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Can you remember learning to read?

I remember when the shapes of letters started to have meaning to me and I remember the thrill of reading books but also things like road signs.

My parents read to me and the house was full of books both fiction and non-fiction. Reading made me want to write and look where that took me. I read about Cambridge University when I was a little girl so when I was told I had an outside chance of getting in, I was inspired to work hard and to do so. I always remember my late mum saying it was impossible to be lonely if you had a good book.

My Mum left school aged 11 so used to get the Reader’s Digest and learn the meanings of new words. She had an amazing vocabulary and could hold her own in any company despite her very humble background.

Reading is the key to a child’s future: it unlocks their potential and opens up a world filled with possibilities and for our poorest children reading well is their best route out of poverty: they do better at school, better in the workplace and are better placed to give their own children the best start in life.

However, every year in the UK, 130,000 children, leave primary school not reading as well as they should. This figure includes 40% of all children from poorer backgrounds – a shockingly high proportion. This means over the next decade almost 1.5 million children will start secondary school already behind with dismal consequences for their futures. As if poverty is not soul-destroying enough, the lack of good literacy skills keeps children trapped where they are with little hope of moving forwards positively finding themselves unemployed or in low paid jobs.

Save the Children UK’s research has also found that the UK’s GDP could be an extra 2.1% higher by 2025 if we can get all our children reading well by age 11- the equivalent of £32.1 billion.


I would love you to get behind the Read On Get On campaign – a national mission to ensure every child is a confident reader by age 11.

Act Now: Sign the petition calling on party leaders to make a commitment to get every child reading well at age 11 by 2025.

Here is the message to leaders

I call on you to make a commitment to get every child reading well at age 11 by 2025. Together, we will ensure that all children have a brighter future.
Together we can make sure that every child leaves primary school with the reading skills to shape a brighter future:

Find out more about the campaign

You have read this blog. You know the joy of reading. Take the time to sign the petition and play your part in fighting for a brighter future for our children.

If you sign the petition, you can then enjoy the amazing David Walliams reading you and your child a story.

Read On Get On

Read With Me

Aldi have some great news for mums and mum-to-be. From 18th September they will have a range of lovely goods in store while stocks last as part of their Special Buys range.

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When you are expecting, you want to look great but don’t want to invest huge amounts in clothing that by its very nature is short-term. The ultimate capsule wardrobe for the mum-to-be includes leggings, fashion tops and dresses all at amazingly affordable prices. What’s not to love about a Maternity dress for just £11.99?

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Aldi will be every mum’s beat friend with padded Nursing Bras for £6.99, non-wired for comfort and not missing out on style with pretty lace detailing.

Out and about

Check out Aldi’s stylish waterproof Baby Changing Bag for £14.99 complete with lots of pockets for the multitude of things you need with you when you leave the house with baby.

Baby and Toddler

Welcome a new baby with Bramble Bear, Bonnie Bunny and Country Creatures gift sets at just £9.99. The presents include a photo album, frame and brilliant bunting.

Make sure your baby is comfy and cosy thanks to Aldi’s great-value range of cotton-rich clothing. Including Baby Socks 5 Pack (£2.49), Baby Bodies 3 Pack (£2.79), Baby Sleepsuits 3 Pack (£3.99) and Baby 3-Piece Set (£6.99)

For toddlers there are Infants’ Jeans (£3.99), Infants’ Tights (£1.99) and Toddlers’ Canvas Boots and Shoes (£4.49)

Aldi are not forgetting the important of learning through play with brightly coloured Build ‘n’ Learn (£6.99) and Puzzle Car (£3.99), or the Colour Me Playhouse (£7.99).

Aldi’s Specialbuys go in-store every Thursday and Sunday and are only available while stocks last.


One lucky reader has the chance to win an Aldi Specialbuys Baby Changing Bag from the new range by leaving a comment telling me their top tips on preparing to have a baby for parents to-be.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T’s & C’s

The winner will be picked at random on 14th September 2014 and notified by 15th September 2014. . Delivery of the prize will be by 30th September.

The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 years and over only.

Prize will be as listed while stocks last. In event that stock is unavailable; the same value will be given in Aldi vouchers.

Win competitions at

We headed to London on Saturday for a fun space-themed food workshop to highlight Actimel for Kids held at L’atelier des Chefs cookery school.

There were a number of bloggers there with their children ranging from toddlers to my 10 year old in age. The children all gathered around a table with a space buffet with crackers in the shapes of stars and moons and the most luscious dips. There was also fruit including melon moons.

The exciting bit was when we went through to the kitchen and took our places to learn how to present healthy food in a fun way. Him Indoors and my 8 year old made a team and I stuck with my daughter who was not in the best of moods. All that changed as soon as she started using her knife skills and getting creative.


