BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR
The Knowledge: The World's toughest test?
To become a qualified, licensed London taxi driver, a trainee must pass a rigorous assessment after three years of training. This assessment is, of course, to check the trainee knows London’s tens of thousands of streets and their layout like the back of their hand. This is called ‘the knowledge’ and sets the London taxi drivers apart from just about any other taxi driver anywhere in the world. Imagine that, being able to essentially memorise over 60,000 streets and 100,000 places of note. That is certainly going to grow your brain quite considerably, and a study for the Wellcome Trust in 2011 successfully proved that the 50% of trainees who passed ‘the knowledge test’ were found to have greater grey matter in their hippocampus, the area that stores memory, than when they started training.
This demonstrates that it is possible to grow your brain’s capacity and increase long and short term memory. The good news is it doesn’t take memorizing over 100,000 landmarks and 60,000 streets to do this. There is a simpler way: reading.
We all know the benefits of encouraging a love of reading in children from a young age, whatever their perceived reading abilities. To name a few:
- Increasing vocabulary
- Increasing general knowledge
- Reducing stress and letting go
- Making one laugh and explore emotions
- Help one sleep
- Improving imagination and creativity
The list is not exhaustive. We know the importance of reading, both fiction and non-fiction.
What is interesting, is how reading changes your brain. What actually happens when you read.
Just like the study of the taxi drivers, a study was taken in 2009 in America which showed children who had read for 100 hours developed greater white (communication) and grey (memory) matter in their brains.
Just 15 minutes of reading each night will expand your brains as 'the knowledge’ expands the brains of those successful taxi driver trainees.
Reading goes a long way more than simply growing our brains though, and we don’t need research to tell us that reading for pleasure makes us more interesting, empathetic and takes us on a journey of imagination, discovery and curiosity – one of the most magical aspects of childhood and adulthood.
However, let us not look at this through rose-tinted glasses. Some children are more reluctant to read than others, and some of you will be reading this thinking, “Well this is all well and good, but how do I get my child to read in the first place?”
Whatever your child’s ability to read, and whether he / she is dyslexic or not, reading is accessible to everyone, and the most common barriers of all are easy to remedy:
1. If your child doesn’t like the book they are currently reading, just choose another one. As Amanda Craig, a novelist and children’s critic said, “not every child takes instantly to books like a duck to water, but I don’t believe there are children who hate books. There are just children who haven’t found the right books for them”. Once you get your child hooked on a genre they love, an author or series they find gripping, or a style of writing (whether fiction or non-fiction), they will be off.
2. Make reading a family activity. As soon as your son/daughter gets into reading, don’t just leave them to it. Discuss books at the breakfast/supper table. Demonstrate your love for reading. Keep reading to your child (experts suggest it is beneficial to read to your child until they are 11).
3. Storytelling is a brilliant way to capture a child’s imagination. Listen to audio books in the car.
4. The most important advice of all: leave all electronic devices downstairs. It is no good having a mobile phone in a bedroom turned off or on silent. Every child's (and adult’s) bedroom needs to be completely technology free: no phones, devices, TVs or anything that might cause temptation. There is nothing more wonderful than falling asleep after 5-15 minutes of reading, with characters, imagination, knowledge, or a question floating inside your head.
Reading, storytelling and fiction and non-fiction text breathes energy, interest and excitement into our children, and we all have a tremendous opportunity to wholeheartedly encourage them to read. It is not only good for our brain development, awareness and empathy towards others, but brings great happiness. What more could you want.
I can’t wait to celebrate ‘World Book Day’ at St George’s next week (I gather the Story Bus is fantastic!), and feel sure I will see first hand the sheer pleasure our children get from literature.
Wishing all St George’s families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.
Head Master's Commendations
Many congratulations to the following who were presented with awards during Assembly on Monday:
Tabitha P – for producing a superb info-graphic following an experiment in Science
Asees D – shape work to explain rotational symmetry
Max C – Shape work to explain rotational symmetry
Reya – for using Usain Bolt as a stimulus, creating a super poster demonstrating the ordering of decimals.
