Coping With Back to School Anxiety – A Guide for Parents and Guardians

The ‘back to school’ season can be stressful and anxiety-inducing at the best of times, never mind in the midst of a global pandemic. It is totally normal and expected for both parents and children to feel nervous and a little apprehensive about changes to their daily routine. However, as challenging as it may be, anxiety surrounding ‘back to school’ shouldn’t spoil the experience. Below are our top tips for coping with back to school anxiety.

First things first… Identify the cause of the anxiety

A little anxiety or nervousness here and there isn’t normally cause for concern, especially when it’s surrounding normal life events like starting new term or school. However, persistent and harrowing anxiety or a noticeable change in behaviour in your child could be a sign of anxiety disorder1 or a serious problem at school such as bullying. Speak to your child and consult with your doctor if notice signs of a bigger issue. The same goes for parents too! If you are experiencing an overwhelming amount of anxiety, or your anxiety is beginning to affect your daily life, speak to your doctor.

If there is no sign of any serious issues, speak to your kids about their concerns. What is causing them to be nervous about school? Are they worried about making new friends? Do they have concerns over new schoolwork? Or are they just nervous about the new experience as a whole? Understanding what is causing your child’s anxiety will help you to tackle it.

Chatting with a friend can also be really helpful for parents and guardians to let out some of their own concerns and worries too. Speak to someone you trust about your fears and worries surrounding the back to school period.

Speak to Their Teacher

Keeping an open line of communication with your child’s teacher will help to make school more smooth sailing for both you and your child. Even if you don’t feel as though there’s anything in particular you need to make them aware of, simply introducing yourself will open the line of communication and make it easier to discuss issues further down the road should they arise. The child mind institute shares 7 things teachers wish parents would tell them and some of the subjects may surprise you. Believe it or not, teachers find it very helpful when they are made aware of certain things such as your child’s strengths and weaknesses, special interests and learning style. It’s also a good idea to make the teacher aware of any changes/issues at home such as a death in the family or a divorce.

Make Sure They Are Comfortable in Their Uniform

The jury is still out on whether or not school uniform is completely a good idea, however as it still stands uniform is compulsory for most schools across the UK. And whether or not your child feels comfortable in their uniform can make an impact on how they perform throughout the day. If your little one starting school for the first time, have them try on their uniform weeks before their first day. Build up their confidence by making a big fuss of how ‘cool’ they look in their new clothes. If you like, you could even have them do a fashion show for their friends/relatives. Alternatively, you could take a calmer approach by giving them a couple of uniform options and allowing them to choose what they would like to wear. For example, do they want to wear a pinafore, or a skirt? Do they want to wear a long sleeves shirt or a short sleeved shirt? Allowing them to make small decisions on what they are wearing will help to build on their problem solving skills and helps them feel as though they have some control over the situation2.

As for older children such as those starting secondary school or moving up a year, let them have some say in what they wear too! Pre teens and teenagers are naturally fashion conscious and concerned about what their peers think of their clothing choices. Don’t just go out and buy for them, take them shopping with you and let them choose the fit/style they like the best. Of course, anything they pick will need to be in accordance with their schools specific regulations, so check with your school first to make sure whatever they pick is appropriate, but as long as it doesn’t break any riles and it’s within budget, let them go for it!

Practice Buttons, Zips and Laces with Little Ones

Once they know how to do the tricky parts of getting dressed, getting ready for school and changing for P.E lessons will be much easier. In the weeks leading up to their first day, spend 10 minutes each day on one skill, either practicing how to zip a zip, fasten a button or tie shoelaces. If they manage to get to grips with each skill before the school term starts then great! But if not don’t fret! Make sure they know they can ask their teacher for help when they need it. Make sure to praise them each time they try and do a button or zip themselves to keep them encouraged.

Key Takeaways:

There will be Many Ups and Downs

As with most things in life, school won’t always be a smooth sailing experience. There will be days where your child meets you at the school gates upset about a fall out with a friend or disappointed that they didn’t get picked for a project, that’s just a fact. But, there will also be many more days where they can’t wait to tell you about their amazing day! Ride the waves, be grateful for the good times and accept each day as it comes.

Communication is Key

Problems can be solved much faster and easier with good communication. Ask your child about their day, every day. Keep speaking to their teachers, attend parents evenings whenever you can and discuss your concerns with your partner.

