Is Stress Really a Fashion Statement?

July 24, 2017 3:47 pm Published by

Stress. Pressure. No longer the effects of extreme and unbearable suffering like fire, flood and earthquake but reduced now to buzz words, cliches. Children are stressed, business men and women are pressured, teachers, doctors, shop assistants, holiday makers, models, dogs, cats and horses – all stressed. All under such demanding pressure they barely cope.

And yet so many people endured two world wars, lived with the constant threat of bombs dropping on schools, homes and places of work. They fed their families on pitiful rations, scrimped for clothes, had inadequate heating and lived day after day with the news of the death of yet another family member or friend. Were they stressed? Were they pressured? Yes of course they were and with good reason. Did they dwell on this stress, did they break down in tears over the pressure? Perhaps occasionally but, although I was only nine at the end of WW2, I can honestly only remember smiles, laughter and songs, songs of rousing hope and bloody minded determination. There was none of the keening, awful moaning of today’s population. People rolled up their sleeves and faced their problems. Above all, they relentlessly committed themselves to an outward calm to inspire those around them, in particular their children.

Today’s self indulgent embracing of pressure and stress has spawned almost a worldwide billion pound industry from lifestyle gurus to dietary advisers and others seducing your anxieties to take your cash.

Of course we have stresses and anxieties today and I would never attempt to trivialize problems of unpayable mortgages, broken homes, mounting bills and illness. But no child should be encouraged to believe it is stressed beyond coping. No exam should be built into an emotional and mental hurdle that is insuperable. When children worry about exams it is the job of those adults who love them to soothe their worries and massage their distress. No exam is ever set beyond its examinees, from degree level to KS1 there will be some who fly through, some who achieve low marks and those who work like steam engines to achieve a middle of the road mark. All achievement is valid, no matter where the result finally rests. Always tell your child that life is simply about doing your best and the more you worry the more difficult that will be.

Now for the next group of sounds, possibly the most difficult to date but easily conquered with time.

eye. A sight word, this one really is simple if you make the two ‘e’s into eyes with eyebrows, and the ‘y’ into a nose.

ough. This has five sounds.

(off) cough trough.

(ow) bough, Slough.

(oh) dough, brougham.

(aw) fought, wrought, sought, bought.

(uff) rough, tough, slough, enough.


(ow) found, sound, hound.


(aw) taught, caught, aught.

(arf) laugh, draught.


(aw) faun, Paul, haul, Maundy.

Teach these the same way you dealt with previous phonics and, difficult though they may be, my children have not had any problems learning them. Remember, sounds can go shopping, walk around the garden, be tied to the tail of a balloon, hung on a door handle or placed at the table, any innovative or unusual spot to make them special.

Remember too, everyday reading means your child reading aloud every single day, but always, always making it fun and with plenty of acting.

Your reader can now with all of the phonics and sight words mastered, read:

”As he spoke the words, a tiny bolt of lightning zapped across the cave leaving a streak of blue light in its wake. To the girls it went unnoticed but both Lampyris and Leo were aware of it and each looked silently at the other.

Lampyris slid onto Alice’s hand and, holding him protectively, she stood and they began to make their way through the cloak of darkness with only the little grub’s eerie green light to assist them. They went on, for what seemed like hours.

”Soon children, very soon we must arrive at a rather lovely cave, it can’t be far.” Lampyris was standing on his tail end, his tiny green cap waving around, but gazing steadily ahead. ”Leo,” he turned to the young lad, ”stand still, close your eyes, go on! Keeping them closed, send your mind along the cave.”

The little glow-worm was not asking Leo to do this, it was ordering him and he felt oddly compelled to carry out its instructions. Everybody stopped what they were doing and Leo, sitting again, gave a small cough. He cleared his throat and pitched his mind forward, feeling for all the world a prize idiot. Thank goodness the chaps in his class weren’t around, he’d be ridiculed from here to next…

All of a sudden he was searching cave walls, aloft from the ground, in the flight of a soaring bird. As he went, swooping, diving and gliding, he searched th|or|ough|l|y, (ough, as in dough) peering from side to side, catching sight of the stalactites as thick as a man’s waist and rocks as immense as a shire hall.

Leo had been in flight only a short time when, ahead of him, from the open roof of the cave, light streamed in. It was like all the sunbeams of the world bunched up into one massive light. Beneath the hole, rank upon rank, tier upon tier of lush green ferns flourished in profusion. Sunshine pouring through, caught the tips, buttering their fronds to sparkling gold.

The pathway leading to this beautiful grotto was lined with stalactites and stalagmites, fused into tall, slender pillars and glowing with surreal, welcoming light. These same pillars completely surrounded the vast area of ferns and moss covered rocks. Leo, lost in dreamy thought, drifted along the path and into the grotto, observing its beauty but, above all, basking in its feeling of safety and protection.

Turning swiftly, as though flight had been the normal way of getting around all his life, he swooped back to his sisters and Lampyris.

* * *

This extract is from The Magic Caves of Alonah and contains only phonics and sight sounds learned to date. Happy reading.

This is Teaching Post 14

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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