Have you ever known someone who walks through life unconsciously?
Life happens to them.
They're going through the motions. They don't question what they're doing or why. They repeat the same mistakes. Is this what we want for our children?
The children with the best educational outcomes are the ones with intelligent parents who talk to them about interesting things. That's it. No tutoring, no gadgets, no special books. Just quality conversation and interesting experiences (which could be a museum trip or simply helping to cook dinner or plant bulbs in the garden).
I can't stress this enough. Talk to your child. Help her see things in new ways. Encourage her to find things out for herself, to work things out, to investigate. When she asks you how to do something, reply with 'how would YOU do it?'
The brain is like a muscle. It needs exercise to improve.
And so to Brexit.
It looks like there might be a second referendum, and the outcome will shape our country for a generation.
I don't care how you plan to vote. That’s none of my business. What I ask it that you think about your decision and not sleep-walk into it.
Even with all that thinking, you might make the wrong decision. With hindsight you may realise that another path was better. But you did your best in the moment, with the information you had available. And that means you can be at peace with it.
But my real hope - and the reason I went into teaching - is that our children are better educated than we are. I want them to be equipped to understand the decisions they make, whether everyday ones or those of national importance. What has been most depressing about Brexit is the quality of the arguments - on both sides - and most people's reluctance or inability to follow the debate.
Knowledge of the world and - more importantly - knowledge of ourselves is vital. How can we hope to live fulfilled and happy lives if, through lack of self-awareness, we keep making the same mistakes?
It's the reason I founded 100 Toys. We sell open-ended toys that encourage problem-solving, and small-world toys, dolls and puppets that encourage dialogue. These are the skills our children need to negotiate their world. The right experiences in early childhood can lay down habits that last a lifetime: rigour, perseverance and critical thinking.
Know thyself. There's nothing more important.
Encourage open-ended play for creativity and focus
Understanding schema play in toddlers
Independent play and why it matters
Insider Guide: Small World Play and Language
Tell Almost Any Story with Just a Handful of Figures
A simple guide to choosing the right toy