A Positive Outlook is Infectious

Be an example to your child and try to take on every new endeavour with a positive attitude. Try your best to maintain a positive outlook whenever met with a challenging situation. For example: Did they have a bad day at school? That’s ok! We all have bad days but tomorrow we get a brand new start.




Uses And Properties Of Tasmanian Blackwood Timber For An Exquisite Home

Tasmanian blackwood timber is an Australian hardwood possessed innumerable usages in decorative veneers, furniture, and paneling. This generally grows from 15 meters to 35 meters in height. This medium-sized Australian blackwood typically develops in south Australia and it is mainly used for commercial purposes. Tasmanian blackwood timber has a diverse range of tolerance and can significantly grow on moderately dry regions.

What is Tasmanian Blackwood Timber?

Tasmanian blackwood timber is known as “appearance timber”. This type of wood provides a malleable, sleek, and polished finish, and people can use this wood for their floor and furniture. Tasmanian Blackwood is perfectly suited to soil preservation use for innumerable reasons. It possesses an expeditious growth rate and set up easily from seedling stock. 

Applications of Tasmanian Blackwood Timber:

#1. Joinery:

Tasmanian blackwood timber joinery products provide an excellent, unique, and delicate touch to any exterior and interior design. You can decorate various parts of your interior, such as window and door frames, moldings, cabinetry, and skirting.  As far as exterior designs are concerned, these joinery products have a diverse range from prominent eaves and posts to captivating railings.

Commercially available Tasmanian blackwood timber species often used to create several useful timber products for building purposes such as flooring. These are also used in cabinetry and for other identical ‘built-in’ furniture.

#2. Moldings:

Tasmanian blackwood timber molding creates best-in-class style, design, and a fascinating touch to any interior purposes for home. Nowadays, people prefer customized furniture for their home and they can choose timber molding designs which include adorning furniture, doors, and windows.

The figurative molding such as skirtings, architraves, ceiling roses is the purported cravings for a designer seeking a completed result of elegance and quality. These timber products are undoubtedly versatile and viable, increasing the sheer aesthetics of any interior as the neat-handed touch for designers with a focus on utmost ostentation.

#3. Flooring:

Tasmanian blackwood timber offers viability, versatility, and adaptability for elegant flooring applications. The blackwood flooring is known to have perfect endurance rather than any simple flooring. It provides warmth, potency, and acute elegance, which is perfect for any kind of home improvement.

Timber flooring is a timeless product as it is delivering ample amenities than any simple flooring. If anyone wants to build purportedly robust flooring, then opting for Tasmanian blackwood timber would be a great choice.  They are durable, long lasting, and easy to clean. So, you can choose this Tasmanian wood for your floor, and you can even, use such woods in your high-traffic area.

#4. Properties:

As per the scientific name, Blackwood is denoted as “Acacia melanoxylon”. Due to such enormous robust properties, Tasmanian blackwood is chosen over any normal wood for subtle home designs. Tasmanian wood can last for 5-15 years if you install them on your floor, and you can use such woods for your in-ground applications. But Tasmanian blackwood timber is not termite resistant and you need to change them frequently. Else, you can maintain the same by termite control treatment.

Tasmanian blackwood timber is available in two versions such as seasoned and unseasoned. They are lightweight and you can easily install them in your home or offices. Make sure, you must choose the best quality Tasmanian wood according to your budget because there are some engineered woods available which looks similar to Tasmanian blackwood. In this case, you can consult with a dealer and take their suggestions to choose the best product.

Tasmanian blackwood timber is the ultimate solution for interior design due to its amazing viability. A polished and ductile finish can easily be achieved after installation of timber wood for furniture and flooring. This is known for its captivating appearance and finish qualities.

Life Lessons for Boys and Girls From Disney’s Frozen 2

Six years after Disney’s widely successful animated movie Frozen took the box office by storm, the sequel Frozen 2 was released, much to the majority’s delight. With a $358-million opening weekend worldwide, it now holds the title for the biggest global opening for an animated movie. 

The movie continues the story of royal sisters, Anna and Elsa. While in the first movie, Elsa exiled herself to protect her sister and Arandelle, in Frozen 2, Elsa proudly uses her magic to entertain and help the people of her kingdom.

