Parenting: What should education look like?

Over the last month or so we’ve had to make some very difficult decisions about Thomas’ nursery care. We had been really happy with the care provided, but when management announced a number of major changes we really had to re-assess whether it was the right place for him.

We were incredibly saddened that ultimately, the nursery appeared not to be listening to it’s own staff. Which gave us little confidence that they would bother listening to parents either. Everything just really seemed to lack common sense and has left us feeling really quite sad about the whole thing.

Thomas really adores the people who look after him and they provide excellent care. But we came to realise that no matter how well intentioned those people are, there’s just no way they could continue that level of care in the environment the management are attempting to introduce.

One of my main worries was that easy access to the garden was going to be removed for Thomas’ age group. He absolutely thrives in the outdoors. It’s not been unknown for him to be in our garden with his toy tool kit at 6.30am.

Thankfully, our dilemma has been solved as we have managed to find a place for him at another nursery fairly close by.

Looking round the new nursery, we were impressed in so many ways. Although things seemed quite chaotic it was clearly controlled. The children were happy, confident, allowed independence and largely outside. They have large gardens for each age groups, access to woodland, and are next to a local park. All in all it seems perfect for Thomas and I can’t wait for him to start there.

But I’ve been thinking about education on a wider level as well. As a teacher I  would like to think I ‘educate’ rather than just sticking to a syllabus. But the reality is, much of the time I do have to equip the children to pass their exams. It becomes their focus and it becomes a hard task to get the majority to take part in activities purely for the sake of learning something.

Alison Store Original Illustration

However each year my school puts down the pens and paper and we do head outdoors. For a full week the children take part in a range of activities from sailing, to rock climbing, scuba diving and even tight rope walking.

Although the vast majority of them take part in sports in their every day lives. It was evident that by the end of the week they are exhausted. Not only from the activities but from the large amounts of fresh air, the new experiences, the challenges. Often they were out of their comfort zones and really having to dig deep to find resilience.

I can’t help but thing that we just need more of it.

Just as Thomas thrives on being outdoors at the grand old age of 22 months. Why is that any less true for children who are 12? Or even 13, 14, 15 etc.?

I think it’s brilliant that we head outdoors for this week, and indeed further up the school we have a very popular Duke of Edinburgh programme. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if it wasn’t just a week but far more regular than that?

I know that each subject at school has value but I do wonder if they would all gain value if we just got the kids outside a bit more often.

I’ll leave you with this video that has really made me think:

PS. I feature an original illustration by Alison Soye every Friday, and here’s today’s.

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