Why you make the biggest difference to your child’s education
Parents are the single most important influence on their child’s school years – find out why and how you can make a difference.
Sending our children off to school is a huge step – for both us and them! Many parents can find this transition away from being their child’s sole educator and adviser as a challenging step, but it’s crucial to be aware that our children now need us more than ever. While your child’s teacher does, of course, have a major and very influential role to play, research has shown that it is a child’s parents who have the biggest impact on their education.
A 2012 study by researchers across three universities in the US found parental involvement a more powerful influence on students’ academic performance than the qualities of the school itself, while a 2010 study by two UK universities reported the effort put in by parents had a bigger impact on their children’s educational achievement than the effort expended by either teachers or the students themselves.
That might seem hard to believe, but it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that education is a continuous ongoing process with much of the learning occurring outside of the classroom and including intangible qualities far beyond literacy and numeracy – things such as motivation, curiosity, perseverance and problem solving – all of which is inspired and instilled by us as parents.
So what are some of the ways you can be involved and make a difference to your child’s education? Here are some ideas…
1. Encourage a passion for learning
Kids’ beliefs and attitudes about things like persistence, hard work, planning and organisation are shaped by the qualities they see in their parents, with these attitudes towards learning and study having a major impact on their success at school and the likelihood of going on to further education.
Aside from modelling a good work ethic and positive attitude to your own working life, there are many ways you can help your child foster a great attitude towards school, which include always talking positively about school and respectfully about teachers, regularly praising your child for their efforts and encouraging them to persist when things become challenging.
When they’re doing their homework, teach them how to block out distractions and focus and teach them to ask for help or seek additional assistance if they don’t understand something. Monitor their homework closely and encourage them to stay on top of it rather than leaving things until the last minute.
2. Share your hopes for your kids
While many parents nowadays can be wary of placing unnecessary pressure on their children, it’s still important to dream big for your kids, and let them know it. Research has found when a parent holds high dreams and aims for their kids, they perform better at school.
Be sure to let your child know you think it’s important they do well at school and most importantly, that you believe in their potential and ability.
Talking to your child about their hopes and dreams and plans for the future, without belittling their ideas or opinions, will give them the confidence to set higher expectations for themselves and challenge themselves as much as possible.
3. Get daily feedback
Children who are able to talk freely about their day with their parents have the best educational outcomes – this doesn’t just refer to the school day, but discussing other activities, such as what went on in the playground, books they’re reading, films or TV shows they’re watching, etc.
Ask your kids open-ended questions, such as ‘What was the best/worst part of your day?’ – and yes, this can sometimes take a little bit of repeated probing. Trying to make time for the family to come together at dinner to discuss the day is a great way to make this happen.
You can also ask your child’s teacher for a list of the work they’re covering every few weeks or so, or get some ideas from their homework, and ask questions based on what they’re learning.
4. Read to your kids
You’ve no doubt heard it before, but parents who read aloud regularly with their kids help them do better at school. It goes beyond simply teaching them how to read: it also teaches them to love books and enjoy stories. Stop and talk about what you’re reading and ask your child what they think will happen next. If you’re not comfortable reading yourself, you could try making up your own stories and retelling anecdotes from your childhood, or borrowing audio books from the library and following these along with your child.
5. Get involved in the school and community
Volunteering and getting involved with activities in school is not only a great way to meet new friends and fellow parents and gain a better understanding of your child’s school life, it will pay dividends for your child’s schooling on several levels.
Studies have indicated that when schools, families and community groups work together to support learning, children do better in school, are likely to stay in school longer, and have a more positive attitude toward school.
It can also be a productive way to let go of the ghosts of the past. School can be a place of unhappy childhood memories for some parents, but once you take those first steps through the gates, you can discover that you have the potential to help your child’s experience be a much better one.
There are plenty of ways to get involved, from helping out in the classroom, to attending school excursions and sports events, to volunteering with the P&C. Ask around and see what works for you.
So don’t think of your child’s school years as a time when you should be taking a back seat – your support, guidance and understanding is paramount to ensuring your child reaches their full potential and is able to achieve everything they’re capable of.
This post is written by Zoe Meunier.
Found on Kidspot