Unless you’re new around here you’ll have heard of Alphabet Babies who kindly sponsored me to attend BritMums Live this year. A few months ago I introduced the company to you and shared a little about the director, Alexis Viswanathan. If you’d like a bit of a recap pop off and read that short post before we get stuck in here.
Alexis is a mum to twin boys; former teacher, company director, literacy advocate, bookworm and early years champion. Our conversations over the last months and the articles I’ve read about her have left me in awe. If I can end up with 50% of the job satisfaction I’ll be happy bunny.
Today I have an interview with Alexis which gives some more insight into her business, Alphabet Babies. I’ve also asked how she manages to balance everything as a working mother. I’m sure you’ll agree that turing a passion into a career is the ultimate goal so I hope you’re taking notes!
Growing up, did you always imagine you’d be working in education in some form?
Judging by my bossy nature, it was probably inevitable… I used to line up my teddies and play schools with them and when I was a teenager I became the local area’s go-to babysitter. I didn’t have it in my head that I would become a teacher though but anything I chose to do always seemed to revolve around supporting children. When I was a student studying English, I spent my summers teaching horse riding or drama at different camps as part of Camp America. I loved it and realised how much fun it was teaching and how much of a difference you can make.
How do you juggle work and family commitments?
I always try to put my family first. That’s partly why I ended up going into business – to give me the flexibility of working around my children’s needs. When my twin boys were small, I learned to get a lot of work done during nap time! I’m also very lucky to have a supportive extended family so there’s always someone around to help out.
What was your favourite book growing up?
When I was very small I loved The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins. I always cried when the dog found his freedom! I then moved on to loving anything by Enid Blyton. The Magic Faraway Tree was a particular favourite as I could really imagine all the different lands at the top of the tree. Some of them were quite scary though! When I was a young teenager I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and that has remained my favourite book ever. I read it to secondary pupils and I still cry at one of the chapters. I can get very emotional when I read books… The book I have loved reading to my boys though is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. It was perfect when they were babies and very soothing at bedtime.
Do you think there is enough value put on story time for kids?
I think there are so many great groups working towards raising awareness of the value of storytime. I love the work of the National Literacy Trust, Bookbug, and Play Talk Read for example. However, we can get caught up thinking it is only about enjoyment and not about learning so it can sometimes become a ‘if there’s enough time’ activity rather than a ‘necessary’ activity. A recent survey of primary teachers showed that they do not have enough time for reading in the class. I believe there should be more emphasis on how books promote learning and time should absolutely be made for them as a necessary part of learning.
What is the most challenging part of running your business?
Persuading people the importance of learning in the early years. Children learn so much in the first five years and are absolutely ready to learn. Remember the two year old that asks, ‘why?’ every two minutes? It’s because they want to learn about the world. Those first five years are the perfect time to encourage that curiosity and to develop it. We believe in playful learning – learning through fun games, songs, books, drama, and multi-sensory activities, and we ensure that children learn and boost their vocabulary through this.
[bctt tweet=”Remember the two year old that asks, ‘why?’ every two minutes? It’s because they want to learn about the world. ” username=”@alphabetbabies”]
How do you find working with your family?
I love working with my family. We all love literature and share the same passion for the importance of learning in the early years. Our conversations all revolve around books and education, usually over a glass of wine!
What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?
When we first trialled our nursery programme we were on tenterhooks as to how it would turn out. We were delighted when the staff reported that they loved using it and the kids loved how fun it was. Most importantly, they were noticing that their children were much further ahead in their knowledge of alphabet names and sounds, and their vocabulary than children in previous years. That really made us really proud and we knew that all our hard work had paid off.
If you could set the national curriculum what books would be on the reading list?
For the early years, my favourites would be a mix of classics such as Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss all the way to more modern books such as Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen (such a wicked ending!) and Aaaarrgghh Spider! by Lydia Monks.
I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. I’ll have some more from Alexia and the team over the next few months including a peek at their resources & a giveaway. You can find out more about Alexis Viswanathan and the rest of the team at Alphabet Babies here.
If you’re loving the literacy vibe make sure to come back tomorrow for the second instalment of Bookish Bloggers.