Parents play an important role in their child’s learning journey. The attitudes and ways of thinking that children experience at home can directly influence the attitudes and values that they bring to the classroom. When there is a consistency of messages between home and school, there is greater opportunity for children to grow. Here are five simple things that parents can do to improve their child’s learning.
1. Have hopes, dreams and ambitions for your child
When a parent holds high aspirations for their child, they do better at school. Aspirations are hopes, dreams, aims or ambitions.
If you show your child that you believe in their potential and tell them that you know they can succeed, it can help your child build confidence, set higher expectations for themselves and they can achieve better results at school.
- Let your child know that you think it’s important they do well at school.
- Ensure your child knows that you believe in their potential and abilities.
- Ask your child everyday what they learnt at school, or what they found interesting or fun at school.
- Talk to your child often about the dreams and plans they have for their future.
2. Help your child to enjoy learning
Children develop their attitudes and beliefs in their abilities from their parents. Characteristics such as tenacity, persistence, planning and organisation and the important ability to ask for help are often qualities children model from their parents.
If your child has a positive attitude to learning, they are more likely to go onto further study.
Encourage your child to learn from their mistakes and to keep trying, even if they find something difficult. Praise your child for their effort and progress. Be positive about school and respectful of teachers. Show interest in what happens at school and talk about what your child is learning.
Show your child how you plan, set goals and follow through when you start something. Children who master these kinds of skills have learned how to learn effectively – and these skills will not only help them during their years at school, but throughout the rest of their lives.
- Demonstrate a positive attitude and good work habits to your child.
- Talk with your child about what they are learning at school.
- Help your child to learn how to deal with distractions and to re-engage with their work.
- Help your child and encourage them to keep trying if they lack confidence or doubt themselves.
- Common things children say when they lack confidence could include:
- Praise your child for their effort and persistence when they are reading or doing homework.
- “I don’t know how to do that”
- “I can’t remember”
- “It’s too hard”
- “It’s boring”
3. Talk with your child about their day, everyday
Children who talk openly with their parents about their day, such as what happens at school and current age appropriate events have better educational outcomes. Other activities like discussing books, films or television programs or eating meals together around the table are also associated with better student reading performance in school.
- Talk with your child about what’s happening at school – activities, programs, what they are learning and even what happens in the playground.
- Watch age-appropriate TV with your child and talk about what you watch together.
- Have dinner at the table with the TV off and talk about what happened in everyone’s day.
- Talk with your child about history, news, or any subject that interests them.
- If you find it hard to get your child to talk to you about what is happening at school, try these ideas:
- Instead of asking, “How was school today?” ask, “What was fun? What was the best part of the day? What’s something new you learned today?”
- Take ideas from their homework and try to discuss those.
4. Read with your child
Parents that regularly read out loud with their children help them to do better at school. Reading with children is the best way to teach them how to read and to simply enjoy stories. Teach your child to love reading instead of focusing on teaching them the mechanics of how to read.
- Share your own stories with your child about your life.
- Read books or newspapers for enjoyment.
- Read and talk about books and stories with your child.
- Ask your child about their favourite character in a book or what they think might happen next in the story.
- Speak and tell stories in your native language – this is very beneficial to your child’s education and life experience.
5. Get involved with your child’s school and local community groups
Research suggests that when schools, families and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and have positive attitudes toward school. Being a part of the school community is one way to ensure that your child has all the support they need to reach their potential.
- Talk with your child’s teacher about their school work and learning goals.
- Meet with the school principal to discuss what you can do to help your child to get the most they can out of their schooling.
- Ask for help if you need it. There are many community groups and services to assist parents.
- Talk with other parents. Other parents can be a great support and you may find that the issues your child is having at school or home can be quite normal for their age.
Written by Sue Zweck, Pacific Lutheran College head of teaching and learning K-5