Still, Elsa feels there’s something more for her out there, a feeling that is heightened by the fact that she hears a voice calling out to her. Anna, meanwhile, is too preoccupied with worry about her sister’s off behaviour to notice that Kristoff is ready to begin their happily ever after with a diamond ring.

The sequel is filled with several amazing songs, just as it’s filled with lessons essential for the little ones to learn. Let’s take a look at them below. Caution: mild spoilers ahead.

It’s Completely Okay for Boys to Talk about Their Feelings 

Frozen 2 features a couple of songs that are sure to be earworms in kids’ and adults’ ears alike. Into the Unknown, for one, is another Elsa ballad that could rival Let It Go. But, there’s another song, sung by Kristoff, that sends an important message for boys.

In the scene, Kristoff hires the help of Jack from the indigenous Northuldra people to propose to Anna. However, the proposal fails because Anna already left to help her sister find the voice calling out to her. After learning of her departure, Kristoff sings his feelings out in Lost in the Woods.

In what sounds like an ‘80s rock ballad, Kristoff—voiced by Broadway singer/actor Jonathan Groff—turns inward and fleshes out his feelings for Anna. He sings about feeling “lost in the woods” without her and wondering whether he’s even needed. Rarely do animated films for children, or even movies for adults, give boys an avenue to express their emotions. In this Frozen 2 scene, boys who see a heroic man like Kristoff sing a soulful ballad about his feelings will hopefully get the message that talking about your feelings isn’t girly and is, in fact, healthy.

The Spirit of Sisterhood is Valuable and Vital

In the first Frozen film, the value of sisterhood was heavily present and Disney continues this in the sequel. The movie showed how both Elsa and Anna are brave women who can stand up for themselves.

What’s more, although Kristoff is constantly trying to propose throughout the movie, it still focused more on Anna and Elsa’s love for each other. These two strong female leads consistently support each other, which they have done not just to give back to their parents who sacrificed their lives to make the sisters’ better, but also because of the genuine love between them.

Portraying powerful women on screen who are supportive of each, as against rivaling each other,  can be inspiring to little kids, especially to girls. In a world where women are almost constantly pitted against each other, standing up for and lifting one other up is an important lesson for little girls to learn.

If you haven’t taken your kids to see Frozen 2 yet, now’s the time to do so. It’s an entertaining way to introduce valuable life lessons to them, not to mention watching it can be a fun family bonding moment

Advice for Taking Over the Family Business

Operating a family business can be enjoyable as well as lucrative. Maintaining a family tradition like a pizza shop or a dry cleaning store provides a legacy as much as an income. However, when preparing to take over the family business, it is important to consider the transition from a business perspective and not just as a favor to relatives or a fun pastime.


Set Clear Boundaries


If you plan to take on the family business as a full owner rather than partner, then you will need to transition the company to your sole proprietorship. Consult an attorney about the documents that may need to be filed to make the business officially yours. This may be a good time to change the company name, replace some of the board members with others who share your vision and make modest adjustments to products and services. Although it is fine to accept advice or suggestions from the former family owners, drawing clear but polite boundaries now could prevent problems later.


Separate Personal Finances from the Business Budget


Don’t be tempted to treat a former family business as anything less than a professional endeavor. Combining personal finances with the business budget is not only unethical, but it could also be illegal in some respects. It also creates headaches come tax time. Keep separate sets of records and documents as well as accounts.


Seek Finance for Upgrades


If you discover that the company needs a cash injection to update operations or enhance the marketing plan, consider applying for a business loan. Financial institutions like offer business loans to family-owned enterprise. These can be used for many kinds of things the company may need as it changes hands from one generation to the next. Decades of profitable business history will help make it easy to get approval, making this an especially attractive opportunity for family-owned businesses.


Avoid Dramatic Changes


Although you may be tempted to change everything you don’t like about the company to suit your taste, avoid making rushed decisions. Take time to get familiar with the business. Review prior records and inspect operations to see how things are working. Unless there is a need for immediate repairs or updates to your business, don’t hurry to spend money or make big changes. There may be many effective aspects of the business that you don’t need to change.