Cici B – for creating a film in French as part of voluntary extension work
Dhyaana S - for creating a film in French as part of voluntary extension work
Zara T – for creating a superb poster with a great deal of information about herself in French, which included a lengthy vocabulary list. Also for consistently high standards in Spanish
Noor O – for a creative poster on the seasons in French, as part of voluntary extension work
Nefeli M - for a creative poster on the seasons in French, as part of voluntary extension work
Carys C - for a creative poster on the seasons in French, as part of voluntary extension work
James H - for a creative poster on the seasons in French, as part of voluntary extension work
Henry B - for a creative poster on the seasons in French, as part of voluntary extension work
Jonah P – for his improvement in Rugby, showing great handling, tackling, support play and teamwork.
Yana V – for playing an important part and great effort put into the French play before Half Term
Felix F – for creating a song about the verb avoir
Spirit of St George's Award
The following pupils were awarded certificates on Monday in recognition of their efforts to encapsulate the core values of the school:
Jay-Veer G – for demonstrating great maturity and leadership before Half Term, helping with the French Cheese Tasting
Freya Wi – for demonstrating impeccable manners to visitors, and showing kindness and generosity to others, especially younger children
Edith R – for great support and help to a teacher
Annabel P – for kindness and helpfulness around the school
Asees D – for kindness and helpfulness around the school
Sports Players of the Week
Year 3 & 4: Millie W has been enjoying her netball this term and yet again has proved herself to be a valuable member of the team, as shown on Friday.
Year 5 & 6: Teddy H has produced a fantastic performance on his return from injury, with countless tackles and strong carries on the wing.
Year 7 & 8: Leo M has pursued excellence with a stand out energetic performance in defence and great tackling technique.
Trips and Events
Senior Schools Fair
On Monday we hosted a senior schools fair which included representatives from 31 leading senior schools. It was a great opportunity for our STG parents to learn more about the opportunities available at each of these schools and the event was very well attended.
"When the Hicksburg bank is robbed there’s only one person smart enough to find the missing cash—the Half Pint Kid. Join him as he sets out on a trail of mathematical clues and skulduggery. Help him as he fights The Tumbleweed Gang and find out who’s really behind the missing money."
On Monday the Quantum Theatre Company entertained Years 1 - 6 their mathematics play, The Half Pint Kid. They gave three performances and each year group had their own version to meet the different curriculum needs, but they were all very entertaining!
Upper School Assembly Speakers
We are so very lucky to have parents who take the time to come into school and talk about their careers. This week we were joined by Dr Catherine Francis who gave a presentation to Upper School pupils about her fascinating and rewarding career as a cardiologist as well as the importance of keeping a healthy heart. Afterwards Johnny W asked her various questions including what made her choose her career and what subjects she studied at school and university. Dr Francis told the children that one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a doctor was dealing with people, and that one of her greatest achievements was combining her career with being a mother.
Year 5 Science Trip to Wellington College
The Year 5s were treated to a wonderful outing to Wellington College on Thursday to attend their annual Chemistry Spectacular. On the anniversary of the invention of the periodic table, we learnt about several of the elements. It’s fair to say the focus was on the ones that are highly reactive, and so we were treated to explosions, elephant toothpaste and the chemicals behind the colours of fireworks. Thank you Mr Foran!
Last Friday both the Year 3s and 4s took to the field full of enthusiasm ahead of their penultimate rugby matches of the season against Twickenham Prep. The Under 8s have been working hard in lessons to develop their support play and passing, with particular success at this in matches from Jonty O, Oliver S and Isaac S. The Under 9s have also been working hard in lessons to build on the progress of both defensive and attacking organisation. We are delighted with efforts made and particular strides forward have been made by Alexander L, Max A and Ben I.
Last Friday the Under 8 girls had a very tough game against Holme Grange. The team had a few changes which didn’t effect our attacking skills to get the ball to goal. The girls showed excellent marking skills which they have been working on in PE lessons, and put great pressure on the ball.
