I've spoken at length about the importance of contextualised learning. As parents, we have a clear role to play in helping our children put theory into practice. It shouldn't fall solely on the shoulders of teachers. However, it still makes me question whether schools are doing enough on their side to prepare children for their futures.
I know Tom is not yet 6 but he has only ever been invited to one birthday party and we have never held one for him. This may change as he gets older and I always feel guilty about this although it is irrational. We do celebrate in other ways though, last year we went to his favourite farm. I am not sure where we will go this year, maybe the farm again.
Since graduating, I have followed my parents in working exclusively within state education, although unlike them I don't do the really difficult and important job of teaching. Every day I believe more and more (and from a high start-point) in the tremendous value of what the college I work at does, and of the wider system.
There is a wonderful opportunity these days to plan a pregnancy. In the four months that it takes to make healthy sperm and the month that it takes to mature an egg prior to ovulation, both parents can ensure that they get the nutrients required to increase their chance of conceiving a healthy baby.
The downside of defining different parenting styles is the defensiveness that this can cause. Understandably, when we come across someone who does things differently to us, it can make us either want to defend our own way, or convince the other person to try it out. We all want to feel secure that we're doing the right thing because it's such an emotive issue...
It's the age old question that parents have to face up to every year: will my kid(s) have enough presents to open on Christmas Day. How much is enough we ponder? And will they like them? We try to get that balance right between fun toys and educational toys. As the cash registers tick over we will be tempted to throw caution to the wind heading home with bags full of goodies.
The shared parental leave policy is a step towards helping parents juggle the cost of childcare for the first year of their baby's life. But it still leaves the thorny question of how parents will pay for childcare until their child is eligible for 15 hours of government-funded care as a three-year-old. Will childcare ever become a universal offer like school? Or will it remain market-led where parents bear the brunt of the cost.
Our gut instinct to punish criminals must be tempered by the realisation that children are innocent. These kids are victims themselves. They should not become a currency of revenge. Taking them into account at their parent's sentencing does not weaken our prosecution system. It does not make us less protected from crime. It does the opposite.
Did any of you see the flurry of news stories following a recent survey of parents, in which 87% indicated that they thought schools should focus on building a child's character and not on their academic ability alone? The results of the survey certainly made interesting reading. But they also got me thinking about what it is that schools can do to build character in their pupils.