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Reflections on education and what it means to prepare kids for their world

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Parents’ Guide: Year 10 Overview

In our latest blog series – ‘Year Overview’ – we help you get familiar with all the key topics your child will learn and the key skills they’ll improve in primary and …

Source: Parents’ Guide: Year 10 Overview

Traveling on an Aeroplane

​Our flight path – a shot of the screen on the back of the seat in front of mine

My first long distance flight was atrip to Europe.  I was 7.  The experience remains vivid my mind – the sights,  sounds and smells. My own kids first experience of long distance travel was when they were less than year old. Both are seasoned travellers as we live in Asia but travel back to the UK regularly  to see family and friends.

I am writing this as we travel at  34 000 feet, over Afghanistan.   Travelling on a plane is an amazing experience for a child. For me, it has been a journey of discoverying how to survive 14 hours of being stuck in an airplane. 

1 to 6 years

Kids at this age are naturally curious. It can be challenging keeping them entertained as well as safe, but not impossible. Planning ahead will make things a pleasant journey for all as well as fellow travellers.

♡ Safety awareness

Fundamentally, this is paramount. One of the best advice I had was from a fellow expat with older children. A doctor had told her “Once your child is seated on the plane, put the seat belt on and do not let him /her sit without the seat belt on.” She went on to tell me that it is best to not let the kids walk along the aisle, providing additional inflight entertainment unattended.

I have heeded this advice. We told our kids when they were toddlers they needed to remain seated with a seatbelt unless they needed to use the toilet. In which case either one of us would walk with them, holding their hand. They have travelled often enough to have encountered turbulence. We have also travelled often enough to see children hurt or i  potentially dangerous positions.

♡Surprises 

Being in a plane is restritive and boring for a child. To help them pass the time I have packed small toys like plastic animals or a mini notebook when they were little.  I wrapped them up once. It  added a dimension of surprise. I would not recommend toys with wheels or toys with small parts as they easily get lost in between the seats.

7 to 10

♡Inflight entertainment
This is dependent on the airline. We have seen the evolution of inflight entertainment over the years.  Depending on family preferences regarding screen time and movies you are happy for your child to watch especially on a long haul flight.

♡Card / Travel games / Sticker Books

Having some card games and travel games with magnetic boards and pieces helps pass the time away. Sticker books can be fun too. We have used a few by Usbourne in  the past.

♡ A Doodle or sketch book

Pack some markers and sharpened pencils along with a notebook or even a colouring book. Mine loves this series by Usbourne.

♡Importance of drinking

Travelling on planes makes ones throats dry. Children need to be reminded to keep up the fluids. With security checks  at airports fluids are not allowed.  Pack an empty water bottle which can be refilled during the flight. 

10 and above

♡Ipods and TabletS

Include podcasts, TED Talks and audio books on your packing list. Just remember to charge the gadgets adequately too.

♡Geography on the go

If you are taking a day flight, even for a short distance, do some research on your flight path and look out of the window to note the different places seen. It makes all the topics  covered in physical geography come alive as  you fly through clouds and view rivers from above.

While travelling is exciting, there can also be an element of uncertainty in this day an age with more countries stepping up their security checks. This takes extra time as belts with metal at certain airports have to be taken off. Laptops, tablets have to put on a tray etc. It may help to explain to young children that it is just part of the regulations and to give yourselves extra time. If anything it gives time to check out the Duty Free Shops

Appreciating Maths

Maths is essential for daily living;  yet I grew up thinking of it as a challenging subject in my early years at primary school. 

Homeschooling has given us the liberty to choose which curriculum to use. While we use a UK curriculum for English and Humanities in the primary years; we chose to do Singapore Maths. It took time and effort to understand the methodology but am satisfied with the good foundations it had given the children.  The oldest is in his first year of secondary school with a UK online Wolsey Hall Oxford and is enjoying Maths.

Maths can be challenging for some. There is a lot of encouraging research on this. Check out this site about allowing older kids to use their fingers to work out Maths problem.  Think you do not have a brain for Maths? Read this article.

Homeschooling has also meant we have deviated from prescribed curriculum depending on the needs of the learner.  Games are always much appreciated.  So playing matching pairs for Number Bonds made learning Maths less labourous.

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Credit: I printed these from a website which I cannot remember and pasted them on cardboard.

We are currently enjoying a Math game set by Thinkfun called Math Dice. The application of all the basic Mathematical functions are applied in this game.  The functions applied could be limited of course for younger children.

