The new term of school can be a stressful one for many students. While parents may feel a little helpless, there are plenty of things you can do to support your children, with research showing that children of all ages do better at school when parents are actively involved in their education. Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting CEO of charity Parentkind, shares her top tips on how you can help your children flourish at school...
1. Talk positively about education
"Children are like sponges, they soak up a huge amount from their family, friends and teachers, including your attitudes and how you act. Whether school was a good experience for you or not, talking positively about school and learning can raise a child's aspirations. Letting them know that there are no limits to what they can do and who they can be, can really encourage them to work hard and enjoy school. Getting them to school on time and regularly attending parents evening, are two ways that will show your child the value you place on their education."
2. Immerse yourself in school life
"Get to know your child's school, how it works, and understand how you can make a difference. Establishing a good relationship with teachers is a great way to find out how to support your child at home and also shows your child that you are interested in their school life and learning. There are lots of ways to engage with the school which suit both working parents and those whose time is more flexible.
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"These range from attending school plays, assemblies, helping the PTA/ Parent Council, volunteering to read with children and helping with the school trips. If attending the school is a bit trickier, there is lots you can do online, for example sign up to the school newsletter, app or Facebook page, stay up to speed with what's happening at the school by visiting the website, respond to surveys and communicate with the school in a way that suits you."
3. Bring learning in to everyday activities
"Demonstrating the importance of learning is a great way to encourage and support your child's education. There are lots of ways to introduce learning into everyday life. For example, ask your child to help you with gardening and give them a flower bed, patch or pot to look after; suggest they help you cook and get them reading the recipes and measuring ingredients; or if you are planning a day out, why not visit somewhere that ties in with a school topic? You could even show them the value of learning by trying something new yourself."
4. Read with your child
"Evidence shows that reading with your child and encouraging them to read for pleasure has an extremely positive impact. The government's Education Research Standards Team found 'a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment'. This includes reading to them as well as listening to them read to you. Whatever your child's age, there are lots of easy ways to make reading part of daily life – so as well as stories at bedtime, encourage them to read cereal packets, top trumps, magazines and joke books – they all count. If you're looking for new books, consider buying reading material focussed on their interests like football or a TV character and create a comfortable, distraction-free reading nest in the home. Finally, make sure your child sees you reading for pleasure too."
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5. Supporting with homework
"Supporting your child with their homework is a great way to show them you value their education. It can be as simple as making a good working environment at home, providing good snacks and refreshments, sitting with them or being easily contactable if they have any questions. This will not only help them, but it will allow you to feel more involved in what they are learning and their development. As a parent it's easy to get carried away... don't forget whose homework it is! Don't just give them the answers, allow them time and space to get things wrong and try again!
"We know some parents are concerned that they can't support their child properly with their homework as they aren't confident in their own skills or familiar with the way subjects are taught today. Don't worry, this is extremely common. Luckily there are many great online sites that will help you recap your fractions, times tables, biology and languages. Why not have fun learning together?"