I still can’t get over the fact that soon I’ll have a little boy in school. I keep getting asked if we’re both ready, and I’m so conscious that I want to make sure that Max is as ready as he can be (even if I’ll never be ready!). He’s a child who often finds it difficult to adjust to change, and it’s clear that school has been on his mind a lot lately. Despite the fact that outwardly he seems really excited about it all, there are lots of signs that he’s more anxious about it than he’s letting on.
One of the things I’ve worried about most is the fact that he’s really not interested in reading, writing, or numbers, and I know what a huge part of school life those are these days. His interest lies in science, and he’s clearly a very smart guy (far smarter than me in that aspect!), but I’ve worried that his lack of interest in English and maths will make school life difficult for him.
Max has been a huge PJ Masks fan now for a long time, and when the lovely folk at PJ Masks offered to send us some products to help with the transition to school, I knew Max would love them. He often calls the PJ Masks on his imaginary phone to help with various emergencies he’s concocted!
As a parent, PJ Masks is a programme that I’m more than happy for him to watch. A superhero programme that doesn’t involve fighting or shooting is so good for his age group, and quite hard to find! But not only that, it’s the perfect way to introduce school, and a lot of the qualities that he will need in his school life. PJ Masks focus closely on 10 superpowers: Big Feelings, Curiosity, Persistence, Friendship, Memory, Self-Control,
Perception, Listening, Precision and Movement. All superpowers which are so perfectly relatable for 4/5 year olds and the challenges they face in starting school.
I’ve been talking about all of these with Max as we’ve been watching episodes of PJ Masks, but especially focussing on the ones that he finds most challenging: Big Feelings, Persistence, Self-Control, and Listening. If you’d like to read more about the PJ Masks superpowers and how you can talk about them with your children, you can find lots of information on the official PJ Masks website
Persistence is one of the areas that Max often struggles with. When he finds something difficult, he tends to get very frustrated and give up. We’ve been talking a lot about learning and how it takes lots of practice to get to grips with new skills, and the goodies that we found in our box have been the perfect way to do it. We loved playing the PJ Masks Mini Memory Game and 35 piece jigsaw puzzle, which were the perfect ways to test how persistent we could be, as well as working together as a team. Max has always loved jigsaws, but I was somewhat surprised to find that Max was actually better than me at the memory game!
Far and away the things which have really inspired Max to learn about letters and numbers have been the Leap Frog Leap Start Interactive Learning System, which came with the ‘Moonlight Hero Maths’ PJ Masks Book, and the VTech Super Learning Headquarters. Normally he’d have been shouting “NO!” as soon as he saw a number, but because it’s his favourite PJ Masks, he’s instantly interested, and will persist, even if he doesn’t understand something, or finds it difficult.
The Leap Frog Leap Start Interactive Learning System works as an audio book, which is controlled with the pen, and it guides you through different exercises which introduce your child to concepts like numbers, shapes, patterns, and ways of measuring. The PJ Masks book is aimed at 3-6 year olds, so is perfect for children just starting school, and it’s intended to introduce children to maths, measurement, and critical thinking. It definitely requires a bit of adult help to work through the exercises, but it’s a lovely activity to sit down and do together.
The VTech Super Learning Headquarters has been a big hit with Max. You use Catboy’s Cat Car to control the screen, and there are various different counting games to play, and it increases in difficulty as the game progresses. The look of it definitely appeals to PJ Masks fans – this was the very first thing Max wanted to play with when we unpacked the box!
I always think that a huge part of learning to read and count is just the repetition and gaining that familiarity with the symbols, but because Max has been so resistant in the past, it’s been impossible to build that. These have been the perfect way to ease him into letters and numbers in a way that he finds interesting.
I was amazed yesterday when, completely unprompted, Max brought me over his drawing pad, where he’d written his name – fully recognisable and clear, a big M A X. For a child who adamantly refused to write letters before, this is such a huge step forward for him, and I’m sure that the PJ Masks games we’ve been playing with him have had more than a little bit to do with his new found enthusiasm!
I’ve been a bit concerned about how Max was going to get on at school, given his resistance to reading, writing, and numbers, but I think we’re both now feeling far more confident. I have no doubt we’ll still be feeling all the Big Feelings when the big day comes though – wish us both luck!
Disclosure: We were sent the items mentioned in this review in exchange for this post. All words and opinions are my own.