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Parents Forum

Parents' Forum is an opportunity for parents to get together and discuss issues relating to parenting children. It takes place after the Junior School Assembly from 8.45am to 9.30am on Dr Gibbons Verandah. 

Foundations for learning Series:

Skill-based Learning: Part 2 (final of series)

November 22nd 2019

At today’s final parent forum of the semester we concluded our Foundations of Learning Series by reviewing the idea of skills-based learning.  We discussed how we can provide our children with the opportunity to develop the skills at home (see the list below).  

We also recapped the six why sheets and reviewed how they related to each other and how the foundation of all our interactions with our learners is based on our image of the child.

Parents’ Forum will return in January, but for now here are our ideas for developing skills at home:

Communication skills

What we do already:

  • Weekly check-in with my kids: What do you like?  What don’t you like?
  • “Tell me what your thinking”
  • Family time in the evenings 
  • Reading together (them to me and me to them)
  • Ask them about how they felt about the day at school
  • Older siblings are often better at explaining expectations to younger siblings
  • Always listen to them, let them tell you about their day without interrupting them

We could try:

  • We need to improve our listening skills

Self-Management Skills

What we do already:

  • Let them get themselves ready for school
  • Bath themselves
  • Pack and unpack their school bag
  • Pick out their own clothes to wear
  • Take responsibility for choosing when to do homework
  • Turn on the water heater at 6pm so its warmed for their bath
  • When siblings are frustrated consider their own choices

We could try:

  • Give them a blank timetable for the evening and let them fill it up in the order they want
  • Let them try making their own day schedule for the weekend and help them follow their plans

Thinking Skills

What we do already:

  • Ask them what they are thinking and how we can solve the problem together
  • Tell me what you know
  • Allow them to ask the same question even if they’ve asked it many times before

We could try:

  • Be more patient in giving them time to respond to repeated questions.

Social Skills

What we do already:

  • Let children play and solve conflicts independently
  • Allow children to decide what to play and collaborate on the types of games they play
  • Play sports together to learn how to be a team and follow the norms of the game
  • When their have play-dates or visit relatives try to observe and support them as they grow in their character and social skills

We could try:

  • Use Kelsos Choice to help solve conflict
  • Encourage them to be confident
  • Not interrupting the play immediately and give them a chance to solve the conflict
  • Encourage them to understand people in different situations.

Research Skills

What we do already:

  • Use the iPad to research general knowledge questions such as why are fries called French Fries
  • When my child asks a question I try not to answer but ask them how they can find out
  • I research with them
  • Research new recipes together
  • When we review learning from school on SeeSaw we explore further online

We could try:

  • Teach them to be responsible and careful with technology
  • Teach me - Show me

Skill-based Learning: Part 1

November 15th 2019

Today we explored the importance of skills and why skill-based learning is fast becoming the currency of learning for the future.  There is a shift away from focusing on content and instead towards learning skills that are transferable for the future.  Tony Wagner shared his findings in the following clip:

Research from the World Economic Forum also reiterated the importance of these skills as we support learning as well as the ideas presented in our Why sheet - Why Skill-Based Learning.

We ended today’s session by sharing what we see as crucial skills for the future:

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Emotional Intelligence
  3. Social skills and learning with others
  4. Creative thinking and curiosity
  5. Listening
  6. Questioning and making judgements

Next week we will be discussing how we can nurture skill development in our homes and at school.

Play: Part 2

November 7th 2019

Today we watched a TEDTalk given by Dr. Peter Gray. 

We discussed why free play is essential for the emotional wellbeing of our children, as well as for their development of self-regulation, social and thinking skills. We challenged each other to think of ways in which we can further support our children in their right to play freely. 


Play: Part 1

November 1st 2019

At today’s forum we thought about how humans learn naturally by watching the video 'The  Most Human Activity'. We developed our understanding of ‘play’ through viewing and annotating images of people of various ages engaged with a broad range of playful activities. 

