Kidloland Preschool App – A review

Oscar and I love technology. Always have. From as soon as he could grasp for it with his pudgy little baby hands, he wanted to play with my phone. And now I have an iPad he’s taken his love of app based entertainment to another level. I don’t have a problem with this. My son’s autism means he learns in a very visual way and I’ve found apps, of all kinds, to be thoroughly useful for him. From hand eye coordination to speech and vocabulary to problem solving and plain old having fun, we love apps in this house. So when I was approached by Kidloland to try out their app I was intrigued. Here was an app that wasn’t just songs or just games or just fun, it seemed to be a bit of everything. We couldn’t wait to try it out!

Kidloland is a app designed specifically for preschoolers and toddlers. It has over 500 Nursery Rhymes, Songs, Stories, Activities and Games, with no advertising what so ever. Advertising in apps for children is a bug bear of mine so I was pleased to find none here. It works on a subscription basis of 1, 6 or 12 months. We used to subscribe to BabyTV and that was just short cartoons. There is so much more to this.

The app

My first impression of the app, on downloading it from the iStore, was it was huge! There are just so many different parts to it! As always, when I download content for Oscar, I took a look around myself first and I’m so glad I did. I found each ‘pack’ needs to be downloaded to your device individually before using it. I’m glad I realised this before giving it to Oscar, as I know he’d have been frustrated had he not been able to access everything straight away. The downloading does take a little time, but fortunately there is a “download all” function for each pack. I did have an issue downloading one of the songs, but I remedied this by skipping that one and downloading it individually. I also told Kidloland about it and they gratefully handed the info over to the tech team so it may not be an issue any more.

The look of the app is bright and fun, with all original characters and animations.  I have all the packs in the app, but you can choose which ones to download. I love that, as it means you can concentrate on a particular theme if you prefer. It also allows you to control how much memory the app takes up, which if you download the whole thing is a lot! However, downloading it means you don’t need a signal (or wifi) to use it, which is a definite plus point for me!

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Just some of the packs available on the Kidloland app

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The content

It is split into sections you would expect such as stories, numbers, games etc. But I love that it also has other sections such as fruits and vegetables, months of the year and even a whole section devoted to dinosaur themed activities!

It even has a Dinosaur section!

It even has a Dinosaur section!

The pineapple song!

Fun with fruit!

Learning Letters!

Learning Letters!

I assumed Oscar would be drawn to the games and initially he was, but after a while I noticed he was playing more with the songs. The nursery rhymes are set to interactive animations. Touching the characters makes them move or do surprising little things, which he seemed to love! I just love the concentration in his face here. Getting video of Oscar is so hard, but I love that he’s so engrossed here he doesn’t even notice me!

Thoughts

Kidloland is well made, well thought out app, which keeps on expanding (I’ve had two more packs updated since we originally downloaded). Oscar starts school in a few weeks and some of the games were a little simple for him, but he still found things to enjoy and good fun to be had. I only wish we’d found this app a year or more ago! It would be a great learning app for younger toddlers.

There is so much do and chose from in Kidloland. Although your child is bound to find favourites, they’ll never be bored.

 

 

Thank you Kidloland for gifting us a 12 month subscription for the purposes of this review. As always I wasn’t paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.

You can download the app for iOS, Google Android and Amazon Android.

 

End of an era

So here I am. Sat in my favourite Haslemere haunt. My plans for today much the same as the plans I’ve had most days since Oscar started preschool 19 months ago. Drink coffee, write words, catch up on social media. You know, stuff.

But today is different. In as much as it is the same, it really is different. Today is Oscar’s last day at preschool. They are having a big party in a local park tomorrow, but as far as walking him to the scout hut, dropping him off, and walking away, to any one of the local coffee hangouts, but more likely than not Dylan’s, alone, well this is the end.

I’ve cried this morning. I honestly surprised myself. I didn’t think I’d feel just so, well, sad. But I do. Wrapping the chocolates and writing the cards for his Keyworker and TA was hard. I guess that’s what happens when you leave these things to the last minute (typical me)!

Wrapped gifts

He felt it. Of course he did, he always does. He picks up emotions in the air like the smell of freshly baked bread. And it affects him. He cried and told me he was “sad”. That he was “crying from my eyes”. But he couldn’t tell me why. He doesn’t understand that he won’t be going back to his nursery again, and I don’t really know how to make him understand. I’ve all sorts of exprience of preparing him for things that are coming up, that are yet to be, but no idea how to explain the things that won’t be anymore.

The walk to preschool was harder than usual, but he ran in just as happy as ever. I feel like I should give him that. One last day when it’s all ok, all the same. Maybe I’ll regret not trying to prep him better somewhere down the line, but at the moment, for who he is now and what I know about him, this is the right way.