Personalize the Business


To avoid alarming family owners who think the business is perfect, make small but significant changes at first to claim the company as your own. You may want to rebrand certain products, redecorate the shop, or design new business cards. These minor improvements will reinforce your ownership in a non-threatening way to the previous owners without being too overt. Choosing stationery, updating the restrooms, and planting a few shrubs outside may give the business a whole new look at minimal cost.


Taking ownership of a family business is a great way to apply creativity and give the company a fresh new image. Just make sure the transition is thorough, ethical, and complete to avoid problems down the road. This is a good time to find a mentor or join the local chamber of commerce to learn more about similar businesses in your area.

Essential Tips on How to Lessen Your Child’s Screen Time

Many parents are at fault for allowing their children to spend long hours in front of the television, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Kids are now addicted to mobile games and the internet, watching videos to keep from getting bored. This kind of lifestyle comes with many disadvantages: laziness, feebleness and being prone to tantrums. If you have kids that are going through screen addiction, then as a parent you need to intervene and take some drastic measures. It will help if you do not tolerate this habit because it can give you more significant problems in the future, which can significantly impact the growth and development cycle of your child. Here are some pointers to prevent your child from using gadgets. Contine reading

Here come the Tiger Tech Moms

Is your toddler coding yet? Booked into tech camp? Fluent in Java? You need to get with the program. Will Pavia meets Liz Bacelar, one of a new breed of (very) competitive mothers determined to raise the Mark Zuckerbergs of the future.

How do we make sure our children do not study a humanities subject at university? That is the question for the modern parent. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to study Shakespeare is irrelevant, frankly, when you consider the world as it is now and as we think it will be, 10 or 15 years hence, infested with technology and ruled by an oligarchy of T-shirted computer scientists.

Imagining this future, you wonder how your children will survive if they insist on getting a degree in art history or drama from a liberal arts university. We cannot stop them, but surely we may encourage our offspring to express themselves not in brick poetry or performance art, but in Python or Java? How can we steer them towards the profitable discipline of computer science, so they can support themselves and are not forced to live out their days peeling grapes for Mark Zuckerberg?

Liz Bacelar believes she has found the answer. We won’t know for sure until the ongoing beta test otherwise known as bringing up her children is completed, but things are looking pretty good so far.

Bacelar lives in a village called Ardsley, 20 miles up the Hudson Valley from New York, a place of white picket fences and well-maintained rockeries. She is the founder of a company called Decoded Fashion, which organises conferences and hackathons where fashionistas mingle with software wizards and discuss fashion-world problems that might be solved with an artfully programmed app.

Frequently, at these conferences, she encounters teenagers who are already financially self-sufficient, thanks to their ability to code. “I know at least a dozen children, 14 and under, who have businesses based on coding,” she says. At the least, “They would be bringing home $100,000 [£69,000] a year,” she says. It’s hard not to hear that and think it would be rather nice if your kids were bringing in that kind of money during their adolescence.

Bacelar nods. “Even if it’s not your passion, it’s something you should do as a means of recession-proofing your child,” she says.

I visit her on a humid afternoon. Bacelar’s six-year-old daughter, Gabi, has been running a lemonade stand on the front lawn; now she is waiting at the front door to usher me inside.

“Gabi’s about to go to Brazil,” says Bacelar. She will be staying on her grandmother’s farm. “The Silicon Valley crowd always send their kids to a farm, to a low-tech environment.” The idea is to give their children an extended screen break, off the grid, although Bacelar is not sure if her mother’s farm will conform to those specifications. “She will be travelling without me, which means all the rules I’m going to talk to you about will be broken,” she says.

When Bacelar is talking about tech, she tends to swear a lot – an affectation she adopted to fit in with the “brogrammers” she deals with in her job.

She grew up in southern Brazil, where her father ran a construction business and her mother had a travel agency. Her family moved, abruptly, to Connecticut when she was 17, so her mother could seek treatment for cancer. In college, Bacelar founded a local newspaper to cater for her city’s large Brazilian population. She moved on to work in national television news, covering politics and gritty crime stories.

“I had guns pulled on me many, many times,” she says. “I used to think, ‘Oh, if I lose an arm, I will win an award, it will be amazing. That sounds like success to me.’ Ha! Ha! But then I had Gabi and Isabela [her other daughter, two] and I thought, ‘I actually need my arms.’ ” So she ventured into tech.