Afterwards, we shared the following:

Play is…
Exploring the environment
Learning with freedom
Learning in a fun environment where everyone is motivated
Outwardly expressing imagination
Entertaining oneself
Stimulating the mind
Free and joyful

Through play people learn:
Decision-making & Problem-solving skills
Imagination & creative thinking
Interpersonal skills & relationship skills such as cooperation, team building, accommodation & negotiation
Motor skills (fine/gross)
Critical thinking
Leadership & role modelling
Risk-taking/understanding risk

We read this short article, which states that families who play together are happier. We watched a video about Anji Play in China, where learning is intentionally designed through children actively playing every day. And finally, we read the ISU Why Sheet on Play and made plans to play with our children at home.

Further reading: Research projects from the graduate schools of both Cambridge and Harvard reiterate the integral role that play takes in the learning process. 

Next week, we will continue discussing Play. 


October 18th 2019

Today we reminded ourselves of the important role motivation plays in effective learning. After reading the ISU Why Sheet on Motivation we discussed Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in more depth and thought about how best to support learning from home through these three core principles of motivation. Key points from our discussion include:

  • The amazing natural capacity young children have to learn and how they are naturally motivated. 
  • Our relationships and emotions are related to our motivation and our ability to learn.
  • Authoritative parenting and a democratic home environment give children the warmth and structure required to achieve optimal success in learning.
  • The importance of adults modelling good learning/working habits, and aiming to inspire rather than control.


September 20th 2019

At today’s Parent Forum we develop our own understandings of ‘Agency’ through reading our Why Sheet on Agency and by selecting words and phrases that best capture what Agency is.

Our words and phrases included: 

  • Belief
  • Responsibility
  • Adaptation
  • Awareness
  • Freedom to express self
  • Ownership of their learning
  • Initiative
  • Self esteem 
  • Self development
  • Self motivated
  • Plan, organise and execute
  • Ability to succeed

We considered what skills or understandings for life can be learnt through having agency and co-constructed the following.


  • helps children face problems and enables them to monitor and self-adjust
  • enables us to see what our children are capable of
  • helps our children become open-minded, respectful of others 
  • allows our children to become socially interconnected
  • enables children to become confident to express their ideas
  • develops ownership and helps children learn how to solve problems
  • Allows children to become responsible for their actions
  • develop goals in life
  • Helps children to understand themselves

Finally, we discussed how agency is honoured at home through asking the following questions and reflecting on what changes we could consider as parents.

1. What does my child decide for themselves? 

2. How often is my child’s opinion considered when decisions are made?

Image of the Child Part 2 

September 6th 2019

At today's parent forum we reflected on the question: How do my actions express my image of my child?

We looked back on the past week or even just the past 24 hours and discussed how our actions reflect our image of the child and then shared these with our partners.  These are some of the reflections that were shared:

  • I have found myself waiting and being more patient with my child this week.
  • My child even commented "Mummy you're being very nice today"
  • I have taken more time to listen to my child.
  • I have learnt to let go and let them lead themselves in their play this week.
  • I have realised it's not the quantity of time I spend with them, but the quality of time.
  • I have learnt to see my children as unique and not compare them to their siblings.
  • It's about being positive in our talk and not limiting our children with our words.

We then reflected on the impact that adults can have on young people and the power of considering what is possible and seeing strengths in our children like Mr. Jensen in the following video.  He was able to see one of the Hundred Languages that Malaguzzi talks of.

We considered what we would like our children to say to us when they graduate or move on to the next chapter of their lives.  Hoping our children would say:

Thank you for:

  • being there for us and letting us be what we wanted to be, letting us follow our dreams
  • believing in me
  • helping my dreams come true
  • the chance of having lots of different experiences and opportunities
  • allowing me to be what I am
  • being tough when you needed to be

And finally we brought these ideas together to develop our own definition of the image of the child... this is what we created:

Next week we shall be moving on the next value in our Foundations of Learning series with a look at the concept of Agency.  If you missed these past two forums that focused on the image of the child please note that we shall be revisiting the same conversation in Kampala on September 26th at the first of this year's lecture series: Image of the Child.

Image of the Child Part 1 

August 30th 2019

At today's parent forum we began explore the concept of the Image of the Child.  We began by thinking about what comes to mind about our children and how we think about them.  This short video helped to place the idea of the image of the child in context and its birth in the philosophy of Reggio Emilia.

