Like millions of parents across the UK, Rio and wife Kate have just come to the end of their second term as amateur teachers.
The retired footballer, who played teacher to three kids – Lorenz, 14, Tate, 12, and Tia, nine – while also raising new-born son Cree, admitted he’s a strict disciplinarian who isn’t afraid to be stern if his ‘students’ put a foot out of place during lesson time.
“I think I’ve learned a lot from Sir Alex Ferguson. I’ve not gone for the soft touch approach. It’s important to be disciplined with them during the school day, keeping on top of them,” he noted.
“We were having dinner and Kate said, ‘tell your dad what you told me the other day’. They didn’t want to so Kate said, ‘sometimes you’re quite stern, hard and sometimes even grumpy’.
“They said it’s not all the time but during the daytime, and I told them that’s when you’ve got to be working and I can’t be seen sitting around and joking with you. I told them I am stern when they’re meant to be working.”
The former England ace, who was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson at Man United for a then world record £30 million in 2002, is an ambassador for UEFA Champions League partner Santander which has partnered with Twinkl to create The Numbers Game, an interactive maths-based football game aimed at children aged 5 – 14.
The game is free to play and uses football to boost confidence in numeracy.
Ferdinand also admitted he has a new-found level of respect for teachers and their patience as he juggled his busy career and increased parenting commitments.
He said: “One of the biggest things we’ve learned to respect from teachers is their patience to deal with the kids. As a teacher, I’m a three out of 10 because of my lack of patience. But Kate – I give her nine out of 10.”
He went on to acknowledge that while home-schooling has its downsides, there have been positives as well, with children learning to work out, understand and manage their own timelines and their own schedules.
But the overall process has been tough for the Santander UK ambassador.
“The first lockdown was a real good learning curve. It was so hands-on whereas now it’s a lot smoother, but we’ve found it harder. The weather has played a big part, the kids’ schedules don’t marry up so we can’t do stuff together to break up the day.
“We’re lucky because we’ve got space, but a lot of people don’t. There are extra worries other families have that we don’t really have to deal with – in terms of work, lack of work, food etc… and there is so much pressure on these families, who are having all these extra problems let alone home-schooling.”
The Champions League-themed game [www.twinkl.co.uk/
Rio added: “The game is all about data these days and all of the analytical stuff you see at matches is absolutely helping kids with their numerical understanding.”
The Numbers Game platform was first developed by UEFA Champions League partner Santander in 2019 and forms a key part of the bank’s commitment to financial empowerment and literacy.