Now 37, she seems the model of the entrepreneurial American immigrant: restless, questing – all those virtues extolled by Amy Chua in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. But Bacelar’s most recent metamorphosis, into a technological Tiger Mum, came only a couple of years ago, after she saw a YouTube video advertising GoldieBlox – toy construction kits for girls. “That’s where it all started,” she says.

The GoldieBlox company was founded by Debbie Sterling, a Californian mechanical engineer who wished to create the kind of toys for girls she never had. The commercial is like that old Honda advert, in which parts of a car roll and knock into each other, creating a domino effect: this time, the moving parts are tea sets and baby dolls and Wendy houses, and all the princess-themed accessories girls get given. They glide and crash through a suburban house, while a chorus of girls chant a rejigged version of the Beastie Boys song Girls. “You like to buy us pink toys/ And everything else is for boys,” they shout, demanding toys that will raise, “Girls to build a spaceship/ Girls to code a new app/ Girls to grow up knowing/ That they can engineer that.”

Bacelar watched it and thought of her daughter Gabi, who was then four, playing with her toy kitchen. “That was the beginning of everything for me,” she says. “I thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m going to work talking to these guys who code. I talk about a lack of women in tech every day, and I come home and bring her a pretty pink bike helmet and the Barbies.’ ”

So the first decree of the Tech Tiger Mum went out, to Gabi’s aunts and uncles. “I said: ‘Pretend that Gabi’s a boy. Give her blocks, give her balls, give her science kits.’ ”

She still wanted Gabi “to be able to express her femininity”, and she did not pull her out of ballet class, although she took a harder look at the slender career options offered by classical French dance. “I don’t know what kind of investment you are making with that,” she says.

She purged some of the pink from her daughter’s life and introduced a GoldieBlox kit and then Lego. “Gabi’s attitude changed completely,” she says. “The kind of things she was interested in shifted to STEM things [science, technology, engineering, maths].”

The next decree from the Tech Tigress was that Gabi needed to learn a musical instrument (fortunately, she took up the violin age three). Bacelar believes it improves one’s facility for mathematics. She also thinks that the commands and phrasing in sheet music are similar, in a sense, to the commands embedded in a line of computer code.

I call Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, who specialises in early learning, to ask if this is true. She says the evidence is mixed, at best, although there is at least some science to support Bacelar’s other supposition, that building toys or “manipulables” can inculcate spatial and mechanical skills in young children. “If you like them and you are better at them aged three, four and five, it builds out into elementary school,” she says. She is not sure it is clear the toys can generate “a STEM college person”, but, “building blocks and experience with puzzles does make a difference”.

Then, of course, there are the “educational” games and apps – more than 80,000 of them for preschool children. Hirsh-Pasek was the lead author on a recent paper that noted, “Children are in the midst of a vast, unplanned experiment,” in which “there is simply not the time, money or resources available to evaluate each app as it enters the market”. The paper set out four tests parents ought to apply to new apps: we should ask if our child is “actively” learning, rather than passively receiving instruction; if they find it meaningful and can connect the things they learn to things they know already; if it holds their attention; if it is “socially interactive” and allows the child to collaborate with parents or other children.

Bacelar believes that two apps, Kodable and Hopscotch, have helped Gabi build an aptitude for computer science at the ripe old age of six. She allows her daughter to access them under a strict screen-time regime: Gabi is allowed one hour today in front of any screen – television, computer, iPad – which she can divide up as she chooses. Social media and Minecraft are off the table until Gabi is ten, Bacelar says, and she is trying to keep her off Google. (“She keeps saying, ‘Mummy, what is goggo?’ ”)

“Any app, she has to make an argument what she will learn from it. She wants to play Candy Crush. I say, ‘It’s a waste of time. If you want to kill time, let’s go outside and play.’”

Gabi, like any child, does try to push the boundaries of how much screen time she has, admits Bacelar, especially when she sees her friends given constant access to their iPads. “I give her the rule, she protests, but you have to stick to it. Her friends don’t have those rules; it’s too much work for their parents. They’ve got the attitude, ‘I’ve been working all day, here’s an iPad, I want to have a conversation with my husband.’ But I am very competitive. I have my eye on the prize. I know if I work hard on this it will pay off in the long term.”

To set a good example, Bacelar turns off the router at weekends and she and her husband only use their phone to make calls. “I don’t want the kids to see us using screens either. Instead we do loads of reading.”

