Dear Dad at soft play

Dear Dad at soft play,

I saw what happened on Sunday, I was watching it all. I saw as you looked up and your son came running to you saying “Daddy, that boy pulled my hair”, you looked concerned. And who wouldn’t. No one wants their child to be hurt by another child. But soft play areas get busy, especially on a cold Sunday morning, and tensions run high between the kids and sometimes these things happen. For so many different reasons. I heard you ask your son which little boy and as he pointed, I looked over and saw two little boys come down the slide with big smiles on their faces. Whatever the issue was with that child, it was clearly forgotten about.

But you couldn’t forget it. You couldn’t let it go, telling your son to stay away. Or approach the mother and ask her to watch her child. Instead, I heard you say something I really didn’t expect, I heard you tell your son “If he pulls your hair, push him back.”

Dear dad, you look like a nice guy. You’re well dressed, as is your kid. He came to you for comfort, he came to you for a cuddle, to tell you he’d been hurt. He wanted your reassurance, your love, your comfort. Your child needs to learn how to handle things without resorting to violence. Your child needs to learn that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. He needs to know that these things happen in soft play centres but that he should use his words and not his hands to retaliate. To tell the other child he didn’t appreciate it. To sort it out amicably.

We live in a world where violence is on our TV screens everyday…as much as we try to shelter our children, they will be exposed to it. They don’t need to be exposed to it by those that love them the most. He needed your guidance.

I didn’t say anything because your child looked like a good kid. I didn’t actually think he was going to act on it. He was fine (all his short hair in tact) and the other kid was off on the other side of the play centre.

But what happened after that shocked me even more. Your son sees the little boy approaching him, he turns to speak to you, you look away and in those 2 seconds that your head is turned, he pushes the little boy running past him, causing him to fall and hit his head. And then coincidentally you turn back, poker face!

And the little boy’s mother runs to scoop up her crying child with sadness in her eyes. Because she can’t understand why an older boy pushed her son, while standing right beside his dad, and his dad did nothing. She didn’t know her son pulled your son’s hair, you didn’t tell her you see, you didn’t clear the air.

I know you may think you’re teaching your kid to be tough, to fight back and defend himself. To be strong and take no shit! But what you don’t realise is, your kid gave you away dad. 15 minutes later he went up to that mother and said “I pushed him” and when the mother asked “Why did you push him?” your son responded “My daddy told me to, my daddy told me to do it!”

Children aren’t born vengeful, hurtful, racist. That’s all on us, it’s how we raise them. Parenting can be tough, we’re protective of the most precious people in our life BUT physical retaliation is never the answer.

Your child needed comfort, he needed reassurance, he needed love. That’s it!

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

 

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Parenting and Job Satisfaction

Most people I know, at some point in their career, will moan about their job. Or complain about the hectic week they are having or have a right ol’ rant about their boss. Most people, except mums that is. When it comes to being a mum, it’s almost like we’re not allowed to complain about our “jobs”. And being a mum is a full time job! in fact it’s more than full time because you never really switch off.

When we rant about our office job, we don’t feel guilt, we don’t ever think that maybe work is tough because we are not good enough. We rant because it’s tough, because we’re having a bad week and we need to let off steam. But somehow when it comes to parenting, that’s where our inner most insecurities come out. Like if we admit that we’re having a bad week or that our toddler is driving us slowly insane, it’s like admitting we’re not doing a good job. That we’re not good enough. And actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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The fact is, like any job, even with parenting, there are good days and there are bad days. It doesn’t mean you want to give up your job or that you don’t actually love it. When you’re having a bad day, its just that, one bad day. The good thing about parenting is, having a good day truly makes you forget the bad ones. Like they didn’t even happen.

Today was a good day. A very hectic, but good day. I don’t know what the rest of the week will be like. No doubt we’ll have some tantrums and tears. I’ll probably have to deal with S kicking up a fuss about going somewhere and refusing to put a jacket on. But I’ll also get cuddles, kisses, funny stories and laugh out loud comments. To me, that’s job satisfaction right there!

