What are the SKIPS Life Skills Books?
Fun with Good Citizenship and PSHE Subjects
The SKIPS Life Skill Books are parental engagement work books that convert good citizenship, former PSHE subjects and public policy objectives into fun educational work books with a central character that the children can relate to.
SKIPS acts an agent for behavioural change. We want to play our part in supporting schools, Government and the local authorities in fulfilling their mandate.
Accordingly, we choose the subject matter of the SKIPS Life Skills Books with the objective to address areas that (1) are a priority to Government and local authorities and (2) are beneficial to communities with a view to a creating a sustainable, prosperous future economy where citizens can thrive.
To this purpose, the books integrate corner stone messages of good citizenship/PSHE concepts and public policy objectives into crosswords, puzzle games and other fun content that trigger family communication and joint parent/pupil learning. The activities support the national curriculum and create hidden learning in the family.
The SKIPS method draws parents into to a joint learning process – and SKIPS acts as a bridge of communication in the relationship triangle of schools, parents and children.
Our Life Skills books are appropriate for any 4 and 5 grade pupil in all types of schools. Some of our books in the pipeline will be aimed also at older pupils (up to year 7).
These SKIPS books feature a central character to whom children can relate and who is closely linked to the educational target of the book. For example, the SKIPS Dennis to the Rescue recycling Book featured “Dennis the Dustcart” – a character that is now recognised by all families who received the books.
Our Life Skills Books are very effective in communicating public policy objectives in a fun and engaging manner – educating families and changing their behaviour. Through the participation of the family as a whole, the family supports and practices the values of the books thereby engaging families in a real world learning opportunity – the practical application of science with a clear societal benefit.
The efficacy of our books has been tested in trials and we have won awards for our campaigns involving the SKIPS Dennis to the Rescue Recycling book.
What difference will a Life Skills Book make in your school and community?
Our SKIPS educational work books trigger a new, different dialogue between child and parent as well as school and parent – parents are participating in homework and teachers and parents join forces – in areas that are important to society.
In the home itself, we literally bring learning back to the “kitchen table” – we value books and are purposefully not digital. The books are so successful and efficient because they involve the entire family in a fun learning process, integrating learning objectives into puzzles and games, while being academically accurate. The books bridge the gap between school and home – creating meaningful support of the curriculum in the family environment.
In regional campaigns the SKIPS Life Skills Books are distributed as part of a SKIPS Educational Programme, these programmes include best practice guides for schools and parents, family events and, in the case of Life Skills Books, lesson plans for the entire school year.
SKIPS Educational Objectives
Parental Support is the key ingredient for improving educational outcomes for children and educating families and communities in Life Skills.
Our SKIPS parental engagement workbooks empower the parents to understand what their children are learning at school and how they are learning it. It is our objective to:
• create positive, additional communication between school and family (including everyone who cares for the child – siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents and any other primary care giver), bridging any gaps between school and home;
• draw parents into the learning process and create hidden learning in the family;
• support the Literacy and Numeracy curriculum in the home environment;
• support the curriculum in relation to good citizenship and PHSE in the home environment;
• empower the schools and teacher to embed the material of our Life Skills Books into a range of subjects within the school;
• Change family practices towards homework and joint learning as well as life skills and to reach communities via a snow ball effect;
• raise pupil attainment over years to come;
• set children and families on a path of lifelong learning; and
• offer pupils from secondary schools an opportunity to participate in outreach and mentoring activities.
Cognitive science research endorses the SKIPS methodology: It has been established by US studies that parents with Maths anxiety transfer their anxiety to their children and, as a result, the child’s Maths performance actually falls if the Maths anxious parents help with the Maths homework. However, if the parents are equipped with the knowledge and confidence of supporting the required mathematical concept relevant for the exercise, the pupil’s Maths performance and attainment is raised and accelerated: Just one guided child/parent interaction in Maths accelerates the pupil progression by 3 (three) months in one academic year, particularly for children of Maths anxious parents (please refer to the Maths Anxiety and the Bedtime Math studies in our Research section.)