The screen-time rule has been relaxed for today’s demonstration of Tech Tiger Mothering. Sitting at the living-room table, Gabi opens up Kodable, an app in which players compose a series of directions to help a ball of blue fuzz negotiate a maze. Initially, it is just like telling a hapless tourist from Minnesota how to get to Leicester Square from Embankment. Straight, left, right, straight, left. Steadily, however, the mazes get harder, until you are effectively telling the chap from Minnesota how to find an affordable two-bedroom house in a good school district in south London. It’s complicated. Children become accustomed to entering conditional commands (if this, do this), clusters of commands, and command loops – in which the fuzz repeats one or more actions several times. Steadily, says Bacelar, players begin to grasp the principles of coding.

Contine reading

Is this the cleverest boy in the world?

Erik Finman felt school was holding him back. So he dropped out. At 15, he worked in Silicon Valley. Now 17, he’s been hired in London – and touted as the future of the internet. William Leith meets the superteen

The entrepreneur Erik Finman is telling me about money. “There’s US dollars, and UK pounds, and euros, and they’re backed by the government,” he says. “But the government can be unreliable. They can print however much they want. I don’t find that backing very serious, or very trustworthy. I like bitcoin.”

Finman, who has recently turned 17, used to be known as the “bitcoin boy”, because he once made $100,000 on a trade using the online currency. Trading bitcoins is one of his income streams. He has several, including Botangle, a start-up he founded, and SmartUp, a start-up that is very smart, and which Finman keeps trying to explain to me.

People are always telling stories about Erik Finman. For instance, he’s the future of the internet. That’s one story. He’s supersmart. That’s another. People say that he grew up in rural Idaho, that he dropped out of school, that he worked a couple of years in Silicon Valley. But hang on a minute – he started working in Silicon Valley at the age of 15? Actually, yes. Then he left because he didn’t like the “work-life balance”, which is tilted way too much towards work. Anyway, before that, he was into designing robots. But that was when he was, like, seven years old.

All true. When Mark Zuckerberg famously said, “Young people are just smarter” he was, in an important sense, right. After you’ve read this article, you’ll see why. But the thing about Erik Finman is that he makes the Zuckerberg generation look old. I mean, Zuckerberg is 31. Sean Parker is 36. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the kids who started Google, are – hard to believe, right? – in their forties. By definition, they knew what the world was like without Google. Erik Finman, of course, doesn’t. He just knows that it sounds pretty weird.

We’re still talking about how he trades bitcoins. “Like anything, it takes work, and then once you become good at it, it becomes easier,” he tells me. Is he good at it? “Yes.” He buys low and sells high, having made smart observations about patterns of volatility. Knowing that bitcoin isn’t actually real enables him to see that money itself isn’t real, something older people can’t quite get their heads around. He won’t tell me how much he’s made trading bitcoin. Or how much he makes from Botangle, although he uses that money as an emergency fund. For his contribution to SmartUp, he makes around £1,000 per week. At the moment, he rents a flat in West Hampstead.

The first time I saw Finman, he was at a forum for young entrepreneurs. He was one of the panel speakers. He often gives talks. People were complaining about school, and how lame it is. One guy, a teenage entrepreneur called James Anderson, said that he asked his teachers for a day off to meet some investors.

The teachers didn’t understand what he was talking about. Everybody in the room under 25 knew exactly what he was talking about; teachers have no idea. Worse: they try to fill your head with information that is useless, or possibly worse than useless. “I created Botangle to replace my teachers,” said Finman. “I solved my problem by dropping out of school.”

At this point, I had a light-bulb moment. The people who run the world don’t know how it works. That’s scary. Soon, the world will be taken over by kids. That’s scary, too. After the talk, Finman introduced me to his girlfriend, Catherine Moolenschot. She’s 21, and has just finished her second novel.

She’s a writer and motivational speaker from Melbourne. Finman met her there when he was visiting his brother Scott, an internet entrepreneur. The couple had a lot in common. For instance, they had both given talks at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Finman’s subject: “Be something for a day”. Moolenschot’s: “Living your funnel of greatness”.

