Category: Education

The Ultimate University Guide for Parents

Parents Guide to Preparing Students for University

Now that university is back in full swing, you will have noticed students in every corner of the city. This may instill some fear into you, especially if your child is in their last year of school and planning to head to university. You may have some worries about them leaving or home, or whether they will get a place in the university of their dreams.

Whatever the case, you need to start preparing for your child’s future in university, as this move will affect them as well as you. Take a look at these tips which will help you assist your child with the next step of their education.

One of the hardest decisions your child will have to make is which university course is right for them, as this will define their future career. Parents tend to have a big say on this, as some would prefer their child to stay closer to home, while others are adamant that their offspring will attend a prestigious university. Both can offer your child clouded judgement, as they may end up at university they don’t enjoy or take on a course that provides them with little to no job opportunities.

Choosing a University Course

Instead, you and your child should conduct thorough research on UCAS where you can look into subjects that he or she finds enjoyable or will excel at, while also taking note of the employment prospects. You should avoid just focusing on the course overview, as this will only provide you with a generalized description.

Most universities lay out each module for individual courses to help the potential students decide if its right for them, and whether the entry requirements suit them. If they can relate to any of the skills or experience mentioned on the course, they can use this to their advantage in their personal statement. Before making a final decision, you should try to choose three universities where you can attend open days with your child to help them choose up to five universities to apply for.

The Application Process

After researching courses and selecting the top five universities, you can then commence with the UCAS application. This consists of everything from your child’s education to work experience, along with a personal statement of 4,000 characters which is used to promote your child’s key skills, knowledge and work experience in support of their application. Once it has been sent off, your child will receive a notification whether they have an offer. If they receive a conditional offer, they will have to wait until they receive their results to find out, whereas if they are granted an unconditional offer, they will have secured a place immediately.

If your child is lucky enough to be approved of all five, they must decide which university is right for them and decline the remaining four. This is a hard decision to make, so make sure you and your child sit down and discuss their options before confirming where they want to attend.  If they are seeking the best masters in education programs it will most likely narrow the list of choices.  Any important detail that is inline with their educational goals helps to ensure the best match.

Don’t worry if your child does not get accepted at any of their desired universities, as there is always the opportunity to get place through Clearing. This process enables students to find spaces in last-minute courses that aligns with their grades.  When searching for the best university that is right for the student, another option is to explore the pros and cons of online education versus traditional education.  e-Learning may be a valid choice for many students for a variety of reasons.

Funding Options

Once your child’s place at university is secure you can then start looking into finances. The majority of students tend to receive funding from student finance, where they can apply for living expenses and tuition fees, which are now charged a standard rate of £9,250. Your child may receive a maintenance loan or grant, but this will all depend on your income, as student finance takes into account the parents or guardians financial situation and their ability to support their child.

So basically, the less you earn the more financial support your child will get. You must input all the right information when applying for student finance, as the application may be rejected if the information is incorrect. Make sure you do not take too long with this, as the deadline is around May or June time, and if you do not submit in time, your child’s financial aid will be severely delayed.

Finding the Right Accommodation

Some parents wait to see how much their child is awarded before they can find somewhere for them live, while this is financial responsibility it can actually result in slim pickings. The majority of first-year students living in student halls, however, others do opt for private student accommodation. Some of the best purpose-built student accommodation is located in central areas, such as the RW Invest developments which are located next to some of the UK’s top universities. These provide students with comfortable and sociable living spaces, which include high-quality bedrooms, common area and even gym facilities.

What To Expect From an IB Curriculum at an International School In Singapore

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The Benefits of a STEM Education [and STEAM]

Benefits of Stem Education

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently, a study of the arts was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better.  It may be scientific achievements like the first black hole picture or the fascinating technological developments.  Regardless of a child’s interested in a particular subject, we know that during the elementary years a child’s synapses are most impressionable.  Youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

Reducing lesson and testing anxiety

The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.

You can even make STEM learning a daily part of a kid’s day. On this note, watches with calculators are a great option to aid kids in learning STEM by helping them practice mathematical operations, problem-solving, unit conversions, time management, data analysis, programming concepts, and financial literacy.

Making it okay to fail

Our mistakes are powerful teachers. Even STEM leaders of the past knew this.  When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.

Prioritizing the 4 C’s

No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

Helping them apply meaning

STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity at the University of Wisconsin Madison, by 2018, it is predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So, job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to healthcare careers like nurses, doctors or medical assistants, and engineers.

