VALUE: Making education a priority
As a teacher, I have a huge responsibility in helping children learn – we practise and master literacy and numeracy skills, as well as develop their knowledge and understanding of the world around them through history, geography and science. We get active and promote movement skills through exercise and sport activities, while also getting creative and exploring expression through art, music, dance and drama. Teachers also help children develop invaluable social skills so they can interact appropriately with their peers, and live out their values in social situations. It is a huge task for teachers, especially considering they only spend approximately 30 hours a week with children at school. This is a generous allotment of time, considering there are many extra curricular elements to the school timetable such as assemblies, recess and lunch, Scripture or ethics, and so forth. In fact, there are 168 hours in a week, and about 15% of that is spent at school. With this break down of time, it would stand to reason that in fact parents are the primary educators in a child’s life, and as parents we should be largely responsible for their learning and development.
Unfortunately, during my teaching years (both studying and working), I have found that this quite often is not the case. There are many parents who forego these responsibilities and expect the teachers to become the sole educators of their children. On the other hand, there are also many parents who are just unsure of how they can be supporting their child’s education at home. If this is you, I’d love to share with you some ways you can actively support your child’s education at home:
Be Present – Physically and Mentally
It is important to make an effort to be present in your child’s education – from asking how their day was at school, to sitting down and engaging with them and their homework or projects (even if they leave it until the day before it is due!). Wherever possible, also try and make the most of opportunities to attend their school, whether it is presentation days or volunteer opportunities. This shows your child (and their teacher) that you have a keen interest in their education and can open up more possibilities for conversations around school and learning.
Talk to your Child’s Teacher
Being proactive in setting an appointment to meet your child’s teacher again shows you’re interested in your child’s learning, and want to partner with the teacher to help promote that. At this initial meeting, you can discuss your values (both about learning and in general) and see if your child’s teacher also reflects those values. Unfortunately, these won’t always line up, however at least talking with the teacher will help you gauge whether this will be happening or not. Tell the teacher you want to support your child’s learning, and the teacher will undoubtedly provide you with concrete examples of activities you can work on at home.
Read, read, read!
If nothing else, reading with your child at home each night, even for 5 minutes, will make a huge difference in their language development. Being able to read helps your child learn a whole range of other skills and knowledge as they can read questions and understanding content. No matter how old your child is, they can always learn to understand longer and more complex texts, so support your child’s education by reading with them at home. (Not sure how to choose books appropriate for your child or family? Check out our review on The Intentional Bookshelf to get started.)
Be Respectful of the Teacher
Before I mentioned that hopefully your child will have a teacher who shares the same values as you do. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. However, it is crucial that you always show respect to your child’s teacher, both to their face and while you’re at home. Making demeaning comments about your child’s teacher at home (like, “they’re an idiot!”) shows your child that you don’t respect them, which in turn will make your child wonder why should they. Whether you agree with the teacher’s values or not, they are spending that extra time each week teaching your child, and you want your child to get the most out of that time (rather than being disrespectful and not learning).
Create an Environment Conducive to Learning
Some parents limit screen time on weekdays after school to encourage their children to concentrate on homework. Others have a designated homework/work space set up in their home. Talk with your child about the best way to help them learn, as all children are different. Do they need to work in short bursts? Get a timer and set it for 10-15 minute blocks of time. Do they need a laptop or device? Provide a set amount of time for them to use it, and if necessary, discuss proper use of the device during the learning time (for example, discuss how it is to be used for homework tasks only, not Minecraft – unless that is a homework task!).
To set the proper learning environment, it is also important to talk with your child about the expectations of learning. Have a chat about what you want them to do during that time, and what they expect to be doing during that time. This makes the value of learning important in your family, as well as helps your child discuss how they feel about learning and how they might address their concerns (for example, if they say, “I expect that if I need help with a question I can come to mum or dad to ask”). This conversation shows you care about their learning and are always available to help if they need.
These are only some ways you can support your child’s education at home. Have you found any other ways that have worked in your household?
About The Author
Fi Morrison is a first-time mum to a cheeky 1-year-old boy whom she affectionately calls Starfish. She recently returned to work part-time as a Primary School teacher, teaching a Year 2 class. Around mummying and working, she also has a blog (Mumma Morrison) designed to help new mums on their motherhood journey. Fi and her family live in Sydney South.