Another Adelaidian Blogger {Nichole from You Clever Monkey}

Continuing on with my recent theme of interviewing fellow Adeladian bloggers – today I’m pleased to welcome, mother of three and Early Years teacher Nichole from You Clever Monkey. She has the most gorgeous, rainbow, eye-catching logo for her blog (see how it came about here) and I absolutely love getting inspired from her activity ideas – not only in the classroom but with her children.


1. Where in Adelaide are you from?


I’m actually from country SA but moved to Adelaide after high school to attend university. We moved from Plympton back to the country five years ago just before the birth of our third child.

2. Where did the name of your blog come from and when did you start blogging?


I don’t actually remember where the name ‘you clever monkey’ came from, I think it was something my mum used to say when she was happy with the work or effort we put into something. I started the blog when I went back to university to study teaching as I was curious about how blogs worked and it was a valuable self-reflection tool. I thought about changing it when I came back to blogging after I started teaching but really couldn’t think of another name that wasn’t already taken that still suited the type of blog it was becoming with time. It seems to be heading more towards school based posts lately because that’s where I’m spending so much of my time right now.

3. How many years have you been teaching?


Not long. This year is my first year teaching full time. For the three years before that I’ve worked a mix of short term long contracts and relief teaching.

4. What age group do you teach and how old are your children?


I’ve taught teach preschoolers up to Year 2 so far. My own three children are 6, 9 and 11.

5. Your recent post ‘Printable Desk Mats’ has been doing really well on Facebook lately – I see it pop up all the time. I think it’s so great that you have free printables available on your website. What are you top 3 most popular printables?


Yes, the desk mats have been very popular but like most of my printables, I made them a few years ago as I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I really like the fruit and vegetable cards. My visual timetable cards have been such a great tool in the classroom. I love pattern blocks so have been using these challenge cards a lot
.

I’ve got quite a few more I’ve made for class recently so will be adding them to the blog when I get a chance. You can find all my printables now in the one place.

6. I think you and I share a love of all things rainbow. It was this post ‘Rainbow Stacker 5 Ways’ that first caught my eye and introduced me to the Grimms wooden rainbow stacker – I have the medium size one for Miss M.
Can you explain the importance of open ended play which toys such as this encourage?



Around here some of our favourite ways to play involve small world or imaginative play.  Play that lets you pretend, play that lets you take on another character, play that lets you make up the story as you go along, play that lets you take something and give it a new purpose, play that it doesn't matter if you're not all the same age. Over the last ten years as a parent I’ve become better at choosing resources that can add to such play. Intentionally I haven’t said toys because sometimes their play might be centred around something that you wouldn’t find in a toy shop but the shed, kitchen, garden or recycling instead. I encourage my children to see that most items can be used many ways.  Some of our all time favourite toys would have to include our MagnaTiles, Schleich animals and, of course, the Grimms wooden rainbow. They always get played with and have withstood years of use. I imagine that they will be in the cupboard when any grandchildren come to play.  We also have tubs of loose parts (collected shells, glass gems, different size stones, blank wooden people) and sensory bases (rice, salt, kinetic sand, couscous) in the cupboards for them to use as they wish. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll often see me posting photos of such play on our kitchen floor

7. You have an impressive 6,000 + facebook followers! Can you give me any tips? Mine have been hovering around 660 for quite a while ;)


No real tips. I’ve have a few posts that have been shared by educators in the US and the UK which have bumped my FB numbers along. I’m not always posting new content on the blog now that I’m teaching full time so I will sometimes share older posts on other FB pages. A lot of my posts are evergreen so I can share something I wrote a year ago like my line rocks and still see new people commenting on the post.

8. How did you spend the school holidays? 


Relaxing at home mostly. We’d been to Melbourne in the last break so everyone was very ready to stay and play at home. The kids took over the lounge room floor for the duration so that meant dodging three different Lalaloopsy houses most evenings so they could just get up and restart their play the next day.

9. Favourite Quote?

‘If we allow people to shape their own small worlds during childhood, then they will grow up knowing and feeling they can participate in shaping the big world tomorrow’ (Sobel, 1990)


Thanks so much for your time Nichole! Here's where you can find Nichole on social media.