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#WhatWoodYouPlay Fire Station Review

If you have a toddler, you’ll know how easy it is to end up collecting lots of colourful plastic toys! Birthday party return gifts, toddler tantrums in the supermarket because they want yet another fire engine/digger/police car, birthday presents, Christmas presents, visiting uncles/aunts presents, generous friends presents, bribe presents, flying presents….you get the gist! S had 3 different toy boxes over flowing with every mode of transport you can imagine! And I don’t mind that he has that many, it’s when they start breaking and pieces fall off that it gets to me. And the problem with plastic, especially plastic toys made in China is that it happens quite often.

My brother bought S an aeroplane the last time he was here and spent a fair amount of money on it. Right from day 1, the pieces never quite fit together properly and they were constantly falling off. It really bugs the perfectionist in me! So when George at Asda got in touch giving us the opportunity to review one of their Wooden Toys as part of their #WhatWoodYouPlay campaign, I jumped at the chance. I’m on a few mum groups in the UK and have only heard rave reviews about their selection of wooden toys, this was my chance to see for myself.

S absolutely loves fire engines and so my obvious choice of Wooden toys was their awesome fire station. Once ordered, it arrived fairly quickly and I couldn’t wait to put it together. I was in the process of redecorating S’s room and moving him into it and the fire station worked as a great incentive for him.

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I was quite impressed with the packaging and the way every piece was numbered, making it quite simple to put together. The booklet mentions 45 minutes as guideline to put it together but it took me closer to 2 hours. That may or may not have something to do with my little helper constantly trying to “read his newspaper” (the instruction manual). Word of advice, put it together when your kids aren’t around or like me, you may have your bedroom turned into Narnia with styrofoam snow!

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S absolutely loves his new fire station and insists on “rescuing people” every evening before he goes to bed. The fire station is sturdy, the colours are bright and it comes with quite a few extra bits and bobs. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of were the actual firemen and the size of the fire engine but seeing as S has quite a few fire engines, we just used those instead. Without all the lights and sounds that are common to plastic toys, wooden toys have the ability to develop a child’s imagination. We’ve only had the fire station for 2 weeks but I can already see S making up new stories each evening and it takes centre stage amongst all his toys. And I’m happy we don’t have bits and pieces falling off!

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With Christmas around the corner, I’ll definately be popping over to order him something solid from their range of wooden toys.

*We were sent this complimentary fire station but all opinions are honest and my own.

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A sticker for your hard work

S absolutely loves stickers. When I was potty training, I used a sticker chart which really worked for us. His teacher at nursery inspired the idea because it was something they were doing there and I thought I’d carry it on at home. The other day he handed me a sticker and said “Mama, a sticker for your hard work.” I smiled and took it and the more I thought about it, I realised, we mama’s, we totally deserve it! And I don’t believe mothers give themselves enough credit for what they do and how hard they work.

So to all my mama’s out there, here’s a sticker for YOU, for everything.

For carrying and loving a baby for 9 months, giving birth, feeding, the emotions, the hormones, the sleepless nights.

For the shushing and patting, the rocking and the swaying. For their tears and ours!

For the colic and the gas. For walking our babies around in pushchairs to fall asleep, for driving our babies around to fall asleep. For the singing and humming, the lullaby’s and the nursery rhymes.

For the burping, the spit up and the pooing. Hell I’ve had poo all down my pyjamas, I think I deserve a sticker.

For the weaning, the steaming, picking pasta off their hair, picking pasta off the floor.

For the mess and the pureeing, for the bad backs bent over bath tubs, nights spent worrying about fevers and days spent worrying about naps.

For the classes and the songs. Because you know every nursery rhyme back to front.

For the Lego you have bought and the towers you have built. For the books that you read every night and the gadgets that you buy to make life that little bit easier.