This thesis of the highly significant impact of properly guided parental engagement applies also to other subject matters such as good citizenship and the former PSHE subjects. This is how our Life Skills Books create hidden learning in the family: they translate public policy objectives into changed family practices – enhancing sound and sustainable societal practices in the community.
Please refer to our Research section on the home page for further reading.
Who Buys SKIPS Life Skills Books? What is the Cost?
Our books support parents, schools (state, private and charitable sector), public institutions and local authorities and are also distributed as part of either Engage Programmes (sponsored by independent schools) or Connect Programmes (sponsored by charities and private companies).
You can buy the Life Skills Books directly on our website.
We offer special pricing options for class and school packages. Please contact us to discuss general pricing options – we would be delighted to support your school.
Our Current Books and our Pipeline
Our First Title – SKIPS Recycling Book “Dennis to the Rescue”
Our SKIPS Recycling Book introduces families to the concept that learning about recycling can be fun and complex environmental issues are explained in an entertaining and easily accessible manner. The SKIPS recycling book is of course printed on recycled paper.
We have created ‘Dennis the Dustcart’ as a central character that children and parents associate with the refuse vehicles on the streets. Dennis acts as a guide for children and parents, taking them through a series of fun activities whilst embedding valuable low carbon learning objectives.
For example, lessons on how to ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ and its impact locally and globally are entrenched in every puzzle- these behaviours will reduce the depletion of virgin materials.
Associated family activities to ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ immediately equip the household to break bad habits and engage in sustainable behaviour. Many parents would not have learned about the low carbon goals at school as it would not have been in the national curriculum then.
When families change their recycling behaviour, they act as role models in the community. Thus the key components of best low carbon practices reach entire communities and create sustainable change to support the corner stones of a low carbon society. By bringing complex issues to the kitchen table and using education as a platform for change we facilitate low carbon objectives for the transformation to a low carbon society.
The content of the book has been endorsed by the Sustainable Schools Programme of the Birmingham City Council guided by the vision of its Green Commission. Our Recycling Book has been distributed under an award winning regional programme sponsored by Dennis Eagle, the Warwick-based manufacturer of refuse vehicles. Under this programme, conducted in 2015, SKIPS distributed a SKIPS Recycling Book, a total of 10,000 books, to every 10 year old in a state sector school in Birmingham and each of the schools received a corresponding environmental lesson plan. All children were given the opportunity to enter a free crossword competition to win an iPad. SKIPS won the 2015 Making Birmingham Greener & Healthier Award, Best Waste & Recycling Scheme, Education Establishment Category, for the Project and has now been shortlisted for additional UK awards.
Data for 4,500 Central Birmingham households (the first community evaluated) clearly shows the substantial impact of the SKIPS Recycling Book: Recycling rates increased significantly and 96% of respondents confirm increased recycling intent. Indeed, Birmingham City Council reported an increase of recycling weight by 28% in Central Birmingham (see the Interim Evaluation Report by Birmingham City Council in the Social Impact section).
Second Title – SKIPS Energy Water and Waste – “A Giant Change” (February 2016)
This book will be published in February 2016 and introduce families to the concept of a circular economy and a Sustainable Future by Saving Waste, Water and Energy.
The SKIPS Save Resources Book will empower families with a tool kit to take proactive decisions to reduce consumption and save money on energy and water, embedding principles of proper resource management into family homes and communities. It will address the effects of excessive energy and water consumption on the depletion of resources and introduce key factors for the creation of a circular economy. It will promote sustainable water and energy practices and will illustrate the fate of waste once it leaves the household – highlighting how waste can be diverted from landfills and used to generate electricity in energy recovery facilities. .
The multi-national Veolia is sponsoring the development of this book as well as a city-wide SKIPS Engage Programme for the City of Birmingham in the spring of 2016.