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Miss M's Rainbow Room {and her move to a big girl bed}


Hi there!

This post has been a while in the making. It was back in August when we 'ditched the dummy' and not long after Miss M moved to her big girl bed. Since then we've been slowly transforming her room from nursery to kids bedroom (here's my second ever blog post when I shared her bird themed nursery). Make sure you have a squiz at what it looked like before! We kept the tree wall decal and bird mobile and just added a few other little rainbow accessories to go with her new big girl bed and furniture.



It's quite a small bedroom, and this configuration was the best we could come up with. The little gap between the end of her bed and the IKEA squares is just enough! We added the little drawers and doors to the IKEA squares to keep them looking a bit neater and less cluttered (Miss M loves hiding special things in there). I love cane baskets too and they fit nicely with the decor. You can't really see the rest of the room - not that there's much to see, just a built in robe :)



So here's how we went about transitioned Miss M from cot to bed in a few brief dot points (she's 2.5 FYI)
  • We took the side of her cot a few months ago so she got used to having that freedom and she did really well with it.
  • We gave Miss M the choice of keeping her bedroom, or moving to our other spare room and she chose to stay put.
  • We had a specific idea in mind of what kind of bed we wanted (tassie oak, light wood colour) but she still had fun testing out the race car beds in the shops. She wasn't too fussed on what we ended up getting. When the bed arrived she went along with her dad and granddad to pick it up with the trailer and then watched (helped) them as they assembled it. 
  • The cot and other white nursery furniture made it's way to the baby's room and this was all fine with her (luckily).
  • I checked out some quilts on line and chose my top 5 for her to choose the one she liked (we had already done a lot of talking about rainbows for her new bedroom). 
  • You'll notice in the photo below that her dolly 'Lily' has her own cot, and I got this on the same day as the big girl bed, so that Lily could go in her new bed too! This worked a treat!
  • And that was about it! We made it exciting and she has slept really well since we made the switch a few months ago. Her latest thing is wanting to sleep with the door open - so we'll see how that goes in the weeks to come.



Does anyone else arrange their books in rainbow order?!?! Or is it just me?
Love having this little bookshelf right by the bed

If you've been a long time follower of my blog - you might remember this post when I shared where my love of rainbows began :)

And here's an image from another previous blog post - I made this rainbow mosaic picture using Miss M's paintings cut into squares. It's hanging on her built in robe with some of her other art work.


Finally, here's a list of helpful links for where we sourced all of this awesome stuff! (Not sponsored)
Do you have a theme for your kid's or baby's room? I'm getting excited to start planning our baby's room next!
10 weeks to go!!

Lauren :)

"Rainbow Magic" by Sarah Tamblyn Designs

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Choosing the Right Kindy/School for Your Child

I recently called out to my lovely Facebook family if anyone had a question or a blog post idea - and fellow Adelaidan blogger and mummy to Miss L (same age as my Miss M) Beth from Almost Posh asked for tips and advice on choosing a kindy or school for your child. Thanks for the idea Beth - I'll do my best to give you my thoughts.

First of all - you might begin this decision making progress with public vs private, including primary/high school. I teach at an R-12 private school and this is what we're looking for for Miss M. Hubby makes a really valid point that it may be well and good for you to plan to send your child to the lovely local public primary school, followed by a private high school - but by the end of Year 7, your child will have strong friendships (and opinions on where they want to go) and it can be quite difficult to make a change. However, I'm not saying this will be the case for every child, it's just something to consider. If you're thinking public all the way through - many children from the primary school will go along with your child to the same local high school so they're sure to still be with some friends.

Speaking of friendships, it's always good to find out which kindy 'feeds' the school you're thinking of and plan to send your child there. It will make the world of difference on their first day of Reception/Prep if they have some familiar faces. Some private schools offer an ELC or Preschool so this can be another great option.

Private or public schooling isn't always a question of money for families (although it is probably the main factor), type of religion is another factor, and it's important to consider your individual child as well.

Next I guess you'd be thinking location, if you're going public you'll be zoned for a particular school. If you're going private then it's really a question of how far are you willing to drive, or are you willing to move house to be closer to particular school you want. This is the dilemma that we are having at the moment - send Miss M to my current school (with me) which is a half an hour drive (don't forget this is not only for school days but extra curricula, weekend sport, birthday parties, friends etc...), or our other option is moving house closer to another R-12 school we like, enjoying the lifestyle of walking to school and being part of the local community.

