Category Archives: Achievement

The twins get competitive – is it genetic or just part of growing up?

Whether we like it or not; the summer of 2012 is going to be dominated by sport.  The air will be filled with team spirit, the thrill of competition, the elation of winning and of course the disappointment of losing. The twinlings seem to have caught the scent of what’s ahead for the nation and have been displaying their own competitive prowess.

It started with their school reading. I thought I was doing the right thing when I praised them for moving to the next reading level. But no. Ladybird, who as I’ve said before responds well to a smiley face, quickly saw it as a personal mission to work her way through the reading stages. I quickly changed my official line. But I was too late; their minds were already set.

One evening as Pickle read his school book and Ladybird reminded us that she’d done this level such a long time ago, I delved into my stash of parenting clichés to try and put things right:

‘It doesn’t matter what level you’re on,’ I explained, ‘what counts is how hard you try.’

I could have just come straight out with ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ but I was aiming for a point or two for originality. But it really didn’t matter how I phrased it, Ladybird had her own views:

‘No,’ she told me. ‘What matters is being on the highest level. And being the best.’

OK. So what do I say to that? I didn’t know. I still don’t know. Maybe the ‘taking part’ cliché is well worn for a reason. Should I have just stuck with that? It was yet another situation that leaves me wondering where my natural parenting instinct to say the right thing ended up.

And it’s not just the reading anymore. As they sit at the table felt tipping out another picture of me with bright red hair they’ve become a pair of vicious art critics, panning their stick men and giving brutal feedback on spelling. On Friday for the Sport Relief mile at a local athletics track they were both determined they were going to win, even though it wasn’t a race.

So this got me wondering; if I’m telling them it’s all about learning and fun (which releases me from any responsibility of their insensitivities) does this mean a competitive nature is genetic? I found my answer on, according to psychologists it’s a common phase children go through in their first year at school. Four and five year olds are apparently comparing their progress in a way they hadn’t before and this adds to the pride they feel when they reach a new milestone. Especially if they reach it first.

So we haven’t produced two ruthless competitors. It’s just another phase and probably more pronounced in the twins because they’re doing everything at the same time. But, if in say 40 years’ time we get a lady prime minister who’s joined forces with her twin brother in a bid for world domination; well, I did try to warn you.


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Filed under Achievement, Learning to read

Our first term done and dusted

It was relief all round when we reached the end of our first term. The last week or so was hard work, with Ladybird’s energy levels deserting her, leaving her in tears at the classroom door most mornings. So it’s been great to see the tiredness thaw and more buoyant and energetic children re-emerge over the holidays.

The end of term and the Christmas celebrations brought a selection of highs and lows. On the downside, we had a spate of illnesses and then our evenings were marred with getting the twinlings to write out their Christmas cards. On the first night Pickle sat diligently writing his, but after a while told me:

‘That feels like I’ve finished. Have I done 15?’

He’d written two. We worked at a pace of two a night, Ladybird normally destroying at least one for every card that made it into an envelope. Ladybird has made quite a few friends in the older years, and she got quite a few cards from these girls – but I hoped they’d understand that my patience didn’t extend beyond getting cards out to their class.

On the plus side I loved their first nativity play. The twinlings were innkeepers dressed in well, peasant costumes really. On stage they shielded their eyes from the dazzling lighting, as they peered out trying to spot us in the audience. It was a big step forward from their sing-song at pre-school last year, where they stood at the front, Pickle hands in pockets, yawning and looking at the ceiling. He remained tight-lipped this year but he was actually doing the actions, with just a few seconds time delay. Progress, though, definitely progress.

Thank you to everyone who’s been following our first term and for all the positive feedback on the blog. I started this blog with the aim of keeping family and friends up to date with our progress at school, I’ve seen my viewing figures grow and grow and have picked up some readers who don’t know us too, which is lovely. So happy new year to all of you and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog in 2012.

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Filed under Achievement, Uncategorized

Are summer babies really at a disadvantage?

My summer baby

For me, a summer birthday meant parties in the garden and a small pause between the next avalanche of presents. It always seemed like a good deal to me, but a recent report claims summer babies are at a disadvantage. Leaving me thinking perhaps a birthday party indoors is a small price to pay for an academic and sporting edge.

With my two summer babies still adjusting to school I was intrigued to read more about the report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.The twinlings’ school definitely acknowledges the differences in ability across the year – the younger ones are in a smaller group reducing the pressures of keeping up with the older ones. And even if that doesn’t help the twinlings it definitely eases my anxieties.

The report claims children with summer birthdays are more likely to be regarded as below average, less confident and feel less in control of their own lives – a disadvantage that is forecast to last a lifetime. Cheery prospects.

The biggest differences are of course between August and September born children. A small relief then that the twinlings have July birthdays, except they were actually due in August and were four weeks early, so does that, according to this report, make them even more disadvantaged?

One comment on the BBC website that made me chuckle, was along the lines of ‘duh, I thought everyone knew’, from a very smug person who’d managed to plan their children’s births early in the academic year to give them a headstart. As well as wanting to point out to the poster that nature isn’t always on our side, it made me reconsider my summer party theory as a case of misplaced priorities – especially as it’s always raining in July.

So I decided to see how this has panned out in reality. David Cameron, I found, is an October birthday, arguably he’s had a few other advantages alongside his month of birth. But I found both Barack Obama and Usain Bolt have August birthdays. So it’s not all bad news for those born in August if these two are anything to go by.

And as for my two summer babies, only time will tell.

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Filed under Achievement, Education