One of the fastest growing industries is also creating the great need for training professionals.  A demand for experts in cybersecurity is growing making it a great career choice.

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

Engaging Activities to Promote STEM Learning

STEM education plays a crucial role in preparing children for the rapidly advancing technological landscape of the 21st century. To ensure that children develop a solid foundation in these fields, educators can incorporate interactive and hands-on experiences in their lessons.  One effective way to promote STEM learning is through science experiments and investigations. Children can be encouraged to conduct simple experiments at home or in the classroom, exploring concepts such as magnetism, chemical reactions, or the properties of light. Through hands-on exploration, they can observe phenomena, make predictions, and draw conclusions, fostering their curiosity and analytical thinking.

Building and constructing activities are also highly engaging for children. Utilizing materials like building blocks, LEGO, or robotics kits, kids can design and build their own structures, machines, or robots. This not only enhances their creativity but also nurtures their engineering and problem-solving skills. By facing challenges and overcoming obstacles during the construction process, children learn perseverance and gain confidence in their abilities.

Incorporating technology-based activities

Technology-based activities, such as coding or programming games, can also captivate a child’s interest in STEM. There are numerous coding platforms specifically designed for kids that offer interactive and gamified learning experiences. Presenting them with challenges like designing a sustainable city, building a bridge, or creating a model of a renewable energy system can stimulate their critical thinking and encourage them to apply their knowledge to practical situations. These activities inspire creativity and innovation while fostering a sense of purpose and relevance in STEM education.

Engaging activities are vital in promoting STEM learning in children.  These activities not only cultivate a deeper understanding of scientific concepts but also foster essential skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. By nurturing a love for STEM at a young age, we can empower children to become confident and capable contributors to the ever-evolving world of science and technology.


There has been somewhat of a conflict between STEM and STEAM, wherein the latter refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.  Traditionalists believe that adding the “arts” to the education model for K-12 students will dilute the study of the main four pillars of STEM.  Still, no one denies that getting kids excited about science at a very early age is a key to producing more STEM graduates.

Art is one element in early education that makes learning fun as they are introduced to simple STEAM activities.  Linking art to science not only provides an excellent balance to academic life, but it can also encourage students to explore subjects they think are boring.

Allowing students to explore their creatively through art and combining it with science will surely produce more students interested in STEM overall, and not just in early grades.  Proponents of STEAM say this is just one reason the arts are a vital part.

Perhaps even more importantly is that supporters of STEAM believe creativity is an essential part of innovation and development within the scientific world.  It does not only attract young minds to love science, but it also empowers them to always think creatively and believe that anything is possible.  The same is true of kids that code.  Even if they do nothing relating in the field of technology, they gain so many additional benefits through the process of learning how to code.

Ways to Introduce Preschool Children to STEM

Early childhood is a critical period for development, and introducing STEM and STEAM at this stage can have a profound impact on a child’s cognitive and intellectual growth. By providing age-appropriate activities and experiences, parents ignite curiosity, foster critical thinking skills, and lay the foundation for future STEM learning.

Here are some effective ways to introduce preschool children to STEM:

Sensory Exploration

Young children learn best through hands-on experiences. Provide them with sensory activities that involve exploring varied materials, textures, and objects. For instance, they can play with water and containers to understand concepts of volume and capacity, or use sand and blocks to build structures, enhancing their understanding of basic engineering principles.

Nature Walks and Outdoor Exploration

Take children on nature walks and encourage them to observe and ask questions about the natural world. Point out different plants, animals, and their habitats. Engage them in simple experiments, like growing plants from seeds or observing the lifecycle of butterflies, to introduce basic scientific concepts.

Building and Construction Toys

Building blocks, puzzles, and construction toys are excellent tools for early STEM introduction. These toys enhance fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and problem-solving abilities. Encourage children to build towers, bridges, or simple structures, fostering an understanding of basic engineering principles.

Experimentation and Play

Incorporate simple experiments into playtime to spark curiosity and promote scientific thinking. Have children mix colors to discover how they blend, or float different objects in water to explore the concepts of buoyancy and density. Encourage them to make predictions and observe outcomes, nurturing their scientific inquiry skills.

Technology-Based Learning Tools

Introduce interactive and age-appropriate technology tools that facilitate learning. There are various STEM-oriented apps, games, and educational videos designed for young children. These resources can expose children to basic coding, problem-solving, and logical reasoning, promoting early computational thinking.

