What influences have you had in your life that you have transferred to the life of your children and their education?
When I look back at my childhood memories, I consider myself lucky to have had a childhood filled with love from my parents, grandparents, brothers and cousins. We were one big family who cared for one another very much and used to see each other everyday because we all lived in the same street of Ħaż-Żebbuġ. We used to observe the environment we lived in and learnt a lot. We went for bike rides, walks and played in the street with boċċi and żibeġ. Very often we used to find baby birds who fell from their nests and we used to try and rescue them. Grandpa used to take us on boat rides and taught us how to fish, while mum and grandma cooked healthy food everyday. They involved us in everything they did and we learnt that love means helping out too. I used to see nanna clean the fish that nannu caught, she taught me what the insides of the fish are called. I do my best to transfer all this knowledge to my children. I used to play netball and athletics at school and spent the whole summer swimming, morning and evening with friends and family. Infact, my kids are involved in basketball, football and waterpolo. I also try and keep the cooking healthy as much as possible at home using recipes my mum and grandma taught me and also a twist of the modern cuisine. Dad helped us a lot with homeworks and projects. My husband and I support our kids in their homeworks and projects too nowadays. Both my mum and dad worked but they always found time for me and my brothers. Mum read us books and played with us until dad came home later.
With high importance placed on literacy for a child’s educational development, what aspects of reading to a child do you think is most important?
I love literacy! In my opinion, every book, every story, builds a child’s imagination and together with the parent or caregiver, they embark in an experience of different emotions which is a unique and wonderful time spent together. Their relationship gets stronger because they spend twenty to thirty minutes reading together, making funny faces, changing their voices, bringing the story to life! Other benefits would be that of acquiring new vocabulary, improving their speech, their understanding and expression.
What particular book genre do you believe are lacking in the 5-10y year-old age bracket?
I definitely think that books regarding social and emotional learning are lacking.
As a mother and professional, how do you find the time to ensure that your child gets some reading time in?
Since the day they were born, I always read books to my children just before bedtime. That is our half an hour together, our quality time where nothing and no one is allowed to disturb hehe. When on very rare occasions, we skip it, we double the time the next day. However, even when we go abroad or are on holidays, the first thing I look for is a bookshop. We spend at least an hour browsing through the books and each one of us chooses a couple of books to keep in our backpacks so that every time we are idle, we read to kill the time.
How did motherhood change the way you viewed the importance of education?
I was brought up in a culture where education was a priority. Now that I am a mother, I still believe that education has to be a priority because I want my children to grow up into adults who think for themselves, voice their opinions and generate their own ideas. Having said this, we always balance leisure and studying time. I strongly believe and always tell my children to embrace learning while supporting them in whatever makes them happy.
What is the one thing you would like to see implemented in schools today?
Of course, the topic that is very much at heart: Social and Emotional Learning. I believe that this topic should be part of the curriculum like in other countries and should start from the early years of kindergarten up till secondary years. All students need guidance in learning about self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. One needs to implement formal lessons according to the students’ age while choosing topics such as friendship, good manners and bad manners, table manners, different cultures, how to accept our differences, how to empathise with one another, how to care about our mental health, how to care and love our body and many more. These topics will help students build a positive mindset.
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