Tooled Up Education

Grappling with Grief

It is Grief Awareness Week nationally across the UK; a seasonal opportunity to raise awareness about the nature and impact of grief on us, family members, pupils we work with and children we care for, and to consider ‘what works’ when it comes to optimal support.

Family games

If, like me, you have ever witnessed your children engaged in ‘rough and tumble’ play with siblings, cousins, friends or relatives, it can feel alarming. In our house, after about five minutes, it used to lead to tears and accusations that ‘he hit me too hard’; one parent would then intercede with sage advice on when to stop! ‘Roughhousing’ sounds and looks chaotic and can engender feelings of alarm in onlookers.

Making a Noise

If you live in the UK, you may well be aware that it is Anti-Bullying Week. This year’s theme, which emerged following consultation with teachers and pupils, is ‘Make A Noise About Bullying’. According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, the theme was chosen because, “Too often, we are silent when we see bullying take place, silent about the hurt bullying causes, and silent when we hear bullying dismissed as ‘just banter’. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Raising Emotion Scientists

After a sporting event this weekend, I’ve been mulling over what constitutes real success and what success means to different people. When you think of success, do you think of a dream job? A big house and luxurious holidays? Winning gold medals or trophies? Achieving top grades? Fulfilling an ambition? Having strong interpersonal relationships? Well, Professor Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, once told me that, “True success is learning how to use your emotions wisely to achieve your personal goals and wellbeing.” Food for thought.

Empty Nesters

On my evening scroll through social media, I am often captivated by the testimonies of parents on a particular Facebook page, established for the parents of teens who have gone to university. Their tales are normally penned anonymously and showcase the full range of emotions that are experienced when children fly the nest. Many pine, grieve and mourn the departure of beloved offspring and describe a veritable midlife identity crisis.

Untangling English

English has a dominant position in the UK curriculum. Most children have an English lesson almost every day, from the start of Reception to the end of Year 11. In this week’s Wednesday Wisdom, English teacher and examiner Patrick Cragg offers an insight into all the different strands that make up English, the unique benefits and challenges of the subject, and how parents can support their children.

Cherishing Childhood

I got up at 2am last week to drive my son to catch the night bus for a school trip to Italy. He was extremely excited and kept gleefully reminding me that this was the first time he would be in a foreign country without a parent! He had prepared for the trip by learning how to ask for ‘due gelati’ and purchased some sunglasses. As he boarded the bus with a brisk wave, I felt full of gratitude; for the sheer normalcy of his experience and for his singular thinking; about ice-cream, which friend he would be sharing a dorm with and which teacher would be the most fun.

Reflections on Reading

This week’s Wednesday Wisdom is authored by English teacher and GCSE examiner, Patrick Cragg who shares some honest reflections on the importance of reading for pleasure and his own memories of a childhood where books and bedtime stories featured highly.

Blowing Trumpets

Over the past two weeks, I have been out and about giving talks in Northern Ireland and England to teachers and school staff as part of INSET days; days where staff come together to prepare themselves for the arrival of pupils into the new school year.

August Angst

I joined a very important club this month, a club that all parents will belong to at some point and, once a member, I promise you’ll see the world slightly differently. Things aren’t quite the same when you have been through the emotional rollercoaster of waiting for high stakes exam results.