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Those of you who follow Muddy Stilettos regularly will know that I recently met a guy called Kim Bayley. He wrote some tips on how to survive exams (parents and kids!) and is a really lovely guy, very smart, with a dry sense of humour honed during years of teaching at senior level in local grammar and state schools.
We started chatting about his new educational consultancy Jigsaw which aims to help children fulfill their potential at school, and it’s such a good idea I thought you’d want to know about it.
Anyone with kids knows that what tends to happen when their children under-perform in school (eg getting bad end of term reports, falling out with friends, struggling in certain subjects) is that we hit the personal tutor emergency hotline, happily flinging hundreds, even thousands of pounds to ‘solve’ the issue.
I think back guiltily to my own parents forking out for 2 years of extra French tuition to get me through my O level (yes I’m that old) when my major issue was not that I couldn’t do the subject, but that I was extremely self-conscious about talking in public. A different problem entirely that I understood but was too embarrassed to confide.
I’m as susceptible as the next mum, and booking a tutor is an understandable knee jerk reaction. Sometimes it’s the right solution, but often it’s not. Many other factors come into play, some of which your child might not think to tell you, or – more difficult for a parent – perhaps just doesn’t want to let you in on.
Kim’s company Jigsaw probes what’s lying behind this kind of behaviour, and gives practical solutions to the issues affecting the child, leading to a more contented school life. Now, as you know, I don’t recommend anything I haven’t tried (Caribbean Tourist Board, I’m ready when you are) and I’m not exactly the right demographic to test out Jigsaw myself. Cue my oldest son Finn, who moved schools in 2012 after an unhappy year, as the Muddy Stilettos guinea pig.
At 10 years old, Finn is in the pre-grunt stage where he can actually still express his emotions, and after his session he happily told me he really liked Kim and found him easy to talk to – proved by the fact that (via Kim) I found out some fascinating stuff I’d never heard before about how he feels about certain subjects at school. I was also given some insider ‘teacher’s’ advice on how to help him progress further that I’ll definitely be following up.
So how does it all work? Basically what happens is Kim comes to your house, chats to your child at length , looks at how and where he/she does homework, how he/she fits in at home and at school etc. Then he does some diagnostic tests to establish how the child best learns, and looks at school work, including what the teachers write to see how they mark, treat and progress your child. He can carry out a psychometric evaluation not only on your child but on you as the parent, because the way you interact as personalities might also sometimes have a bearing on your child’s learning or behaviour at school.
All this info is tailored into an Individual Learning Profile of your child, with practical recommendations (with a teacher’s insider knowledge) on how to take next steps to progress further or resolve issues.
I wish I’d met Kim a year ago – it would definitely have helped Finn back then – but I still know so many parents whose children are not coping as well as they would like them to. If you’ve been trying and failing to make your children’s school life happier, or anxious that they’re not progressing as well as they should, this could be worth considering.