Life Lessons from the Paralympics

I read somewhere yesterday, on Facebook probably, that when a door closes, open it again – that’s what doors are for! Oh how true.

Quite by coincidence the children were talking about having watched the Paralympics on television, which opened a discussion about overcoming difficulties in life to follow your dreams. They were hugely impressed that people who lacked what they take for granted were so successful through hard work and dedication.

We agreed that it’s about perseverance: believing in yourself and not giving up. Not everything in this life will come easily to most of us – very little in fact – but that’s no reason to give up, and that’s a valuable lesson to learn early in life.

I realise I’m walking a fine line here, but I truly believe there is a happy medium between the tiger parent and the one who is too scared to push their child a little. Children need time to be children and they all develop at their own pace (my daughter didn’t really speak until she was two but was potty trained by three; my son, with whom I could hold a reasonable conversation at 18 months, may well wear nappies at night forever…) but we have a duty to show them the power of perseverance.

Driving home in the car during the first week of the new term, my daughter (now in Year 1) was bemoaning her new ‘workload’ and was telling the little one how lucky he is to be in nursery. When quizzed more deeply she actually admitted to having enjoyed her new classes and all the new information she was taking in.

The step up each year should be a challenge and I can help by making that transition as smooth as possible. I’ve found that creating a routine around the new expectations has really helped my daughter to adjust. For example, homework is done during peak attention times (i.e. not at 6pm just before dinner) and good effort is rewarded at home as well as at school. Working together to ensure she has the right kit for each day at school makes her more responsible and confident in self-care.

It’s not all about the academic side of course, and we are lucky in that the extra-curricular activities at school are so good. My daughter is around the middle of her class academically, but passionate about dance and swimming. My role as a parent is to encourage her to keep focused on her school work whilst sharing and supporting her to develop her talents in the areas where she excels.

That’s really what it’s all about – finding the pearl in your oyster, so to speak, and nurturing it. There are a few of us who really are geniuses but for the vast majority (parents and children alike) we do best in the subjects we enjoy. Yes, we need to work hard and give of our best in all we do, but we should never underestimate the confidence boost that results from success in the things we love.

This is the beginning of a new school year. It’s a time of change and of opportunity; the opportunity to discover new interests, new friends and new challenges to overcome. It won’t be plain sailing all the way but by keeping the communication going, between parents, teachers and children, obstacles can be spotted early and solutions uncovered to help minimise problems.

Einstein, Caesar and Richard Branson – all dyslexic, all (I think we can safely agree) pretty darn successful! It’s important to remember that the things our children struggle with are a challenge to be overcome, never an excuse, but equally don’t sweat it if your child has trouble with a particular subject; help them to persevere but also find the one thing they really enjoy and help them to achieve success there.

We’re here to raise happy, healthy, confident and well-rounded individuals and the key to that is helping them to be successful in whatever area they choose.

Sophia Lee-Spencer is a blogger, mother-of-two and staunch BrainBox fan.

The 12 BrainBox Days of Christmas

You’ve sung the carols and watched the nativity play, now you’re looking forward to two weeks with the whole family and wondering how you’re going to keep everyone amused. After all, there’s only so much eating, television watching and wet, windy walks you can take!

Here are our very own 12 BrainBox Days of Christmas to keep the whole family entertained. If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, these might just do the trick…

BrainBox Roald Dahl is a whizz-banging, fizz-gurgling whirlwind of all that we love most about his wonderful creations. Our game features Dahl’s unique way with words, combined with Quentin Blake’s unforgettable illustrations, to bring the BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Enormous Crocodile roaring to life.

Buy it Here

One of the most hilarious new games to hit the shelves, Speak Out is a bit like trying to talk about your holidays while you’re at the dentist! Players fit a lip retractor and have to read a phrase from a selected card. Imagine trying to say ‘he’s my stealthy pet ferret named Garrett’ without being able to close your lips…

Our most popular board game, Qwirkle is as simple as matching colours and shapes but also requires tactical manoeuvres and well-planned strategy. Using the tactile wooden blocks, score points by building lines that share a common attribute, either colour or shape. Sounds simple, but imagine how much harder it could be once Granddad’s had his Christmas tipple and tries to help!

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Simply one of the funniest games we’ve seen since we played Twister at the office party, Pie Face does exactly what it says on the tin. Put a blob of whipped cream or a wet sponge on the ‘hand’, and turn the handle for a Russian Roulette style game of chance – you get a point for every turn of the handle without getting splatted!

Teaming up with Horrible Histories, we bring you the most gruesome collection of Villains ever to walk out of the London Dungeon. Featuring historical horrors from Vlad the Impaler to Jack the Ripper, BrainBox Horrible Histories Vile Villains combines the art and black comedy of Horrible Histories with our classic BrainBox format. One for the young teens this Christmas!

Buy it Here

Bananagrams, packaged as neatly as the fruit of its namesake (what a great idea, a fruit that comes in its own lunchbox), is like a mad cross between Scrabble, crosswords and Boggle! Once the timer starts, players race to build word grids with their letters. It’s a great way for children to start exploring letters and words, and it’s just as much fun for the rest of the family.

