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How to keep your child engaged at school

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When kids start school they are usually incredibly eager to get there. The friendships, fun and socialisation drives them in a new and exciting way, allowing development to accelerate. By the time they reach adolescence however, we often see a completely different picture with teenagers often becoming disengaged. This time can cause a lot of concern for parents and teachers because as they progress through school, children and teens learn the social and academic skills that take them through into adult life.

Finding themselves

Building their identities at this time – in being comfortable with their friends, their academic competency and discovering in a positive way, ‘who they are’ – can also be a time when attention is distracted, risk-taking behaviours increase, and alcohol and substance abuse come to the forefront. It makes sense therefore that the time in school should be as inspiring and entertaining as possible to really keep our kids engaged in the right way, to help them flourish and develop into happy and fulfilled adults.

Connections to school

We know that if students feel an emotional connection to their school, they are more likely to try to meet expectations of them and to value and develop positive relationship with teachers and classmates. This connection generally leads to participation in school activities which means less time for anti social behaviour which in turn tends to lead to more positive long-term outcomes.

Without the emotional connection teenagers disengage from school, they are rejected by their school-based peers and tend to seek the companionship of other disengaged youth. This can lead to drug use and develop new relationships with peers who may shun academic success and encourage truancy which erodes any remaining connection to school and starts a cycle of alienation which continues into adulthood.

Steps to reconnect to school

keeping your child engaed at schoolIf you are reading this with instant low level stress just at the thought of your little baby turning into a teenager, the great news is there are very clear steps that you can take to nip the problem of disengagement in the bud. The key is to help your child to re connect with school. Studies show that there are 3 main ways to do this: Behaviourally, Emotionally and Intellectually.

Participation in academic activities turns on students behaviourally. A student is emotionally engaged when he or she identifies with their school and feels a sense of belonging there and values success in school; and intellectual engagement happens when he or she has strategies for learning and the ability to self-regulate academic pursuits. We can see from this that children can be motivated to look for positive solutions to problems and difficulties they face with parent and teacher support.

Foundations for the future

For any parent struggling with teenagers as highlighted in this piece, we strongly recommend research of the three points of behavioural, emotional, and intellectual engagement. They will really help your situation. Ultimately It’s a simple nurturing process and your relationship with the school is vital. In supporting your child’s academic success and connection to their school, you’ll help to create more positive reactions from the teachers and yourselves as parents. This builds the foundations for future confidence and the success and happiness of your child.

 

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About Libby Taylor

About Libby Taylor

"Libby is an experienced writer of radio and internet copy. A practicing buddhist for over 15 years, and a lover of good food, fashion and self help books, Libby loves to write about everything and anything, always with the intention of entertainment and surprise!"

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