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22Aug
2011
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Making School a Successful Experience for Children and Parents

If we want our children to have a successful and fulfilling experience, we need to be aware of what we are doing, to optimise the process.

As a Mother of 4 wonderful Sons and a former Primary School teacher, I would like to offer you some useful tips on managing school life, so that the family benefits greatly from the whole experience. Setting the right example is crucial, as is promoting and practising positivity. Communication is very important, as well as explaining and teaching rules. I will emphasise self-care and nurture for all family members, as well as respectful discipline and having fun.

Academic success is one important aspect of schooling. However, I believe that physical, emotional, cognitive, social and linguistic development is just as vital to our children’s (and our) wellbeing. We can show our children that these aspects are essential, by immersing ourselves with these experiences. Some examples of this are:- Reading all kinds of books; playing table tennis each week; solving different puzzles; enjoying time with friends, and learning a second language.

If we can, for example, show perseverance while completing a project, work hard to build and finish a pergola (in a reasonable time frame), we are modelling values that our children can learn.

Taking our children on excursions occasionally to museums, libraries, aquariums and zoos, can help them to value learning.

When we speak respectfully to teachers and about them, we are setting a positive, collaborative tone for our children. They are then more likely to similarly show consideration, and be open to their teachers. If we have negative issues with the school, we need to actively deal with them, rather than just complaining to family and friends.

It is a great idea to get involved regularly with the school in some way, and to work with and communicate with teachers and other staff. There are many different ways to give assistance.

Regularly reading many books, both fiction and non-fiction, to our children is vital for their development. We can ask questions about the material, to check for understanding, and we can get them to find things on a page. They can also tell us what they predict will happen, further on in the book. After our child becomes an independent reader, this can be slowly diminished. It is still important for our children to see us reading books, newspapers and magazines, etc.

When our child is doing his/her homework, it’s wise to sit with him/her some of the time, to do our own tasks, and assist our child occasionally. Then our child is observing our efforts, focus and commitment to get things finished. It’s important for our child to do the homework him/herself. We can provide motivation, ask questions and give examples. It is vital that we encourage thinking, problem solving and curiosity at every opportunity. We need to prepare our child for life.

We can explain why rules are important at home and at school. Limiting screen time to one or two hours a day, and following the suggested classifications, will help to allow our children to experience a more gradual and appropriate maturation. If our child complains about the rules at school, we can assist our child, through discussion, to understand the need for rules, which may be different from the home rules.

Children (and parents) need time to play freely, as well as time to do absolutely nothing. They will also benefit greatly from lots of exercise, stimulation, spending time with other children (younger and older), and adults. A great time for the whole family to communicate with each other, and build up relationships, is at the dinner table. I would recommend that parents make every effort to organise this as much as possible. If all distractions such as mobile phones, the TV and electronic games are turned off, and kept away from the dinner table, the atmosphere will be greatly improved.

We can nurture our children by spending time with them, giving lots of affection and plenty of attention. This needs to be varied E.g. one-on-one (with each parent), and as a family. If we spend regular time as a couple, we will have more energy and enthusiasm with our children.

All children (and parents) have unique talents and interests, which can be fostered, in and out of school, so that they (and we) can feel successful and fulfilled. Our job is to help them to reach their potential, and to have purpose and meaning in their lives. We can better do this, if we observe them closely, and have interesting conversations with them.

It’s important that we understand and accept that children develop at different rates, in different areas; cognitively, socially, emotionally, physically and linguistically.

We need to be our child’s advocate, when he has been treated unjustly, and he is ill-equipped to stand up for himself. I remember my son being very excited when he was chosen for a team at school, and then being dropped the next day. I really felt for him. It turned out that a child, who was supposedly more talented for that team, had been away during the trials, and he was put in the team, instead of my son. I was prepared to talk to the sports teacher, but my son didn’t want that to happen, so I respected his wishes, and provided a listening and empathetic ear instead.

If for some reason our child doesn’t want to go to school, we need to investigate and take action. It is equally important to expect him or her to go, and to have a positive and enthusiastic attitude toward school. We don’t always need to do a full investigation just before going to school, unless the child is obviously unwell. This can be done in the evenings or on the weekend.

An authoritative style of parenting, which is based on mutual respect, co-operation, shared responsibility, self-discipline and social equality, will greatly increase the chances of our children becoming considerate, kind, independent, confident, well behaved, successful and competent young people. It is not helpful to push our children to achieve. We can inspire them to make the most of their schooling, and encourage them to look ahead, and make plans for the future. Bribing our children to achieve is undesirable, as we want them to develop their natural curiosity and love of learning.

A balanced lifestyle is critical for children and parents so that we can all experience plenty of fun and pleasure. We can organise, with input from our children, a variety of activities, in and away from home. Creative, sporting and musical pursuits can greatly enrich all our lives. Spending lots of time communing with nature is also vital.