Parents and parenting

‘Always on’ hi-tech work culture is hitting family life, says report | Life and style

Evening emails and an “always on” working culture means that for many parents their job has become too big for the hours they are supposed to allot to it, according to an influential survey. The 2020 Modern Families Index reveals that while more than half of parents have flexible working arrangements, poor job design has left many struggling to cope with the competing demands of home and workplace. It found that more than a third fake illness to meet family…

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No grammar schools, lots of play: the secrets of Europe’s top education system | Education

It’s a warm September afternoon in the Kallio district of Helsinki. Out in the Franzenia daycare centre playground, groups of four- and five-year-olds roam contentedly. “Would you like an ice-cream?” asks one, having set up her elaborate “stall” on the edge of the sandpit. Kindergarten staff move among the children, chatting, observing and making written notes. There is nothing outwardly distinctive about the centre, though with 200 children, it is the city’s largest. It is a tall, somewhat dour former…

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Thank you to … my autistic son’s teacher, to whom I’m grateful every day | Life and style

Dear Emma, How funny that it feels entirely normal writing to you. We already write to each other, I realise with a jolt of familiarity, every single day of term. In the age of email, I know your handwriting as intimately as my own. When my son arrives home I fall on his bag with a hunger – OK, nosiness – reserved for parents seeking news of their child’s average, hopefully unremarkable school day. I rummage through the detritus of…

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Famed impulse control ‘marshmallow test’ fails in new research | Education

The “marshmallow test” has intrigued a generation of parents and educationalists with its promise that a young child’s willpower and self-control holds a key to their success in later life. But there is some good news for parents of pre-schoolers whose impulse control is nonexistent: the latest research suggests the claims of the marshmallow test are close to being a fluffy confection. The results, according to the researchers who carried out the new study, mean that parents, schools and nurseries…

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Do US laws that punish parents for truancy keep their kids in school? | Education

Earlier this month, a Berks County, Pennsylvania, mother died in jail while serving a 48-hour sentence, handed down because she couldn’t pay her children’s truancy fines. She owed about $2,000 in fines and other court costs, which had piled up over more than a decade, according to the AP. But while the woman’s story took a particularly tragic turn, many more parents across the US face fines or jail time over their children’s unexcused school absences. Just how many is…

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Why parents in a school district near the CIA are forcing tech companies to erase kids’ data | Education

Parents at a public school district in Maryland have won a major victory for student privacy: tech companies that work with the school district now have to purge the data they have collected on students once a year. Experts say the district’s “Data Deletion Week” may be the first of its kind in the country. It’s not exactly an accident that schools in Montgomery county, in the suburbs of Washington DC, are leading the way on privacy protections for kids.…

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Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy? | Education

“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”  Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has…

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Welsh schools to offer cheaper uniforms with gender-neutral options | Education

School in Wales will be made to offer cheaper, gender-neutral uniform options from September, as the Welsh government seeks to tackle the rising costs of school clothing for families. The statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education means Welsh state schools that are revising their uniform codes will need to avoid exclusive deals that force parents to buy from a single supplier, and must ensure that uniform items are widely available, avoiding expensive logos and designs. The new rules…

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Shakira: ‘I needed surgery – or divine intervention’ | Music

There was a time, in late 2017, when Shakira thought she might never sing again. After suffering a haemorrhage in her vocal cords, she could barely speak. “I always thought there were going to be things in my life that would go away, like beauty, youth, all of that stuff,” she says. “But I never thought that my voice would leave me, because it’s so inherent to my nature. It was my identity. So when I couldn’t sing, that was…

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Why boarding schools produce bad leaders | Education

In Britain, the link between private boarding education and leadership is gold-plated. If their parents can afford it, children are sent away from home to walk a well-trodden path that leads straight from boarding school through Oxbridge to high office in institutions such as the judiciary, the army, the City and, especially, government. Our prime minister was only seven when he was sent away to board at Heatherdown preparatory school in Berkshire. Like so many of the men who hold…

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Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain | Education

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain…

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Why there’s no such thing as a gifted child | Education

When Maryam Mirzakhani died at the tragically early age of 40 this month, the news stories talked of her as a genius. The only woman to win the Fields Medal – the mathematical equivalent of a Nobel prize – and a Stanford professor since the age of 31, this Iranian-born academic had been on a roll since she started winning gold medals at maths Olympiads in her teens. It would be easy to assume that someone as special as Mirzakhani…

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Special needs children are being failed | Letters | Education

This is the most damning select committee report I’ve ever read (Children with special needs plunged into ‘nightmare of bureaucracy’, 23 October). Line after line, it shows that the education system for disabled children is completely broken. Parents are forced to become protesters, lawyers and bureaucrats to stand any sort of chance of getting the support their child is legally entitled to. The government now has a golden opportunity to carry out a root and branch review of the system,…

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A grandfather’s tale taught me the true value of time spent with my children | Daryl Austin | Opinion

I was at the park with my daughters some time ago when I fell into a conversation with a kind grandfather. He was there with his grandson and confessed that he loved spending so much time with his grandchildren because he missed so much when his own kids were growing up as he was “working all the time”. He added that he wished he would have “said ‘no’ to my boss more, and to my family less”. This grandparent isn’t…

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‘School is very oppressive’: why home-schooling is on the rise | Education

Every morning Ben Mumford starts his school day with maths. At the age of 10 he is already working at GCSE level, but he doesn’t always bother to get out of his pyjamas in time for the class. He reads more books than most of his friends, studies science on the beach, and recently built a go-kart in a technology lesson. Ben is happy and fulfilled. All, his mother Claire Mumford believes, thanks to home-schooling. “It’s not that I’m anti-establishment,”…

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Teachers feel they are ‘punchbags’ for parents over Brexit | Education

Teachers are being “used as punchbags” for families to vent their frustration over Brexit, schools have warned. Teachers have told the Observer they are experiencing a wave of confrontations with angry and anxious parents, while pupils as young as six are coming into school scared and confused. Over the past year schools have started discussing Brexit in classrooms and assemblies as teachers seek to reduce tensions in the playground and reassure children who may have misunderstood what they have seen…

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