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Smart kids

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 20 October 2014
Children are taught 1 + 1 = 2, reading, and writing, for an equal start in life. But where and how they are taught is far from equal and varies greatly on the school they attend.

The notion that a university education ensures more success in life is quite ingrained in society, education being fundamental to prosperity. So how do you provide your children with the opportunities to excel and fulfil their potential?
Catherine Stoker is an Education Consultant who advises parents how to choose a school best suited to each child’s personality and ability. “Their educational focus is not just on academic excellence, but on offering pupils diverse opportunities to develop their capabilities in Sport, Music, Art and Design, or The Arts.”

The right school may not always be the best private institution money can buy, “…as a shy child may need to build their confidence through the small, nurturing environment of a private school, while a sibling may be out-going and confident, so attending the right state school may suit them just as well,” she suggests.

Another avenue to consider is joining an after-school or weekend club. A US study from Brigham University reports, “...teenagers who take part in extracurricular activities with students who achieve good grades, have double the chance of going to university”.

It reinforces the notion that peer groups do have an impact on behaviour, both positive and the not so desirable.

“Students who mix with bright students are more motivated and do achieve more highly. They will be mixing with kids with high aspirations and talking about university as a given, opening up a whole range of possibilities”.

Apparently the club or activity does not need to necessarily be academic to improve school grades, as the focus is to “hang out” in chess club, ballet classes, tennis coaching, or even art lessons with the smart kids. If your child is interested in coin/stamp collection or astronomy, the internet is a good place to start to find other like-minded enthusiasts, and maybe start your own club.

“Children who are with other high achievers will always tend to achieve higher because they are aware it’s possible and that they too can do it,” says the co-author Lance Erickson.

It may take more time and energy in your day to help motivate your children or simply drive them to and fro, and Mr Erickson warns that if you don’t “… they are more likely to end up living at your house because they won’t be going to university”.

“How long?”

A Principal's Day

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Wednesday, 30 July 2014
When I met Rachel in grade 6 a few decades ago I had no inkling she would one day become responsible for the education of young minds. However, it is her role as a School Principal I am most in awe. She is a psychologist, administrator, nurse, proxy-parent, big sister, judge & jury, all out wonder woman and I celebrate her passion and boundless patience.

Below is a recent post from her Facebook page.

Today was frantic. After little lunch it was noticed that a 5 year old hadn't returned to class. I got a call from the office and normally in these circumstances I would fly out to find the missing kid.

However, today that was impossible.

At the time of the phone alert I had:
1 x wet puddle playing 5 year old,
1 x 7 year old with autism who needed to chill out in his fave spot under an armchair,
1 x angry year 6 plonked on another armchair,
2 x disobedient year 7s smirking in the doorway, and
1 x year 2 who has lost all sense of what is right!

So things went like this…
Me to smirkers: I don’t even care why you are here, I don’t have time. Get out and find this short kid with floppy sandy coloured hair. GO!
They ran off.
Me to the grump in the chair: I know you like to be cranked for hours but right now you need to pull yourself together and get out on the hunt for the same short kid with the same floppy sandy coloured hair. GO!
He left. Then I had a problem. What to do with the mud covered 5 year old and the 7 year old with autism??
I decided - nothing. Leave them. They wouldn't dare venture out...I HOPED!
So I turned to the year 2 who had forgotten how to behave entirely.
He said: Shall I look for the short kid too?
Me: No, but you can come while I look AND tell you off at the same time.
He followed me.... or I thought he did.
By now the parents were filling the yard for home time. I had rung the missing child's mother. I was marching around the school, dialling the police, looking for a short kid with floppy sandy hair, and telling a kid off. I stopped to check on the year 2 with no sense of right but he had fallen behind me by about 10 feet.
All this time I have been ranting at thin air. He hadn’t heard a word.
He heard the next 100 words clearly as he was told to: GET UP HERE. WALK WITH ME WHILE I ATTEMPT TO TELL YOU OFF!! BLAH BLAH BLAH...
The short kid with floppy sandy hair was found hiding in the bushes a stone’s throw from his classroom. Tomorrow he has no playtime.
The child with autism remained in the office and played with the muddy 5 year old.
The muddy 5 year old's socks dried.
The music played (no bells at Rachel’s school) for kiddie home time.
If you have read all of this you are amazing!!


Home schooling

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Friday, 04 July 2014
Would you, could you, home school your child if money wasn’t an issue and you had the time and patience to teach reading, writing and arithmetic?

It’s not a simple YES or NO. The complexities are numerous and the consequences even more so. Outsourcing your child’s future is a primary consideration for every parent. Getting it right is not always straight forward.

A healthy bank account does not guarantee the most expensive schools provide individuality for your child and his/her needs?  Ditto with residing in a desirable school district. What these options offer is a sense of assurance, even when such institutions may not suit personality and talent.

What a school environment does provide and instil (hopefully in a healthy way) is routine, community and an opportunity to develop strong social and problem solving skills for the future.

Humans are social beings and interaction with others is a necessary aspect for happiness. Best friends, boy/girlfriends, business associates, band members et al have all been found in school playgrounds.

A home schooled child misses out on this much like an only child grows up in isolation. I am not saying either is ideal but possibly the former is easier for all concerned.

A previous boss once announced she had terrible news “…school holidays are three weeks, not two”. We all have our limits.

Cartoonist and philosopher, Michael Leunig, home schooled his two children for ten years “because they wanted to”.

"Having the top score at 18 isn't going to help if you have a nervous breakdown at 40. Life is a long time, much deeper and more serious than A-levels," he says

Poignant from a man with the luxury to cherish time with his offspring and to inspire them with a passion for learning.

Although he wouldn't tout home schooling - unless someone was already interested in the philosophy - he believes it has a special place in a climate where we cling to awards systems and standardised testing.

So while he and other kindred advocates relish in this path, it opens an interesting discussion for the rest of us who must conform to working away from home with hours not conducive to being both parent and teacher.

And some of us are even downright relieved to have a break from children.

A rant about the cost of a free education

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Monday, 26 November 2012
This week I have written out cheques for three separate school trips, all to London, totalling over £300.

Yep, that’s three hundred pounds. I could buy an awful lot of lattes and muffins with that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for kids having experiences and what not, but do they always have to be so expensive?

In my day, I’m pretty sure we all just chipped in a pound for a beaten up coach, took our packed lunches to the remains of a nearby castle ruin, did some crayon rubbings and then ate our sandwiches in the shelter of a pile of rubble.

Now you can argue that it’s a good thing that school trips have become so much more exciting, but isn’t the idea of free education that’s it’s, well, free??

I am clearly kidding myself. With the number of letters home we get asking for contributions in some form or another, from cake donations to payment for the latest personalised school tea towel, the cost of even a free education appears to be spiralling out of control.

Just this week we had school photos, (once an annual event, now seemingly more regular), with a set of photos available for the bargain price of just £28. For parents feeling particularly flush, there was the option to have your child’s face put onto just about every inanimate object you could imagine. Prices starting from just £7.99.

This week we’re getting letters home about school camp. I may need to pop out for a latte and a muffin before I can bring myself to write the cheque.

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