The start of your child’s school career is a milestone and an exciting time. But it can also be a bit unsettling and leaves parents unsure about what to expect.
The start of your child’s school career is a milestone and an exciting time. But it can also be a bit unsettling and leaves parents unsure about what to expect. You also need to be prepared for the fact that there is going to be a new person with authority in your child’s life – their teacher.
The most important thing to remember is that education is a partnership, and that it goes beyond just what happens for a couple of hours in the classroom.
The way to get the best results from your child’s school life is to stay involved and interested. Don’t think that learning only takes place in the classroom and that once you have paid the school fees, organised the transport and the school uniform, that your job is done. Your responsibility doesn’t end there.
Yes, the teacher will be mainly responsible for teaching sounds and numbers, and gradually reading and maths, but there is much that you as a parent or caregiver can and should do to support the child’s learning. This is true for all situations, but especially for schools where there are big classes and children are in a new environment, possibly learning in a language that is not their mother tongue.
Sometimes parents make the mistake of thinking that by putting their child into a better resourced or managed school, that the child’s education is taken care of. In actual fact, these children need even more support to cope with the demands of an unfamiliar environment and learning in a second language.
And everyone is capable of supporting their child’s learning. You do not have to have a high level of education yourself to be able to help your child.
It’s all about creating a home environment that is supportive and that listens to the child. The following simple activities will go a long way towards making the most of your child’s schooling:
• Have a 5 – 10 minute conversation every day with your child about what they learnt and experienced at school that day. Don’t make it too serious or let the child feel as if they are being interrogated – just chat. Showing an interest will motivate and encourage them.
• Speak in the language that you are comfortable with – it doesn’t have to be English. If you are concerned that your child needs to hear more English outside school, there are radio and TV programmes that you can tune in to. However, you should put a limit on how much television your child watches every day, and stick to it.
• Ask what homework they have been given by the teacher and ensure that they do it. Older siblings or other family members can also help.
• Check whether the teacher has written any notes for you to read and/or sign.
• Attend information meetings organised by the school and make use of opportunities to chat to your child’s teacher about their progress.
• Ensure that your child joins the local library and takes out books regularly. Read the books to them or with them on a daily basis, or tell them a story.