Who could forget that baby iguana and the snakes on Planet Earth II? Here at BrainBox we’re passionate about learning more about the natural world, and here are three of our most popular classics: BrainBox Animals, Nature and Predators. Find out about elephants and gorillas, the Amazon Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, and face your fear of snakes, sharks and spiders!

Buy These Here

After all that excitement, we’ve got another hilarious word game for you. In Obama Llama the trick is to describe the thing that rhymes with the celebrity you’ve picked. So how would you describe or act out Fred Astaire dancing with a bear? There’s even a whole card devoted to Tom Cruise!

A very popular game for us, combining eight different categories including Food and Drink, People and Places and Entertainment, the BrainBox Board Game is a real family favourite. Special squares allow you to pick your own subject category, battle against another player or gamble the cards you hold already in order to win the game. You might want to avoid the Food and Drink category just after Christmas dinner though!

Buy it Here

Now available in many different guises including Disney, Star Wars and even Guildford, Monopoly is probably one of the most played board games in history. Monopoly is a great way to teach children how to handle money and become property tycoons, but has arguably also been the root of endless family quarrels for generations. Remember that time Dad put a hotel on Mayfair?

Probably our bestselling classic game, and one of our first, BrainBox The World is a whistlestop tour of 71 countries. Our beautifully illustrated cards hold a treasure trove of information and useful facts and are a wonderful way of introducing children to the very best this world has to offer. Where else could you find out about Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, kangaroos and the Tour de France in one place?

Buy it Here

Last but by no means least is another classic and rival to Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit. Now available in many different forms, we’ve picked the Family Edition, recently updated and now in a simpler and more accessible format than ever before. In this edition there are two sets of cards, ‘adults’ and ‘kids’, so the older generation don’t need to worry about getting questions on Justin Bieber!

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is coming up, that time of year where you buy a cheeky pair of socks, a bland tie or something completely random picked by a small child for the father figures in your lives. Don’t they deserve better than that for all that they do? Surely this year is the year to trash the boring present trend and break out into the world of creating new fun Father’s Day traditions.

This week we have asked a few UK bloggers what they think dads really want this Father’s Day. The answers were quite surprising: they were all outdoors and not a single bland tie in sight! In fact it was all morse code, fishing and den building. WE LOVE IT!

Laura from Tired Mummy of Two said:
“We try and do something brand new that we can learn together on Father’s Day. My husband is a bit of a geek and loves anything outdoorsy. He wants to learn Morse Code, go fishing or do orienteering this year, something that my girls aren’t overly keen on but hopefully we can make it fun for everyone whichever we do”

The Flights of Fancy Morse Code set might be a great start to Laura’s Father’s Day preparation. It is a sure fire way to get a smile out of her Morse Code loving husband and get him and the kids learning something new together. You’re welcome Laura.

Donna from What The Redhead Said
“I think the children’s dad would really like something thoughtful rather than material – a lay in, breakfast in bed and some quality family time. He would love a nice meal too!

Alice from Life As Alice said:
“We have a tradition where we do something outdoors for Father’s Day, whether it’s a theme park or a long walk, we just get outside all together. This year we have decided we are going to do Den Building in a forest. It is something none of us have done together and that Hoff (my husband, their dad) used to do as a kid. If all else fails and it rains we’ll just build a blanket fort indoors instead, same thing just less washing”.

With that awesome idea in mind, thanks Alice, if you fancy doing something similar with your family, we checked out Pinterest and found this brilliant Den Building infographic which gives a step by step guide.

 

Let us know what you are planning for Father’s Day this year on our social media pages; we’d love to see what you’re getting up to. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Summer Holidays

The summer holidays are looming and just like most of the country we have the travel bug. Whether it’s a short drive to the coast or a long flight to somewhere fancy, travelling with kids can be a real struggle. We have put together a list of just a few travel must-haves for this summer’s ultimate road trip or flight.

Fully charged tablets & chargers
With all the research we did this was the TOP answer on everybody’s list. However much we get told to limit screen time, travelling with children has been made so much easier with the invention of tablets and phones and it seems it can be completely forgiven to use them on long journeys. Just make sure they’re fully charged and you pack the chargers for the way back.

Travel Games
Not all kids are into tablets and/or get bored of them pretty quickly. So be sure to pack some travel games and toys. The fewer pieces, the better though; there’s nothing worse than having to collect the bits up at the end or heaven forbid you lose a bit; you’ll hear about it for the whole holiday if you do. There are ‘back of the car’ safe travel games such as Story Cards, where their imagination gets them through the time. Or for the older ones there are knowledge based games where they learn and play too like Fast Flags, the ultimate flag matching game.

Travel sickness tablets & sick bags
Be prepared, if they have a history of travel sickness it is better to be safe than sorry. There is nothing worse than the smell of sick for the whole way to your destination.

Baby wipes & change of clothes
For those ‘oops’ moments. You never know with kids, they can make a mess in an empty room. Then there is the toilet issue; I’ll leave that there.

Drinks & snacks
There may be some delays in your journey and there is nothing worse than hungry children in a confined space. Cover the basics by packing some quick and easy snacks, the less messy the better, but you have baby wipes so you’ll be prepared.

Have you got any travel must-have tips? We’d love you to share them on our social media pages: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.