Tuesday, 13 December 2016

December has seen the arrival of Stampy McSprinkle

The Elf on the Shelf tradition that seems to be sweeping the country would not take off in our house, as our ASD kids would not be happy seeing their possessions being messed around by an elf each night.  Instead of causing excitement, it would cause a meltdown each morning.  When we made footprints for Father Christmas 10 years ago to surprise our daughter and eldest son, we thought we were creating a magical experience in our house for Christmas morning.  Instead our daughter refused to come downstairs until we had hoovered away the mess.  We’ve never tried to recreate that magic again, as know the reaction we will get. 

Last month our youngest son came home from school and said someone in his class had told him Father Christmas was not real.  He is only 8 and too young for the magic of Christmas to be spoilt for him yet, so I looked for ideas on how to reassure him Father Christmas is true (he wants proof and won’t take our word for it) and came across a website called the North Pole Behaviour Department.  

They create a pack for your child with their name on green, amber and red cards, which you leave out each night for them depending on their behaviour for the day, with a progress chart for your child to tick off each day.  On the first day in December the child receives a certificate to say if they are on the naughty or nice list, as well as a card from their chosen elf with a small list of things the child can work towards to earn a green card each day.  At £10 for the pack, I thought it was worth buying for our son.  You need to fill in the details of your child’s chosen elf and so I asked a friend to write in the name of ‘Stampy McSprinkle’ with a list of three things for our son to work towards to earn a green card, so that he didn’t recognise the handwriting. 

Reward systems work for our son and Stampy McSprinkle has been a big hit in our house this month.  The first thing our son does each morning is to check what colour card Stampy has left him overnight and then he fills in his progress chart.  Today, our son received a mid month behaviour chart with a chocolate lollipop from Stampy to let him know he’s on the nice chart.   Sometimes our son stops in his tracks and thinks about the behaviour he is showing and asks us if we think Stampy will give him an amber or red card.  I think he may miss Stampy McSprinkle when Christmas Day arrives.  Fingers crossed, he will still believe next year and the magic can begin all over again. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Choosing GCSE Options

Last Thursday I attended a GCSE options evening with our daughter to help her decide which subjects she wants to take.  She’s had it all mapped out in her head for some time as to what route she wants to take, but now after listening to various teachers, she’s rethinking some of her options.  The final decision has to be made by 6 January and I’m hoping she will decide this week, so that she doesn’t worry about it over the Christmas holidays.  She will begin her GCSE studies after Easter next year.  Her school start them in Year 9 to give them longer to get through all the coursework and leave them plenty of time to study for the exams.  

I was the first year to take GCSE exams in 1988 and then a lot of them were coursework based.  Now the majority of courses appear to be 100% exams and the grading system is changing, so instead of receiving an A*-G grade, you will be awarded a 9-1 grade.  A good pass will be a grade 5, which equates to the top of a grade C pass and above.  It sounds confusing at the moment, but I’m sure we will all get used to the new system in time.

Subject choices have grown no end from when I did my GCSEs.  There’s a wealth of design and technology courses to choose from as well as engineering, film studies, PE, dance, psychology etc.  There’s also the opportunity to do BTEC courses.  A lot of the subjects have residential trips as well – the film studies department at our daughter’s school are looking into a trip to New York for either GCSE or A-Level students.  As this is a subject our daughter is 100% sure she wants to do, we better start saving now!!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Build up to Christmas

I’ve been reminded how many days there are until Christmas in our house since June by our daughter.  It’s always the first thing she thinks of after she has celebrated her birthday.  Now finally it is fast approaching and advent calendars have gone up today, so that we can begin the official countdown.

Both of our boys have the normal chocolate advent calendars and this year our daughter has opted for a beauty product one, which I managed to buy half price in October.  (Will need to remind myself next year to look for another bargain, as clearly good advertising ploy for the teenage girl market!)  Besides this, our children are spoilt by their Nan who makes them up an advent gift bag and every 3 days, they each receive a small present.  Our daughter has already convinced her brothers to take their turns for a gift on 1 and 2 December, so that when she has her first gift on 3 December, she will then receive her final gift on Christmas Eve.  On the days they don’t get a gift, they get a chocolate coin instead.  Although our youngest son tends to eat all of his chocolate coins in one go and has in the past emptied his gift bag on the same day.  

We sat down last night and wrote an advent activities list, which is similar to the bucket list we do in the summer holidays.  All three children have chosen things for us to do during the month of December including simple things like sending our Christmas cards, making reindeer food, having a games night, eating pancakes and the main event that we are all counting down to in our house is our visit to Harry Potter Studios on Christmas Eve.  This will take away the anxiety that the build up to Christmas can cause our youngest son, as this gives him something else to focus on.

Another tradition I’ve begun this year is an advent joke box for our youngest son.  He loves silly jokes and it encourages him to read, as this is not one of his favourite things to do.  This year, I’ve filled a small box with 25 Christmas themed joked and each day he can take one out to read.

It has been agreed that our Christmas tree will not go up until the kids have finished school to help our youngest son cope, as he doesn’t like it being up too long.  Our daughter has had her Christmas tree up in her bedroom since 22 November - it always goes up the day after our eldest son’s birthday and this year was still up in March.  I have a feeling it will stay up until Easter next year and then she will convert it into an Easter tree!!

Enjoy the magic of Christmas – the build up is the best part, as the day itself soon flies by.  Although in our house, presents to the kids are distributed over a few days, so that our youngest son is not overwhelmed with everything.  This means the magic lasts that much longer and all 3 kids are happy with that arrangement.