The school holidays are nearly over which means that our thoughts are turning to all things back to school. As well as shopping for new school uniform, book bags, school name tags, and everything else they need for the new school year, it’s also time to start thinking about how you can support your child’s new stage of learning at home.
As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher, and this remains true whether your child is five or 15. Statistics have shown over and over again that the more involved parents are in their child’s education, the more successful that child is likely to be. Want to support your child’s education but not sure where to start? Here are five whys that you can support your child’s learning at home:
Know Their Teachers
One of the first things you should do to support your child’s learning it to present home learning as a partnership with school learning. To do this, you need to get to know your child’s new teachers at the start of the school year. Introduce yourself to their new teacher, let them know that you want to be involved in their school career and encourage their learning, and ask them for their input where they feel your child could use extra support. This includes ensuring your child is signed up for any extra homework as well as any relevant extra-curricular activities.
Attend Parents Evenings
Another important aspect of engaging with your child’s teacher is to attend all parents evenings and share what you have been doing together at home as well as learning more about what they have learnt at school. Many parents forget that parents evening is a two way conversation where the teacher will want to hear from you as much as you want to hear from them. Keep the lines of dialogue between home and school open at all times, so that your child can reap the benefits of this engagement.
Ask About their Homework
Sending your child to their bedroom to complete their homework each evening simply isn’t’ enough. Your children are more likely to engage with their homework if you ask them about it and engage with it alongside them. And younger, primary-school age children are likely to need your parental support and input to help them establish a homework routine with confidence.
Set aside a designated period of time each day that is homework time and create a quiet and calm environment for completing homework. Make yourself available to answer any questions they might have and to offer support and encouragement. Younger children may even like you to sit alongside them.
Encourage Active Learning
Sitting down to read, write, and complete homework sheets is great. But active learning is essential too! Active learning involves asking and answering questions, solving problems and exploring interests. Building Lego models together, working out how many sweets in a jar or how tall a building is, and having dinner table debates about topical news are all great ways that you can encourage active learning at home. The more your child learns to think independently at home, the more confident they will be to ask and answer questions in the classroom. And this will only improve the quality of their learning and of their participation.
Read, Read and Read Some More
Finally, the best thing you can ever do for your child’s education is to read with them and encourage them to read. The ability to read well is an essential life skill. Children are more likely to develop a love for reading if they see their parents reading at home, and if their parents read alongside them. Your child is more likely to pick up a book if they have them in their home, so choose a few favourite story books that you display prominently, and regularly read together. Make reading fun and your child will want to do it again and again.
Another great way to encourage your child to read, and to vary the literature that they read, is to get them a library membership and teach them how to navigate the library. Libraries are wonderful places of learning and discovery: the whole world is in their books! Most libraries also offer fun reading schemes, extra-curricular clubs and shared interest groups ideal for helping your child to become independent learners with their own passions and interests.