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  • Will you still be reading aloud to your teenager?

    I loved reading aloud to my children when they were growing up. To curl up with a book and watch their inquisitive faces as I shared a story with them was such a joy. I’m sure you have that same warm, contented feeling when you read to your kids, too.

    I have to say that when my kids got older and started reading on their own it was both a proud and sad time. It was wonderful seeing them progress onto chapter books, relying less on me for reading duties and happily losing themselves in a book on their own. But once they had become independent readers, I knew my time as Chief Storyteller was over. Or so I thought.

    reading aloud, kids reading, tidy books, kids bookcases Reading aloud together. Photo credit @_francescasantini_  Three Little Pigs blog

    The other day I met a mum who is still reading aloud to her 13-year-old. How brilliant is that? She and her son share an interest in history and when he started reading a history book that had been recommended by his teacher he suggested his mum read it as well. So she said ‘Well maybe we could read it together.’

    You’d think that hanging out with his mum reading would be the last thing a young teen would want to do but her son thought it was a great idea. So in the evening, before his bedtime, they sit on the sofa taking it in turns to read the book out loud to one another. And they both love it.

    A few years ago, research by the children’s publisher, Scholastic, found that three-quarters of parents were reading aloud to their kids when they were aged 5 or under, but that number tailed off as kids grew older. Only 20% of the parents surveyed read to their 9-11 year olds. What’s really sad is that around one-third of those older children said they’d wanted their parents to continue reading to them.

    When your child starts growing up you assume there are some ‘uncool’ things they won’t want to do anymore. But the reality can be so different. The mum I met likens reading a book with her son to watching a TV documentary together. They can discuss the subject, ask each other questions and enjoy the experience of learning together. She really loves that they can share their curiosity about the world through their love of reading.

    She says that reading aloud together is a natural activity for the two of them and that it’s lovely spending quality time with her son – which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy to achieve with a teen! Of course not every teenager wants to read with their parents – but it might just be that yours does. You never know until you ask... so I’m going to wrestle the Xbox away from my 14-year-old and find out...

    geraldine grandidier, tidy books

     

    Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • Getting ready for school needn’t be a headache

    Did you know, as mums and dads, our stress levels go up by 30% on school mornings and don’t return to normal levels till after lunchtime? Getting the kids ready for school, complete with coats, lunches, and homework, can feel like a daily test of your sanity.

    We talked to Jen of the Dad Network, whose son Louis who has severe dyspraxia and finds getting ready for school difficult.   Jen, a teacher, developed strategies to help Louis organise himself, which will help you get your kids organised and ready for school on time.

    These are her top tips

    1.Put homework, lunch boxes and uniform in a place kids can’t miss.
    Use a notice board in the kid’s bedroom, kitchen or hall to write up what you need for the next day.  You can hang up bags, PE kit and even the school uniform The Tidy Books Forget Me Not noticeboard.  Jen called the Forget Me Not a ‘lifechanger’ because it gives kids a visual prompt.

    tidy books, kids noticeboard, getting organised, ready for school Louis is all ready for the morning with the Tidy Books Forget Me Not. Photo credit The Dad Network

    2. Decide what you want for breakfast the night before
    Choose your cereal before you go to bed. Jen lays out the table each night, ready for the morning. You’ll find breakfast is speedier without having to factor in decision making time.

    3. Label everything in one colour
    Use big name labels in your child’s favourite colour. Labels can be added to coats, PE kit and water bottles so that your child can spot their belongings at a glance.

    4. Pick a favourite colour and stick to it.
    Colour coding is a great way to organise. Buy school pens and pencils all in one colour, so your child can see their belongings instantly. Kids, particularly dyspraxic kids are very tuned into visual prompts.  Colour coding helps them scan for their favourite colour and pick out their belongings quickly.

    5. Use a see-through pencil case
    Cuts down on rummaging time.  Your child can make sure they have their favourite pencil without tipping everything out.

    6. Get into the habit of making notes
    Kids with dyspraxia can struggle to remember the simplest of instructions, and it happens to all of us from time to time.  If you’ve ever found a letter from school left forgotten in the kid's school bag, then teach them to write notes.  Try a notebook or use the whiteboard of the Forget Me Not noticeboard.

    7.Timers
    We’ve all been there; your child’s in the bathroom to brush teeth, but they’re daydreaming in front of the mirror instead.   Jen and Louis use stop clocks to time teeth brushing or minutes left till leaving the house, so everyone knows when they need to be ready for school.

    For more information on living with dyspraxia visit the Dyspraxia Foundation website
    Thanks to Jen of The Dad Network and Louis for sharing their story. This blog content is adapted from an original guest post on the The Dad Network.

    What about you? Is getting the kids to organise themselves is the key to peaceful mornings?

    The Tidy Books kids organiser, the Forget Me Not is available now in Limited Edition new colours; Dark Grey and Soft White

    kids organiser, forget me not, tidy books, school run, ready for school Tidy Books Forget Me Not Kids Organiser in Soft White

    tidy books, forgetmenot, kids organiser, school run, ready for school Tidy Books Forget Me Not in Dark Grey

    geraldine grandidier, tidy books

    Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • Kids know best

    When my daughter, Adele, was about four years old, it was clear that she had a will of her own. There was a determination about her that I’d first seen when she started crawling and she’d move around the house exploring her new territory. I loved watching her, staying close enough to keep an eye on her but far enough away to let her find her own way of negotiating things.

