Pixie Van Dimple has a mission – which is to get the answers the kids want to hear!
Today we are interrogating the Kidcoach App founder and expert critical thinker Kavin Wadhar! We want to know what ‘critical thinking’ is and why it is that just ‘thinking’ is not enough! We want to hear more about Kavin’s Kidcoach App and how it can help our kids to develop skills so crucial to everyday life and businesses of the future!
We talk a lot about ‘critical thinking’ in our posts as a positive thing – maybe you could call it a deeper, more thoughtful analytical way of thinking? What do you think Kavin? It sounds a bit hard for our younger kids to understand so we are delighted that Kavin had a brilliant idea and decided to create some really fantastic resources to help parents help all their kids achieve this deeper level of thought. By creating clever questions and cue cards, parents can engage their children in really exciting, meaningful conversations and awaken their inner critical, thoughtful selves!
Once again since we are infiltrating the world of the young person, the preteen, so we must have lots of interesting things to say!
Well we DO have lots of interesting things to say, don’t we Pixie! In fact Kavin has LOTS of very very interesting things to say to all you parents and carers out there and of course, all you brilliant kids! Hey kids, come and join in the conversation…
Kavin, we are delighted to welcome you to Pixie Van Dimple’s, back by popular demand, Pixie’s ‘Information is OMG Key!’ Quick fire 20 Questions Q & A session – the kids are in charge!! We are extremely honoured to have this amazing opportunity to grill you about YOU and your work and hopes and dreams for the Kidcoach App! Are you ready Kavin ? These kids are very excited, full of ideas and raring to go – they have come up with some fabulous questions and are all ears!!
1, Can we ask you Kavin what inspired you to create the Kidcoach App?
It’s powered by two beliefs – the first being that children need a different set of softer more twenty first century skills to thrive – things like creativity, critical thinking and communication, which is not fully covered at school. Secondly the belief that we as parents have an incredible shaping role to help our kids build these key skills.
2. How do you go about creating an ‘App’ – does it involve coding?
Building an app is hard. Haaarrrddd!! Broadly it involves deciding what is going in it and then getting it built to spec. The first part deciding what goes in it comes largely from user research, so speaking to parents about what you would actually want to see in this app. A higher level example could be showing them a sketch on a piece of paper and then a clickable prototype putting screens in front of them – do these buttons make sense? And observing are the users doing what you expect them to do or not.
3. Did you make the app yourself? I think I answered that question in question 2! (Kavin is killing 2 birds with one stone here! Which is in fact an idiom – two for the price of one!! – that is just a sales promotion! )
4. What did you do before you created the Kidcoach App?
Before I became an App startup entrepreneur, I was very much the opposite, Mr Corporate spending 15 years working in Consulting and big multinational commercial corporate roles across strategy, marketing, business development, pricing and so on.
5. How did your previous job help you when you decided to start your business?
That commercial role helped me a degree in building the Kidcoach App because the industry was Education, so immediately I was surrounded by pedagogical concepts, ways of helping students learn, which is why I did the role to begin with – I should add I am really passionate about the education field.
6. Do you have to be clever to use the Kidcoach App?
So, I would say largely No, what we find is that you need to be 2 things, committed and confident, so committed meaning you must be committed to find the 5 minutes, a few times a week, to sit down and attempt a conversation with your child, perhaps using our App. I know only too well how hectic family life can be, and how time can slip away but when you think about it 5 minutes on the school run, in the car, while waiting in a queue for something, at the dinner table and so on, that probably is within the means of most of us, so we just require a little bit of commitment to be able to have those conversations.
And the second part is confident, so here I appreciate it can be a challenge for some parents, who have never had these kinds of quirky conversations with their children before, so within the App we do our utmost to guide and support, so every question is not just a question, its a conversation flashcard where we have guidance sentences for the parents, to orientate them about the nature of the conversation, what we are trying to teach our children in it, and suggested approaches, and we also have prompts for kids, so these are, if you like verbatim additional nudges and questions you can ask your child to move the conversation along and develop their thinking. Parents who are less confident report back to me that after using the App and having a few of these questions, using our prompts, they increase in their confidence and they are able to do things more by themselves afterwards.
7. Who thinks of the questions?
Me, largely me, I am the creator of the content behind all of this. I do put certain checks and balances in place however so we have an advisory board that I have built full of parenting and education experts. They really help me sense check the questions I am writing making sure they are fit and fun and are engaging make sure that they are age appropriate, to make sure that I am also being as concise but thought provoking in the language and words we used so they are are tremendously helpful in helping me craft and finesse the questions we come up with.
8.Do you think we will all turn into robots in the future?
No I don’t think so but I do think that technology will continue evolving and integrating into our lives and also eventually our bodies so not to be too scary here but I think there is a future where more of us will have bionic limbs or chips in our skin or maybe even one day some form of brain enhancement although that is particularly scary. I think it is almost inevitable the way technology is going but I also believe that technology will be used for good and not otherwise so I am optimistic about that.
9. Do you have a pet? No but we are thinking about getting a dog one day maybe.
10. What is the most interesting question you thought of?
I think it has to be would chocolate rain be a good or a bad thing? so I like this question because it presents as superfun but actually it can be great for developing critical thinking. So it presents as fun as most kids like chocolate, right? It is a silly concept, there is no such thing as chocolate rain but hey we might as well ask about it. So it is fun to engage with because it secondly it encourages us to think about the pros and cons. Oftentimes children have a gut reaction to something – yes or no or I don’t like that in this question, in the prompts that we use to encourage, Why would chocolate rain be good? Maybe because everyone gets free chocolate. Why would it be bad? Maybe because it makes everything brown and bland, so the question develops balanced thinking in a fun way.
