These are my values. Are they the same as yours?
I have a set of guiding values, principles and beliefs that guide the way that I parent my own children as well as how I work with students and their families to help them to achieve their full potential.
Today, I want to share these values with you. And, I'd love to know if you share them with me.
3 Values that guide me in my work and life
1. It's all about family
Blowing the cobwebs off my dad's cheque book
I was so fortunate to grow up in a very supportive home that deeply valued education. Every day I was asked questions about how I'd got on at school. Nearly every meal time we'd get the dictionary out to discuss a word that had come up in conversation, general knowledge was deeply prized and the house was literally full of books – every room (including the bathroom) had piles of them.
However, the biggest signal to me was from my dad. He was a sheep farmer and didn't have a huge amount of disposable income. He was very, very careful with money, always preferring to save it for a rainy day, rather than spend it on luxuries. But, if I came home needing a book for school he'd hurry to get his cheque book out and almost push the money into my hands.
I was never left in any doubt that education was important to my parents and they would support me every step of the way with it.
How I am with my own children
Now, with my own children (aged 9 and 7 at the time of writing) I've carried these values forward. As a teacher, I saw how important parental support was – it was the children who didn't have the full backing of their parents that struggled most at school. As parents, my husband and I are determined to make sure my children have the strongest support possible from home.
When they were babies we read six stories per day to them (three before their afternoon nap and three before bed). They had foam letters to play with in the bath (my daughter knew all her letters when she was two) and we religiously read with them every day when they started school. I could see that my son was struggling with letter formation and hand-writing in reception so we focused on one letter per day for a whole term. At the time, a visiting teacher said they'd never seen a five-year-old boy with such good hand-writing and now, two years later, he's just had a comment in his report about the quality of his hand-writing. I know that boys often struggle with this, so I'm so pleased I put that time in two years ago to help him. And, after interviewing their founder on my podcast, I've also invested in the Mrs Wordsmith vocabulary programme and teachers are also commenting on the extent of both my children's vocabularies.
We also take our children to places of interest that will support their learning – this summer we're going to the Yorvik Viking Centre because my daughter loved studying the Vikings at school, and we'll visit Bamburgh Castle because my son is very interested in medieval history (knights etc). We also make sure they have books about the things they're interested in all the time. I wrote more about that here.
So, you can see that I live and breathe this stuff in my family life.
How this translates to my work
In the first couple of years of my business, I worked 1:1 with students. Some of the parents who signed up with me made it very clear that they were outsourcing educational support for their child to me because they didn't have the time or the knowledge for it themselves. This is fair enough, sometimes life happens and, as a parent you genuinely haven't got time. But, in general, I've seen much better outcomes from the students whose parents take an active interest in what I was doing with their children, reinforcing my messages every day at home.
That's why when I set up The Extraordinaries Club, my online hub containing my signature study skills course that will help your child to achieve their grades in the best way for them, I designed it for parents as well as students. And, what I've seen, when both parents and students actively engage in the club is remarkable.
When students and parents are hearing the same messages, they stop arguing about how things should be done. They actually start talking to each other in a constructive way about how to deal with the challenges of the exam years, their relationship improves and they get closer.
These are two comments from different parents:
“My son and I were just having a lovely positive conversation about his forthcoming maths mock. After school, We went out for a dog walk and talked about his business studies. Tomorrow he's asked me to help him devise a checklist for subjects …. we're having such productive conversations.”
Driving home this morning after his last exam I said to Thomas how proud I was of him and how he’d handled the last few weeks and said you’ve done it – he replied, “No we’ve done it Mum,” which was lovely although I ended up in happy tears and then got a lovely big hug from him – a perfect end to this part of our journey.
The parents who've paid for the club and just expected their children to dive in and get on with it haven't seen either the engagement in the club, nor the results that they had hoped for.
That's why I'm only really interested in families joining the club when parents are fully invested and ready to step up and play their part.
2. Support, not pressure
Family is so important in helping our young people reach their potential. But this needs to be done in a certain way.
It's definitely not about pressure, but about support.Family is so important in helping our young people reach their potential. But this needs to be done in a certain way. It's definitely not about pressure, but about support. Click To Tweet
Sometimes, when people don't know me and my work well, they assume that because I help students to reach their full academic potential that it's all about putting pressure on them to become something that they're not.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
My goal is to give students the tools and support they need to unlock what's inside them and make the most of who they really are.
It's pressure when you tell a child to ‘revise for an exam' and keep nagging at them and sanctioning them for not doing it, without checking that they actually know how to revise.
It's support when you help a child work out the best way for them to revise, and then talk about how you can help them make the revision happen without being an annoying nag.
The modules inside The Extraordinaries Club are designed to help you and your child to develop a study system that works for them. It's not a cookie-cutter technique, because every child and every family is different. Rather, it's a framework through which you can discover what works for you.
It should be said, that every student will need a different type of support. Some students will need their parents to sit with them and actually help them to revise. Other students, will simply need their parents to be present and to offer them problem-solving and emotional support during a stressful time. You need to work out which kind of support your child wants and needs, and work with them. I can help you to do this inside The Extraordinaries Club.
3. Education is about much more than you can learn in a textbook
So many people seem to believe that succeeding in education is about memorising the textbook and regurgitating it in an exam.
Personal experience has taught me that it's so much more than this.
When I was studying for my own GCSEs and A Levels I had to dig really deep. Not just to get my head around some of the more challenging material, but to find the motivation and self-discipline to keep going. I also had to find ways to control the mind-gremlins that can sow seeds of doubt that you're really capable of what you're trying to do, and to make the right choices for the long-term rather than what I felt like doing in the moment.
These are lessons for life that have stayed with me ever since. I've gained such a high level of self-discipline and self-control that has enabled me to do and achieve so much in my life – particularly since I started my own business. As a business-owner, I haven't had a boss to hold me to account, and making things happen has all been down to me. Because of the personal skills I learned in my education, I've been able to make progress every single day.
My first ever client, Laura Jane, said this about working with me:
Working with Lucy for a year and a half taught me skills I will use right through university. I learned to manage my time, stay focused and prioritise. Lucy helped me structure and tailor my lifestyle to make the most out of my studying, even when things got tricky. I learned a lot from Lucy about consistency, and she helped me to get through the times of the year when it is easy to lose focus. Somehow she managed to help with broader study and life skills, as well as very particular, specific problems. I don't think I'd have the grades I do to my name today without Lucy's support. Lucy helped me not only to get the most out of academic life, but to improve my leisure time too. I learned how to keep calm and be completely in control of my workload all year round. I will use the techniques she taught me far into the future, and some well beyond the classroom. She always believes in me and encourages me, but is nonetheless firm and frank. I am proud to have worked with Lucy and that she took a gamble on me as her first client.
I know that many other students have found the same: that they're capable of so much more than they thought they were. And, they have the self-belief and tools to succeed throughout life as a result of really applying themselves in their GCSE and A Level studies.
Do you share my values?
In the comments below, I'd love to know whether you share my values when it comes to education and parenting. And, if you do but you feel like you need some expert support to fully live those values, I'd love you to join me inside The Extraordinaries Club. The last thing I want is you feeling alone and unsupported during the exam years. When you join me, and the other families who share these values, inside the club, you will never have to feel like that again.