Meet Tara Burns from Melbourne, Australia. She is a Play at home mum of 14 years and the owner of Puggle and Kit an online store selling educational toys. As a mama, Tara really know her stuff as she has five children ranging in age from 2 to 14. Read on to find out tips on how to make math fun and her advice for parents with little ones about to start school…
Hi Tara! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed for the Inspirational Educators series. I love the ideas and insights that you share on your Instagram feed. What prompted you to start your account?
Hi Sian, thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful series!! I started my instagram account for a few reasons. After Theo was born I struggled hard with balancing everything! Theo was a very grumpy baby and I felt like Arlo was missing out when I was busy settling baby Theo all the time. Most days felt overwhelming and stressful so I thought if I can do at least one fun and engaging activity with Arlo then at least we did something that day, even if we were still in our pyjamas at school pick up time! I started the account to find more inspiration and because I always took photos of the activities we had done I started sharing them for others too. It was also a really fun form of communication with my teens and hubby who’d check the page and were well prepared for the sort of mess they might be coming home to!
As a parent of 5, you must have a lot of parenting hacks. Have you got any advice you could share for those who have little ones about to start school?
Oh starting school is so exciting but I also feel it’s such a time of mixed emotions for everyone! My biggest tip would be for the mums…try to be involved as much as you can, meet the parents and get to know the kids, even if its way outside your comfort zone to go and talk to other parents. These other parents will be your community and such a beautiful support network during your time as a school mum. For the kids, to get them used to the school environment, go to the school on weekends (if allowed) and play on the playground. Being familiar and confident on the play equipment will help your little to feel less overwhelmed and scared at lunch time and playtime.
I really love the early numeracy ideas you share. For parents who are keen to help their children learn numbers, what approach should they take?
Thank you so much! We love number activities I feel like I’m counting everything out loud all the time! Biggest tip is to make it fun!! And make it just part of everyday life…count everything and talk about numbers. Numbers are everywhere in our environment, just by walking around the neighbourhood you can point out numbers on the mail boxes, speed signs, count the trees or cars or anything! Kids love to get active so counting while jumping on the trampoline or rolling a ball together is always fun too.
You share some beautiful wooden resources. What are your favourites?
Any type of wooden block! The boys use blocks every single day, we have so many different sets. We have some of the more expensive sets or blocks and we have cheaper blocks we have picked up over the years. They like good sized blocks and interesting shapes. But after blocks our favourite would have to be our Grimm’s rainbow!
Is there a particular educator / educational style that influences the activities you create?
I don’t really follow any one educational style, I am huge on following the child’s lead and feel that’s the most important, coupled with a prepared environment children can direct their own learning so much better than most people expect!
Everyone has a favourite teacher. Who was yours?
Not my own teacher but my daughter had a teacher named Mrs Frisby and she was incredible, she was welcoming and really understood that every child is different and learns at their own speed. She even invited my younger kids in to join the class when she knew it was something that they’d enjoy.
Finally, how can we find out more about The Littles Learn?
You can follow Tara’s online education toy store @puggleandkit here.