11. What do you think about artificial intelligence- Does it have feelings? (Ha ha! A critical thinking question!)
Big question with so many nuances, my 30 thousand foot view however is that broadly AI is a force for good if we can use it well. The world is moving to more and more clever algorithms which is really what AI is. Right now, they are domain bound so the AI algorithms are written to optimise scheduling for people or operations for people or number analysis and so on, where the challenge will come when we have a broad AI which resembles a sentient being that can do all of the finesse judgements that us homo sapiens can do. That will be a more interesting ethical and practical conundrum.
13. Are you concerned about climate change and sustainability (Pixie’s new book is about plastic pollution)
Yes I am a concerned citizen – here I have written several environmentally focused questions for example how can we reduce plastic on the beaches? or what can we do to encourage people to recycle more ? because these questions have no right answer – there are lots of different options, many of which people have been trying, but I like to get kids thinking at a young age the impact that even they can make on an individual level, putting things in the bin, reducing the use of single plastic and so on. And who knows by having and sparking these conversations with a 6 year old today, maybe in 20 years they will work on a PhD on Earth that will crack or really help to solve climate change and make environmental protection happen.
14. Sometimes our parents are too busy to talk to us – they tell us to put our phones down, but what about them? how can we get their attention?
I think that they should just ask for it. Normally when children ask anything of parents, they are going to get it. If a child comes to a parent and says Mummy and daddy, can I have a chat with you they are going to put their phone down, surely? Children are actually craving this attention from us. It’s unusual for them to directly ask but often times they want it – parents will be well to be reminded to think about that – from a child’s point of view, if they ask, they will get and in a conversation context this is a great thing.
15. What jobs do you think we will be doing in the future?
So, nobody knows really. You know there’s that statistic that in 2030 85% of the jobs that will exist then will not have been invented now and that was from a report put together in 2017 so not too long ago. But if I was to guess, it might be along the lines of just to invent some crazy ones to show how crazy the world could go. Perhaps a genetic chef? Somebody who makes meals for an individual which are very much tailored to their DNA sequences taking in account their allergies and predispositions and so on. Or perhaps a space traffic controller? We have air traffic controllers but when we have more space shuttles and flights and space tourism and the like can you imagine having to be responsible for all those complicated trajectories? And the algorithms required to program that?
16. Do you think you will ever run out of questions?
That is a great question and not one I have contemplated before to be honest. I think No, partly because there is so much wonder and topics and curiosity in the world but also some of my questions link to the news, literally what is happening that week. At the time of writing this we have just had a heat wave as an example, so we had a fun question about 10 ways to cool down and the prompts in there encouraged children to think of really wacky and wonderful ways to cool down outside of the usual ice cream and what have you. So, there is always news – news is new and therefore questions can be new and unlimited.
17. What is your favourite music? Do you like rap music?
So, I am not a huge fan of rap music, I don’t mind a bit of hip hop, although in the past I have been known to boogie to some RnB and of late I got into urban salsa or latin pop. I do enjoy a bit of Spanish salsa-y type music mixed in with modern pop songs so think Shakira and the like.
18. We liked the song ‘Spaceman’ from Eurovision! Do you think we will all ever live in space or on another planet such as Mars? wouldn’t everyone look red??
If you follow Elon Musk and I know he is a bit eccentric at times, but I think from a mission point of view, he is spot on in that he wants everybody to get to Mars. Or rather he wants the human race to expand beyond planet Earth. And I think for me that makes a lot of sense. Ultimately at one point thousands and thousands of years or millions of years into the future, harm will come to planet Earth not to be too scaremongering – this is way into the future so nothing to worry about today but if we are being really long term in our thinking – at some point a comet will hit planet Earth or there will be some environmental disaster that we can’t control or some Covid point version 10 will come round and wipe everybody off the planet, again, way in the future, so don’t worry about it for now but it makes sense to hedge out bets and to colonise other planets. So yes, I think we will, and I think space exploration is a good idea.
19. How can we get the Kidcoach App (for the parents so we can get started!)
Getting the Kidcoach App is really fast and easy. Just search Kidcoach App in your Appstore – download it for free – 42 seconds later you will be able to start in your app after leaving your email and a password – totally for free. No payment or commitments required like any of these trials that trick you into subscription. You can choose to subscribe yourself later if you so wish but you get 2 weeks for free at the beginning. There are no risks, it is super fun, super easy, super-fast. I encourage you to give it a go! Just search Kidcoach App in your usual Appstore or check out the website www.kidcoach.app if you would like more details.
20. What will Kidcoach App look like in 5 years’ time? Could it go ‘VR’?
I am always thinking about the future of Kidcoach App and VR and AR is on the horizon. So is lots of voice technology like Alexa. So, I see a possible couple of routes, one might be more Alexa or Siri type integrations. Imagine asking your Alexa device at home for questions, having some read out to you. Now the thing here is that I don’t want that to replace a parent – I think what I do is very much enabling parents to have great conversations so Alexa needs to be assisted not a substitute for parents here and the second one is VR and AR more AR I think so imagine as a family you are walking around with your AR headset, you go into a restaurant – it know you are in a dining establishment and from the corner of your headset you are prompted about things about food, like if you invented, or if you had your own restaurant what would it be called and what would it serve?
Check out Kavin and the Kidcoach App on his website :https://www.kidcoach.app/
AND Kavin’s new book to accompany the App, Little Big Conversations here – ‘Get your kids talking and thinking in fast and fun ways’