How can my sewing skills help my child’s education?My son is in his 3rd year at Primary school and I have found myself making or buying costumes nearly once sometimes twice a term. School day-to-day is routine and activities are structured and offer a sense of stability and make a child feel safe.All the special non uniform days, plays and charity events are all well and good, but unknown to many; behind closed doors and in many minds, can cause a lot of extra work, stress and anxiety. Here are the extra activities my son Freddie has had since September:
- Christmas Nativity play
- Super hero day
- International day
- World book day
- Children in Need day
- School discoFreddie has been a sheep at the Christmas nativity, a Scottish King at International day, Iron man and most recently I have been making a Crayon costume for the up and coming World book day, his favourite book being: The day the crayons quit!He also wants to be Michael Jackson at the next school disco. he has drawn a design and has his eye on some black sequins fabric in my workshop.Several of my mum friends can’t sew, or they work full-time and haven’t got the time to even keep up with the daily primary school parental expectations. I have been teaching in secondary schools for 16 years and when Freddie started Primary I soon recognised that I had no idea the extent of parental involvement. It is so important to be involved in your child’s education. This is not always easy for the best parents out there, we just have to try to do our best. Each costume can cost anything up to £30 to buy in shops or online. I know one mum that was recently informed by her daughter that she needed a costume, the night before I hasten to add and as a result she stayed up past midnight transforming a sheet into; Helen from Troy.Supporting our child’s education and needsOur children go through so much without us, dealing with challenges in the classroom, to growing friendships, so much can be a worry for our little minds, so most parents try to do their best to help their children. There are so many ways a parent can support their child through school; reading with your child is vital and I am proud to say I have read to my son every day since he was born and he reads to me every day now. my husband and I have always loved reading and my husband has written 3 educational books, so as you can see, this is something that we see as very important to instill in our children. Research shows that it’s the single most important thing you can do to help your child’s education.As with reading, try to make maths as much fun as possible – games, puzzles and jigsaw are a great way to start. It’s also important to show how we use maths skills in our everyday lives and to involve your child in this. This we find more challenging and had to train myself to include in everyday life; from counting buses, to giving limits to costs of toys when taking the trip to our local toy shop, to counting how many potatoes we need for a family Sunday lunch.Then there is homework, homework reinforces what your child is learning in school. It also gives you a chance to become involved in the learning process. This is frowned upon by many parents and can be a challenge for full-time working parents, finding the quality time and not battling with their child unnecessarily. Freddie does work well with routine and we enjoy sitting together and working on a task each week. We are lucky in the respect that his school give him choices and challenges that he can choose, that best fit his ability. I am in two minds with homework, it really depends on your mindset and how you manage it. I try to make it as enjoyable and sometimes make it relate to Freddie’ likes when I sense reluctance, it’s all about encouraging a child, I never force him to do things.So we have English, Maths and home learning. What about all the social skills that are essential for relationships, mindset and positive experiences to develop? My son is a worrier at times, little things are important to him and he does worry what people will think. He is more confident than shy, he is also more confident when things are stable, if there is change that’s when the anxiety sets in. So when we have these non uniform days, rehearsals for plays, activity days, sports days, fairs and parties, he can start to worry and feel insecure and over thinks things. I think this is normal for a lot of us, my husband and I were both nervous and shy as young children. You wouldn’t think it now, as we both teach and do public speaking.We just need to be aware of our child’s individual needs and we need to do the best that we possibly can, within our money and time lifestyle restraints right?Living in London is hard for many reasons, the first challenge being financial, it is such an expensive city to live in; property and or rent is so expensive, the cost of travel and as we all do around the world, we work very long hours to put basic food on the table. What I hope parents can recognise is you don’t have to spend so much on every costume you buy for your child, sometimes less holds more value. when Freddie comes home with the next terms newsletter, informing us of all the terms up and coming events, the first things is dates go on the calendar, then we set about making decisions on what is needed. We do this together, looking at existing costumes, then fabrics and accessories. Freddie really enjoys the experience of helping to bring an idea to life.
I would like to share some cheaper quick options, some making and some not.The pillow case and or sheet costume. A pillow case can be transformed without a sewing machine, all you need is a sharpie pen and your kitchen scissors. I have recently been working on a Crayon costume, this would cost £24 online ready-made. An easier option right enough, but when you need up to 5 costumes a year, this can become very expensive. You can pick up a pack of 2 pillow cases from several supermarkets and online, for £4.50 and even less if you shop around, and I also found some self adhesive black felt online. I cut holes for the arms and head and cut the words out of the felt and stuck these on. I sewed the armhole openings and neck, this is just me being a dressmaker, please don’t think you have to. You can also use a black Sharpie pen which would make it even easier to draw the words on. You could draw the writing with your child, making it a team effort, I’m sure depending on their age they would enjoy this and it ticks a literacy box for sure. I’m using the second pillow case to make some trousers(using an old pair of Pyjamas cut up for the paper pattern). If you have some pj’s the correct colour then no need to even make. They could even wear track suit bottoms. Freddie has a long-sleeved blue top that he can wear underneath. I still need to make a crayon hat, this I will make from cardboard boxes and he can paint it. Pinterest is a fantastic place to get ideas, I have a costume page: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/ItsSewSimple/world-book-day-costume-ideas/2Accessorising and customising existing clothes. Freddie wanted to be a Scottish King. He’s not confident enough to wear a kilt yet, so we put a few ideas together. When I say together I always involve Freddie in choosing options. We do research together; looking at fabrics, clothes etc online. I found a cheap t-shirt with the Scottish shield on it, I attached a cheap flag to the back of his t-shirt. I went to Tiger and bought him some plastic gold crown glasses and made him some tartan trousers, again based on pj’s. These are easy elasticated at the waist trousers. We also found some tartan socks to finish off the look.I hope this shows that you don’t have to spend £30+ every time.There’s also nothing wrong with; sticking dot stickers on a white t-shirt for Children in Need day, or using a cardboard box or paper plate for a mask, an old sheet can be made into a number of different things as its so big. There is also nothing wrong with buying a costume last-minute online either.
Have some fun and be creative.
Here are some of my sons costumes: