Thinking ahead…

For the two elder kids, Maryam and Danyal, they’ll be done with their A-level exams in a few days. If they don’t mess up, that’s it! NO MORE EXAMS!

Here you can see Sabeen and Danyal on the morning of Danyal’s exams. On the day of the exams the kids take it easy, so they’re fresh, but in the days leading up to exams Danyal has been targeting and achieving 11h30m of study a day. Maryam hasn’t been as regimented but she’s also doing about the same number of hours.

I’ve told them many times that they just need to work hard for a few more weeks and they’ll never have to study again. Of course, they can study further if they want to.

As their exams draw to a close we’re all discussing what they could do afterwards. The kids’ passions are a major factor but they listen to our guidance about what’s best for them too.

Danyal wants to become amazing at football, squash, and running. He might do each of them almost every day. Maryam might write a book.

But they both also want to start a business. Before they do that I am pressing them to learn coding, so they might go on a 3-month intensive coding course. And then some other core skills such as internet marketing and public speaking.

They also need to brush up their languages – particularly Mandarin – which they’ve neglected in recent months.

These exams have been tough – I’ve been impressed by how much grit these kids have shown – being this driven is not normal for 11 and 13 year olds. My regular talks to them are instrumental – I’m a good motivator.

I can’t wait. Their lives are going to change and improve drastically a week from now…

How to study Mathematics…

 

Danyal, who’s only 11, will be done with his Mathematics and Further Mathematics A-level (18+) exams in a few weeks. In practice papers he’s been getting A*s – so fingers crossed.

So this is how he’s got here – and it’s remarkably simple – he tries a past-paper question, checks his answer and then Googles it if he doesn’t understand, often finding the solution on YouTube.

And then he repeats.

No classes, no tutors, no homework, no textbooks.

And yes, he learns new topics in exactly the same way – it’s all there on the internet, after all.

A laptop, some passion and a comfortable sofa is the best way to study mathematics…

Another Mathematics A-level update…

Things are not quite going to plan. Instead of pushing the kids to hit their targets for this year we’ve decided to ease off.

Frankly, it’d be an uphill struggle that would likely end with bad grades and/or demoralised and overworked kids.

Sabeen, 9, isn’t going to do her A-level Mathematics this year – her little brain is struggling to understand the concepts. So she’ll now be looking to do it next year, possibly with IGCSE Physics and French. It means she’ll have way more time for friends, hobbies, interests over the next few months to a year.

Danyal, 11, is going to have to work hard to do well in his A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, but he can do it. After that he’s done with studying completely, as long as his grades are good.

Maryam, 13, will no longer do A-level Further Mathematics – she will instead just go for Mathematics which she should find fairly easy. Like Danyal, after this she’s done with studying, subject to a good grade.

It’s exciting. The two older kids are really looking forward to getting on with their lives and not having to study any more…

After school…

When we started homeschooling, we thought our kids would do their A-levels when they were 18, like all school kids do, and then, by default, go on to university, and, by default, get a job.

But in the 4 years our kids have been homeschooled things changed. First the A-levels got pushed earlier and earlier, then we decided our kids, by default, would not go to university, and, by default, become entrepreneurs.

It’s worth realising, if you haven’t already, that entrepreneurship is just as varied as employment. There are entrepreneurs in medicine, tech, farming, retail, property, academia, sport, etc… so entrepreneurship isn’t some narrow field we’re guiding our kids towards.

Also note that this is our default position, not a decision we have made for them. If any of our kids want to become investment bankers, doctors, academics, etc… university they’d go.

So, it looks like Maryam (13) and Danyal (11) will be finished with A-levels (18+) in 6 months. Here is our updated plan for them, in each case trying to play to their strengths, interests and the advantages they each have.

Maryam: Internships at tech companies, start a startup 6-12 months later.

Danyal: Learn coding full-time, and then hopefully work on a startup with Maryam.

Now, this is our plan for them. Nearer the time we’ll have a chat and they’ll ultimately have to decide…

Mathematics A-level update…

The kids started studying for their Mathematics A-level in September 2017. That means they’ve got 9 months to prepare for the June 2018 exams.

So it’s self-teaching, although Sabeen gets help from a mathematics Skype tutor in the Philippines.

They’re working through one module at a time, moving on once they get 75% in exam conditions.

Six modules make up an A-level. So they need twelve to get A-levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

Sabeen has completed C1 and almost completed C2. It’s clear that she won’t be doing Further Mathematics in 2018. Even completing six modules will be tough.

Danyal has completed C1, C2, C3, C4, M1 and almost M2. He should be fine.

Maryam C1, C2, C3, C4, and just got started on M1. It’s going to be hard work for Maryam to get there in Further Mathematics, but she can do it.

I only realised the two girls were getting behind a few weeks ago. Since then as a target they study for 3.5 hours maths per day, measuring their time on Jibble. The time target is helping a lot.

Of course, they’re fully aware that 30 mins quality time is better than 90 mins chilled time. Day-dreaming while the clock ticks is only cheating themselves.

Let’s see what they can do in the next couple of months, which is when we’ll decide what exams they’ll be entered for…

Should I let my kids play video games?

Actually, I’m cool with kids playing video games.

I devoted my life, from the age of 7 until 15, to video games, after which I gave up to focus on my exams. I’ve not bought a video games console since because I know it’d take over my life.