For the ouchies that you’ve kissed better, for the tears you’ve wiped away.

For every time you woke in the night and every time you were woken before day break.

For the tantrums and the whining, the indecisiveness and the mind changing.

YOU, my fellow mama, deserve a sticker…for all your hard work! Because even though you don’t realise it, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!

We do it for the love, the kisses, the cuddles, the “I love you mama’s” and the hugs (oh the hugs are the best!) but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means it’s totally worth it!

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My Random Musings

Thank you, son

S is at that lovely age where his speech has well and truly kicked in and I can have full blown conversations with him. He’s got a great sense of humour, loves to wind me up and often laughs for no reason. He is so observant, has a great memory and absolutely loves cars. Since he was about 20 months, even though he couldn’t speak, he recognised cars by their brand logo and would often point to a random car on the road and say mama or ada (my dad). I’d then say “Yes, that’s like mama’s car or that’s like Ada’s car…the same brand just a different colour or model.” He now knows the names of several different car models and loves to point them out while I’m driving.

But I digress, because I could sit here and write about my son all day!! But the point of this post was actually to thank him for everything that he teaches me. Every single day. General consensus would have you believe that WE are teaching our children. And we are! When you watch them mimic us, you know they are learning from us. But at the same time, they are teaching us so much.

My son teaches me that persistence is the key. Mama…mama…mama…mama….he will keep at it until he has my attention. Does it drive me mad sometimes? Well yes…if I’m in the middle of something important…but does it get my attention? Certainly! I’m not a very persistent person. I take no for an answer far too easily and on a daily basis he teaches me how important it is to be persistent to get what you want.

My son teaches me to know what I want. I don’t know if it’s a toddler thing, a piscean thing or just his inherent nature but he knows what he wants and he’s not afraid to ask for it/say no to something he doesn’t want. Since he was quite young I’ve tried to always give him options. What would you like for breakfast? Do you want a banana or an apple? Should we go to the playground? And this kid knows what he wants! I’ve been on a course all day today and he’s been hanging out with my mom. The weather wasn’t great and so after his dramarama class my mom asked if he’d like to go to Topsy Turvy, an indoor soft play area. He didn’t want to go. And he made that very apparent. As parents we often think we know what is best for our child. It’s saturday afternoon, it’s wet outside so we can’t go to the park, surely our kid would love to go to a fun indoor soft play area?! He didn’t and even when I spoke to him on the phone, he didn’t change his mind. Stick to your guns S!

My son teaches me that an award is not everything. This is quite a funny one actually. As many of you know, I recently found out I’m a finalist in the MaDBlogAwards which is very exciting!! The award would mean a lot to me and to even be a finalist amongst some amazing bloggers is quite an honour. S got an “award” at nursery last week for knowing all his numbers and alphabets and what did he do when he was given it? Chucked it on the floor! He was not interested at all. Who needs an award when YOU know you’re good?! I hope that trait always stays with him and he doesn’t need external recognition to know how amazing he is. I on the other hand am still working on that! 😉

Lastly, my son teaches reminds me to laugh. Sometimes he’ll wake up in the morning, look at me and just laugh for no reason. Or he’ll catch the glint in my eye, know I’m about to start tickling him and laugh hysterically before I’ve even begun. Children laugh for no reason at all…how awesome is that?! Given the phrase “laughter is the best medicine”, you’d think we’d all be laughing a lot more.

So each night, as I lay down to sleep, a small thank you goes to my son for everything he is and all that he teaches me.

 

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Chickenshed – Tales Big Day Out

A few weeks ago, my friend B sent me a link to The Chickenshed Theatre. Chickenshed is a registered charity and an all inclusive theatre company. You can read more about their history here. Although we went for a children’s show, I love the concept and idea behind this organisation. Based in a purpose built venue in Cockfosters, North London, performance is at the heart of everything they do.

