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Getting involved in your child’s education

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Getting involved in your child’s education may be the last thing on your mind in your overstretched and time squeezed lifestyle. However, primary school teachers are desperately trying to get the message through that they and your kids both need your help. In the long term, what you do or don’t do at home with your children can have an enormous impact on their educational achievements, much more so than what your job is, how much you earn or how qualified you are.

Two thirds of parents interviewed in a large study said that they would like to get more involved in their children’s education. The reasons they gave for not having already done so were work commitments, other childcare responsibilities and a lack of confidence in their own literacy and numeracy skills. With small shifts in perspective and some practical commitments all of these barriers can be overcome.Getting involved in your child's education

Make a commitment

Make a mental promise to yourself that you will prioritise your child’s learning at key stages in their lives. Periodically reminding yourself that you’ve made this commitment will help you make a break from constantly thinking about work.

When you find yourself worrying about your ‘to do’ list, stressful meetings, or difficult office dynamics remind yourself that you can’t actually do anything about right now and that the present moment is a great time to do something constructive and enjoyable that could make a really big difference in your son’s or daughter’s life.

Learn together

If the barrier to helping them is a lack of confidence in your own numeracy or literacy skills there are joint learning projects that you can do together. These have led to better classroom behaviour and also improved communication in families. Children get as much pleasure from seeing parents feel good about themselves as the other way around and will often delight in being part of a project where Mum or Dad takes the risk of learning alongside them. Ask your child’s teacher where you can find out about them.

Learning and rewards

Think about the best learning environment for your child and remember that they don’t all flourish in the same setting. Ask them what they think helps them concentrate: Is it an open door, a closed door, a chair by a window or something quietly playing in the background as they work. Plan some reward time for both of you after you have worked together.

Build learning into informal time so it doesn’t feel as though you’re having to find those extra half hours: Have rhyming and nonsense conversations around mealtimes; make up alphabet games like listing Dad’s most annoying habits that begin with G, or Granny’s best features that start with S! Anything to show that playing with language can be fun. Create imaginary worlds that involve addition and subtraction and share stories of what’s going well for you at work and for them at school, and what is feeling a bit challenging – so your kids get the message that it’s normal to find some things easier than others.

Arrange one-to-one timeGetting involved in your child's education

Twice a week make a space of at least twenty minutes for some one-to-one time with your child. You can negotiate with other family members about the best times to do this and plan in advance what they may need whether it’s being put to bed by a certain time, or a film night. In the one-to-one sessions take turns with your child to suggest things that you do, it could be reading together, exploring size and shape by making a model, playing some sport, cooking or doing something that the school has set. Be honest with your child: If you don’t know answers look things up together.

Don’t forget dads!

Dads in particular should remember that their involvement statistically leads to higher educational achievements and a more positive attitude: Children learn by what you do rather than what you say, so let your actions communicate your highest wishes for them.

Mums, meanwhile, should remind themselves that just finding ways to repeat the alphabet together will speed up their children’s reading progress much better than them knowing that you’ve got the highest qualification in your street, so remember that any effort is better than none.Getting involved in your child's education

Keep at it!

Remember you are not on your own: Often our kids’ educations looks like alien territory compared to the one we received, or – even worse – our most difficult subjects come back to haunt us. Luckily for us, there are so many resources online that we can look at, or you can ask your child’s teacher directly for guidance if you get stuck. And, if you realise that a week’s gone by and you’ve not put in the hours you promised you would, be gentle with yourself and make your commitment to start again.

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About Rebecca Robinson

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About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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