Why Reading Eggs is worth signing up for

Why Reading Eggs is worth signing up for

Looking for an educational app for your child that will help them learn to read? Look no further. Reading Eggs is a scientifically based program, designed by Australian teachers. They have expertly crafted this resource with your child in mind. As an educator and mum, I feel that Reading Eggs is worth signing up for. Here are the reasons why:

1. Develops early literacy

Why Reading Eggs is worth signing up for

Reading Eggs helps to develop early literacy in under fives. It can be a great way to help prepare your child for school. As my eldest was five and a half when he started Foundation, he needed to be stimulated more than I was able to at home. I tried my best but things were full on with my baby and toddler.

He was an early reader so it was so helpful to have Reading Eggs help him consolidate his learning and extend him. Children can keep their same account when they transition to school so don’t lose the level they are on or points they’ve accumulated.

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2. Suitable for all ages

Reading Eggs has literacy and numeracy programs for children ages 2-13. It caters for the youngest learners with Reading Eggs Junior (ages 2-4), then Reading Eggs (3-7), Reading Eggspress (7-13) and Mathseeds (3-9). Their site contains a wealth of resources.

My 5 year old loves Fast Phonics and Reading Eggs, and sometimes tries Reading Eggspress for a challenge. My 3 year old loves Reading Eggs, sometimes opting for Reading Eggs Junior because he likes the games. I love watching them progress to different levels and you can really see how much they are learning. Reading Eggs is compatible both on tablet and desktop devices.

3. Engaging activities

Reading Eggs has a huge range of activities, games, stories and quizzes. It is such a fun program and kids love it. Children work at their own pace and are given lots of encouragement along the way. Children earn coins which can buy things for their virtual shop and golden eggs to play games.

It motivates children to work hard to get to the next level. Reading Eggs has hundreds of online reading lessons and thousands of books to read online. Children can create and change their own avatar to make it more personable.

4. Teaches children how to read

This wonderful site helps to teach children how to read. Nothing will take the place of good old fashioned reading aloud with a physical book, but this in conjunction with reading to your child will go a long way to helping them learn how to read.

The Reading Eggs program is focused around the five essential keys for reading success – phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency. It is developed by experienced teachers and based on scientific research so it’s no accident that it works!

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5. Great for educators

Reading Eggs is a wonderful tool for educators. In my experience it is often used in the classroom during activities first thing in the morning, reading groups (as one of the rotations), computer room or iPad whole class time and afternoon activities.

It is brilliant for time poor teachers who know that this is a tried and tested program, targeted to suit every individual child. Teachers can see how their students are progressing and can access useful reports. Students have a login code to use at home and can continue to play the games and activities whenever they are allowed.

6. Useful for parents

I love that with Reading Eggs, you know how your child is going. Progress reports are emailed and you can also look the reports up anytime. It is helpful to know what level your child is at and what they are working towards. Reading Eggs provided parents with handy hints of targeted activities for their child. These help to build on and extend the learning they have completed. I can’t help but feel proud when my boys pass a level, and love to celebrate with them by printing out the certificates to display.

7. Makes screen time educational

Why Reading Eggs is worth signing up for

My ideal self would not use screen time at all. I love the idea of children being outside and keeping active for most of the day. However, between acute morning sickness, recovering post birth, navigating a newborn with a toddler and preschooler in tow, toddlers stopping naps at the age of 2, and everything in between, I’ve come to realise that screen time helps me cope. I use Reading Eggs as a motivator to get my eldest ready in the morning. This helps him to focus on what he needs to do first before he can go on the iPad and play. I know that he is learning valuable skills and not just watching cartoons.

8. Free 30 day trial

Why Reading Eggs is worth signing up for

I love that Reading Eggs offer a 30 day free trial. This is a good amount of time to see if you see the value, see if it engages your child, see if it helps them learn and see if it fits in well with your family. There is no obligation to subscribe afterwards – simply cancel before the trial ends.

The customer service team are lovely to deal with and happy to answer any questions. It might be that you love the app but don’t want your child to be on a device just yet. Fair enough! Keep it in mind for down the track when they are a bit more ready. It has to fit with your family and what works for you. Click here for the link if you’d like to find out more.

In terms of pricing, if you decide to sign up it costs $13.99 / month or $109.99 / year ($9.17 / month) at the time of writing. It’s pretty great value (or should I say eggcellent) when considering the four programs it covers.

