Most of us want to support our children on their sometimes bumpy journey through the school system. None of us knows what the future might hold and how best to prepare them for the world of work. But we do know that achieving their full potential at school is a great starting point. Here are 5 essential ways to make sure you have your child’s back:
- Flex those muscles and take control. You only get one crack at parenthood (with each child anyway!) and you need to be up for the challenge. Feel empowered. Set yourself the task of gathering information. You should find out what is expected of your child’s weekly homework routine, reading programme, exam timetable and even familiarise yourself with the details of a particular exam board (this is essential if your child is sitting public examinations). Ask the right questions of your child’s class teacher and let google fill in the gaps. The trick is not to share this with your child as that can be frankly a bit weird and overwhelming for them. At this stage it’s best to just talk about playdates and what’s for dinner.
- Tackle any school concerns head-on. This is so much easier than it sounds if you let go of any residual anger towards the class teacher. Book a meeting and go on in. The best way to approach a problem is to have all the detail to hand – even if there is a hearsay issue, be specific about what you have heard and when. Be hugely positive. All of us need about 4 positives before we can take on board a negative so bear that in mind. Gush about how happy your child is at school, or how geography is particularly interesting or you love the reading books coming home. Whatever! And then ask for your teacher’s advice and bow to their experience. Make sure you come out with specific targets/changes that are going to take place and an idea of a second meeting date for an update on how the fixing is progressing.
- Organise your home (or at least some of it). Your child needs a clear workstation with everything they might need to hand. Aim for a quiet space that is thoughtfully laid-out, has a suitable chair and is well-lit. We invested in a cheap modern armchair and footstool for my youngest from ebay and he hasn’t looked back. Loves to sit in it, sometimes wrapped up in a blanket, while doing mental maths games on the iPad or devouring a David Walliams.
- Create a simple, workable timetable around your child. You are the expert and know when he or she is at their brightest (some children complete homework far better in the morning before school, although not my own because we are all properly asleep until the last minute). Have a daily reading programme set up – and you can happily read aloud to your child instead of their own reading if they are reluctant to. It’s more fun and works a treat as long as they can see the words as you speak them. If your timetable is a bit rubbish just re-do it a few days later when you’ve learnt what a sham it has turned out to be. It is essential to absolutely minimise the portion of the day spent on actual work. Squish it into tiny, carefully-planned pockets. Fresh air, freedom, play, getting together with friends and good old sleep are to be at the centre of anything you draw up.
- Smile and reassure your child all the time. Your aim is to show them that you are not in the slightest bit concerned about anything at all because you are on top of it and there is a great plan in place. Hide your bitten nails.