Third Title: Sustainable Transport and Road Safety – “Zero the Hero” (March 2016)
We are currently finalising this book and it is scheduled to be published in March 2016. Through a combination of fun content, exercises and games, this SKIPS Life Skills Book will be engaging the family with the key principles of sustainable transport and road safety.
The central character of the book will be “Zero, the Hero”, an Eco car that guides the family through Sustainable Transport and Road Safety practices from the perspective of a caring car that wishes to keep children safe on the roads and cares to protect the planet at the same time.
The reduction of carbon emissions is a top public policy priority and sustainable travel will achieve a greener and cleaner environment, minimising further impact on climate change. The book will highlight unsafe practices and guide children and parents to consider safer alternatives. A strong message throughout will encourage parents to lead by example thereby teaching their children and reducing rising fatalities. The parents are engaged in parental exercises through the book and the book will support safe speed.
Like all other Life Skills Books, the educational content will be endorsed and supported by appropriate public institutions.
We have an active pipeline for a range of SKIPS Life Skills Books that are in different project stages of development:
SKIPS Biodiversity Book (relevance of diverse animal and plant life for all citizens and schools)
SKIPS Childhood Resilience Book (Mental Health)
SKIPS Healthy Eating and Dentistry Book
SKIPS Childhood confidence (introducing concepts from the UN Charter of Rights for Children)
SKIPS Seminars on Sustainable Schools
SKIPS also offers Parental Engagement Seminars and Sustainable Schools Seminar Programmes. These SKIPS seminars are bespoke to one school or a group of schools joining forces (irrespective of any affiliation).
We would be delighted to develop a bespoke Sustainable Schools Seminar Programme for your school – please refer to the correct link for further information and the expected cost savings for your school.
Please do contact us to discuss your requirements and pricing options.
SKIPS and Local Schools and Communities – the heart of our operations
This is how we started – as a grass root company in Birmingham working with local schools.
At SKIPS we enjoy working with our local schools – they are the heart of the community and we highly appreciate the support of the SKIPS programmes by the school family.
It is our local schools, teachers, children and parents who give us valuable feedback and help us refine our SKIPS books. The SKIPS children and their families are the focus of our mission and we are proud to make a difference to our SKIPS families and SKIPS Schools.
We value the dialogue with all SKIPS schools and seek to interact with them regularly – trying to attend parental events and support the teachers and schools whenever possible. At the moment we are hosting the SKIPS Art Competition 2015 which will give children the opportunity to showcase their art on our website and win free SKIPS books for their class.
Some secondary pupils use the SKIPS books as an opportunity to mentor siblings or local primary school pupils – “mentoring partnerships” reward and benefit all participants significantly both in terms of academic skills and Numeracy and Literacy.
Testimonials from our SKIPS schools
Schools rate the quality of our books and their positive impact on parental engagement. The decisive factor for the schools to order the SKIPS books is the appreciation of their high quality, and their ability to unlock parental support.
We would be delighted to share additional feedback and testimonials from our schools.
The rationale for the SKIPS Parental Engagement Books
Educational research provides ample evidence that parental engagement is a crucial link in improving pupil attainment and changing family behaviour. SKIPS books are unique in their approach as they introduce curriculum based fun activities that trigger family communication and joint parent/pupil learning. We have won awards for our SKIPS methodology. Please refer to our Research section.
Social Impact Reporting and independent SKIPS Research
As part of our commitment to stakeholders, our communities, schools and sponsors, SKIPS is dedicated to measure and report the social impact of its operations and campaigns.
Every campaign is important to us and we collect data on the impact of our operations and include them in our annual reports.
We are currently conducting independent extensive research on the effectiveness of the programme in a community wide project in Wolverhampton – it involves 24,000 books and 12,000 children in 32 schools. The research parameters reflect the latest research such as a paper just published in the Science Journal.