However, with the high cost of living right now, every extra subscription does need to be considered carefully. It can always be a gift idea that a family member or grandparent could put money towards if you are trying to steer away from lots of physical items.

Last thoughts

In closing, Reading Eggs is a program worth signing up to. Educators and parents alike see the many benefits and children love using it. It’s such a well designed program and one that both engages and educates children of all ages. It helps make screen time count. With the thirty free trial, you really have nothing to lose. I encourage you to give it a try and let me know what you think.

* Please note that this is not a sponsored post. I am writing it purely because I see the value in my own children’s learning and students at school.

My top 10 tips for relief teachers

My top 10 tips for relief teachers

Here are my top 10 tips for a successful day as a temporary relief teacher, otherwise known as a TRT, supply or substitute.

Perhaps you’ve recently graduated from a teaching degree? Switching from classroom to relief teaching for a lifestyle choice? Coming back from maternity leave and wanting to get back into schools? It can be daunting to know where to start when it comes to relief teaching as you try to get your head around everything.

I have been teaching for over ten years. I have taught in public and private schools, had my own class and taught multiple classes in a specialist role, and been a reliever. I know what it’s like from both sides – having to leave your class in the hands of a stranger, and teaching for a day in a strangers class. I’ve just come back after having my third baby and have enjoyed temporary relief teaching again.

Here are my top 10 tips for a successful day as a relief teacher.

1. Prep your paperwork.

Getting your paperwork organised for temporary relief teaching will differ from area to area. Where I live, we require a current teacher registration, authority to teach, first aid, responding to abuse and neglect, working with children check. Currently during the Covid pandemic we need our vaccination status. We have an online profile that requires these certificates kept up to date and uploaded, along with our CV.

There is additional paperwork for payroll and superannuation (retirement). We have apps to get work which require certificates to be uploaded. Some schools want to sight these upon arrival along with your drivers license. It is a huge amount to get your head around and organise, and can take some time to do so. Look into what is required for your region.

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I like to order a set of basic business cards from VistaPrint. I include my name, phone and email address, any specialist area of study and keep the back free to write my availability as this can change. I attach these to my CV ready to take to schools.

2. Visit schools in person.

My top 10 tips for relief teachers

When seeking to get work as a relief teacher, there are a few ways to go about it. Some schools prefer the communication to be online, especially as we seek to socially distance during Covid. If you can however, it can be a great experience going out to schools in person. It is a brilliant networking opportunity as you demonstrate that you are keen and they can put a face to the name.

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When you meet the reception staff, be warm and friendly, and explain that you are looking to do relief work and would love the chance to work in their school. Give some context to why you are relieving – are you a new graduate, moved districts, looking for a change or coming back from maternity leave?

They may introduce you to a member of leadership or the person in charge of booking relief teachers. Regardless of who you meet though, it is important to make a good first impression. The receptionist will pass on your paperwork and provide their opinion about what you’re like.

Will it take longer than emailing a bunch of schools? Of course. It will most likely pay off in the long run though as the personal approach can leave a lasting impression and lead to getting booked in advance for work or at the top of their list of preferred relievers.

Determine what area you want to work in, how far you are prepared to travel and how many schools you want to contact. Generally you want to put your name out in a lot of schools, you’ll get work in some, and eventually become the favourite at a few choice schools. This reduces the exhaustion of having to go to a new school everyday and schools like having the consistency of the same relief teacher for their students.

3. Prep your resources.

My top 10 tips for relief teachers

In my experience, spending a little bit of time and money getting organised can help you feel excited in anticipation of your new role and ease any anxiety you might have. I think it is very important to come prepared as a reliever. This means presuming that there will not be work left for you.

If a classroom teacher comes down ill suddenly, they can’t be expected to have lessons ready for you. I have also gone to schools where I have been booked weeks in advance and had not so much as a visible timetable in sight, let alone a brief note. I have not known about assemblies (so arrived late), not been told about NIT lessons (specialist teacher come to collect class while we are deep in a lesson) or not known about other basic timetabling. While this can feel a bit disappointing (and at times stressful), it does mean I have freedom to choose what lessons and activities I do with the class.

With this in mind, I make sure I bring a trolley full of resources and lessons ready to go, including whole day plans of ideas. I can walk into a classroom and within five minutes, have the day organised. This helps me feel confident. It doesn’t phase me if I teach Japanese, PE, Science or general classroom, year ones or year sixes. Spend time brainstorming fun lesson ideas, brain breaks and fitness games or do some research online. Over time you can refine these into a few key favourites that you use time and time again. If you come to work prepared to face anything, you will most likely have a successful day and be asked back. It greatly assists leadership when you are organised and self sufficient.