Our first challenge was to make a spaceship. We had to improvise as we don’t like olives so cut out circles of cheese instead.


We got confused when it came to making cucumber legs for our spaceship but did our best and added a cheese ramp for good measure.


This is what the spaceships were supposed to look like created by another blogger family.


Next we got a plate of healthy food options and were tasked with creating an alien face.


Our creative juices were flowing now.


Cucumber hair, grape ears and carrot horns!


Of course, there is always the fun of eating your creations.


My children loved the taste of Actimel for Kids. They liked the spacemen themed bottles with my son saying he thought they would make good toys.

I love how you can get essential nutrients into your child’s daily routine as part of a balanced diet. The flavours are yummy – Strawberry, Raspberry and Vanilla.

They work well for breakfast, in a packed lunch or as an after-school treat. They are free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.

For more information on nutritional information and pricing, check out the Actimel website. and like them on Facebook.

As my 13 and 8 year olds headed back to school, my daughter and I embarked on a new adventure of home education.

I think both of us felt a little naughty as she stayed in bed later than usual, dressed in casual clothes and was able to have real input into what she wanted to do that day.

We started with a walk to the village as I needed to get some shopping and to register with the GP.

“Are you looking forward to getting back to school?” asked the man who served us in the Co-op. “I’m not going back” she mumbled and I explained we were home schooling her. Blank look and no further questions asked.

When we were out I certainly felt like everybody was staring at us as if we were doing something wrong but then I am prone to see adverse judgment in people’s eyes. We had a picnic and chatted merrily.

On returning home, we did loads. She wrote a story showing great imagination and good spelling. I set up her some tests on arithmetic which she flew through in minutes. She is clearly going to need bigger challenges in maths.

We watched a video of a German story even though German is new to both of us. We looked at the words and then we watched the story in English.

We played a time capsule game looking at objects from World War 2 and listening to stories of evacuation.

In an attempt to prove to her father that I will not just focus on arts topics, we watched a video on augmented reality. Me showing an interest in anything to do with physics is rare but I was actually quite fascinated by this subject.

Learning is lovely but this day was magical. It took me right back to the days when I had my first son and relished motherhood so very much. Spending time talking, laughing, discussing and snuggling up – lots to recommend this way of life.

Oh and just to prove we can be a little offbeat too, we went into the front garden and made structures with bamboo sticks and planted sunflowers too.

The next day she was very tired. Home educators and my teacher brother tell me that I don’t need to do as many hours as they do at school as one-to-one teaching is so much more intensive.

What I love about home education

Quality time together without the tight deadlines of school

Learning together – a joyous experience

Closeness – physically and emotionally

What I worry about

It feels odd to do less than a full school day – I don’t want to let my daughter down by not doing enough teaching with her

Knowing the right balance between implementing the stuff they teach in schools and also being a little bit more creative

I am concerned that she does not love writing things down that much and I don’t want to give in to this. So I might have to implement discipline but I don’t want to turn her off learning.

That feeling of being a naughty girl as if we are both skiving off school and will get caught at any given moment.

Having said all that, I am seriously considering taking my 8 year old out of school too. My daughter is keen saying it will be good to have someone for company whilst I am doing other things. My son is also eager although I have to unpick the reasons why with him before we make a final decision.

So far so good methinks.

I would be grateful for comments, tips, advice and contacts as our journey moves into its second week.

Why have I chosen unsure as my word of the week?


1. I have embarked upon the home education journey with my daughter. I am reaching out to find out the best way to do this. We have learned a lot already. I remain unsure on when to take a break and when to go for it with gusto. I am learning as I go along and I am OK with that but the word unsure applies as we make our first tentative steps.

2. I let my youngest son walk to school alone this week. He seemed keen but then a little nervous too. We have talked this through and I will walk him tomorrow – he is keen to walk the last bit himself so we will work out what is the best plan as we go along.

3. My teenage son had a last minute panic before starting school again about catching the bus. His Dad is giving him a lift when he can and at other times my son is managing the bus fine after those feelings of uncertainty earlier in the week.

4. I am unsure about things after the disappointment of my husband losing his job so soon after making the big move South. I don’t have the faith in him as breadwinner that I once had and I need to remember neither of the job losses were his fault. I wonder if we should head back to the less expensive North but then we love it down here and we can head up to London or down to the South coast on a whim. I sense we will stay but it does not feel like home quite yet.

Although I am unsure, I think things are fundamentally OK. A baby that learns to walk falls over sometimes. The key is to keep getting back up again and then soon it will be climbing, jumping and hopping too.

Our family will too.

The Reading Residence