Globalisation and the Rise of the Modern Governess

January 28, 2016 | Leave a Comment

For many, the term ‘governess’ conjures up a romantic image of nineteenth century England; with its grand stately-homes, immaculate lawns and afternoon teas on the terrace, served from a silver salver. The governess was a trusted and respected member of the household staff who was paid to educate and instruct young ladies and gentlemen on the finer things in life; from reading, writing and arithmetic to poetry, etiquette and the arts. However, since the decline of the British Empire in the twentieth century, the luxury of a household governess has been largely the preserve of royalty…..until now.

In many parts of the world, including the UK, Russia and the Middle East, the demand for governesses is once again on the rise. This is down to many factors, the most important of which is probably globalisation.

In a highly globalised world, the competition for places in some of world’s top schools and universities has never been greater. With so many children competing for the same prize, a governess can offer a real advantage when it comes to education. Many modern governesses are highly qualified professionals, and can offer first-class tuition specifically tailored to a child’s particular needs; be they linguistic, musical or even cultural. Furthermore, in contrast to more traditional schooling, a governess is completely free of distractions and other classroom concerns.

The globalisation of business has also encouraged an increasingly international lifestyle, in which some families have multiple residences around the world. This situation has the potential to be highly disruptive to a child’s education. But, with a travelling tutor, in the form of a governess, the educational continuity of a child can be maintained wherever they are in the world.

Finally, with the globalisation of the world’s media, no one’s ever more than a Tweet away from complete global exposure. For high profile figures in society, this unwanted intrusion can be particularly damaging and, in some cases, even dangerous for their families. Compared to standard schooling, a discrete and professional governess can both educate and protect high profile children from the public eye.

At Harmony at Home International, we completely understand the role of the modern governess and offer a first class procurement service. Whatever your needs, we are committed to providing you with the perfect match. Do contact us, we will be pleased to help you find your perfect modern day Governess and Tutor.

By Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016

Tutor with child

Once upon a time….

January 22, 2016 | Leave a Comment

The Ancient Roots of Bedtime Stories

Next time you settle down to read a bedtime story to your child, you might want to reflect on the following tale….

Once upon a time, in a language now long extinct, your ancient ancestors may have shared the same, or very similar tales with their own children, as they huddled together around an open fire.

Results from a study, published this week, suggest that some of our most popular folktales, such as Beauty and the Beast and Jack and the Beanstalk, have ancient roots (pardon the pun!) which may date back to the Bronze Age—when giant beanstalks covered vast swathes of Europe! For many researchers this is a surprising result; as, previously, most traditional folktales were thought to have originated in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, these results point to an ancient oral tradition in which stories have been passed from one generation to the next for up to six thousand years. Although the characters and settings of the stories may have changed, the plots have remained largely intact; despite a huge diversification in the languages and cultures that now share them. It’s only in relatively recent times that these stories have been finally committed to paper.

As well as the great cultural and historical significance of this finding, folktales also have an important educational value. For example, storytelling is well known to have an important positive influence on language development and comprehension among young children. Many folktales also carry a strong moral message. For this reason, they continue to provide a huge source of inspiration to modern authors. For example, the plot of the Gruffalo is derived from a folktale from China. In an age of rapid social change and technological progress, it is comforting to know that the weird and wonderful imaginings of our ancient ancestors can still educate and entertain and, in some cases, scare the living daylights out of 21st century children!


Sara Graça da Silva, Jamshid J. Tehrani, 2016. Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales. Royal Society Open Science.

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016.


Government Consultation

January 15, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Wraparound Childcare and Holiday Clubs

Our recent article, Childcare Information for Parents, highlighted the lack of information currently available to parents regarding wraparound care (before and after school) and children’s holiday clubs. In both cases, this is largely down to a lack of provision. Well, perhaps someone in government has been listening, as the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has since announced a consultation in this area, which could give parents the ‘right to request’ wraparound childcare and holiday care for all children from Reception to Year 9. In order to help deliver on this request, childcare providers would have the ‘right to request’ the use of school facilities and buildings when the school is not using them.

The government is currently seeking the views of parents, carers and schools in order to help formulate their plans. Therefore, if you would like to contribute your views, please use the following link:

This consultation continues until the 29th of February 2016.

Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016.2015-10-25 12.39.07

Early Years Determinism

January 8, 2016 | Leave a Comment

How critical is Early Years Education?

There has been a dramatic shift in eduction funding in the United Kingdom in recent years, away from Higher Education towards Early Years (from age 0-3). This change of emphasis is based on the results of neurological research, which suggests that the Early Years are of critical importance for shaping long-term mental development. Indeed, the early years are frequently portrayed as a  short window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential. This has given rise to the term ‘Early Years Determinism’. The phrase ‘Foundation years’, coined by politicians in the UK, further reinforces the importance of early education. It suggests that, if the foundations are firm, the building has a good chance of success. However, if the foundations are bad, it also implies that the building is inevitably doomed to topple and fall, no matter how much effort you put into building it! This all places a lot of extra stress on parents, nannies and carers. The implication being that, if you fall short of expectations in the first three years of parenthood, then your child is condemned to a future of underachievement! Therefore, if your child can’t read the Financial Times by the time they start school, everything is lost! But, is the concept of Early Years Determinism based on reliable scientific evidence?

The most frequently cited evidence in support of Early Years Determinism comes from General Ceausescu’s Romania. After the downfall of Ceausescu, countries in the West were appalled by the extreme levels of child neglect evident within the nation’s state-run orphanages: where children were malnourished, unloved and imprisoned in their cots for up to 23 hours a day without any adult interaction or stimulation. There have been several scientific studies on the effects of this extreme neglect on the long-term development of normal cognitive function. The results of one of the most comprehensive studies revealed that, after several years of adoption in the West, 46% of children, who were deemed ‘globally intact’ (from a total of 54), continued to suffer significant functional impairment in at least one domain; particularly executive functioning, language and memory. However, despite this fact, 63% of all the children included in the study (totalling 85) went on to develop normal levels of cognitive function, as measured by IQ tests, after several years of adoption. This suggests that, even when a child is subjected to the most extreme levels of infant neglect, the human brain is still generally resilient enough to adapt and recover in later life.

Despite the appalling nature of this evidence, parents in the UK should probably take heart. Although most of us would like to be better parents, our shortcomings are almost certainly insignificant compared to the extreme levels of neglect evident in Ceausescu’s Romania. For example, you may not read to your child as frequently as you would like, but the effect of this ‘neglect’ is almost certainly negligible.

As a nation, we worry far too much about the targets and tick-boxes associated with 21st century Early Years Education. Instead we should be more concerned about giving our children the freedom to be children and to explore and discover the world for themselves, through social interaction and play. By developing curiosity and reasoning, through informal education and play, we can better equip our children to determine their own future potential.

If you would like to know more about our childcare services, parent consultancy or any of our courses, please get in touch today.

Written by Rob Hodgkison, Harmony at Home Ltd. All rights reserved, 2016

Photo 30-10-2012 10 20 10

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