complain, but the truth is that in a matter of few minutes later, they will find something to do on their own. That’s more than just okay, it’s an essential skill they will need for the rest of their lives.
Here are five reasons you must allow your kids to be bored.
- Boredom improves creativity
People naturally become creative when they are bored and that’s true for kids too. The human minds tend to daydream when they are bored and in the process of daydreaming, creative thoughts are sparked. So, when your kids have nothing to do, it gives room for them to exercise their imaginations and of course, that might just be one of the most important skills they can develop.
- Boredom encourages problem-solving
Resist the urge to fill up their cups for them. Allow their minds wander as this can allow for inventive ideas and solutions to their own problems. Your child is growing in a world that is increasingly yearning for Individuals who can solve problems, and this requires critical thinking. As they get used to finding things to do on their own, they are also getting ready for the world ahead of them.
- Boredom boosts happiness and makes kids motivated
I came across this statement in one of the blogs I’m following ‘Lucky are the ones that can sit in stillness, listen to their thoughts, and allow their inner selves to flourish. Kids that are savvy in the area of dealing with boredom positively are more likely to grow to become happier adults. Again, when kids grow, we won’t be there as parents to entertain or load educational activities for them. As they struggle to fill their own cups, they are in practice making their own decisions and finding ways to be interested in what’s going on around them.
- Boredom helps kids figure out their interests
In addition to creativity, when kids are left with their time and space alone and are free from schedules from parents, they can figure out what they like to do. This is a summary of psychologist Vanessa Lapointe in his article at Huffington post “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves”. When they are bored and alone, they might discover a love of writing plays, baking cookies, biking, crafting, or perfecting their jump shot.
- Boredom makes kids more independent.
According to psychologist Lyn Fry, “Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”. If you ever plan to raise independent kids who can generate their own ideas about what they’d like to do—and what’s feasible, afford them the opportunity of making peace with boredom.
So, when next your child says mummy I’m bored, you might just want to say congratulations, you are just about putting your mind to work. Lol, maybe that sounds like a savage response but it’s just something they’ve got to deal with. Quit trying to keep them busy 24/7! Let’s go intentional with our parenting. Boredom is the new big thing.
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Beyond the fun this summer lies the opportunity for making your kids develop some sense of responsibility. Vacation is good, summer camp is fun and while it’s nice to expose your kids to a variety of experience as they enjoy over 6 weeks off from serious schoolwork, summer can also provide the opportunity for kids to learn chores and contribute to the family. Yes, the thought of your child having a roommate when they finally progress to tertiary institution should be your major motivation to instil in them, every sense of responsibility. And yes, they are going to live with a partner eventually either as a husband or a wife and you don’t want your child to become a slob that is difficult to put up with. Therefore, resist the urge to do it alone and afford the kids some opportunity to learn this summer .
Here are 7 ways to motivate your child to do chores this summer
- First, explain why it’s important to do chores. Sometimes the only way to enforce obedience is by making the child see reasons why he/she must carry out a specific task assigned to them.
- Doing the chore together until your child is ready to do it on his/ her own. This can slow up the work for you truly but remember you aren’t doing this because you need them to assist you in the actual sense rather you are impacting knowledge and instilling a sense of responsibility in them. So, resist the urge to do it alone.
- Develop a list of chores (chore chart in this case) and be clear about what each person’s chores are for each day or week.
- After a task is completed, talk about why it’s great that a particular job has been done
- Before correcting, show an interest in how your child has done the job
- Add some bit of incentives to chores. Your kids would rather prefer to spend the whole day watching television. If you do a reward system like screen time after chores, then there’s a possibility that they will not be reminded the next day before they clean up their rooms, flush their toilets and empty the trash.
- Help them improve and be better by introducing more challenging chores. If they’re already used to clearing the trash bin, make it harder by having them fold their clothes entirely by themselves.
Chores from an early age helps shape kids into self-sufficient, responsible, well-rounded and well-adjusted adults. At least from 5 years and above, your child is expected to know some basic chores and perfect them day by day. Don’t read alone, click the share button to share with your network.
Holiday is here, School is out. Yes, it’s that time of the year again and you can literally read the joy on the kids’ faces. I hope you are fully ready and loaded? Have you also loaded the kitchen? Lol, trust me they are coming for the store already. Most importantly how do you plan to engage them for the next 7 to 8 weeks? Many parents see their bills shoot up as a result of the piled-up series of activities to keep them busy like summer camps, outings, vacation and adventures.
However, if you ever plan to spend little or less, here are our few suggestions on some budget friendly activities to keep the kids engaged.
- Learn Origami – Make paper birds, animals, airplane etc.
- Invite friends over for a game night.
- Shoot funny home videos of singing, dancing or just acting goofy. Get creative with your smartphone and flood your Instagram and Facebook with your kids’ creative contents.
- Buy and play cards and board games -Chess, Monopoly, Snakes and Ladder, Scrabble, etc.
- Learn to cook and bake various meals and snacks – Chin-chin, Puff-Puff, Cookies, Cupcakes etc.
- Make your own lollies and Popsicle using juice, Kool-Aid etc
- Conduct fun STEM experiments. Click here to download our STEM eBook on fun science experiments.
- Make a kite and fly it.
- Do Arts and Crafts from socks puppet to paper pinwheel to crazy glasses. Click here to download our craft eBook
- Have fun with water games from water balloons, water guns etc.
- Play balloon sports- Use balloons to play volleyball, balloon tennis,
- Organise a scavenger hunt
- Plan movie nights -Rent movies on DSTV box office for as low as 400 naira
- Create an indoor obstacle course and use pillowcases for sack race.
- Plan a picnic- go to the beach.
- Be a ‘’tourist “and go sight seeing
- Ride your bike
- Play football/Basketball.
- Read books
- Play 9ijakids game