We went on to read the Why Sheet: Image of the Child and used the Connect, Extend, Challenge routine to help consider our response.  These are some of our reflections:


  • It was good to connect with who my child is


  • Learning is two-way traffic
  • May need to give them more opportunity to teach us what they like


  • How do we reconcile our image of the child with our actions
  • Time – parent interest vs child interest
  • Creating opportunities to allow our children’s interests to grow
  • Freedom vs Discipline
  • Rights and Responsibilities

We realised that, unfortunately, sometimes what we like to think about our child and how we think we view them is not always reflected in our actions.

For the next week we shall be keeping a log of our actions and observations each day to reflect on the image that we are holding of our child.

Please do join us in keeping a record of your interactions with your child and we'll discuss our discoveries at next weeks' Parents' Forum.

Learning is Lifelong

August 23rd 2019

At today's forum we introduced the purpose of Parents' Forum as an opportunity to learn together about being parents and supporting our children's journey through life.  We shared that there will be a variety of opportunities for this learning including:

  • Parent Forums: Where we will explore issues related to parenting, education and well-being
  • Open Fridays: Where we will offer a ongoing parenting programme as well parent choice workshops on topics such as cultural cookery, book study, home gardening, fashion design and more.
  • Open Classrooms: Where we shall offer one of our classrooms for parents to join together to learn a programme, skill or a book study on a regular basis.  Using tools such as Coursera, Edx or videos from Masterclass below.
  • Lecture Series: Where we shall bring the talks shared at school to Kampala for parents to access in the evenings.
  • Off Campus: Where we are encouraging parents to open up their homes to build their own learning communities beyond the Lubowa area.

Masterclass Trailer

More details of these exciting new opportunities to learn alongside our children will be shared at Open House next week.

The Future of School Series: 

Future of Learning: Summary

May 17th 2019

In today’s final Parents’ Forum of the year we looked back at the question of what type of learning do we want for our children and how does that match we what we have explored over the past few months.  Parents ranked their hopes and values in a diamond ranking format and compared these with the school ideas and values.  The result was the start of a shared understanding of the important values that underpin our purpose and function as a school and as a learning community - which we have tried to capture in the “Why Sheets”  

At the end of the forum we launch the Why Sheets - series of papers that explain our thinking and values as a school community these have now been published on the Future of Learning on the school website.

Transition Forum

April 26th 2019

Today we had three transition forums that explored the challenges and opportunities presented by transitions. 

The first forum focused on transitioning from Grade 5 to Grade 6 which was hosted by a panel of Grade 6 students who shared with parents some of the key lessons they have learned in transitioning to Senior School.  One big take away was the importance of building independence and responsibility early in their journey to help students be organized and manage their time the Senior School.

The second forum was a smaller group of families who explored the challenges faced when returning from the long vacation back to school.  We discussed the importance of re-establishing sleep and other daily routines as the holidays come an end and the importance of maintaining other routines such as reading regularly throughout the holiday.  A summary of the discussion and ideas for transition will be shared with all families at the end of the semester.

The third forum was focused on transitioning to a new school.  There was lots of great discussion and a number of online resources were presented as listed below:

Third Culture Kid | Scout Ash-Dale (TED Talk)

Being a Rootless Third Culture Kid | Benjamin Self  (TED Talk)


Preparing Your Child for a Move

Tips for moving Internationally with your Children

Moving Van Cartoon

Digital Lives

April 12th 2019

Today's forum focused on the digital lives of our children. The topic was selected by parents as we continue illustrate how learning that is self-directed is a powerful vehicle for motivation and engagement.  This was clearly evident from today's discussion as parents explored a variety of scenarios and debated how we can support our children within an increasingly digital world.  The questions tackled issues such as managing appropriate content, access to social media and support for children when they make mistakes.  We were joined by a number of Junior School colleagues who also have children in Senior School, who were able to share their experiences of success and support.  One common theme was the importance of being open with your children, ensuring that there are open lines of communication and that your children feel free to share what they are experiencing.  We also discussed the importance of creating boundaries with choice and that parents need to consider how they are supporting their children in making informed choices.  The discussion ended with Mr. Todd sharing the vision of building parent learning into a more permanent position in the life of the school.  More details of these ideas will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Finally, one resource that was mentioned was Common Sense Media a website designed to help parents understand whether the content of a movie, game or book is appropriate for children.  Please do add it to your favourites as a resource for supporting informed choices about the media our children view.


