"Dear CU Mum
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your perspective of Children's University with us."
A Mum’s Perspective of Children’s University
When my son came in from school one day telling me he’d like to take part in Children’s University, I knew absolutely nothing about the scheme. However, his enthusiasm won me over (and the fact he said it would mean he’d be learning) so I looked into the scheme and we agreed to let him join when he reached the correct age.
Fast forward to his seventh birthday and we were awoken by him jumping onto our bed pleading for me to get him a Children’s University passport that day as his present, as he at last could have one!
Since that day nearly two years ago, Children’s University has enriched all our lives and even taught my husband and I a few things.
Please don’t think it’s just about after-school activities (although our son’s swimming, gymnastics and cubs pack all participate), there is so much more to it. The range of places that you can collect credits from is vast and varied –e.g. all manned English Heritage properties, some theme parks (such as Legoland), our library, the local pottery painting shop and the city tourist buses. It’s not just physical either, there are lots of things you can do online to get credits – such as complete quizzes and learn in a fun way about the Hadron Collider (knowing he’d contacted the scientists on the French/Swiss border from our home computer blew my son’s mind), complete a workbook all about money, learn about filmmaking (and make a blog/animation on a phone to get more credits) and even just watch TV and review an episode of Blue Peter or get a Blue Peter badge in one of the other ways – it doesn’t have to cost lots (or anything at all) to qualify for credits.
Then there are the amazing holiday challenges – my enthusiastic son has never been bored since he joined! Quite a lot of different CU co-ordinators set challenges at holiday times or at different seasons of the year (most you can find out about on Facebook). You can take part in them, even if they are set by co-ordinators in different parts of the country (or even ones from Scotland and Australian CU!). Some of these you just send evidence (be it a photo of something they’ve cooked, a video by them explaining or showing what they’ve done or short report by your child) to your school co-ordinator, whilst others like you to send the evidence to them (which can be via e-mail) and then a personalised letter is posted back to your child with their credits. The time and effort of co-ordinators thinking up and running challenges must be huge, but I hope they realise it’s totally worth it when you see your child’s face having fun, learning about new things and proudly getting recognition. From taking part in the challenges, we’ve learnt sign language, done numerous science experiments with normal household things, my son has improved his poetry-writing skills (which he said he was rubbish at), took part in the library reading challenges, found he loves to take part in litter-picking and find ways to help ecology, cooked lots of new recipes, made lots of different art, he’s designed and built lots of things (especially in lego), and found new and exciting ideas to spend time with relatives, be kind and learn. Children’s University has helped him to try so many different things I’d have never thought possible, increased his number of friends and opened up so many different opportunities for him, as hobbies and for possible careers later in life.
The memories we as a family have made together and fun we’ve all had is immense and we still have three school years to go! Because of Children’s University, we’ve learnt my husband is a great help to make my son’s design into a huge sandcastle with moving parts at the beach, my son and I sang on the main stage to 15,000+ people at a festival, we’ve ran around a stately home in the rain on a treasure trail (our dog included), attended a Doctor Who lecture in a Cambridge University (our dog not included), seen our son use the same hospital equipment as the Doctors from Operation Ouch (when he decided to take part in a metabolic study to help try to cure ill children), found loads of new family-friendly walks in our region, cheered on St George defeating a dragon (who’s smoke effect had gone wrong and had a smoking backside), learnt more about Great-Grandma & Grandma then they’ve ever told any of us before and genuinely laughed more together than we thought was possible.
Statistics show that the learning via fun Children University can give to a child can help them academically and with my son, I believe it’s true - he is top of his class and exceeding expectation and I really do give some credit to Children’s University. The fun word challenges have helped with his vocabulary and spelling; the arts and crafts ideas have expanded his creativity and even planning; the kind challenges have helped with his empathy to others and the planet; the maths puzzles have helped his analytical skills; and science experiments are loved, even if they go wrong (even more if they go wrong and it ends up being messy).
Not only has Children’s University enriched all our lives with what I’ve already mentioned, but to top it all, the yearly graduation ceremonies should not be missed. The graduation ceremony has the same feel as those you can attend in later life – with the venues, gowns, speakers, photographs etc. Quite rightly, all that attend, guests and graduates alike, are proud of them. Hearing such inspirational speakers and performers at the event cannot help but have an effect – our son came back from his last ceremony and declared he was going to try and get 1000 credits (so he could have the highest award) by the time he leaves his school. Then went off to his room to work out how many credits he’d need to earn each school year to achieve this.
I’m glad to say my son is keeping to his plan for achieving this goal and with thanks to Children’s University helping develop his happiness, skills and knowledge, I’m pretty sure he’ll achieve anything he wants to in the future.