Anyway, let's talk about the school itself. Have a look on their website and see if they offer an Open Day or parent tours and go along to have a look. You might have a chance to talk to the Principal, a member of leadership staff, some teachers, existing parents or students themselves. Here's some questions you may consider asking

  • Class sizes (I think this is a really important one - the less children the more focus the teacher can give to each child - although this often also drives up the cost)
  • Particular areas of curriculum focus (eg do they use Jolly Phonics in the early years, is their approach to teaching Number hands on? etc).
  • What additional speciality subjects do they offer? (eg languages, music etc)
Keep in mind also that an Open Day is carefully planned and prepared for to showcase the school in the best light. A parent tour may be any time during a regular school day and the teacher may not even be expecting a group to pop into their classroom (this has happened to me several times while I've been teaching) - so this gives you a true representation of a regular school day. 

It may also be useful to check out the school's NAPLAN scores on the My School website. Generally speaking the more green you see, the higher above average the school's results are. Just keep in mind this is one snap shot of a few tests taken during one week of the school year - it's just a small piece of the picture of the whole school. 

And a just one final thought - think about the general vibe you get from the school. Is it welcoming? Friendly? Do you feel comfortable? Are the children smiling? Do they seem to be enjoying what their doing? Ultimately school should be a fun place where the teacher's make learning enjoyable.

I hope that sharing my thoughts has helped you if you are in the process of making this big decision for your family. If you have any questions feel free to comment below or drop me an email at teachertypes@gmail.com.

Lauren
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Pros, Cons + Funny Stories of Toilet Training

The other day I shared on my Facebook page that we had mastered toilet training and promised I'd write about it on the blog. It's crucial milestone in the life of a little person, a big step and another thing to tick off before baby arrives soon! Here's my pros, cons, funny stories and helpful links :)

The Pros


  • You spend 'quality' time one-on-one with your child and give them your full and undivided attention (well if it's your first and only child as in our case)
  • You keep up to date with your washing
  • You very quickly learn the locations of all public toilets wherever you go
  • No more nappy changes!
  • You knew it had to be done sooner or later

The Cons


  • All. The. Washing.
  • Cleaning the potty 10 times a day (if you use a potty that is)
  • You can't just go out whenever and wherever you like - it all depends on your child's bladder/bowel movements
  • You need to make emergency departures from activities or conversations
  • When you're 6 months pregnant (like me) it's quite a struggle to hold your child over a toilet and constantly bend down to help with clothes on/off...

Some funny stories from friends around the www;


  • First accident on day 1 of toilet training, and she weed on Danny Dog. Was very upset by this, must wash him immediately (this is my funny story)
  • Funniest thing she did was insisting on standing and cocking her leg to do a wee, just like our dog does (friend from my online mother's group)
  • I caught him carrying his poo filled undies to the toilet last week, to tip it in himself... very seriously he told me "Say bye poo mummy" After hands had been washed, it was high fives all round! (another friend from online mother's group)
  • On my birthday this year, Master 2 styled his hair into a very fashionable mohawk...using the poo from his undies...I realised then that he wasn't necessarily ready for toilet training. (Kyie from Kidgredients)
  • We used jellybeans as an incentive to sit on the toilet for my 3 year old. He knew that if he sat on the toilet he was rewarded with a jellybean afterwards. We were out one day at the shops and a sales assistant offered him a jellybean. He looked at her, worried, and said "I need to sit on the toilet?". Poor woman didn't quite know what to make of it! (Rebecca from Seeing the Lighter Side)
  • My daughter got the potty seat stuck on her head. No I'm not kidding. (Kate from ...The Online Water Cooler
  • Tried transitioning our daughter to the toilet seat insert instead of potty for the first time. She was protesting so in the struggle to get her on there, I dunked her feet in the toilet bowl instead, thinking her legs were hanging down (couldn't see past the 8 month pregnant belly). Hubby doesn't say anything until she's already in the toilet... Great help. Not a successful attempt in the slightest. (Holly from Simplify Create Inspire). 
  • 'I'm having a wee, mummy!' she called out cheerfully, as I ran up to her. She was sitting on the toilet, completely naked, her clothes in a little pile on the floor next to the toilet....right beside the big puddle of wee. (Karina from The Laney Files)
  • I promised her an ice cream if she did a poo in the toilet. Then, she smiled excitedly and said, ‘I’m finished!’ ‘But there’s no poo,’ I said. ‘Doesn't it want to come out?’ ‘No. I want an ice cream!’ And just like that, the poo urge mysteriously disappeared. (also Karina from The Laney Files)