The next day, I meet Finman in his London office. He works at Founders Forum, which is run by some ancient guys who were around at the time of the original dotcom boom, if you can imagine that: Frank Meehan, a brilliant coder who is on the board of Spotify, and who used to design mobile networks for Sony Ericsson; and Brent Hoberman, who sold his website for £577 million in 2005. You could describe the office as both extremely grand and very minimal. It overlooks Kensington Gardens. Finman takes me into a meeting room. He’s dressed very normcore – jumper and beige cotton trousers. Short hair, glasses.

“Everyone tells me, ‘Oh, I thought you’d be a quiet nerd’,” he says. “Actually, I’m very talkative, very expressive. I like to communicate ideas. And I constantly like to improve my storytelling skills. I have a plan in my mind.”

That plan is to change the way people think about education. His website, Botangle, connects people who want to learn stuff with people who want to teach stuff – a pedagogical dating agency. “My passion is: school needs to change. And right now, what school looks like today, I don’t think anyone should go.”

I ask him to tell me the story of his life.

“I absolutely hated school,” he says. “I went to eight different schools, and it was not fun. So I left. I moved to San Francisco. I started working on my site, Botangle. I really enjoyed San Francisco. Then I got sick of San Francisco. I started travelling the world. I eventually made my way to London, and I found Frank and Brent. And they shared my vision. That’s my one-minute pitch.”

Erik Finman was clearly too smart for school. Which suggests that soon, we will have to deal with a whole generation of kids who are too smart for school; people who understand the world better than their teachers, and who won’t want to sit in classrooms memorising the dates of ancient battles. And who will cater for them? People like Finman, of course.

He was born in 1998, the year Google started, the year the blog was invented. eBay already existed, and Shawn Fanning was about to launch Napster. So when Finman was a baby, CDs were dying. He never knew the world before file-sharing.

His parents, Paul and Lorna, met at Stanford. Both were doing PhDs: Paul in electrical engineering, Lorna in physics. They moved to Thousand Oaks, California, to work at Hughes Aircraft, and then to Boston. Then Paul and Lorna set up their own company. They were poor for a while. Then they set up their own tech company, and got rich. The story is that they bought a big house in Post Falls, Idaho, and started a llama farm.

Finman tells me about his parents. His dad “was your stereotypical reserved, nerdy guy. He would be, like, blowing stuff up. My dad’s name is Paul, and he’s from St Paul in Minnesota. So it’s kind of funny.” Lorna is Scottish. Her parents moved to Canada when she was a kid. She is an expert in telescopes.

Finman’s parents are inventors. They have invented devices with military applications – one that neutralises bombs by blocking the signals that cause them to detonate, and another for the remote control of drones.

“It amplifies the system. You know Google Loon?” I don’t, because Google Loon – a project to provide internet access to rural and remote areas, using balloons – is at the testing stage. But, says Finman, the concept is similar. In any case, the blocking device is “in every Humvee in the US military”. Hence the big house. Hence the llama farm.

He is the youngest of three brothers. Scott, now 29, was a prodigy. He went to the prestigious Johns Hopkins university, at 16; now he runs a recruiting business. Ross, also a prodigy, works in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Finman says he has more in common with Scott. Ross, he says, “has middle-child syndrome”.

“Put me in a robotics area, Ross’ll beat me,” Finman says. “Put me in a recruiting area, Scott will beat me. Put me in a marketing-type thing, or a community-building thing, I’ll beat the both of them.”

Both of his brothers were home-schooled. But Finman was forced to go to school when his parents’ business took off. This is the dark part of his life. “I just find schools have … a battle to the lowest,” he says. “Bullies. Just a cesspool of bad people. You know when you put two kids next to each other in primary school? You put the good kid next to the bad kid, and the good kid’s supposed to influence the bad kid, right? But it never works that way. The bad kid always influences the good kid.”

He tries to describe the incidents of bullying. “There was this one girl who, like, slapped me. If someone punched me … I’d try to avoid it. Like, words I can handle, right? But if someone’s punching and slapping me, I punch and slap back. Luckily, that happened only, like, two times. I let it go, one time. And then they would just continue to push and shove me. And then I just pushed and shoved back. And then it stopped. So.”

There is more. “Oh, there was a ton of verbal abuse. And I think that really affected me. From teachers! In fourth grade, everyone hated me. It really got me down for a long time. I was always honest about my feelings. Not in a passive-aggressive way. Just being myself. And no one liked that.”

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