Storytelling and Books

Utilize STEM-themed storybooks to make learning engaging and enjoyable. Look for books that explore scientific concepts, engineering feats, or mathematical puzzles in a fun and accessible way. Through storytelling, children can develop language skills while expanding their understanding of STEM subjects.

Explore  Creativety Through Art

As mentioned above, art is encouraged and promoted by many educators as close link to science.  In this way, having kids paint a picture is one of the easiest ways to get preschool ages kids interested in all aspects of STEAM. The mixing of colors to create new ones is an excellent discussion starter about how materials mix to change into new substances.

Role-Playing and Pretend Play

Encourage children to engage in role-playing activities that involve scientific or engineering themes. Provide props like lab coats, magnifying glasses, or tools to stimulate their imagination. They can play the role of scientists, engineers, or mathematicians, fostering an early connection with STEM fields.

By incorporating these strategies, we can create a rich learning environment that cultivates curiosity, critical thinking, and a positive attitude towards STEM in very young children.  Remember, keep the activities age-appropriate, hands-on, and fun, allowing children to explore and discover the wonders of the world around them while developing essential skills for their future.


Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

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How UK Schools Deal with Cell Phones

Cell Phones in UK Schools

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

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Wiki for Kids – The Filtered Wikipedia

Wiki for Kisa

Our Wikipedia for Kids search resource is located on the top of our new website for easy access, along with our additional safe search tools. Wiki for Kids is a filtered Wikipedia resource that provides articles in Simple English.  It is similar to Wikipedia’s Simple Edition but with filtered safe results.

The added benefit of our safe search settings is that it removes content that is not appropriate for children and teens. This provides a safe environment to explore any topic freely.

The internet is a very valuable and powerful tool, putting a world of information at our fingertips. The web has definitely changed the world, including the way kids do their research for school, homeschooling, or general curiosity.

We have partnered with the KidzSearch Wiki to safely meet these needs.

Students at home and in school need access to tools that are designed to provide results that are:

  • Safe – because potentially inappropriate images and text should be filtered out. Showing only safe images when searching is a no brainer.
  • Readable — because it’s good to widen your vocabulary, but new information should also be easy to understand instead of overwhelming for young children.
  • Accurate — because if there’s ever a place that attracts misinformation, it would definitely be called the internet.

Those are three of the many reasons why parents and teachers have to do their own research before putting a child in front of the keyboard for some fun, modern learning.

About Wikipedia (Simple English Edition):

Wikipedia is a free open content online encyclopedia where people from anywhere in the world can contribute information on any topic in different languages. Wiki articles can be edited to make corrections as well. The Simple Edition of Wikipedia uses words and grammar that is ideal for children, and also provides a shorter more concise version of the original article.

Wikipedia is not considered a 100% credible source of authority information for academic research, because it has been created as an easily accessible index and/or textual condensation of primary and secondary sources for information about anything and everything.

Since Wikipedia can be updated by any person, at any time, parents and teachers should instruct children to confirm information through reliable sources.

Examples of reliable sources include published works, almanacs, guide books, survey articles, timelines, and user guides. A scholar may also use a bibliography, dictionary, or encyclopedia as either a textual condensation or a secondary source.

With that being said, Wiki for Kids can be a good starting point for ‘easy to access’ child-oriented research. While it’s important that kids use a second source with more authority and credibility on the topic, Simple Wikipedia Edition is also great for young minds because:

  • The information you are researching will be there in one easy to navigate online encyclopedia.
  • It will definitely help you understand where you can look for more information on that topic.
  • Since the language (words and grammar) used is much simpler and easier to understand, Wiki for Kids is ideal for young children who are already learning something new and challenging.

So now that we’ve established the free benefits and expected limitations of Wikipedia, here is some information to help kids explore a topic.

Wiki for Kids in the Classroom

Online Research Tips for Kids:

  • Anytime you write or publish information that you found online, you must include a citation for the original resource. Give credit where credit is due!
  • Cross check facts using multiple sources, and choose the most reliable source for your citation.
  • Avoid downloading any programs or images that you find online until you check with an adult first.
  • Learn about internet safety to keep from clicking links to inappropriate sites.
  • Advertisements on the internet are deceiving by design. You have not won anything!
  • Never give out your personal information on the internet.
  • When creating usernames, do not include like your name or birth date. This counts for giving out personal information.
  • When in doubt, ask for help!
  • Embrace safe learning!

Conduct a Safe Wiki for Kids search at the top of our website.

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Safe Search Engine Explore the Safe Search Engine - Google for Kids