Educational blog post sample

  • Katie Harwood

I write (bi)-weekly blog posts on all things education for an international school in Switzerland - future of education, child development, value of school, bilingualism etc.


Many of us might have emerged from the nationwide lockdown earlier this year having learnt a new thing or two about ourselves. As it was, spending so long indoors was a learning experience of its own, complete with highs and lows like any emotional roller coaster.

However, this hasn’t been an isolated phenomenon pertaining to adults only. Children and teenagers were also exposed to visions of the world and potential realities they had never before considered. This being the case, they may still be feeling some residual emotion that would be best discussed out in the open. To explore these new feelings properly, they may benefit from deepening their emotional vocabulary to include new sentiments beyond happy, sad, scared and angry. Giving more colour to the words used to describe our emotions makes it much easier to accurately share our feelings.

Practice Talking About Your Own Feelings More Openly
It is natural for parents to want to shield children from certain emotions. However, never seeing adults displaying difficult emotions can make children feel self-conscious when doing so. In response, they might internalise their feelings, which does not erase them but prevents any constructive discussion taking place.
Every Feeling is Okay
In the same vein, try not to demonise any emotions, as this will discourage children from sharing their feelings with you. All emotions are natural and a response to something happening in life. The easier they are to talk about, the less they are allowed to dominate our consciousness. Being able to talk about frustration, anxiety, anger, etc. means having an outlet to safely release it.

Be Relatable
Whenever possible, let children know that you relate to how they’re feeling. If they’re scared about a test, relate it to a time you were nervous about work. If you can, point out the positives that came of it, no matter how small or large. This might prompt your child to take personal and emotional conversations further, encouraged by your own willingness to show vulnerability.
Accept Not Talking
As confinement has taught us, humans are actually highly sociable creatures. However, it is also very human to not want to talk sometimes. It doesn’t last forever and when we’re ready, we open up. When this happens with your child, don’t worry. Give them some time and let them know you’re ready when they are, or try again a while later. At times, it feels too soon to talk about an event until it’s been processed, at which point we are able to speak about it more constructively.

Encourage Positive Emotions
Although the world can feel tough at times, it is also a place where exhilarating, amazing and wonderful things happen. Make sure to acknowledge good and happy emotions too. It’s something we often forget to do but which can be so powerful and good for mental health! Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to share your joy, it’s the one contagious thing we can all benefit from.
Katie Harwood



Nowadays, books and online gurus promote the benefits of mindfulness from all angles, which makes us think – is there something in this to which we should be paying attention?

The simple answer is yes. It comes as no surprise that there has been an upsurge in the popularity of mindfulness, considering its boom has coincided with the ever-faster, more frenetic way in which we live. Schools are no exception to this change of pace, as many students feel more pressure than ever to deliver ‘perfection’ in every aspect of their lives.
Why should mindfulness become a regular practice for our pupils?
School is where the life-work balance begins. How we grow and navigate this essential part of life will often shape the way we face the future that awaits us. It is therefore important to garner good habits whilst we’re young, when we still have the power of adaptability and openness to try new things.
So what does mindfulness really mean, and what does it do?
As noted by the experts behind Mindful, the practice can actually come in various forms and is becoming an umbrella term for consciously taking a mental break, allowing ourselves a moment to calm down. It can mean sitting with your breath in the present moment without distractions, or partaking in a technology-free, relaxing activity to clear our minds and be similarly present.
Drawing, gardening, colouring and writing are promoted as easy ways to begin being more mindful. Much of the time, niggling thoughts that go unacknowledged grow to an unrealistic size in the brain, creating a greater feeling of stress than they really deserve. Mindfulness can help us to see this and shrink things back down to size.

It sounds like a great tool for students
That’s because it is! With their International Baccalaureate (IB) requirements weighing heavy or busy days filled with study, socialising, sports, hobbies and homework, it is no wonder students appreciate the break mindfulness provides.
However, even more than a break, mindfulness is a way to work on personal skills that help manage the stresses of modern life. Sol Alvarez has been practicing mindfulness for over 15 years. She is adamant that teaching children to be mindful and calm from an early age is invaluable for them. “Mindfulness isn’t easy to get into, and that’s why the earlier we introduce it to kids, the better. That way, they will know how to practice it later when they really need it.”
Some of our teachers often lead small mindfulness sessions in class and are able to see a great improvement in their students, beyond the obvious noise reduction!  It can help in many ways, including the following:
  • bringing clarity and focus (in particular, enabling older students to reassess and prioritise their workloads)
  • helping students to be less reactive - they gain better control over their emotions and become more flexible
  • inciting students to be more compassionate towards themselves and others
  • improving students’ attention in class, meaning they can take in more information.
  • lessening stress and freeing up brain space for learning.
As a relatively new technique in schools that students of the past never had access to, you might ask yourself, do they really need mindfulness now? Has that much changed?
Yes and no.
Mental health struggles and external pressure on school students have likely always been present, but before the age of the internet, they weren’t so easily discussed. Now that the conversation around the subject has grown, it is time to be proactive. If it is possible to help students tame their responses to stress before they grow too large to handle, then why not try?

With much of their lives lived online, where the pressure to always be seen and be perfect is unbelievably potent, mindfulness is a moment for students to put technology and their constant connectivity aside. It creates, instead, a space in which to reconnect with themselves. This might feel odd at first, but ultimately, brings about only rewards.
Katie Harwood


Have you been hearing the term ‘soft skills’ flying around a lot recently? Or ‘transferable skills’? Buzzier than springtime bees, these terms are taking over the conversation around education.

As the world continues to change at great pace, so too do ideas on the future of education. How can anyone be sure what lies ahead when jobs themselves are always evolving? Technology may create new opportunities every day, but it is also the human response to the automation of daily life that will define which soft skills are important for 21st century life.
The term ‘soft skills’ refers to skills that are innately human – the things that a machine can’t do for us. At least not yet anyways.
Researchers have been accumulating great swathes of data on the subject, but a sample-sized list of the transferable skills that educators should target includes:
  • Creativity: our imaginations fuel for new ideas. Through indulging our natural curiosity, playfulness and confidence, we set ourselves apart from the machines and develop the ideas that power progress.
  • Interpersonal skills: whereas a computer is programmed by code, humans have the gift of thought and speech so it would be foolish not to use them. Being able to hold genuine conversations, as well as show flexibility and personability is what makes us appealing to our social circles and future employers. Get ready, it’s time to flex that social muscle!
  • Communication: by developing this area, we are countering the two-dimensionality of technology. As much of today’s communication is automated by email and messaging, it is all too easy for someone to misunderstand or be confused by a written communication. It is therefore important to learning how to a good, reliable communicator.
  • Emotional intelligence: this enables students to react to situations with appropriate sensitivity, as well as respond with a more rounded, nuanced approach to all kinds of events.
  • The two M’s – Time management and stress management: As work encroaches on the moments of life we used to dedicate to personal and family time, learning how to manage their time will help students to also manage their stress. School, with its many support systems, is the right place to begin the journey into organisation and self-management. Without knowing it, students who take this seriously will be taking great steps towards equipping themselves for the future.

Naturally, the list of important skills for the future does not stop here as you can see in  this report.
Technical knowledge and skills in a particular field of work will always be beneficial, and often required of employees. However, these transferable, soft skills will soon be an unwritten specification of equal importance for job applicants, and potentially necessary for navigating and thriving in a future work environment.
What’s more, these skills do not have a purely professional functionality as they are also important for general child development. Possessing strong transferable skills will make for a more comfortable integration into the modern world for our young adults of today.
Katie Harwood

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    Haut-Lac International School