Parent Voice 1

Kirstie Gran – Parent and Trainee Holistic Family Health Coach

Kirstie has a son in mainstream school and a younger daughter at home. She’s become interested in progressive education since she started studying the brain and how it develops in children. She’s currently studying to become a Holistic Family Health Coach and previously completed a course on Neurodevelopmental Movement which incorporated brain development.

She told us how her studies highlighted to her what children really need to thrive. She has learnt about childhood trauma, how stress impacts the whole body, and about age-appropriate techniques to help children learn and develop.

Kirstie feels that our current school system prevents children from learning in an optimum way for their health and wellbeing. Being a children’s health advocate, Kirstie believes there are alternative ways that we can chose to raise healthy, happy and vibrant children who are passionate about life and learning.

In your opinion what are the main challenges of our current school system?

Too much pressure on children to be learning before their bodies are capable of doing so, which can cause stress.

A lack of funding and resources means that teachers are not able to do their jobs as they would like to (with what they have learned about child development). There are also too many children in a class to give them what they need to develop in mind, body and spirit.

Children are not seen as unique individuals with different needs. They are in the equivalent of a processing factory that is set up for them to come out as programmed ‘robots’.

What are state schools doing well?

They try to promote a sense of community. However, this is not always the outcome, given the pressures upon teachers to control the class to get through all of the curriculum.

The children come out having learnt some skills and information (to varying degrees), but at what expense?

Children are exposed to many different children in school, but if they are not taught empathy and social skills then this is not always of great benefit.

If you could make changes to the education system, what would be your top priorities?

  • Don’t start children until 7 years of age. Before this they would learn the foundational skills of being a human being – social skills, empathy, getting to know themselves and what they love.
  • Most importantly they would be learning this through play and being outside as much as possible.
  • I would remove tests from the system until much later on, if they are needed at all. The pressure needs to be removed.
  • I would introduce mindfulness, meditation, yoga and other such lessons for every class, to allow children to deal with big emotions and regulate themselves. 
  • I would put more resources into the education system to allow more teachers and assistants, so there could be smaller class sizes and break-out sessions.
  • We need more democracy in schools with children making decisions about what they do, as well as all being involved in the school.
  • I would also change what children are actually being taught and introduce topics that are not currently on the curriculum.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

As parents we do have a choice. The system does not convey this to us or give other options, but we can follow our gut instinct and flow with what our child needs.

There are many other ways for children to learn and given the changes in the school system in modern times, we do have the right to consider what is best for our own children. Open yourself up to learning about different approaches to education and what other possibilities are out there. You can decide what bespoke approach works for your family and there are many possibilities.

Rather than just following what has always been done and thinking that is the only way, we should all ask ourselves what ways of learning are the most supportive of our children.