Every so often they run something called Big Tales Day out which is a combination of different workshops. It runs from 2:30pm-5pm so it’s a pretty long afternoon for the little ones. We’d seen some nice weather in May so we were quite excited to be going on the 23rd of May and were hoping the finale would be out in their Amphitheatre. But of course, living in the UK, you can never really depend on the weather. It was pouring buckets and so the whole event was held indoors.

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The afternoon went something like this:

2:30pm Meet and greet

2:45pm Tales Warm up and Intro

3:00pm Storytelling with Wendy from Story Boat – It was a folk tale from Africa about Anancy the spider. Wendy is quite the storyteller.

3:25 Short Break for changeover

3:35 The children helped enact the story of Goldilocks and the three bears with a Tales Spin

4:00pm Short Break

4:15pm Festival Finale

5:00pm End

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As it was quite late, we decided to stay there and feed the kids dinner. They have quite a nice café and a good selection of food and drinks for both kids and adults. Meemo and S had a bit of a run around in the amphitheatre before we left.

I have to be honest and say that S didn’t enjoy himself as much as I thought he would but I don’t think that’s a reflection on Cowshed. He just wasn’t feeling it that day. They were pretty entertaining and at only £8 a ticket, very reasonable as well. Babies under 1 go free.

If you fancy going and you’re in the London area, they’ll be at Hyde Park from the 22nd to the 25th of June. Tickets are free but you need to book in which you can do here. Hopefully the weather will be nice and it’ll be a fun family day out.

If you enjoy reading my blog, I’d really appreciate your vote for the #MaDBloggingAwards It only takes 1 minute. Click the link below, add your name and email address and select Mama Duck Quacks in the Best Family Fun Blog Category. Thank you!!

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Family Fever

Belmont Farm, Mill Hill

Last Friday, S and I visited Belmont Farm in Mill Hill with a family friend Archana and her son’s Rohan and Riyaan. It was pouring where we are and I was a bit apprehensive but Arch kept an eye on the weather in Mill Hill and I’m glad she did because it was totally dry and the kids really enjoyed it.

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Although set on a huge plot of land, the actual farm bit is quite small, a good size for children with short attention spans. We made it there just in time to go on a tractor ride. When I’d read about this, I thought we’d be sitting on an actual tractor (S would have LOVED that!) but we were in a trailer pulled along by a tractor. It was still a fun ride for the kids, with great views.

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He seemed happy enough in the trailer.

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I thought the farm would be heaving as it was half term but it was surprisingly very quiet. They also didn’t seem to be running according to their usual schedule. We had to request the tractor ride, although we were there on time for it and the kids didn’t get to pet the rabbits (which was supposed to happen at 3:30). Again, they didn’t seem to bothered so instead we spent half an hour walking around the farm and feeding the animals.

I’m glad S is a lot like me and happy to try new things. He gave feeding the ponies a go before he decided he didn’t like how it felt and preferred to just throw the little grass pellets into their eating space.

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Arch was happy to give it a go as well.

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Indoors, in the barn, there were the cutest little chicks that had just hatched, as well as rabbits and guinea pigs.

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Outdoors, there were ponies, wallabies, birds, ferrets (I think), cows, pigs, deer, sheep and very greedy goats!

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Although there were hand sanitiser pods all around the animal area, they all seemed to be empty. Thankfully they had sinks at the entrance to each outdoor area to wash your hands after feeding the animals.

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Belmont Farm is a great place to start your children off gaining hands-on experience of farming and animal care. I think perhaps it was just a quiet day and so we didn’t get to partake in all the activities they advertise on their website/chalkboard.

Although we didn’t stay there to eat, their café looked pretty good.

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I’ve heard great things about Willow Farm which we’ll hopefully be visiting this summer but for a fun afternoon with the little ones, closer to London, Belmont Farm ticks all the boxes.

