Let’s be honest at the outset of this article. For many of us in our childhood days, school was the last place we wanted to be each day.
- We hated getting up for school in the morning.
- We hated the prospect of sitting in a classroom for hours.
- We hated those lessons that meant nothing to us. Algebra, anyone?
- We hated bringing homework home, having to study when there was so much to do with our time.
For these, and the multitude of reasons you can think of yourselves, school sucked! For some of us, anyway. You may have enjoyed school, and getting an education was something you may have been grateful for. And that, let’s be honest, is how it should be.
But what about your kids? How do they feel about school? What is their attitude to learning?
- Do they share your negative/positive feelings about spending a good chunk of their week in the school environment?
- Do they bounce out of bed with joy, or do they fall out of bed with a sigh and a longing for more sleep?
- Do your kids live, breathe and dream of algebra, or is it as baffling to them as it was for most of us?
- Do your kids love bringing homework home or do they secretly hide it from you with the pretence that their teacher ‘forgot’ to give them any?
It’s worth knowing how your children feel, because as we all know, despite our experiences of school, education matters. It’s important for our overall learning, about life and the adult world. It’s important for getting a career, rising our prospects above and beyond the unemployment line. And it’s of utmost importance in earning money and having the ability to get a house, a car, and all those other things we want to do in life.
As the parent, therefore, you need to support your child’s learning. Despite your (possible) negative feelings towards your own schooling, you need to breed a more positive attitude towards learning at home, encouraging your child to do as well as he/she can, and giving them the tools to succeed.
How can you support your child’s learning?
There are so many ways.
- You should meet their teacher regularly to find out how your child is progressing. Attend those parent-teacher meetings, and pop in occasionally for a casual conversation. If there are any issues, you can work with your teacher in getting to the bottom of them. You can find out what your child is learning at school, and then support this learning at home. You can talk to the teacher about any issues you have noticed, be that social or academic, and work with the teacher on addressing anything that may be an obstacle to your child’s learning.
- You should encourage your child to complete their homework. While it may be a chore to them, you may be able to offer an incentive, such as an extra hour of tv or the opportunity to do something ‘more fun’ at the weekend. If they are struggling with their homework (perhaps that dreaded algebra again), you should take time out to help them. If you can find ways to make their homework more fun, perhaps by backing up their studies with games or YouTube videos, then this is a good way to complement their learning. Homework is a necessary evil for many kids, but your support and encouragement will make life easier for them.
- You should help your child prepare for tests and exams. As you will know from your experiences, the run-up to these academic challenges can be very stressful. Your intervention is crucial, as you can help them revise, reduce their test anxiety, and be a moral support and cheerleader. If they pass their test or exam, have a celebration. Show them that you care they have done well. This will spur them on to greatness later on. If they fail their test or exam, don’t come down too hard on them. If they tried their best, you should let them know that it’s okay to fail sometimes – it’s part of life – but look at the root cause of why they didn’t pass, and help them to do better next time.
- You should encourage your children to follow their dreams. Too many parents encourage their children to take subjects and follow paths that aren’t realistic or wanted by the child. They want their kids to go to university to study for high-flying academic careers, when the child is more interested in which sporting university to pick. Many parents resemble those ‘Dance Moms’ you see on the television, living out their dreams through the lives of their children, regardless of how the child feels. Don’t be those parents! Allow your children to follow their passions, and to take subjects that they will enjoy and not endure. Guide them on the right path, but let it be a path that will reward and benefit them, and not a path that ‘you think’ is right for them.
- You should get involved with your child’s school when possible. Go on those school trips when invited. Attend parent groups. Volunteer in the classroom. Bake cakes for school fairs. Attend concerts and other special events. When your child knows you are taking an active interest in their school, that might encourage them to take their school more seriously too!
- You should maintain a positive attitude toward learning. As the role model, you should refrain from bad mouthing your child’s teacher. You should curb the temptation to wax lyrical about your own school days (unless you loved them). You should consider taking the occasional course yourself, especially those that will better you in your life and career. And you should take an active interest in your child’s day, asking them questions about what they have learned, and engaging in conversations when your child wants to share their experiences with you. The more positive you are about learning, the more positive your child will be.
It’s your intervention that will make the world of difference; it will encourage them to get out of bed in the morning; it will encourage them to study hard; and it will encourage them to have the mindset that yes, education matters! Care for your child’s learning today, and you will better their future.
Thanks for reading!