Myself, I thought I was prepared. I’ve been counting down the weeks, for weeks. And now here I am. And all that prep has made no difference. Because as much as it’s his last day, it’s kind of my last day too. The end of an era, the end of my routine. I will never be a preschool mum again. And while that is my choice, and a choice I still stand by, I didn’t realise it how sad it would make me feel. How lonely.

But I owe it to him to focus on the positive. So happy last day at preschool my beautiful boy. Let’s concentrate on the fun we’ll have this summer and the awesome school you’re starting in September. And mummy promises not to let you see her cry.

Much. Thank you card from Gin Bunny Prints

What to do with your Preschoolers Artwork

When Oscar started preschool back in January 2015, I was adamant I would keep and display any artwork he came home with. Within the first week he came home with enough daubs to wallpaper the house. I had no idea what dross the nursery would consider his art and pass on to me to deal with! OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh, some of it is beautiful in its own right. I actually do have one of his first paintings on the stair wall. I was struck by how much like a Japanese scroll it looked and I love displaying it. But seriously, most of it is enormous pieces of A3 size paper with a couple of splashes of paint on it. And quite quickly I realised these rolls of “art” we’re going to take over my house if I kept them all.

So last summer I came up with various way to use his art. Some of it I used as wrapping paper. This went down a storm with the recipients but the paper the nursery use is quite thick and wrapping with it was physically difficult. However, if you can manage it I highly recommend it. It looks wonderfully effective, particularly when tied with string. Some of it I did actually display. I had a mind to display one new piece a week, in a sort of gallery, but he brings home sooooooo much, that it didn’t really work as a thing. I gave some to grandparents and great grandparents, but again it did nothing to even dent the pile I had growing in the conservatory. And so that’s when I came up with the idea of consolidating it.

It worked so well and the resultant gift was so gratefully received that when the art work started to build up again this year, I decided to do the same again.

Just two terms worth of preschool artwork

Just two terms worth of preschool artwork. Each roll has several pieces of A3 paper, some with just a few strokes.

You will need a way to cut the artwork (I use my Scotch Saftey Cutter), plain A4 paper and glue.

You will need: a tonne of toddler paintings, a way to cut the artwork (I use my Scotch Safety Cutter), plain A4 paper and glue.

Start by cutting the artwork into strips.

Start by cutting the artwork into strips.

I like to cut across the lines, so you can still see the strokes.

I like to cut across the line of paint, so you can still see the brush strokes.

Start gluing them on the paper in a haphazard manner. The idea is to build up layer of colour.

Start gluing the strips onto the A4 paper in a haphazard manner. The idea is to build up layers of colour.

Glue the pieces so they lie over the edge of the paper

Glue the strips so they over lap the edge of the paper

Like so. When you feel you have enough colour you can trim these pieces off

Like so. When you feel you have enough colour you can trim the excess off

Et voila, one massive pile of art, is now one cool piece of design.

Et voila, one massive pile of art, is now one cool piece of design.

Now you can either frame it, which is what Ben’s mum did with the piece I made for her last summer. Or I am also thinking you could cut out shapes from the newly created artwork and frame those on a white background. Oscar loves fish at the moment and fish shapes cut out of this would look awesome in his room.

What do you do with all the artwork your children bring home? I’m always looking for new ideas!

 

The crossroads at which we stand

I’m finding it hard to write anything lately. Slimming World updates are OK, because they are about a thing, they’re structured and easy to formulate. My head, not so much.

At the beginning of the year I really thought stuff was changing for the better. I felt positive for the first time in ages. We had decided to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and build our long awaited kitchen extension, which made me happier than I can explain (or understand to be honest) and Oscar’s progress continued to be phenomenal (to us). We’d definitely decided which path we wanted his education to follow and had applied for schools, along with everyone one else. I joined Slimming World and Yoga and started to take some time for me. Ben was doing the same to great effect (taking time for his own mental wellbeing, not joining Slimming World!) Yeah, in one way or another, everything felt like the path ahead was clear.

Then all of a sudden everything isn’t clear any more. The extension is proving a much more difficult and expensive proposition than we envisaged and has made us question whether it’s actually worth doing at all. We’re getting more quotes to be sure, but if it really is going to cost that much then maybe it would be better to move?

And then there’s Oscar (and there’s always Oscar ?). We had a terribly negative meeting with his team two weeks ago and for the first time it’s made me doubt my choices for him and worse than that it’s made me doubt myself. And I’m not just having a wobble that’s going to be solved with a pat on the back, a high five and a ‘you follow your instinct girl’. In fact it’s more than a wobble (why do we play this shit down?) it’s a cannon shot. It’s winded me and knocked me off my feet completely. I no longer feel what I’m doing is the right thing. And that is petrifying. Even when you don’t really know, but you have that gut feeling, it’s ok. But that’s gone. And that scares me more than anything. It also makes me so angry. How dare anyone make me question whether what I’m doing for my son is right! But they have.

