This is Lights On®

Stories from our Lights On® Changemaker families.

What is a disengaged child really thinking?

Uncategorized Jul 09, 2021

As parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to enjoy school, feel passionate about learning and be driven to achieve their fullest potential.  

While all kids have the occasional bad day at school, seeing your child switch off from learning is understandably very worrying for parents. But what is your child really thinking when they’ve checked out?

One thing that rings true for disengaged children is that they’re all thinking: “what’s the point?” From dismissing the importance of learning their times tables, to challenging the point of themselves. 

Seeing your child in this state is overwhelming, upsetting and can leave you feeling completely lost. 

But, it’s never too late to do something about it.  

The process starts with taking a close look at a child’s choice and use of language, their behaviour and their overall identity. And, as a parent, your own engagement in their reconnection is vital...

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Disengaged Teen to Young Entrepreneur.

Meet Lisa, one tired, frustrated mum who transformed into an inspiring parent educator and empowered her bored, disengaged teenager into a young entrepreneur with a passion for business at the age of 14.


“My son was at rock bottom with mental health issues. To see him now confident, comfortable in his skin, loving life and running his stall at a local hospital raising awareness of children’s mental health is amazing.”


James was struggling in school and Lisa felt desperate. As a single working parent she felt she had no choice but to leave him in school. However, our children’s mental wellbeing must come first. With the support of Julia Black, founder of the Lights On® Academy, Lisa summoned the courage to have a meeting with the school about her son’s mental health, which she knew was suffering. Lisa could see they were not listening. In that moment, she realized they were never going to meet his needs. They couldn’t see James...

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What Gets You Out Of Bed Every Morning?

Lights On® learner, Noah (14), says, “I ran every day through lockdown and have no intention of stopping. I needed some form of exercise but, as I kept it up, it started to benefit my mental health. I felt less anxious and more relaxed. I now know running is the best way to help me manage my mental health and stay happy.”

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Young Minds, whose mission is “to ensure all young people get the best mental health support and have the resilience to overcome life’s challenges” report that although 1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder, that’s roughly three in every classroom, less than 1 in 3 get access to NHS care and treatment.*

The challenges of this year have brought mental health awareness to the forefront of our collective consciousness. During periods of lockdown, confined to our homes and neighbourhoods, many of us have had to find new ways of prioritising and protecting our mental...

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Lights On® Learning in Lockdown

Molly, 16, dreams of performing on the West End stage, and was due to sit her GCSEs in June. “Instead of stressful revision and exams, she followed her passions, singing and dancing her way through lockdown. 4 months following her dream rather than sitting exams. Her lights were blazing; she inspired us all,” writes Lights On Mum, Emma.

This has been a strange, challenging time with disruption to routines and normality, and the unprecedented closure of schools around the world. Without wishing to downplay the trauma of this pandemic, children have had a unique opportunity to learn outside of school, beyond the walls of their classrooms.

I asked Lights On families how their children engaged with learning during lockdown.

“Staying at home has done wonders for our learning!” reflects Aneka in Islamabad. “It reset our family connections. 

We spent more time learning alongside each other. It showed us how resilient we are, how we made the most of all...

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Whole Family Transformation

A Lights On® story from Amy, Mum to William (12) and Jack (7)

“I watched the lights go out in my children, and searched for ways to change this. Nothing seemed to help until I stumbled across Explorium on Facebook. Julia’s words really spoke to me, and made so much sense. I watched the free training, and knew I wanted to go deeper.

I joined Lights On® Academy and realised my anxieties and beliefs were holding me and my children back. The boys were mirroring my negative beliefs.

I thought of myself as a learner. I had always craved knowledge and sought information. I couldn’t understand why the boys had such fixed mindsets when I had tried to give them a growth mindset. I came to see that I had a very fixed mindset myself. The boys were learning what I did, not what I said!

I signed up for the neuro-coaching programme to tackle the beliefs holding me back. I had been so determined to be a great Mum that I had stopped learning myself. I wasn’t modelling...

