Tag Archives: education

Child reads own school report that says she cannot read

Poster with words "you cannot read this sentence"Last Friday I spoke with a parent from a local primary school about her 6-year-old daughter’s school report. The report stated that her daughter “has not met the expected standard for the Year 1 phonics screening check.” The parent told me how puzzled they both were by this, because her daughter could confidently read lots of written material by herself – including this very statement from her report.

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A message to all those promoting outdoor learning

Wyre forest school fire steelThis weekend saw the launch of the Forest School Association, a new national body for those working in UK Forest School settings. I have agreed to be the patron of this new body. Sadly I was not able to be at the event in person. At the Association’s invitation, I passed on a message of support, which I thought may be of wider interest:

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Please Kidshealth, give parents (and kids) a break

girl jumping off swingThe US non-profit agency Kidshealth – which claims that it runs the #1 most visited website for children’s health and development – has eight web pages of guidance for parents on playground safety. Page 6 includes the following advice: “Kids should always sit in the swing, not stand or kneel. They should hold on tightly with both hands while swinging, and when finished swinging, stop the swing completely before getting off.” Continue reading

The school where kids can build dens

Last week I visited a school where the students can build dens freely, any time they want, during breaks between lessons. In case you were wondering, Berwick Fields Primary School in City of Casey, Victoria, Australia is not a Steiner School, or a progressive private institution. It is a state school (and a large one, with over 1,000 students on roll).

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Moving on from the zero risk childhood

Girl climbing a treeThe ‘cotton wool kid’ – cosseted, watched over, insulated from all possible harm – has become a potent symbol of our fear-filled, risk-averse times. Across the rich nations, children are statistically safer today than at any time in history [pdf link]. But the insidious question ‘what if…?’ crowds out common sense, and clouds our good judgement. Continue reading

Out of sight, out of mind?

Boys climbing a tree

Image from St Joseph’s OSHC, QLD, Australia

I was recently told about an article on tree-climbing, by an Australian after-school service. It rightly makes the case that the benefits of this activity clearly outweigh the risks. The video footage certainly reinforces this, showing the children’s appetite for the experience, and their obvious competence. And yet, even though I think that what St Joseph’s is doing here is terrific, something in the clip jarred with me. It was the very presence of the grown-ups. Such a contrast from my own childhood memories of climbing trees. Continue reading

Taking a balanced approach to risk in childhood: Why and how

Rosa on a tree swingWhere was your favourite place to play as a child? The chances are, it was out of doors, and out of sight of adults. A place where you felt a sense of freedom and possibility. Where you could follow your impulses and your imagination, even if that led you into situations that were scary, challenging, perhaps even downright dangerous.

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