Experiential Learning

April 5th 2019

In today's forum we embarked on experiencing how learning is designed in some of our classes where we are beginning to embrace agency and opportunities for children.  Today parents had to choose from three options of learning, including two forums with experts and an opportunities to hear parent perspectives from another school.  One expert group was focused on inclusion and partnerships discussed with our incoming Head of School Simon Gillespie and incoming Senior School Principal Seren Davis.  The other group was led by students in Grade 4 and 5 who explained how passion and purpose has motivated their learning through passion projects, iTime and the exhibition.  They were able answer questions about how the learning experience is transforming their learning both at home and at school and the vast array of skills they are acquiring in the process.

The third group also had an opportunity to watch the following TED Talk about how to support your child in their learning, by stepping back and support their growth and a home environment that nurtures who they are not what we want them to be.  In the end no-one chose this option so we've included below for those who are interested:


Motivation - The Science & Psychology of Engagement

March 22nd 2019

This morning's parent forum was another exciting and fascinating discussion around what motivates our children to learn and what motivates our own learning.  Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox shared ideas around passion, purpose, practice and hope that lead to motivation for learning.  This powerful conversation is captured neatly by Dan Pink's RSA Animate that provides a synopsis of his book Drive. 

These ideas of motivation are crucial for the success of student learning and we believe need to drive our design of learning and the future of school.

Agency at Home

March 1st 2019

In today's forum we explored the idea of agency and opportunities for voice and choice at home. It began with an interactive exploration of choices we give to our children - for example who decides what your child watches, reads, plays with, wears, eats and what activities they do after school?  We discussed the importance of giving our children the opportunity to make choices for themselves although we may need to ensure they are informed and that we create boundaries where needed.  We also explored how we can create opportunity for more autonomy, from ideas as bold as letting the children plan your summer break, to planning Friday nights or as simple as deciding a menu for their snack box. The discussion concluded with parents sharing how we can support this autonomy by considering how accessible their resources are (such as their clothes, or snacks, or plates) and how much freedom they have to plan their evening.  A few parents also shared some final suggestions such as putting inspiration quotes that help children make good choices around the house and that sometimes we have to let our children make the "wrong" choice to understand the consequences. One final thought, was that if we don't let our children make their own choices, then their motivation to do things is squashed, this will be the focus of our conversation in the next forum on March 22: Motivation: The Science and psychology of engagement.

What is Agency

February 22nd 2019

Today's Parents' Forum dug deeper into the concept of Agency and why it is so important in helping our children become life-long learners who will be happy and successful in the 21st century.  Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox led the discussion by reminding us of what our children will need, to be successful and referred to the following article in Forbes Magazine.  We went onto review a collection of definitions of agency and how an agentic approach to learning and teaching will enable children to acquire those skills and dispositions mentioned in the article.  We also explored some of the ways that the Junior School is already exploring building agency into the classroom, through student-led-conferencing, self-created schedules, the workshop model of learning, PYPx and CAR time (choose-act-reflect).  The image below shows an example of CAR time with Grade 1 children choosing what order they will complete their activities in Mathematics.

The Enhanced PYP

February 8th 2019

In this fourth edition of the series on the Future of School, we shared some of the key changes developed through the Enhanced PYP.  The Enhanced PYP is the outcome of six years of consultation into the programme and research into current educational research and best practice.  The result of these changes is summarised in the model below:

The Enhanced PYP is divided into three key ideas, The Learner, Learning and Teaching and the Learning Community.  In today's forum, we highlighted a few key ideas from these areas, including agency, the early learner, skills (ATLs), language, the learning community and learning environments.  Each of these ideas will be developed further in the coming months and we shall be sharing these through some information sheets that will be be published on this blog.

