You know good communication with your child’s teachers is important.
But you have a thousand things a day to take care of and between work, school and everybody’s extramural activities, the message from teachers to parents can sometimes get lost.
Jaqui Holly, a Grade 5 teacher at Riverside College in Cape Town, gives this advice on behalf of teachers: “While school plays a vital role in a child’s life, it’s the responsibility of all parties – parents, school and teachers – to ensure kids are getting the most out of their education."
Here are her top tips to parents.
1. Provide support
Offer words of encouragement and motivation, as this will build confidence – talking about the importance of school for their future will also provide them with the bigger picture. Making sure your child is on time for school each day will instil a sense of respect for rules and encourage discipline, and by testing their knowledge and asking questions about the things around them, you’ll help develop their enquiring mind.
Children thrive on routine, so set aside a specific time for homework. Make sure they have a quiet and organised space to work in, and offer assistance when appropriate. Reading together can also motivate an interest in the written word, as will encouraging them to read – everything from cereal boxes to road signs! If you encourage your child to solve problems in their everyday lives, they’ll learn to think out of the box, something which is often required for schoolwork.
3. Get involved
Show an interest in the school’s activities and volunteer to help out where you can – the more keen you are to play your part, the more excited your child will become about school. Creating good relationships with teachers will make communication easier and keep you better informed about your child’s performance, meaning you’ll be alerted sooner if your child experiences problems. Try to speak well of the school in front of your child. Any negative ideas parent may have about the school will only fuel the child’s resistance to learning. Remember, we are on the same team.
4. Rest and rejuvenation
Make sure your child has enough sleep each night, as this will improve concentration during the day. It’s also a good idea to minimise television viewing – although technology can be a fun way to relax, children also need to develop skills in other areas, such as motor skills and communication. Ask them about their day at school: did they learn anything new or was there anything that confused them? Testing their knowledge with games will also inspire interest in the subjects.
5. Try these games for learning:
Draw four bases on a piece of paper and then the “pitcher” selects a word. If the “batter” can spell it correctly, they move forward one base. If they can’t spell the word, they remain where they are. The child receives a point every time they pass home base.
Snowman or scarecrow (Hangman):
Snowman is a nonviolent version of hangman. On a wipe-off board or chalkboard, draw a snowman with a hat and three buttons. Like hangman, ask your child to guess the letters in the word, and erase a part of the snowman for each guess. The object is to guess the word before the snowman melts!
Make pairs of word cards. Flip the cards over and try to match the pairs – whoever has the most pairs wins.
Scrabble or 30 Seconds:
These games help to develop spelling skills and general knowledge. Best played as a family at weekends.