Revs, Chuckie Egg 2, Super Mario Brothers were games that my childhood existed for.

The price? I have a really short attention span. If a movie isn’t great I’m itching to get out half-way through. Also, I struggle in long meetings.

Big deal!

On the other hand, I reckon video games increased my intelligence and upped my grades. These studies don’t indicate causality – Smart kids good at video games and Video games mean better grades – but my guess is that causality exists.

When you’re desperately manoeuvring your car to squeeze past two others, your brain’s CPU is in overdrive. It’s intense.

In fact, there were 3 other physicists in my college at Oxford, and all 3 of them were video game junkies. Now that can’t be a coincidence.

It’s important to stop playing in the run-up to exams, but video games are great in moderation…

How to make your kids happy…

  1. Ask them if they’re happy!
  2. Ask them why they are or aren’t happy. Listen.
  3. Do something about it.

So on the drive here I asked my kids how happy they were – a mark out of 10.

Maryam gave a 7. Danyal and Sabeen gave 9s.

The kids love our cafe-hopping lifestyle. And some friends stayed over for an entire week last week.

So then I had a chat with Maryam to understand her fairly neutral score. She said her mathematics mark wasn’t improving and she felt she’s going to fail her Further Mathematics A-levels – that was her only big issue.

So I told her that it’s that very fear that will make her work, and I’m glad she has it. Not having fear, or some deep motivation, is the path to failure. When I was heading for a straight fail in my degree, the fear of failure turned it around. And it wasn’t a time in my life I enjoyed.

If she wants success, it will be on the back of struggle. Life is easy only for those who achieve little.

It’s great that she is well outside her comfort zone – that’s where she needs to be.

Also, if she’s not ready to take Further Mathematics next year, she can just do Mathematics. So the pressure is now off.

Anyway, she raised her happiness-mark from 7 to an 8. No higher because she’s still got one heck of a tough challenge ahead of her…

It’s not only our kids…

Almost 3 years ago I convinced two friends – a married couple – to pull their two kids out of one of the best UK-curriculum schools in Asia and homeschool them.

Their kids, a boy and girl, were 9 and 7.

The boy was average in his school year for most subjects including maths, according to his parents. Looking at the school’s exam record that would mean he was heading for an A in his GCSE Maths at 16.

Fast forward to today.

He’s achieved an A* in his Maths GCSE. He’s 12, and thus one of the youngest in the world to have ever done this.

He didn’t work particularly hard and his family spent much of the year travelling enjoying their new-found freedom. Oh, and he’s learning 4 languages, and a really confident young boy.

This is what happens after you drop out of a top school, imagine the improvement in average schools…

Time for Disruption?

I am thinking of starting a school pod, city to be decided. It would school around 20 children of various ages with two full-time teaching administrators (one of which would be an Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford, Yale, or MIT grad), supported by many specialists teachers that come in or teach via Skype. It would be run from a super-cool residential unit.

The plan is to eventually have 1000’s of pods around the world, making them the most revolutionary pods since the iPod.

I am looking to talk to:

  • Parents who have a child between the age of 4 and 9 that:
    • Are willing to pay at least US$12k per annum per child for a vastly better education, and ideally US$20k.
    • Want the school to work around their child, rather than their child work around the school.
    • Believe it’s important their children get the best grades possible.
    • Want their child to speak several languages.
    • Want their child to specialise and achieve excellence in certain extra-curricular activities (e.g. sports, music, debating), rather than take part in many and achieve excellence in none.
    • Are concerned about the negative influences of school, such as bullying and pornography. And want their child to be influenced by graduates from the world’s top universities.
  • Graduates from the world’s top universities that enjoy teaching and want to be part of what could be the biggest revolution in education since school began.
  • Anyone else that wants to get involved.

teaching-your-kids-about-racial-harmony

Here are the key differences between our pods vs conventional schools:

  • Children in pods will outperform those in conventional schools, in term of grades, by miles (and miles). I am 100% confident.
  • No terms/semesters. Pods run all year around. Children take up to 12 weeks off when they want, but no time off in lead up to exam. Range of times children can be dropped off or collected to the pod to accommodate parents’ schedule.
  • Children learn at their own pace. No classes. Regular tutorials.
  • Strong emphasis on motivating the children, explaining why grades are important, and the role of hard work.
  • Focus on maths and languages until around 6-9. Then focus on public exams until around 13-16 (when they do 18+ exams). Then a combination of:
    • Learn a few more languages
    • Becoming amazing at a sport
    • Starting a business
    • Learning to code
    • Go to university early – entrance exam preparation for the very top universities.
  • Using technology to teach. E.g. Khan Academy, teaching via Skype.
  • Monthly independent assessments to ensure child is progressing well.
  • Academic teaching geared towards exams.
  • To get best grades possible, one or two public exam (e.g. GCSE) are taken at a time when the child is ready, rather than all exams being taken at some predetermined time.
  • All pods to have CCTV, with parents having full access.
  • Older children make their own lunch every day, cleaning up themselves.
  • Extra-curricular activities to be taught by top professionals.
  • Teaching administrators rewarded on excellent grades and children’s achievements.
  • School fees to be reduced if grades below expectations, bonuses if certain goals achieved.

If you know anyone that might be interested, for example anyone with kids younger than 9 that isn’t happy with their school, please forward this to them…

My email is my first name followed by @launchpadstartups.com (I don’t want bots scraping this email address and sending me junk).