Parents as primary candles

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So, the school holidays are relatively short. But that doesn’t mean that students who do no schoolwork over that time won’t fall behind with their learning.

Here’s what parents can do to help their kids:

1. If your child’s teacher didn’t send you information about what was learnt in the previous term, email them and ask them to. You can’t consolidate and reinforce anything in the home if you don’t know what was taught at school. Go through the concepts and ask your child what they had the most difficulty with or didn’t understand. Search the net for resources to make the concept clearer. Lots of great stuff is available, and lots of it is designed specifically for kids.

2. Ask your child what their learning goals are. They should have one for reading, writing, spelling, and probably other things too. If they can’t remember their goals, ask them if there’s something they’d like to get better at. If they aren’t sure, listen to them read, look at their writing and their Maths problem-solving, and give them some feedback. Choose one thing that you noticed that you will help them to improve on over the break. Keep it simple, measurable and achievable. Reassure your child that you will help them to master their goals.

3. Take them on interesting learning adventures. This might be a visit to the museum, the art gallery or the library. See a show, walk around some markets, or take them to a sports match. Take away their IPads, turn off Skype, and take them to the park.  Inevitably, when your child returns to school their teacher will ask them to write a recount about their holidays and they will have much more to reflect on if they’ve gotten out of the house and done some cool things. If you know what the learning focus is for the next term, try and find related excursions to pique your child’s interest early.

4. Discuss with your child what kind of a person they want to be when they grow up, how they want to serve the community. You can use this conversation to reinforce the importance and relevance of school, and have them excited about returning for the new term. I find that if the focus of the conversation is on what job your child wants to do when they grow up, it drifts towards valuing financial and material gains rather than personal characteristics and attributes. Plus, if your child is anything like I was as a child, what they want to do will change on a weekly basis anyway!

5. Talk casually to your child about their friendships. Don’t push too hard as, like little adults, children may like to keep some things private, but make sure it is known that you are there to talk to if wanted. Occasionally these conversations will result in a child divulging that they have been a victim of bullying. Clarify with your child to make sure that what happened was indeed bullying and not conflict (bullying is targeted/deliberate, repeated, and involves a power difference) and talk about how your child can report this to their teacher when back at school. Empower them by practising assertive communication for future incidents of victimisation and talk about safe places your child can escape to, as well as safe people your child can report to or ask for help.

6. Have fun! Get the balance right so that students don’t come to school more exhausted than when they left. Organise play dates with their friends, play board games together, and if you travel somewhere? Send a postcard to school: your child will get a kick out of the teacher reading it to the class when they go back into the classroom.

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