Little Jimmy is often late and his homework is hardly ever done. If he is given detention, his mother calls and complains, meaning that the school cannot discipline him accordingly.
The teachers are upset by the situation but, because Jimmy’s parents never attend parent meetings, they are not able to resolve the issue and Jimmy continues to feel he is being picked on at school. If parents don’t work together with the school, what use are the teachers’ efforts in creating a healthy environment for learning?
While school plays a vital role in a child’s life, it is the responsibility of all parties – parents, school and teachers – to ensure they’re getting the most out of their education. Jaqui Holly, Grade 5 teacher at Riverside College, a pre-primary, primary and high school based in Burgundy Estate, offers the following tips for parents:
Offer words of encouragement and motivation, as this will build confidence – talking about the importance of school for their future will also provide them with the bigger picture. Making sure your child is on time each day will instill a sense of respect for rules and encourage discipline, and by testing their knowledge and asking questions about the things around them, you’ll help to develop an enquiring mind.
Children thrive with routine, so set aside a specific time for homework. Make sure that they have a quiet and organised space to work in, and offer assistance where appropriate. Reading together can also motivate an interest in the written word, as will encouraging them to read – everything from cereal boxes to road signs! “If you encourage your child to solve problems in their everyday lives, they will learn to think out of the box, something which is often required for schoolwork,” suggests Holly, whose classes are capped at 24 learners to ensure individualised attention.
Show an interest in the school’s activities and volunteer to help out where you can – the more keen you are to play your part, the more excited your child will become about school. Creating good relationships with the teachers will make communication easier and keep you better informed about your child’s performance, meaning that you will be alerted sooner if your child experiences problems. Try to speak well of the school in front of your child: “any negative ideas the parent may have about the school will only fuel their resistance to learning,” says Holly. “Remember we are on the same team.”
Rest and rejuvenation
Make sure your child has enough sleep each night, as this will improve concentration during the day. It’s also a good idea to minimise television viewing – although technology can be a fun way to relax, children also need to develop skills in other areas, such as motor skills and communication. Ask them about their day at school; did they learn anything new or was there anything that confused them? Testing their knowledge with games will also inspire interest in the subjects.
Mrs Holly suggests the following games for learning:
- Spelling Baseball – Draw four bases on a piece of paper and then the ‘pitcher’ selects a word. If the ‘batter’ can spell it correctly, he moves forward one base. If they can’t spell the word, they remains where hey are. The child receives a point everytime they passes home base.
- Snowman or Scarecrow (Hangman) – Snowman is a nonviolent version of Hangman. On a wipe-off board or chalkboard, draw a snowman with a hat and three buttons. Like hangman, ask your child to guess the letters in the word, and erase a part of the snowman for each guess. (The object is to guess the word before the snowman melts!)
- Memory Game – Make pairs of word cards. Flip them over and try to match the pairs – whoever has the most pairs wins.
- Scrabble or 30 Seconds – these games help to develop spelling skills and general knowledge. Best played as a family over the weekends.