Loving this age

I know I was having a bit of a rant a few weeks ago when I talked about S turning into a threenager but upon closer inspection, I have to admit, I am really enjoying this age. Sure, I find myself getting cross and having to assert my authority a little but with his incredible conversational skills and his ability to notice and question things that I don’t think about, my little man really has got my attention.

A few nights ago we were reading Aladdin (I say read but really he won’t let me read to him anymore, he insists on flicking through the book describing the story to me) when he got to a page where Princess Jasmine was in a bikini top bowing down to the evil Jafar and he said to me “Mama, where are princess Jasmine’s clothes?” I was stumped! I quickly pulled myself together and told him the bad Jafar had taken them and Aladdin was on his way to rescue her. I really need to come up with a better answer because Jasmine seems to be dressed in teeny tops most of the time!

Yesterday we spent most of the day out and when we got home I told S I was proud of him for using the toilet and not having any accidents. A little while later he was on Skype with my mom and she was telling him she was proud of me for taking part in Race for Life on Saturday. I guess he started to think about things that make you proud because as I was putting him down to sleep last night he started his usual banter and then he said “Mama, I’m very proud of you” I gushed and said “Aww..thanks S” and he then followed on by saying “For not doing wee wee and poo poo in your panties!!” It’s not the best reason for him to be proud of me but I’ll take it!!

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Expert dental advice

While I was in India a few weeks ago, I was chatting to my cousin’s wife who is a paediatric dentist when the thought dawned on me that many of the questions I was asking were questions that most mom’s have, especially new moms. So at my request she kindly agreed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about children’s dental health.

1. When should I start brushing my babies’ teeth?

You should start brushing your babies’ teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts in the mouth. This is because the main organism causing decay (str. mutans) are seen as soon as the first tooth erupts. You should use a soft finger brush initially and soon shift to a soft baby tooth brush. However, oral hygiene should be practiced much before that i.e. cleaning the baby’s gumpads after every feed (bf/ff)

2. Can decay/cavities be caused by bottle-feeding or by breast feeding?

Both. One of the main causes of cavities in children before the age of 5 yrs (early childhood cavities) is bottle-feeding. The formula milk given to babies has sugars, which is given at naptime and before bed, and in the absence of oral hygiene measures, the sugars remain in the mouth (swallowing is also absent as the child is sleeping). This gives a good 6-8 hours for the bacteria to produce acid in the presence of these sugars. Breast milk also causes cavities. It is true that breast milk has antibodies that fight streptococcus mutans (cavity causing bacteria), however, with lack of oral hygiene breast milk also causes decay.

3. Can decay spread from mother or caregiver to the child?

Yes, decay can spread from mother/caregiver to the child. This happens while kissing, blowing food, sharing spoons, etc. Studies have shown that mothers with active decay have children with increased amounts of streptococcus mutans.

4. When should I take my child to the dentist or when should the child have their 1st dental visit?

The first dental visit as most organizations recommend should be at the 1st birthday or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts. In this visit, the dentist will check the baby’s teeth; explain the oral hygiene procedures, dietary information, etc.

5. How can I check my child for decay at home?

You can check for white/black spots on surface of the teeth in the front teeth. Apparent black spots with loss of tooth structure indicate tooth decay. However, the decay between two teeth will be difficult to see by the naked eye. Also, white spots seen indicate early decay. At this stage decay can be reversed. Also, stains maybe misleading. Hence if you are unsure, a dentist visit should be made.

6. My child has a thumb/ pacifier sucking habit. Should I be worried?

Thumb sucking and pacifier sucking habits are considered normal up to the age of 3 years. Pacifier habits are however easy to intercept, as long as that pacifier habit is not replaced by thumb sucking. Thumb sucking after the age of 3-4 yrs., can cause malocclusions in children (open bite, deep palate, constricted arches, etc) At this stage, a paediatric dentist needs to intervene. An appliance is usually given to the child (a reminder appliance) which stops the habit.

