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School Homework – Essential Tips

Local tutor Jennifer Fox is based locally to Rusthall.  She has 7 years experience in primary education and is qualified to Master’s Degree level.  She covers all ages of primary school children, including children with special educational needs.  Jennifer runs Jennifer Fox Tutoring and has compiled her top tips for parents/carers to help their children with homework.

We all know that homework can sometimes be a difficult thing to engage our children in. Sometimes children are unsure of what is being asked of them, and at other times we are unsure how our children have been taught to do something at school.  As a primary school teacher, I would like to share some of my top tips for parents/carers to engage their children in their homework, in a harmonious way.

The Right Frame of Mind

This is an important factor when asking a child to do work outside of school.  I’ve had great feedback when from parents who have followed these suggestions for getting their child into the right frame of mind for homework:

  • Where possible do homework the day that it’s set.  Concepts which have been taught at school are fresh in your child’s mind, and they are more likely to feel confident about having a go.
  • Most children wear a uniform to school.  To stay in the ‘school’ mindset – and therefore still in learning mode – keep your child in their uniform when they do homework.  For example, they finish school at 3:30pm, are home for 4:00pm, which would be a perfect time for them to get involved in their homework – still in their uniform.  Once their homework is complete they can get changed and have some downtime.  Own clothes equals own time.  I understand that this isn’t always practical for older children who have more homework or finish school later, but I’ve found it very helpful for younger children.
  • Don’t leave holiday homework until the last minute.  Children forget what their instructions were or how they were taught to do something in school.  Then parents try to teach them how to do it, which might be different from the way they were taught at school.  This could be confusing, making homework a struggle and stressful for all involved.

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Spellings

Many schools set spelling homework, and if your child is good at spelling then they may enjoy it. For those that find it tricky, it can be more stressful.  If your child finds spelling difficult, there are a couple of things you can do to take the pressure off.

  • Use a whiteboard.  A whiteboard is less threatening, because if a mistake is made, it can easily be erased and rectified.  It’s also easier to write on than traditional pen and paper, as it’s a smooth surface with is less resistance.  Additionally, you can use different coloured pens to make it more fun.  If you don’t have a whiteboard, try using a small baking tray or plastic box.  Pour in some sand or salt and practice writing in the sand.  A little shake makes them all disappear.
  • Use a mnemonic.  This may sound like an extra thing to teach your child in addition to their spellings, but children seem to love them – and the sillier the better!  For example, to teach spelling ‘because’, I would to tell my class:
    ‘Big Elephants Cause Accidents ­Under Small Elephants.’
    For ‘necessary’ I used:
    ‘Never Eat Cheese Eat Salad Sandwiches And Remain Young.’
    For the family of words: could, should, would, I used:
    ‘Oh U Lucky Duck.’
    All of these conjure up a funny story or visual picture, which helps them to remember the spelling.  It doesn’t matter whether they are learning to spell 3-letter words or 10-letter words; a silly story will help them remember.

spellings

Times Tables

Times tables is another homework staple which can get tiresome pretty quickly (and I love maths!).  Thankfully, YouTube genius Mr. DeMaio has rewritten the lyrics to chart hits to the times tables.  Once your child knows the times table lyrics they won’t be able to help singing along to the radio with the new words.

The Months of the Year

 

30 days

Some of you may know this rhyme, and if this works for your child then brilliant. However if this just won’t stick, then all you need is two clenched fists (and this is not because it’s frustrating!).  Get your child to make two fists and with thumbs together, before asking them to look at their knuckles.  Starting on the far left, a knuckle is a long month and a dip in between knuckles is a short month.  Easy peasy!

Jennifer Fox Tutoring

If your child needs some additional support in their learning endeavours, be it guidance with phonics, maths tuition, SATs practise or any other primary school help, you can contact Jennifer on email at: effina@live.co.uk.  Don’t forget to follow her on Facebook.

Myths of Credit Control

We’re thrilled to introduce local credit control and debt recovery expert Dominique Sherhod, of Practitioners Orbit. Dominique is keen to bust some common myths about credit control, as outsourcing credit control is a fairly new concept which many business owners do not consider, but perhaps should.  Over to Dominique to set us straight on the business of chasing those payments!