Many teachers use a bag on wheels to save carrying lots of bags. I’ve heard it said that teaching is the only job where you steal things from home to take into work! Places like Amazon sell these for around $37 and they work well, except for in the rain (then I recommend either an enclosed sewing bag from Spotlight for around $120, or just a suitcase). I like to keep this in my office or the boot of my car, and then have a bag or two inside to help organise it.

I include a pencil case (mini bell for getting attention, pens, whiteboard marker), lanyard with a whistle (that you can attach keys to), hat (for yard duties), a teacher planner or notepad, books to read aloud (both picture books and funny chapter novels), hands on resources (literacy and numeracy games), printable resources (that can be photocopied) and a USB (with lessons you can put on the smart board).

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Check your wardrobe for suitable teaching outfits, and consider popping to the shops if you need a few new items. Op shops (thrift stores) can be great for this and you can often find brand name bargains. I prefer shopping at the smaller shops run by volunteers have low prices and donate money to charity, but for those in a rush, Savers is a good option (massive stores, and clothing well organised into sizes).

4. Get organised the night before.

Whatever you can get sorted the night before will help you feel organised and ready to go the next day. It will mean you won’t have to get up so early which is a huge win for me! I suggest taking a few minutes to prep your gear, depending on the class or classes that you’ll be teaching.

If you are not sure, pack some general items that can be used across different year levels. Check that you have everything you need, including your paperwork in your bag (I recommend keeping these in here at all times). Look up how to get to the school and when you need to leave.

Prepare your snacks and lunch, include some powered coffee or hot chocolate sachets or favourite tea bag, get your outfit and shoes ready and have your alarm on. Allow some time if you can to relax before bed – think an episode or two of your favourite show, a chapter of your book or a hot shower.

5. On the day.

Get up early. Dress to impress. If you feel good about yourself, you will appear more confident. It can set you up for success. I once did a temporary relief day at a new school. The principal mentioned that when he first saw me arrive in the carpark, he thought to himself, ‘she’ll get snapped up quick.’ Wrong or right, we do get judged on our appearance and how we present ourselves.

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If you’re not sure of the dress code, err on the side of caution. Dress more formally and you can always dial it down next time you visit if need be. I recommend no jeans, leggings or tights (unless you have a skirt over the top) and avoid sneakers and slip on shoes.

Go for smart pants, a nice top, and a blazer or jacket. Bring a warm, waterproof jacket in cool weather in case you are outside on yard duty or running fitness. Wear your name badge, lanyard and wrist watch (think outside duties, moving around the school, lessons, no phones in class). Leave with plenty of time, allowing for traffic.

6. When you arrive.

My top 10 tips for relief teachers

As a relief teacher, I recommend aiming to arrive to the school at 8am. This allows enough time to familiarise yourself with the school and your classroom and will help to reduce anxiety. Take out your bag with some basic resources that you will definitely use for the day, but have some extra resources in your boot in case you need more or if you are assigned to a different class than you first thought.

Find the front office, introduce yourself and hand over any paperwork that they need to sight. Ask where you need to sign in (this is a record of who is at the school and ensures you get paid). Check how they take the roll – if it is a paper version or online, and if so, do you have a login code for the laptop.

Ask a staff member to direct you to your classroom, or if you are releasing different staff members, where you can put your gear. Once you find your room, turn on the lights, heater or air con, open blinds and unpack your bag.

Find a spot to put it, and make sure your valuables are out of view. Look on the teacher desk for any notes that they may have left (otherwise find the timetable or planner, ask teacher next door, ring the office in case notes were sent there). Check for duties. If you don’t have one or not sure, look at notes, look at the timetable, ring the office. If they don’t have one for you, offer to take one. Let’s be honest – no one likes doing duties.

However, if you are prepared to ask to do them, it will reduce the workload for other teachers and show admin and leadership staff that you are hardworking and dedicated. Same for any NIT (non-instructional time) where the class is taken a specialist teacher for a subject like Japanese or P.E. Ask the office which class they would like you to take during this time.

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If there is a plan left for you, either jot down any notes or ideas next to it or quickly write a plan in your notebook, day planner or a piece of paper on a clipboard. Include in this what time each lesson starts, when eating time is, recess and lunch breaks, when to pack up for dismissal and final bell.