7. My child won’t stop snacking on junk food or candies. How is this harmful?

Starchy foods like crisps can be harder on a child’s teeth than candy. Starchy foods get stuck in between teeth and in hard to reach crevices giving bacteria plenty of sugar to feed off! It is difficult to motivate children to stop/keep away from crisps and candies. But, with healthier choices it does become easy. Snacking foods given to kids should be nuts, cheese, fruits, salads, whole wheat breads, etc. Perhaps keep a “treat box” for your child that they’re allowed to indulge in once a week. In this way, the sugar attacks are greatly reduced. A child is also less tempted when sugar/junk food isn’t readily available at home.

8. Which foods prevent cavities/tooth decay?

Just like there are foods that can cause decay there are foods that can prevent tooth decay. Fibrous foods have a cleansing action on the surface of the teeth. (Vegetables, fruits, and salads). Nuts like almonds, peanuts, cashew nuts, pine nuts, etc. indirectly prevent tooth decay. Cheese has proven to be a very good source in cavity prevention as well.

You can find more information here.

Thanks Netika!! 🙂

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Why are we hothousing our children?

I’ve noticed that every time I meet up with other mom’s, the conversation inevitably strays towards schools and getting into schools. S is at the age now where I have started considering schools for him and so I’m very open to discussing the different schools in our area and what might be the best fit for him.

However, what I do take issue with is the hothousing that appears to be part and parcel of getting your child into a “good” school. I say “good” because really everyone’s definition of the word is different. But to generalise, parents usually refer to good schools as those that prep your child for the top prep schools, followed by London’s top secondary schools and then on to the best universities this country offers.

Children as young as 3+ are being “assessed” before they are accepted into said good schools. At that age I don’t even think the children care so much where they go but I’ve seen it come as more of a blow to the parent’s whose little cherub didn’t get into their choice of school. In case you haven’t gathered, I’m anti-assessment at such a young age. Although it’s not lost on me the fact that I’m partly anti-assessment, not just because I don’t want my child to be put through that, but I also don’t want to be made to feel like my child is not good enough.

S can sit down and do a 35 piece puzzle on his own but put him in a room full of strangers at this age and I doubt he’ll want to show off his skills. My child shouldn’t be judged for essentially just being a toddler.

I recently went on a school tour and at the end the headmaster pointed out that this school (which takes children at 5+) don’t assess the children anymore but rather they have a “get to know you” session. As my friend B pointed out…”So when your child doesn’t get in, it won’t be because they weren’t up to assessment level, it’ll be because the headmaster didn’t like them in the ‘get to know you’ session?!” I’d like to see how they answer to that one.

The fact is, although many schools have come under scrutiny for assessing such young children and have now changed their terminology, parents are still having their little toddlers prepped for these meetings with the schools. School assessment tutors are very common and growing.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I want my child to do well and will put him in the best school I can in order for him achieve that. However, I believe there needs to be more of an emphasis on the child and not just their ability to read, count or write their name by the time they are 4.

In today’s day and age, what is more important than that grade A is a child’s good social skills, self-esteem and emotional intelligence. Hothousing is a new term which refers to the undue pressure that parents put on their children. Although many schools claim that children should learn through play, their curriculum shows otherwise.

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I want S to thrive academically as well as in a sport he chooses but it’s about finding the line between him wanting to do it and me wanting him to do it. As parents we should always be encouraging our children to be the best that they can but knowing when not to overstep the mark. When parents all around me are enrolling their children in football, rugby, piano and drama, it’s difficult not to question whether I am doing right by S by not putting him in a different class every afternoon but I constantly remind myself that all children are different, as are all parents, and as long as he’s thriving doing what he enjoys, then I’m happy (and more importantly, so is he).

I read a really interesting article about how Finland is changing their teaching methods. You can read it here.

I was really impressed and I think we’d do well in the UK to start adopting this method of learning. Because I can tell you I learnt trigonometry but I don’t remember the last time I ever had to use it. I wish I knew more about the E.U. though!

What’s your views on schooling?

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