The following article was written by Caroline Meech, who is a children’s author and charity ambassador. Caroline has been one of our most supportive parents in the early days of creating Sharek. We are pleased that she has found Sharek to be such a useful tool to challenge her son Casper. A big thank you goes to Caroline for sharing her article with us :
Back in 2013 my family and I arrived as expats in Dubai. My children went to Horizon International School and thrived. When we first arrived in the UAE, I fully expected to be home-schooling our three children because we had heard it was difficult to get into a good school, but we were lucky. 2 days after arriving, the children were offered places and their adventure really began.
Choosing a school is interesting, you can Google and research as much as possible but nothing gives you a real insight into a school as much as a visit. For me, the school we chose stood out far and above any others because of the atmosphere, an atmosphere that was alive and exciting because of the teaching staff.
Fast forward two years and our son, Casper who was by then 8, was excelling in everything. He had teachers who genuinely enjoyed his company and enjoyed teaching him. Because the school standardised spellings were too easy, I approached the Deputy Head who decided upon a programme of challenging Casper in Literacy, the job of challenging him in Maths went to Mr George.
Mr George, a young teacher from the South West of England, rose to the challenge. His idea for inspiring Casper? Teach him to teach his peers, but not in the traditional way. Mr George challenged Casper, and his classmates, to use technology. The thinking behind this was two-fold. To engage with his parents at home, who would support Casper in filming him (whilst learning about what he was doing), and for Casper to think about how he could convey the
method he had learnt in a fun and informative way to others who needed additional support.
As parents, we gained an in-depth knowledge of what Casper was learning at school, and how well he was being challenged. I honestly had no idea how advanced my son’s knowledge was. For Casper, we saw his confidence increase exponentially because he was able to gain positive and constructive feedback from his peers, and could see for himself how much he had learnt.
What we didn’t realise at the time was how valuable this parent-pupil sharing was. We returned to the UK in 2015 and apart from parent’s evenings twice a year, I have far less knowledge of what my children are learning at school. The interaction is there, if you seek it, but if you don’t then it is very easy to glide through the school year hoping that your children are learning what they should, and achieving their potential.
We know now that this idea of Mr George’s, to use technology to enhance the learning experience for children and their parents was Sharek in its embryonic stages. To have a communication tool with the school, particularly at Secondary level, that enables parents to keep up to date with the work students are encountering in the classroom, to share ideas across lessons and platforms whilst embracing technology, I have to admit, is a great thing. I can’t wait to see what George has in store next!