Parenting, what a minefield! Now this one is a biggy for me! Education. Are they getting on ok at school? A child’s school journey will take up much of their childhood. To ensure they have the best possible start you want to support them through their education. So… how to go about this appropriately?
You don’t want to be peering through the classroom windows to check on the teacher, or have the school on speed dial demanding a daily update. On the other hand, parents should know that a child’s education isn’t just down to their teacher. Getting a balance of parental and school support is essential. Having a clear idea of how you can reinforce your child’s schooling will make it easier for everyone, most importantly your kids!
As a parent to two primary schoolers I try to get involved and take an active interest in their daily life. I have to admit that my biggest frustration is attempting to find out what they’ve been up to during the day. Inevitably they tell me “I can’t remember”, a response that I’m sure 90% of parents are all too familiar with.
How infuriating is that?!? You’ve just left the building, how do you not know what you’ve spent the last 6 hours doing! After many attempts I’ve found asking directed questions such as “what was the best thing about school today?” often promotes more of a response.
I try to take a little time every day to talk with my boys about the day’s activities. I find it helpful to be aware of their topic for the term. I then try to find exciting books to read together, fun outings for the weekends, and movies we can watch together while curling up with a bag of popcorn. It shouldn’t feel like homework (they get enough of that). It’s simply an opportunity to extend their learning experiences and promote conversations. Who knows if this is the right thing to do or not, but (like most parents) I need to feel like I’m doing what I can.
I was keen to find out if I was on the right track so I picked the brains of some of our Pobble teaching community to find out their top tips for parents. So here you have it, 10 top tips from actual, real life teachers that will help you become your child’s learning companion.
1) Read with your children!
All sorts of things…let them choose their own book to get excited about!
– Julia Smosley, secondary school teacher
2) Talk to children about their school day – show them you are interested.
Communicate with the teacher when needed – don’t wait until parents’ evening to talk about it all! Put together a homework timetable and designate a special place for homework to be done. Discuss homework with them and assist without doing it for them! Reinforce school learning through visits and trips on weekends and holidays.
– Bethan Evans, secondary school teacher @stbarnabasdb
3) Talk openly with your children on a daily basis about their day.
Let them explain to you what they have learned. Allowing them this time to explain in detail what they have done (whether this be a mathematical sum, science fact or something the teacher may have said) is vital in consolidating learning. What better way to embed knowledge than to teach somebody else. Be the pupil and allow your children to be the teacher. This only need be 5-10 mins on an evening and will allow your children to see the importance of communicating, listening and learning.
– Ryan Ellis, primary school teacher, Harrogate @RyanSporting
4) Talk to your children about what’s going on around them.
Whether they’re playing at home, at the shops or out and about, this will help them build vocabulary and communication skills – both essential to aid great literacy.
– Charlotte Davies, primary school teacher, Surrey @cedavies84
5) Young children love to hear the same stories again and again – why not keep them interesting by changing one small detail?
Involve your child as one of the characters or make up a sequel to a story you know and love well? What happened AFTER Cinderella married the prince? How did the Bear feel after the bear hunt? Did Goldilocks ever return to the house in the woods? Make stories up together and act them out.
–Emma Boon, primary school teacher @MrsEBoon
6) Communicate effectively with the class teacher.
Ask for further advice on how you can help your child. Keep them informed on things going on at home; events that you might not think are worth mentioning can very easily affect a child’s focus at school. Changes in behaviour are much easier to manage if we are aware of any reasons behind it. Find out the best way to keep in touch with the teacher throughout the year, would they prefer an email or a telephone call or a face-to- face meeting after school?
– Claire Arnolds, teacher
7) Routine is important when it comes to homework.
Motivating a child to do their reading or spellings after they’ve been at school all day can be tricky. Try to build time in each day to do it; keep that time consistent so they know it’s going to happen. Not too late in the day so they still have some energy left after school. Create a special spot for them to work in each time; a place at the table or a cushion on the floor, it doesn’t matter as long as they know that’s the homework spot.
– Alex Bynoe, primary school teacher
8) Learning opportunities are everywhere.
Ask them to help you by compiling a shopping list, counting out coins to pay with or measuring ingredients whilst you bake. They’ll be unaware they are practicing their English and maths skills!
– Jeannette Clough, teacher
9) Read with and to your child, and let them see you reading, too.
Take them to the library; take them to bookshops to browse…immerse your child in books!
–Rachel Preece-Dawson, primary school teacher @rpd1972
10) Take full advantage of parents evening – Firstly, make sure you attend.
This is great opportunity to gain an insight into what’s happening in school. Time is limited at parent teacher meetings. It’s very easy to get distracted and forget to mention important things. Make sure you cover everything and get the most out of the teacher’s time.
–Melanie Jefferson, primary school teacher