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The Power of the Portfolio

Imagine being in the class of 2020, having worked your whole school career towards your all-important GCSEs, only to have the opportunity of sitting them suddenly denied you. What does a young person have beyond the grades? 

A portfolio of passion-driven, project-based learning can be a powerful record of a child’s experience, make them stand out from the crowd and help them land the job of their dreams.

Last week, Julia Black, creator of Lights On®, spoke to two young people about building a learning portfolio.

Elias is 18, a young engineer in an apprenticeship programme at WMG, an academic department at the University of Warwick, providing research, education and knowledge transfer in engineering, manufacturing and technology.

It is the job of his dreams. He had a clear engineering switch from early childhood, constructing, playing with vehicles, constantly drawing and inventing machines. As he grew, he enjoyed woodwork and undertook maker projects with his...

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Free To Be Me!


'Write a song contrasting how you feel learning with your lights dim to learning with your lights fully switched on.'

This brief was given to three teenagers in our community, none of whom were confident writers, nor had ever made a song before. All stepped up, bravely sharing their true feelings about learning. 

Working during lockdown, the group met online. In that creative learning space, a little bit of Lights On® magic occurred.

James (14) recalls, “When I heard about the project I was like, no way am I doing that! I can’t sing and I hate writing. But then I thought about songs having a rap section. Maybe I could do that.”

Out walking after dark, James started skipping. “The rhythm of the skip made me think of songs.” Reminded of the project, he began putting words together. Mum, Lisa, says, “When I heard about the project, I knew James wouldn’t sing but watching him work out how he could be involved and the fun he had...

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Real-World Learning At Its Best

In the JAM space this week, we were inspired by real-world makers and engineers.

Our Wired for Learning mindset challenge came from innovative engineers at Dyson, who are not averse to playing with Lego and cardboard when solving the problems they are presented with. Indeed, it is through play, trial and error, and often multiple failure, that breakthrough comes. Our task? To build a marble run lasting exactly sixty seconds.

That might sound easy, until you watch how quickly a marble run downs a slope. Sixty seconds is a long time in the life of that small glass bauble. So how to slow the marble down? Lots of discussion in our house about friction, momentum, gravity, force. This was a hands-on science challenge, requiring a strong mindset, perseverance, ingenuity and problem solving.

There were all sorts of creative responses to this challenge. Some families used ping pong balls or round chocolates where they had no marble. Some incorporated purpose-made marble run parts, but...

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A Whole New World of Lights On® Learning

 Imagine the world through my eyes ….

Of course, you cannot. Unless I show you what I see.

Each of us is so different. Unique. With our own way of seeing, hearing, perceiving and experiencing the world. Our own gifts, talents, passions. Our own challenges and struggles. Our own stories which have shaped us into the people that we are.

We are all different.

Yet, generally, school experience is standardised and uniform, with little room to express our uniqueness, to share our own voice, our very individual take on reality.

Education has become so results focused, that often we forget the joy of the journey, the growth which enables us to bring our own gifts to the table and contribute with confidence and dignity to the world around us, which needs us all – in our own unique ways – to show up and care for her; to a society which needs all our differing gifts, strengths and creativity to flourish and prosper.

It is time to move out of the boxes in which we...

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Lights On® Mindset!

Uncategorized Apr 14, 2020

Lights On® Mindset! 

by one of our Lights On® Mums, Alice Khimasia

Early this week, Lights On Mum, Emma, chose to be vulnerable by posting a watercolour image of a woman with rainbow coloured hair. She recognised that painting meant overcoming a big label she had adopted, “I'm not arty.”

What labels do we wear which prevent us pushing forward, taking risks, becoming the best learners we can be?

This week’s JAM saw several parents being bold and vulnerable in recognizing and pushing through points of resistance. This is how we build resilience, enabling and empowering our children to persevere and become the motivated learners we want them to be. It is all about mindset.

Julia and Corinne shared a quiz to determine where our child’s mindset currently stands. From lost learners to inspiring creators, there were a spectrum of responses, different children at differing points on their learning journeys.

As we set out to explore our learning...

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