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There are many Multiplication Apps available. We love
10monkey Multiplication at the Learning Lab.

We have done Maths with ‘Sal‘ years ago. We revisited the site recently and we are exploring about the Maths Doodling and Computer Science.

Having learnt about Leonardo da Vinci through Museum visits, books the movie Mr Peabody and Sherman, they are aware of the role of Mathematics in Art. We have applied principles of symmetry in our Art lessons. For further ideas on this check out this beautiful site for inspiring activities by a creative Maths teacher.

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We have had great fun solving a challenging riddle which required application of our mathematical skills. It’s amazing to have a myriad of resources available at one’s disposal. I am thankful for the flexibility Homeschooling as it allows us to employ different strategies to make learning a more exciting experience.   

Appreciating Poetry

We love poems at The Learning Lab. Rhymes and Rhythms were after part and parcel of their daily ‘playlist’ as they heard me sing Nursery Rhymes as we went about our daily activity.

Part of their daily screen time then was 20 minutes of video watching. The Tweenies were one of my oldest’s favourite – something he cringes about now.

Alliteration and assonance; commonly used by Poets, was something my children were exposed to rather early on. The characters in Francesca Simon’s book series -Horrid Henry were extremely helpful in helping them grasp this aspect. Not only were the characters given names with an adjective of the same letter as the first letter in their names; but they were memorable.

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We have studied various poems of various forms together over the years, thanks to the excellent range of resources which we were part of our homeschool curriculum. Something I am grateful for as I certainly do not have the skills to teach poetry. Having someone plan, source and do the necessary creative scaffolding to teach poetry within the English course; is a huge help. It has given my children with the exposure to appreciate poetry.

I came across fascinating TEDEx talk by an inspiring poet, Harry Baker.

To celebrate I thought we would share this wonderful Ted Talk we watched a couple of times.

Click here if like me, could do with some guidance on helping children write a poem.

International Day of Happiness

It’s International Day of Happiness! Like any  parent,  not a day goes past without factoring in my kids happiness…..

I am no different from a parent from parents who send their kids to school. The challenges are just different.

I listened to this talk some years ago and remember being inspired by it. I am glad I watched it again. I needed to be reminded again of what is significant in the process of preparing kids for their future.

Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar
http://go.ted.com/DjDcQQ

GRIT for Kids

We were introduced to the concept of Growth vs Fixed Mindset in last December during a Home School reunion.  Basically a Growth Mindset is the tenacity to persevere through challenging situations. A Fixed Mindset gives up trying when faced with difficulties.

I found the kids resumed the their routines at The Learning Lab with a much more positive  attitude after that event.  Occasionally, I heard the line ‘… see I decided to have a growth mindset when doing this Maths question….’

I came across a blog on some current research on this topic when I remembered a TED Talk on a similar theme a few years ago by Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit
http://go.ted.com/WBNjyQ

Success in life is never a guarantee in life. As parents/educators we can only facilitate an environment which would empower children to feel its not GAME OVER when faced with difficulty.

The Myth of Average | Todd Rose | | TED-Ed

I believe in education. School, Unschool, Home School, Home Education….
There is no one size fits all solution.

Although we have chosen to homeschool our kids, we still believe that schools as an institution meet a very real need in society. Not everyone is able to choose this option.

We have had ‘honourary’ students at Learning Lab.  One pair of kids from a single parent family and another child who has a terminal illness.

I was not homeschooled. My parents grew up during WW2 so they did not have a chance to go to school themselves. They had the foresight to send me to a good school. I don’t remember the lessons as much as the dedicated teachers who interacted with us and demonstrated they believed in our potential.

Every child has potential. We (Parents, Educators,Writers, Policy Makers, Citizens….) have to cease believing in the Myth of Average. Listen to this former high school dropout  who now teaches at Harvard. If we all did our part then maybe we would see fewer disillusioned youths taking up drugs, perhaps we would see more dedicated leaders or possibly more ethical entrpreneurs…..

https://ed.ted.com/on/Cnfx24Bz

Beyond Coding

In the quest to implement coding in education systems, its refreshing to see questions on equality and implications of this effort.

“How are you teaching your young people to learn, think, create, and lead in a world transformed by ubiquitous … and increasingly powerful computers?”

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/will-the-push-for-coding-lead-to-technical-ghettos/471300/

Another coding site for kids

Check out this newly launched site which aims to equip kids to code using Minecraft!

We are checking out the videos today at the Learning Lab. The kids think the videos are COOL!

https://codekingdoms.com/

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