If there is no plan, do your best to stick to the timetable, or think literacy first, numeracy after recess, art and fitness after lunch. On the board, write your name, change the date and write the plan for the day. Take a few minutes to glance through the relief teaching folder to look for important student information (think allergies, behaviour, things to be aware of).

In the remaining couple of minutes, walk to the staffroom, put your lunch in the fridge, visit the bathroom (it can be a long time before the first break) and grab a coffee to take back with you.

7. When the bell rings.

When the bell rings for students to come inside, stand at the door and greet them. Smile and say, ‘hi, I’m your teacher today.’ Some students will visibly groan and roll their eyes, slump their shoulders and swagger into class. Others will complain that they had a relief teacher yesterday too. Some will appear excited and ask for your name, what football team you barrack for and enquire whether you like doing fitness.

Some classes have reading time in the mornings, free play, or literacy activities, or others sit down on the floor straight away. Allow a few minutes for them to get organised and then ask them to sit on the floor ready for the roll. Introduce yourself and tell them what they can call you. Tell them a little bit about yourself – your family, what you like to do for fun, where you have taught before.

They might like to ask you questions. Tell them your expectations for the day. Say that you are looking forward to having a wonderful day but it is dependent on their behaviour about how much fun they will have.

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Ask if there is normally a star of the day (or equivalent), as sometimes they help to take the roll. Once you have recorded who is present and absent and sent this to the office, ask about lunch orders, library books, permission forms to be returned etc. Let them know what it happening for the day and what they can expect. Allow some time for questions.

8. Managing the day.

Be firm but friendly. Have high expectations of behaviour and standards of work, be strict on noise level and when walking around the school as a class. If a lesson isn’t working, finish it sooner or change it up. Do your best to get through any work left by the classroom teacher but know that most will understand if you don’t get through it all.

Schedule in little brain breaks to get the students up and moving. This helps them to focus better and often makes for a more positive day. Read picture books to them or short stories if they are older children. They often love listening to stories about when you were younger, when you travelled or funny things your kids or grandkids do.

Have time for drawing, silent reading or relaxation after break times to help transition them into settled learning. Use countdown timers to help students know how long they have left to complete work or for packing up. Schedule subjects like literacy and numeracy in the morning when they have the most energy, and easier subjects after lunch when they are tired.

9. Before the final bell.

You’ve almost made it! Ensure that the room is tidier than when you found it. Allow enough time to pack up the classroom. You can pretend you have seen a magic piece of rubbish and when someone picks it up, they can get a little prize.

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Sometimes I write jobs on slips of paper and give each student one, such as cleaning the white board, adjusting date for tomorrow, changing the timetable, organising the bookshelf, tidying pencil pots, sharpening pencils, wiping tables, etc. Check if chairs go up or stay down for cleaners. End on a positive with a fun game for the last ten minutes – think silent ball, heads down thumbs up, etc.

10. Before you leave.

When I had my own classroom, I really did miss my students when I was away. After spending huge amounts of time preparing work for relievers, it would make me so frustrated returning to a messy classroom and no note. I feel like this is a basic expectation and act of courtesy. I always appreciated finding a clean desk and detailed notes.

Make sure all work is marked and dated. Write a letter to the teacher thanking them for having you. Staple your business card to the top. Write that you hope they feel better soon, include any absences, list each lesson and what work the students completed. Mention any behaviour issues, helpful students or information to pass on.

Check that the teacher desk is tidy, there is no rubbish on the floor, air con or heater off, lights off and door locked. Grab your stuff and sign out at the front office, thanking them for having you.

Final thoughts

I love temporary relief teaching. I love the flexibility it brings.

It’s a lifestyle choice. I can do my work, make a positive difference in children’s lives, and go home. I don’t have to plan, assess, conduct parent teacher interviews, write reports, check emails or attend staff meetings. I can leave home at 7:45 and be back home at 3:40pm.

I can be present with my children and have time to play with them. I can work on projects at night when I have energy because I’m not totally wrecked from my job, and don’t have any marking to do.

Relief teaching will differ in policies, procedures and pay depending on where you live. Some areas only use agencies for allocating work, so be sure to do your own research. It’s not a role for everyone. I am grateful that my husband has a permanent full time job so we aren’t reliant on my wage to pay the bills. It can be difficult to secure loans such as a mortgage because banks see it as a liability.

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When you approach this role with good preparation, bring plenty of resources, make a solid first impression and manage your students well, you will feel successful. More often than not, this leads to more work and contract work if you want it.