What worked well for us;


  • We tried toilet training in the last school holidays (July) and it didn't go very well, Miss M was deeply upset when she had an accident and didn't want to wear knickers anymore - so we didn't push it and decided to wait a bit longer (best, decision, ever!)
  • We knew she was ready this time, her language was developed enough and we felt like we'd done all the ground work.
  • I made no plans for the week - so she had 3 days home with me and then 2 and Child Care
  • On the night before we started we got rid of all nappies except one for over night, so she knew she'd get to wear her comfy knickers the next day.
  • As I said, potty worked for us, Miss M's choice
  • Prize box was another good trick - with some edible treats and some stickers, bubbles, stamps etc. We're in the stage now of phasing this out for at the end of an accident free day.

Some other helpful blog posts



Care to share your funny toilet training stories?

Lauren x
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The Getting Dressed Everyday Tantrums... {Guest Post}

Today I'm a guest blogger over at My Tiny Wardrobe, a Sydney based online kids clothing store with such a great motto "For all the places you'll go and adventures you'll have". Founder Amy is passionate about supporting other mums working from home by giving them a platform to sell their designs. 

I'm sharing our story of Miss M's getting dressed tantrums that we endure almost every single day. 


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Oh how I miss the days when I could buy gorgeous little matching outfits and dress my baby girl in whatever I wanted...but that was back before she had an opinion and learnt that she could protest certain items of clothing if she didn't want to wear them.

I remember it all changing around about the time she turned two - we were looking for a cute little birthday party outfit for her, and came home with a blue T-shirt (sequins on the shoulders I might add) and fluro pink shorts (from good old Target). 

For quite a few months after that, Miss M insisted on only wearing clothes she had worn before, she liked her old daggy, comfy pants and tops. Anything new was off limits - so I quickly learnt not to waste my money on expensive items but stick to cheapy stuff that didn't matter if she refused to wear it. Oh and tags MUST be cut off!

Next I tried letting her choose items at the shop to see if that would make a difference - because as all us mums know, the time when they need new clothes rolls around rather quickly. They've either been washed too many times and turn a dull grey colour, don't fit any more or are for the wrong season. I was lulled into a false sense of security spending up at Big W - but did she wear any of the things she chose? No!

These days her issues seem to have evolved that it isn't the clothing she has an issue with, but getting dressed full stop. We've tried everything; letting her choose, daddy doing it before he goes to work, breakfast first/after, and many more strategies. She procrastinates, she has to sort out her dolly, or get a specific toy, she'll try every avoidance tactic in the book. Some warm days she'll insist on wearing long sleeves, wont wear a jacket on cold days, and the other day she insisted on wearing her favourite seahorse PJ top to go out with her Nanna... It can be very stressful on mornings when we have to be out the door for work and child care by 7:30!

So my little girl isn't a fashionista, nor does she love dresses and tutus but thats ok. She'll evolve and find her own style I'm sure. I really had to make a conscious effort to let things go - and pick my battles. What really matters? Being clothed? Yes. Coordinating tops & pants? Not so much. Socks & shoes on a hot day? Not ideal but she'll learn to tell me if she gets hot.

But in the mean time I'm having a baby boy in 3 months who I can start shopping for!! I've started collecting some cute bonds zippy's!

Can you relate to our story? And tactics that have worked for you?

Lauren

This post first appeared on My Tiny Wardrobe
Not sponsored.
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Hello Spring {Live Love Bean}

Well Spring is well and truly here - we have had some gorgeous weather here in Adelaide and the start of Spring was the perfect time to plant our Magic Beans sent to us by Live Love Bean. The special thing about these beans is the words imprinted on them, which turn into the cutest little sprouts. I chose 'Believe / Achieve' because I thought it was a lovely message. Perfect for school age children to believe in themselves and strive to achieve their goals. (By the way you can custom order the words - even company names!)