What is the Purpose of School?

February 1st 2019

In this edition of the series, we explored the challenges left by our last forum, where the future presents us with many questions about what skills are needed and how we decide what is worth learning.  This conversation is enhanced further by questions raised by Will Richardson in his talk:


In this process of developing our vision of what type school we should design, we used the ideas of Cut, Keep and Create:  What should we cut from schools?  What should we keep and continue?  What do we need to create and change?

How do we prepare our children for their future?

January 18th 2019

Today's forum was another very well attended discussion about what type of future our children will face.  We began by looking at the Did You Know video from 10 years ago, which shares the exponential change that we are experiencing.

The discussion then explored concerns such as the fact that a four year technical degree is outdated by the time students graduate.  So what are the implications of all this rapid change?  Many think tanks and leading educators believe its by focusing on 21st century skills that will help our children cope with this rapid change.  Skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, character development, citizenship and more are essential for success in the future.  What does this mean for schools and future of education?  How do we decide what to spend our time learning since the hours in the school day are finite.  We will have to prioritise what is most important.  Please join us on February 1st as we explore The Purpose of School: What is worth learning?

  • Factory Education: Why schools are the way they are? The historical evolution of schools designed by and for a different era.

January 11th 2019

Today we began by considering that our Junior School students will be starting their first career in the decade of 2030 and asking the questions: what type of career will that be and what skills will be needed?  To consider these questions we reviewed the following two videos:

Sugata Mitra - in the first four minutes of his talk explains his understanding of why schools are designed the way they are.

Sir Ken Robinson - in his RSA animate talk Sir Ken uses the factory model as a way describe how schools currently function.

We considered whether we agree with these suggestions and questions were raised such as: 
    •    What will our children need in the future?
    •    Do universities need to change to accommodate these changes?
    •    Why do we test for normal and average?
    •    Will we need to go to university in the future?
    •    What are employers actually looking for in graduates?
    •    What is the purpose of school?
    •    Do you need to go to school to learn?

We will continue this discussion next week with our next topic titled: How do we prepare our children for their future?

Reading, Passion & Play
October 19th

Today's parent forum focused on our emphasis on parents partnering with us in helping children to read regularly, follow their passions and give them time to play.  We discussed how to build reading into the day's routines, and that bedtime reading or audio books in the car can also help make reading an enjoyable addition to the daily routine.  We also talked about how children's passions can be a vehicle for learning to read and acquire new skills, so do find out what your child is interested in learning in their iTime.  One resource that would be helpful for play experience is https://www.playworks.org/game-library/ where they have a host of play activities that might support play home.

September 21st

This morning parents forum was very well attended with 30 parents joining to hear about how we can better support our families during times of change, whether moving to a new country, returning from holiday or changing grade level.  Susanne Duerr and Francesca Ferrari shared some important tips on how to manage the change including acknowledging what is going well and what we miss.  There are a number of helpful strategies and ideas that were shared in a handout available here.

Kelso's Choices
September 7th

Today discussion focused on Kelso's Choice and how we help our children solve problems in social situations.  Parents shared their experience of using the programme and noted that as parents we are sometimes too quick to jump in and solve the problem.  We also reflected that we can often come to the defense of the younger sibling and expect the older one to use the the choice circle.  The challenge is to strike the right balance between intervening and allowing the children to solve problems themselves.  The programme suggests that children should try two choices first before speaking to an adult to help. The circle of choices is available here if parents would like put a copy up at home in central location like the fridge door.

Introduction to SeeSaw
August 31st

At today's parent forum we shared the e-portfolio tool SeeSaw and how it can be used by parents to follow their child's learning journey.  We encouraged parents to view the portfolio each week and gave the follow tips on how to use it with your child:

  • View the posts that your child creates (find a regular time)

  • Discuss with your child what they have created (notice the process/skills)

  • Share your discussion with the teacher

  • If commenting, provide guiding feedback to your child

  • Be positive and encouraging

Use the following links if you would like to learn more about how SeeSaw works or how to use the Family App.