Education is not just what happens to your child in school. It extends beyond that.

Children’s educational attainment is also dependent on them developing in ways other than fact gathering and grade getting which is often the focus of curriculum. Their personal, social and general thinking skills count towards making them rounded, educated young people with a developed intelligence, rather than just people with qualifications.


It is these extended skills employers complain are lacking when they interview potential employees. And it’s building them that schools can neglect when following a heavily prescriptive curriculum.

Yet these skills become well developed in kids who have been home schooled, giving them a slight advantage over their school going contemporaries. Something that Universities are now recognising.

It happens because of the constant interaction, broad experiences and discussions home schooled kids have with adults about their education and life in general.

But home educating or not, parents can stimulate this side of their child’s development through their parenting.

Here are 5 ways to do so:

1)      Listen when your child wants to talk. Stop and focus on what they’re saying. Make valid responses, sometimes with a question (e.g. ‘why do you think that is?’). This helps them think and talk even more and while they’re talking their language and intellect develop all the time. Your listening and talking skills develop the same in them; kids learn more from example than by anything they’re told.

2)      Encourage observation and questioning of their world, the people, the cultures, the things happening around them. For example ask ‘What’s he doing and why?’ ‘What sort or bird is that?’ ‘Why are those kids smoking when they know it causes cancer?’ ‘Why do we need to recycle?’

3)      Give your children a wide diversity of experiences. This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive trips, clubs, classes or travel, although travel is always good. There’ll be new things to discover on your doorstep at museums and galleries, sports centres, local wildlife trusts, groups, volunteering, getting involved locally.

4)      Encourage your child’s opinion on what they see, what happens to them, why it happens, what you’re doing and why you do it, how they would do it, what works, what doesn’t. Forming opinions helps them sort out what they know and what they think about it, which develops intelligence.

5)      Encourage a habit of talk in your family. This doesn’t have to stay in the realms of ‘tell me about your day’. You can talk about programmes, new games, politics, social issues, say what you think. You can hypothesise about things, wonder ‘what if?’ and dream. Dreams ignite ambition. Ambition drives motivation. Motivation informs success!

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.