Clients will pay when they want 

This is often the misconstrued belief of businesses which are lacking effective credit control procedures.  The idea that once an invoice is issued, it is simply a case of waiting for the client to decide to pay it, is far from accurate.  If clients are prompted to pay with regular reminders, the invoice will remain on their radar and they are far more likely to settle it.

Unpaid invoices will be lost forever  

An overdue invoice does not mean that payment will never be forthcoming.  If telephone calls and reminder letters do not result in payment, a letter before action generates prompt payment in the majority of cases.  If payment remains outstanding, there are yet further options:

  • Instructing a specialist debt recovery agency.
  • Commencing legal proceedings.
  • Selling the debt to an invoice finance firm (although this usually means you sell the debt for significantly less than you are actually owed).

In many cases, outsourcing the debt recovery in itself demonstrates an intention to escalate the matter.

Credit control comes into play once the payment is late 

This is absolutely not the case.  Ensuring your business imposes stringent terms and conditions at the time of agreeing the provision of services or goods, is the first step in the process.  Early and effective credit control highlights any issues with the invoice, which can usually be resolved quickly and amicably.  Having clear and open communication with a client before the due date of payment is also far more likely to lead to prompt and full payment.  The longer it is left to chase payment, the harder it can be to recover.

It is cheaper to write off a debt than invest in credit control  

Writing off debts is a false economy and can end up being extremely costly whilst also having a greatly negative impact upon the business’ cash flow.  Credit control is an essential part of running a business and when it is carried out by specialists, the cost is very reasonable.  The outlay related to credit control is far outweighed by its financial benefits.

Debtors won’t pay if you chase them

The contrary is true, as debtors who have not paid an invoice by the required date are much less likely to pay if they are not chased.  Once the client is made aware of the implications of not paying, i.e. the possibility of legal action, fees and interest being added to their debt, they usually acknowledge that settling the invoice is the best option.  Instructing an agency to undertake these communications on your business’ behalf ensures that they are carried out with good effect.

Chasing payment will alienate and lose us clients

Requesting payment for a service or product which you have provided, should never cost a business its clients.  It is your right to receive payment for services undertaken and any worthwhile business relationship should not be jeopardised as a result of good credit control. It is also imperative that a good rapport is established with the client to achieve outcomes which are favourable to both parties.  Credit controllers need to be good listeners, empathetic, assertive and excellent negotiators to ensure that invoices are paid, whilst also maintaining good relationships.  Outsourced credit controllers should become an extension of your team and mirror your business’ ethos and image.

Outsourcing credit control is more costly than dealing in house

Whilst there is a cost attached to outsourcing credit control, this could be significantly less than the overheads related to an employed credit controller.  Through outsourcing, you will have access to professional credit control without the cost and risk of recruiting, training and maintaining members of staff, in addition to the payroll and other financial obligations attached to an employed credit controller.  You will take advantage of the economies of scale generated by outsourcing, and achieve the flexibility to use your precious staff budget on value adding services that are core to your business.

If you are a business owner who would like to adopt a time and cost effective means of credit control, whilst also freeing you and your staff up to focus on your core business, we look forward to hearing from you.  Please get in touch with us at Practitioners Orbit on info@practitionersorbit.co.uk or 01892 549 324 for a no obligation chat.

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Fullalove for Janet’s beanies

 

We recently had the pleasure of meeting Rusthall’s Janet Fullalove-Jones for a cuppa and cake, and a chat about her thriving fashion brand, FullaBeanies.  As well as a successful entrepreneur, Janet is a real local celebrity in Rusthall, often seen along the high street sporting one of her trademark crocheted beanies.  Janet gave us the lowdown on the unexpected transition of her hobby into a successful business.

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It began in the wake of her young children sleeping through the night.  Janet found herself faced with the options of either spending her evenings eating, or watching the television, neither of which seemed productive.  She needed a hobby.  After consulting Google with a search for ‘cheap hobbies’, she encountered crochet.  A trip to the charity shop for a hook and some yarn, a few YouTube tutorials later, and Janet was ready to commence her new hobby.

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Photo credit: Parentinn.com

At first she was thrilled to be learning a new skill, filling her time with something constructive and mentally challenging.  But a year later she was still going strong, and realised that she not only enjoyed crocheting, she was also rather good.

Her first creations were kids’ beanies, which she made for her children.  At the time, her popular elder daughter was getting invitations to every birthday party, and money was tight on her husband’s salary alone.  Janet’s solution: homemade beanies as gifts.  For everyone.  Local children sporting Janet’s fine handmade beanies soon caught the eyes of other parents at the school gates.  Before long, Janet was getting more and more requests for beanies.

With the increasing demand for her hats, Janet realised that she could take the next step and charge for her creations.  And together with two of her crafty friends  – The Rusthall Handmade Collective – she took her beanies to the Rusthall Fete, on her very own stall.

She sold nothing.

But, she had a smashing time hanging out with her friends on the stall, talking to would-be customers and having something of her own outside of family-life.

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Janet also learned that although she’d had some good support from her local parent-friends with the children’s beanies, they didn’t sell particularly well on the stalls.  Undefeated, Janet tweaked her business plan, and decided instead to focus on ladies’ fashion.  With the change in direction, she did begin to make sales.

To gain further exposure, Janet pitched FullaBeanies everywhere she could think of.  She networked with her valuable mum-friends, contacted local businesses in Tunbridge Wells, took samples to shops and sent emails far and wide.  Her husband would often baulk at the idea of writing to the likes of The BBC, believing that they’d never get back to her.  But this would often fuel her determination to prove him wrong, and although it would sometimes take months to receive a response, she frequently did, with some work.  You may recall ITV’s Alison Hammond sporting a FullaBeanies hat while presenting on This Morning a couple of years ago.

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FullaBeanies continues to expand.  Janet employed FullaBeanies’ first member of staff – Louise – to assist her with the production line, and will be looking to employ a third crocheter very soon to keep up with orders, a positive sign of growth if there ever was one!

To continue with her growth trend, Janet has moved out of her comfort-zone of crocheting, and is now writing for Women’s Weekly and Simply Crochet.  This is giving her a regular audience as a designer, with her very own patterns featured for their readers.

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It would appear that Janet is a natural at running a business as well as crochet, but it wasn’t entirely epiphanic.  Although she has had to learn the business ropes herself, some of her past work experiences have served her well.  After a failed attempt at becoming a hairdresser, where her tutor informed her that she had absolutely no talent (the irony: Janet is now dressing heads with hats instead!), she bailed out of college to find work.

Armed with zero qualifications, Janet found work at a wine merchant at the age of 19.  She was running wine tasting sessions, although barely of the legal age to drink it.  There, she met fellow colleague, Louise.  Louise was on the verge of setting up her own cafe, and once it was open, recruited Janet as an employee.  Janet waited tables, but also learnt a considerable amount about running the business.  Louise taught her about management of staff, of finances, communication with customers and how to be a boss as well as an employee.  Louise was also a pivotal role model for an impressionable young Janet.  Louise was a newly-single mother, juggling running two cafes while raising her two children.

In many ways, it has been an unimaginable journey for Janet, from a hobby born out of boredom, to creating a full-time, successful fashion brand.  She often gets imposter syndrome, in total disbelief that she is worthy of the success of FullaBeanies.

2017 sees some exciting new developments for FullaBeanies, with Janet beginning to explore the festival market.  She’ll be attending Al Fresco in Tunbridge Wells and Joy Festival in Groombridge, with the view to attending larger festivals such as Glastonbury in the future.

glastonbury-festival
Photo credit: The Mirror

Janet highly recommends finding a creative outlet – whoever you are, regardless of your goal.  She gained focus and personal productivity when she first began crocheting, and feels that having a creative outlet can provide a sense of therapy and inner peace amongst the chaos and monotony of everyday life.  It does not matter what you create, be it food, music or paintings.  You don’t even have to be particularly good.  But Janet stresses that whatever it is, make sure you enjoy it, as without enthusiasm, you won’t want to continue.

Her advice for business startups is to take a proactive approach.  Once you have your product, create opportunities to promote it.  Send emails, send letters, utilise social networking.  Provide concise detail about your product or service, perhaps create a portfolio or media pack.  Take samples of your work to prospective clients.  And have a little faith.

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You can find FullaBeanies on Twitter by following @Fullabeanies, on Facebook (go like her page!) and snapping away on Instagram.

You can purchase their hats through their Etsy site, but do stay tuned for their new website, which is currently under construction.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share with your online tribe.  If you’re a business local to Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, and would like to be featured in an article, we’d be thrilled to hear from you by heading to our ‘contact’ page.  

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