Monday, 10 November 2014

How young is too young?

While sitting in the cinema eagerly awaiting the Frozen Sing-along, I saw the trailer for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  And of course, I got to thinking (it's a dangerous habit, I know).  The film is rated 12A, which surprised me, because surely the Turtles are aimed at an audience much younger than 12!  But from what I saw of the trailer I wasn't entirely shocked, as it looked to be quite a violent film.

Fortunately, Squeaky isn't at all interested in watching Turtles, according to her they are "boring and for boys" - which I can't really argue with, and I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to see it either.  However, at least 2 of her boyfriends are Turtles fans, and have been pressing their families to take them to see the film over the half term break.

Small children out of shot, demanding ice cream
Now, I had a little look online to understand exactly what a 12A rating means, as it's been a long time since I had to be all that concerned about film ratings.  According to the BBFC website:

"[The] BBFC considers the content of 12A rated films to be suitable for children aged 12 and over, and we would not recommend taking very young children to see them. Works classified at these categories may upset children under 12 or contain material which many parents will find unsuitable for them."

Vague, but clearly it's leaving the decision making to the parents, rather than making a firm decision themselves.  I'm not quite convinced by that.  OK, some parents will make appropriate decisions about what their child watches, but others clearly do not. I visit families at home on a daily basis and am shocked at what I see very young children watching on music channels and dvds.  Not to mention various high profile cases of young offenders being repeatedly exposed to violent movies and video games.

I'm not saying that watching a 12A would automatically lead to a child becoming a young offender, but surely even with adult accompaniment, there should be some limit to how young children are able to watch films in the cinema.  I actually do consider the content of PG (parental guidance) films before I let Squeaky watch them, and there's no way I'd consider letting her go to a 12A film, even if it was "Barbie, Tinkerbell and Frozen go to the Ice Cream Shop" (which would be pretty much her dream movie, especially if they rode My Little Ponies to get there).

I sort of question what's going on?  A film which clearly targets a young audience, but has content that is unsuitable for them.  Why does it need to?  The television series isn't restricted to after the 9.00 watershed, so why make a film too violent or scary for the characters' fans?  I think I'd rather see a firm minimum age rating - be that 5, 9, whatever, than this wishy-washy 12A nonsense. If it's suitable, it's suitable, if it's not, it's not. Simple as that.

What's your opinion? How old, or young, a child would you take to a 12A film? And what regard do you have for film ratings at home?

(Photo thanks to Michelle Storey, used with permission. Other cinema brands are available.)

Friday, 7 November 2014

MATs and Maths

A full year into school, and half a term into full time Reception class, with a new teacher.  Squeaky's More Able and Talented (MAT) status, as awarded last year in the nursery section, has been confirmed by her new class teacher.  She's in a mixed age group class, with about 8 or 10 Reception children and 20 Year 1 children, as the annual intakes to the school are above the single class sizes allowed, so many of the classes are mixed age groups.

I have to be honest, I was a little bit concerned, as she's a pretty dinky creature, and not the most confident in big groups of children older than herself, but she has absolutely flourished in the more challenging environment.  The Reception children actually follow the same curriculum as their counterparts in the other class, which is solely Reception. However, as there are older children learning other things, she is picking up a lot of what they are doing, and absorbing it like a sponge.  Which leads to some interesting conversations when the Year 1 children were learning about Andy Warhol, and looked him up on the computer.  Squeaky then asked me "When are you going to die, Mummy?  Andy Warhol died on the 22nd"  (Of what, dear child?). How do you answer that one, then?

The literacy programme the school use; Read, Write, Inc, is taught across the school at the same time, and children are grouped by their ability, meaning children are working with different people to those they would normally sit by, and this has meant Squeaky has had to learn to get on with and communicate with older children, something that's out of her comfort zone.  But she's getting on with it, bringing home new reading books every week, in addition to her homework (which she LOVES to do, long may it last!)  She's actually reading the books as well, not just reciting from memory, as I've been challenging her with the words out of order, as they suggest in the back section of the book.  I love to read, so I'm very happy that she's going the same way.

Last year she was placed on the MAT register for her English skills, this year she's been added for English and Maths, a real achievement for someone not yet 5.  But to give you some idea, she beat me downstairs after bathtime the other day, and I honestly found her having put together the sum below.  OK I persuaded her to pose with it, but she did all the work herself. No help, no prompting, just scary 4 year old.  You can tell the photo was a couple of weeks ago, as it's pre-haircut.

I promise I won't turn into the kind of parent that pushes their child to sit their GCSEs at age 6, but I just want to make the most of her desire to learn, and encourage her to learn how to learn, not just sit back and coast because things are easy (I may have been guilty of that myself)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Princess Batarella

Welcome to this special edition of Celebrities at Home.  Today, we are joining Princess Batarella in her special woodland retreat.  Come with us, and enter the world of the Princess.

Meet Mr Pump.  Mr Pump stands sentry at the entrance to Princess Batarella's magical home, ensuring that only those lucky few invited guests are permitted entry.  Woe betide anyone who tried to make their way past Mr Pump without permission.  Their fate is one that few would wish to behold.

Once past the gates, we meet the Princess herself.  Princess Batarella loves to groom her pony.  This magnificent steed is Princess Batarella's loyal companion, and accompanies her on regular tours of her woodland home, helping to negotiate the rough terrain and carrying all the essentials a Princess may need.

Princess Batarella shares her dwelling with a host of fairy folk.  Whilst shy, some of them will show themselves, given encouragement from the Princess.  The fairies put a lot of work into maintaining their domain, and each has cultivated her own garden to provide all the things a fairy community may need.

And after all that work touring her domain, there is nothing a Princess likes more than to tuck into a freshly toasted marshmallow.  Grown by the fairies, and toasted over a magical flame, of course.

OK, just kidding.  Our pumpkin at home, an excursion to Mountain View Ranch to join in their half term bushcraft festivities (in Hallowe'en costume, naturally), and a sneaky roadsign from Neath.  Just because.

Princess Batarella's tour is linking up with Coombe Mills' Country Kids linky.  Are you?
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall