It’s a tough gig being a parent and it can get even tougher once they start school. All these questions start to whirl in our brains once school looms; how involved should I be? Should I do work with my child at home? WHAT work should I even be doing at home? Should I leave my child to find their own way or should I be helping them more? As a mum these questions go through my head all the time so I thought I’d write a blog post about it. The thing is I’m not only a mum but I’ve been a teacher for 10 years, a teacher who has been lucky enough to teach at top state and independent schools. I often wonder what a parent’s role in education is and should we be pushing at home or just leaving it completely to schools? In my experience it is both that enables a child to reach their full potential – it is the work that schools do WITH the support at home that propels a child to not only gain more confidence but also better marks… so here are my five top tips on how you can best support your child.
1. Read, write and ask questions.
A child spends 900 hours a year at school and 7,800 hours at home. If we read with our little ones for just 10-20 minutes a day and encourage literacy at home, then our children will find accessing the school curriculum so much easier. Literacy doesn’t have to be writing essays or reading novels it can be as easy as reading a recipe together or writing their own quiz for us to answer. I think sometimes we forget that reading is all around us and as our children read we can ask questions which will aid our children’s understanding even further.
2. Don’t only focus on what needs to be improved
It is human nature to focus on what needs to be improved. Get told our child isn’t great with numbers then we want to support that area. In the past I know children who have swapped drama club on a Saturday morning to work on their maths because a school report suggested they needed to improve. Of course, working on catching up is important but so is encouraging sport, drama, chess or anything else your child may love. You never know you may have the next Wimbledon champion on your hands and you don’t want to jeopardise that because you were trying to squeeze in some extra algebra.
3. Encourage problem solving
Problem solving is an easy skill to overlook. It’s often quicker to do it ourselves (I know how slow my two little ones move in the mornings and in order to get out of the house I end up doing everything for them!) Children need time to learn and problem solve and they can only do that if we don’t do everything for them… although I’m still working on applying this one in my household!
If we’re not sure how to support our children in one particular area, just ask! Ask their teacher, ask school, ask other parents, ask Google.
5. Have fun
The best learning is always done when it’s fun – when it’s child-led and encouragement is positive. If you can’t think how to make reading, writing or maths fun then apply it into your everyday life; read the shopping list, write a letter to Father Christmas, count the money in the piggy bank. Learning is all around us – we just need to look for it.