I encourage you to be kind in the way that you talk about yourself and your role. You are not just a relief teacher. It’s easy to downplay our role because it can feel like it’s not as important as those who have a class of their own. Sometimes we add the ‘just’ because we feel like if we don’t, other people will. I’ve written an article about this here if you are interested.

If you haven’t already, join your local teaching group on Facebook for your city, state or area. If there isn’t a group, you could start one! These can be useful for learning tips and tricks relevant to you and your area.

If you are looking for some more ideas for making your relief teaching days successful, here’s a link to my Relief teacher starter kit on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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All the best as you start your relief teaching journey. You’ll be great! You’ve got this.

“I’m just a …” Why we need to be intentional about how we talk about ourselves.

“I’m just a …” Why we need to be intentional about how we talk about ourselves.

I’m just a mum.

I’m just a relief teacher.

I’m just a …

How many times have you uttered these words: “I’m just a …”

It often happens subconsciously. We often don’t mean it.

We just seem to downplay our role. Our stage. Our season.

We feel that because we have taken time off to raise children, gone part time, taken on a different role, declined a promotion, earn less or stepped away from our career that we are less of a person. That we aren’t as interesting or valuable or worthy.

That perhaps if we include the word ‘just’ when explaining what we do, it might stop someone else from using it. We either feel that what we are doing is less important or worry that the other person might think that. Because work in the home is often seen as less important, less valued, if even seen at all.

Many of us go from working full time in a professional career to taking some time away to have a baby. We are all changed from this experience. Even if we return to the same job with the same hours, we are no longer the same. We have grown a life inside of us.

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We have an attachment with a little human. Our bodies look and feel different. Our sleep is disrupted. Our homes are full of baby stuff. Our brain doesn’t work like it used to. We are no longer the same person. Everything is different.

For those who return to work, the juggle becomes real. Most women feel like they have to be the perfect worker and perfect mum and don’t know how to do it. They feel like they are failing at both, or feel bad when they let one of them down. Their time is divided and the mental load is insane. They can want to be home with their baby but then when they’re with their baby, feel bad that they should be at work.

For those who stay home full time, it can be hard to justify what they do. They are home all day but have nothing to show for it. Even the simple act of having a shower or eating breakfast or lunch can feel impossible. They are needed constantly and it is hard to get anything done. They don’t have a boss to show work to or hear any praise from. It can feel like no one notices what they do.

They no longer earn a pay cheque so can feel like they are not productive or independent. They not only stop having money going into their bank accounts, but also contributions to retirement. Time out of the workforce can stunt career development and opportunity to work up the corporate ladder. It can be isolating and incredibly lonely.

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For those who go back to work part time, they have the best of both worlds. They also struggle in both areas too. They can feel like they don’t do either well. They aren’t really SAHMs and they aren’t full time workers either. They feel they need to justify how they spend their time. Their career can feel like it’s on hold. They miss out on some meetings and forget to be told about some things.

They get overlooked for promotions and opportunities. Their days at work are so busy as they have to get up to speed with what happened when they were away and feel they have to prove themselves. Their days at home are busy with fitting in all the appointments, meal planning and prepping, cleaning, present buying and playing.

I find myself in this third camp but have been a stay at home mum too. It’s an adjustment after working full time. I miss earning money and feeling important in my job. I miss having a single focus and feeling good at something.

For the last five years, I’ve fallen into this pattern of using ‘just’ in my language. I’m learning to catch myself and stop. Now I try to say things like:

“I’m a mum. I’ve chosen to stay home with my kids.”

“I’m a teacher. I’ve chosen to work in a relief role right now so I can be more available to my family. I like not having to bring work home and can stay home more easily if my children are sick.”

Although I know logically that what I do for a job does not shape my identity, it can be hard to remember. We live in a society that places importance on what we do.

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I’m learning that who I am and who I care for are just as important as what I do for a job. Being a mother is the most important job that I’ll ever do.

I am not ‘just’ a mum.

I am not ‘just’ a relief teacher.

I am not ‘just’ anything.

Words are powerful. When you change your language, you value yourself more. When you value. yourself more, others will see you differently and value you more too. We become more self assured and confident in who we are and the choices that we have made. The language we use affects the way that others see us.

I challenge you this week to think about the language that you use. Think about how it affects the way that others see you. Try to be more intentional about what you say, especially how you talk about yourself.

You are not ‘just’ anybody.