So all this has conspired to throw life back up in the air again. We’ve started to look at schools again, something I had assumed we were done with. Having never felt it was so, perhaps specialist schooling would be better for him. I seriously don’t know anymore. All I know is I want him to be happy. And for me never have to sit through a meeting like that again. I think we’re going to look at more schools less to find him a place but more for my own self assurance. I’m happy to come away saying, ‘ok I was wrong, this is better’. But really what I’m looking for is to come away saying ‘do you know what? I was right!’ Because at the moment I can’t feel either.

And then there’s the house. If we can’t get the extension done, our small house remains small and that raises the question should we move? And if so to where? Can we afford to stay round here? Do we want to stay round here? Do we need to stay here?

I feel like as a family we are stood at a giant crossroads. That there are so many paths we could take, in a way I haven’t felt before. It’s frightening yes, but in a weird and probably masochistic way, it’s almost exciting.

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I’ve found myself listening more and more to 90s indie lately. I think partly it’s because it’s familiar, partly because it makes me happy, but partly because it makes me reminds me of a time in my life I felt powerful and sure of myself. Something I need reminding of.

Also some of it is loud and a bit shouty. Just like I’ve always been ?

The 90s Indie chick who knew where she was going.

The 90s Indie chick who knew where she was going.

It’s OK, it’s just a Delay

The other day I was going through my draft posts (of which I have nearly 30, many of which I never got round to, some of which just weren’t very good!) and I found a small piece I wrote back in December 2014.

Oscar was referred for speech and language therapy in May 2014. We had our preliminary meeting with his paediatrician in September and in December I was asked to attend a Parent Empowerment Class by the SALT department. Anyone who’s been referred to SALT will have been sent on one of these. It’s a rather clumsy and slightly patronising way of weeding out the neurotic parents. Even the speech therapists I met on the day apologised and said due to Oscar’s ongoing Autism investigations, I really shouldn’t have had to attend. It was bloody awful and while I was waiting to be seen at the end of the ‘class’ I wrote this:

So after waiting what feels like a millennia I finally got some movement on the speech therapy front. Only the system where we live includes a trip, without my boy, to a local children’s centre to sit in a room with 20 other parents, to listen to how children’s speech should be developing.

Because as a concerned parent I haven’t already been looking at this for nearly a year already?

We were ‘invited’ to tell the room what our concerns with our children were and while I would never put any parents concerns down “can’t say their S’s at the age of three” was the most popular problem. Well woopeee. You poor, poor dears. How awwwwwful for you? How will Tarquin say ‘Santa’ this Christmas? Can you tell I am pissed off I have to be here at all? My boy has issues way beyond the ‘normal’ (bleugh) development. He still has no single word for me. And while the nouns are coming up (last week he completely unprompted identified a ‘box’ a ‘bag’ and ‘eyes’) they don’t always hang around and they don’t really get ‘used’. His main communication still remains grunting, gesturing and lately, squealing. So frickin loudly!!!

Can you tell I’m tired. I’m so very very tired. I started to well up when I had to listen to the other parents. I’d pay money for Oscar’s only speech issue to be mispronunciation. But it’s not.

Someone asked the other day in Twitter what everyone wanted for Christmas. I answered the only gift I really wanted was for O to call me mama. Consistently. Or if we’re wishing for stuff, for him to say I love you.

Merry Christmas and all that.

Reading this made me so sad. Remembering how awful (and angry) I felt on that day also made me sad. So much frustration and fear and confusion. And yet….

Just over a year on, Oscar’s speech is coming. His communication is 100 times better and his use of language, while still not perfect, is 1000 times better than it was then. He DOES call me mummy (or Mum. Either way my heart bursts every time I hear it!). And recently I taught him the words I LOVE YOU. We’re yet to get a completely spontaneous ‘I love you’, but it’s coming. I know it is.

Maybe the past year has taught me a little more patience, maybe my expectations have changed now we are more aware of how things work for him, or maybe I’m just so in awe of the progress he has made (and have faith that he will continue to make), that I just don’t feel that same frustration or sadness about his speech delay any more. We celebrate every language achievement, whether it hangs around or not (and things are much more likely to than not these days) and focus much less on the words he doesn’t use.

Sometimes I want to go back and put my arm around that scared mama’s shoulders. I want to tell her it’s going to be OK and that help is on the way.

Largely in the shape of a little boy, who will soon call her ‘mummy’.

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