My little Miss M enjoyed planting the seeds with me, carefully transferring soil into the little pots, planting the seeds and lovingly watering them. We decided to experiment and put three inside the house on our kitchen window sill (which gets plenty of morning light) and three outside with our other pot plants to see which would sprout first (the window sill ones won!). We also wondered what might happen if more than one seed was planted in a pot - the result, was that one seed sprouted well before any others.


As per the instructions, you can expect to see a small sprout after 7-10 days, but it took probably 3 weeks to get this result you see in the photographs. So we had to be patient and keep on watering them!


The perfect book to accompany this rich learning experience is The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (read my Eric Carle author study here). We learn about all of the things that the tiny seed needs to grow and thrive, and it's a perfect way to introduce the four seasons.

Thank you Live Love Bean for sending us your magic beans to try! :)

Lauren
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Hello Sarah! {Working Mums Collective}

Hi everyone! Today I'm lucky to have fellow Adelaidan blogger who I have come to call a friend, Sarah from Working Mums Collective here to share her wisdom, advice and stories with us. She is mum to 5 year old Hudson and 2 (almost 3) year old Ashlee. Sarah featured me as one of her 'Motivating Mums' about a year ago (you can read the interview here) and it's been nice to reflect back on what has changed since then - Miss M now attends child care for both of my work days, this winter has definitely been better in the sickness department (for her not me!) and she no longer naps so there goes my 'me' time. So now it's my turn to ask Sarah some questions... Enjoy! And if you're a working mum I hope you find something useful!
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1. Can you share your top 3 tips for full time working mums?


I retuned to work full time when my son was four months old to a new job, which was challenging in many ways because I was still learning to be a mum and also learning a new job at the same time. I learnt a few things along the way that have helped in my journey as a working mum. Right now though, I am working part time, three days per week but I actually find the juggle harder now than I did when I was working full time because I my routine is out of whack.

So, back to the tips…

1. Be as organised as you can. When I was working full time I had a really good routine where I cooked dinner one day for the next night once the kids were in bed so I didn’t have the hassle of thinking about what to cook, which meant evenings ran much soother. Being organised for me was also about doing the washing mid-week, meal planning and shopping online. Being organised will look different to everyone but working out a routine and structure that suits you will help. I wrote a post titled 10 time saving tips for working mums that may be useful for your readers.

2. Make sure you allocate time for you to do something for you whether it is reading, exercise, catching up with friends or having a bath – whatever it is good for you – do that! Make it a priority because when you are working full time it is easy to burn out and not look after yourself. Self-care will save your life.

3. Learn to let things go. Its ok if your house is a mess and you don’t keep on top of your washing or if you have to use a packet sauce for your dinner. When you are a mum and working there are only so many hours in the day and letting things go will help in reducing stress and overwhelm in feeling like you are not achieving everything. Focus on what is most important to you and forget about the rest. Easier said than done and it has taken me a while to get to this point but life is so much better when you let things that aren’t so important go.

2. So you recently attended Problogger? What’s one thing that excited you? And one thing you learnt?


Problogger was an amazing conference. I took so many notes; connected with bloggers I had met online and made new friends.

The presentation that excited me was the opening keynote from Jadah Sellner at Simple Green Smoothies. I wasn’t familiar with her and her business but loved hearing her story of how she had started different business ideas and blogs before she got to where she is today. Her story was really inspiring and her closing quote really resonated with so many people: “It’s ok to be a glowstick. Sometimes we have to break before we shine”


The session I attended that had so many useful tips that I will share here was the session from Carly Jacobs (Smaggle) and Christina Butcher (Hair Romance) who together make up Little Blog Big.

The key take away’s for me from this session were:

  • Set specific goals and take action NOW
  • Write a list of 100 blog post ideas and keep it for when you need inspiration
  • Batch your tasks to stay productive e.g. write your week’s blog posts in one sitting, take your blog photos in one sitting
  • Set a timer for the tasks you are working on
  • Never sit down without an idea
  • Check your analytics for the most popular content and write more of that
  • Focus on quality content that is going to be read

3. Please share with us your other projects happening at the moment? 


I have just launched ‘The Personal Brand Project’ with Claire from White Blank Pages. This is an online course targeted towards uni students, recent graduates and young professionals to guide them through the process of developing a personal brand strategy to elevate themselves above the rest in their field.