    As Adele grew up, I was proud to watch that strong-minded character develop, but not everyone was convinced. I could see people thinking ‘Hmmm, she’s going to be difficult.’ But they were wrong. That strong-willed girl has turned into an amazing 18-year-old who has a strong sense of independence and whose opinions I really value.

    As a mum, I let both my children explore their world without too much interference. Of course I made sure they were safe, but I felt it was important for them to have their own space to figure things out for themselves. In that respect, I followed the Montessori philosophy of allowing kids to develop naturally, giving them chance to learn by their own actions rather than through rigid instructions.

    Adele was the inspiration for the Tidy Books strapline ‘Kids know best’ (it was also a bit of a tongue-in-cheek play on ‘Mum knows best’). I truly believe that, when it comes to reading, children are able to make and develop their own book choices when they’re given the opportunity. That was my thinking behind my first design, the front-facing bookcase, because it allowed kids to pick out a book without the help of a parent. It gave kids their independence.

    tidy books, bookcase, montessori, get kids reading, kids furniture Adele with the very first Tidy Books bookcase, made by Geraldine.

    My own belief is backed up by research that shows children should have more of a say in their own reading material. One American study found that kids whose parents were choosing their books were turned off reading. The findings also revealed that if a family were in a bookshop, a child would pick a book they thought their parents would want them to read. The conclusion was that kids like to discover books for themselves – and allowing them to make their own choices inspired them to read more.

    I totally agree. The whole ethos behind Tidy Books is to give kids a sense of independence so that they feel free to choose their own books. It widens not just their world of reading but also opens up the opportunity to make their own choices in life. Kids really do know best. Just ask Adele…

  • WIN a designer kid's bookcase and help reading charity Beanstalk

    Beanstalk came to us with a book storage challenge: how could we help their reading volunteers find the just right book to encourage a reluctant child to read? We knew it was perfect opportunity to design a practical book storage solution for their tiny office with the help of you, our Tidy Books followers. That’s why we’re offering you the chance to win a Tidy Books’ designer kid's bookcase and help Beanstalk at the same time.

    bookcase, Tidy Books, charity, Beanstalk, win Win one of our Tidy Books Bookcases

    Beanstalk is a national reading charity who train, vet and place volunteers in schools to read one to one with children who have fallen behind with their reading. We’ve been in partnership with Beanstalk since 2014, and with every product we sell online, we donate a portion of that sale to help Beanstalk ensure that every child becomes a reader.

    reading, Tidy Books, charity, Beanstalk, win Beanstalk volunteer and her student in action

    The Beanstalk team wanted to create a reading corner in their offices for the reading volunteers. The reading volunteers come to browse the large collection of books, when they’re looking for the ideal book to interest a child who’s finding books daunting.  

    Getting the right book builds a rapport with the child. That’s why it's so important to make Beanstalk’s book collection easy to browse. We know that our followers and customers value the opportunities to help others, and that they love a competition! More details on how to enter the competition at the end of the post.

    When we visited the Beanstalk office, we realised the scale of the challenge they’d set us! Books are stacked to the ceiling, there are books on the floor, and shelves of games stacked precariously behind the door. Space has to be maximised in their small office. 

    bookcase, Tidy Books, charity, Beanstalk, win We want to upgrade Beanstalks library with your help

    Beanstalk’s  reading helpers meet with a child once a week, away from the classroom to read, play a game and build rapport. For many children this is often the only time during the week when they are given options, asked their opinions, and able to enjoy quality one-to-one time with a consistent adult role model.

    Beanstalk aims to reach 18,000 children by 2018 and the volunteers are crucial to opening the door of reading to children.  

    “It's all about the quality of the volunteers ... they sprinkle our children with their magical reading fairy dust and open up the wonderful world of books to them.” (Beanstalk Schools’ Survey, Christmas 2015)

    To help the volunteers connect their children with reading, the Beanstalk team have big ambitious: in a very small space, they want to add a couple of comfy chairs; all the better to browse books in, and to have a space to display themed books e.g. bereavement or holidays or non fiction to help volunteers find just the right book for a particular child.

    We created a storage design wishlist for Beanstalk’s office space to create a welcoming library for the reading volunteers.  We included:

    1. A Tidy Books Designer Kid's Bookcase to display themed picture book, which are often hard to store and see.  
    2. A Tidy Books Box to be used next to a coffee table for returning books to.
    3. Two Tidy Books Sorting Boxes to store Beanstalk’s range of educational games that reading helpers play with children to build rapport.  

    Sounds good? This is where you come in.   

    bookcase, Tidy Books, charity, Beanstalk, win Win one of our Tidy Books Bookcases

    Help Beanstalk create a new reading corner when you enter our exciting competition to win a new Tidy Books designer kid's bookcase. Created with the help of an interior designer, the new colour range is designed to fit perfectly with modern decor. 

    For every 100 competition entries, we'll donate a Tidy Books kid's bookcase or storage product to kit it out.

    You can win one of Tidy Books designer kid's bookcases, created by an interior designer, when you enter the competition on our Facebook page.

    Hop on to Tidy Books Facebook page. Follow the 3 simple steps to win yourself a super Tidy Books designer bookcase!

    Remember, the more people who enter, the more we can donate to Beanstalk!
    Will you help Beanstalk volunteers find just the right book for every child they read with?

    Competition to win your own designer kid's bookcase ends 11th June 2017, midnight.

    ENTER NOW

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