The Under 9 girls had a fantastic fixture against Holme Grange, walking away with a very convincing win. Both teams worked to their fullest ability to win the ball and score lots of goals. Well done girls.
Saturday saw St George's host the annual Under 10 Rugby Festival. With ten teams involved in the tournament, it was a fantastic morning with sound, outstanding rugby on show. The St George's team played their best rugby of the season with a wonderful squad performance. Special mention must go to Thomas K (Most Valuable Player) and James E (RFU core values player).
On Monday the Under 9s travelled to Milbourne Lodge for their annual Rugby Festival. The boys played four matches in total and progressed at every opportunity. Special mention to our medal winners Toby C (Most Valuable Player) and Alexander L (Most Improved Player).
On Wednesday the Upper School teams took on St Edward's School and Daneshill Prep School. It was another fantastic opportunity for the boys to continue to build on the Sporting Value of Teamwork skills through the following areas: defensive organisation, creating space for team mates and support play. Congratulations to all the boys on their efforts this term and we look forward to the last set of Wednesday matches next week.
Wednesday Girls Netball Under 11A had an outstanding game against The Marist and came home with a resounding victory. The girls played with great speed and tenacity and dominated throughout. Their teamwork was excellent and they are working really hard on playing with structure and applying the defensive and attacking principles they have been working on in lessons. The Under 11B team did really well in a tightly contested game. They worked extremely hard as a team and created some good passages of play. The combinations are working well and it was a well deserved win.
The Under 10 girls had a great game, also against The Marist. All the players worked well together and showed excellent attacking skills going up the court. The defence worked hard to slow the ball down and made some great interceptions.
This Thursday we took 6 teams representing Under 9, Under 11 and Under 13 girls and boys to the St Neot’s Cross Country Event. The forecast was poor, but we travelled to Hook in high spirits, hoping that the running performances would outweigh the miserable weather. The pupils did not disappoint!
Special mention must go to the Under 11 Boys team who finished joint 2nd overall, Henry who finished 3rd overall, Zachary and Tom for completing their first ever cross country event, and Freya who finished 1st overall.
This half term the Year 7s are undertaking the Young Enterprise Tenner Challenge. Working on building skills of Financial Mathematics, Teamwork, Leadership, Self-awareness, Creativity, Communication and much much more. Here are messages from the two teams:
From Team Gates: As year 7s we have been given an amazing opportunity to develop our teamwork and leadership skills. It is called the Tenner Challenge and the aim is to make as much profit as we can using entrepreneurial skills. We all start with £10 and compete in two different teams (our form groups).
And from Team TNC: We have ten pounds each to spend on products. Hopefully we will learn how to manage our money and invest it into a product to make a profit.
This week's puzzle:
Solutions to last week's puzzle - how did you get on?
There were some interesting challenges set for the House meetings on Tuesday morning. In Victory House the children had to navigate around cones, across sets of hoops and balance on a bench, but without seeing where they were going! To get them around the course, their partners had to give them really careful and clear instructions. It was a good learning experience, and fun too! The challenge for the children in Vindictive House was to work together as a team to transfer four cups from one area to another, and rebuild a shape with them. The added challenge was that they were not allowed to use their hands! The children worked collaboratively to come up with some ingenious problem-solving strategies.
Pancakes were flipped and enjoyed by the boarders this week, there were some good techniques and tips on display for the best flippers, although a few pancakes were left precariously hanging on the side of the pan in the manner of the final scenes of the Italian job! A variety of delicious toppings were lavishly spread and consumed - yummy! To balance all these delicious treats, the boarders headed off for some splashing good fun in the swimming pool – Wonderful Wednesdays indeed!
Next week we are looking forward to a Mindfulness workshop with Mrs Edwards, as well as Sporty Mondays, Tactical Tuesdays and Crafty Thursdays.. If you want to know more about school sleepovers please contact firstname.lastname@example.org