The early bird registrations are now open – find out how this project came to life on Claire’s blog, white blank pages.

I have also been keeping myself busy with some graphic design projects. I have done freelance marketing and social media consulting for a number of years as well as a few graphic design projects over the years but have been working more with bloggers and women in businesses on branding, ebook design and other collateral through www.sarahpoppy.com

4. Your eldest Hudson started school this year. How did that go? And how’s he doing now?


For him, the transition to school has been great. He is one of the youngest so started off slow in term one but now he loves it and loves learning. It is amazing how far he has come in such a short time.

For me, the transition hasn’t been as easy. I reduced my work hours to three days a week when he started school and it has been great having time with my daughter and being there for pick up and drop off two days a week but I have struggled to keep up with everything from casual days to excursions to other activities. It is getting better and I think by the time he is in year one we will be in a better routine. I feel like I miss a lot because I am only at the school on two days but it is working better now. For a while I felt like home was unorganized and I wasn’t getting everything done at work that I wanted to. I am now job-sharing, which has been an adjustment for me too after working full time for so long.

Sarah with her kids Ashlee & Hudson

5. Any activities that Ashlee is loving at the moment?


Her favourite activity is our weekly visit to Kindygym. She loves getting to play and make new friends and especially loves the fruit time at the end. Her favourites are the trampoline for jumping and the ball pit for jumping into.

6. Favourite family friendly place to visit in Adelaide?


Probably the play cafĂ©’s – Bubbles is a good one and the kids absolutely love playing on the playground. It is a good place for us to go so we can have a grown up conversation while the kids play and also a great place to catch up with friends. My two always play together better when we are out than when we are home.

7. Your Instagram feed is so beautiful Sarah! Quotes, coffee, smoothies, your beautiful family… You’re one of my favourites to follow. So who do you love to follow?


Thanks Lauren. Instagram has to be my favourite social media platform. I can get lost in other people’s photos. At the moment I am loving Emma Kate Co (I always love her images) and World of Wanderlust who are sharing photos from their Moroccan adventures. And Lisa Messenger’s feed is always full of inspiration quotes.

It’s not long until I become a mother of two – your article From One Baby to Two is still one that sticks out in my mind the most. Your quotes “I didn’t realise how easy it was until I had my second child” and “I found the jump from one to two HUGE. I was not prepared at all” are so honest and real. 

8. Could you please share a few of your tips from this article? 


Yes, I found this to be a HUGE jump and one that I wasn’t prepared for… Now it feels like a lifetime ago but I can remember those first few weeks and months very well. Here are my tips:

1. Be as prepared as possible – have meals ready to go in the freezer for when you get home from hospital.

2. Ask for help – from friends, family, midwives in the hospital – don’t try and do everything yourself. It will make the transition a lot smoother.

3. Let things go – like I mentioned in the first question – focus on what is important and leave everything else.

4. Find a routine that works for your family – take advice from others but do what works best for you.

I wish you all the best Lauren and your experience may be very different to mine. I often say that I feel like I was a first time mum the second time around.

9. What’s next for WMC?


Working mums collective has taken a break of late but I plan to get back into it in the near future and will be calling our for contributors to truly make it a ‘collective’ of working mums sharing their stories, experience and knowledge with the community. Further down the track I would like to release the working mums collective online magazine – stay tuned for this!

10. Favourite Quote?


Where can we find you?

Website for consulting and design services: http://www.sarahpoppy.com

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Thanks so much for being here at Teacher Types Sarah! Looking forward to our next play date at Bubbles!

Did you know I've written two guest posts for Sarah over at WMC? Read them here...

Tips for Working Mums to Help with the Homework
10 Ways for Working Mums to Help in the Classroom - this one was published in Mornington Peninsula Kids Magazine! Was so exciting to see my writing in print for the first time.

Lots happening on Teacher Types in October after a quiet September... Stay tuned!
Lauren
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