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“What is the one thing you’d like the parents of your students to know?”

This is the question Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney recently asked a group of teachers. Each of these experienced educators had a different perspective, but all agreed that …

you play a huge role in your child’s chances of school success.

Here’s some of their most commonly offered advice…

1. Build a positive partnership with your child’s teacher
Teachers and parents who work together can be a formidable team, but you can really let the side down if you’re careless with what you say to and about a teacher in your child’s presence. Teachers say that if there’s an issue, speak to your child’s teacher privately, not in front of your child. It’s rarely helpful to let your child hear your criticisms of a teacher, so even if you have your own views about the teacher’s personality, skill, judgements or appearance, remember your child has to spend many days and hours in that educator’s classroom. Let your child form his own opinions and help your child to respect the teacher’s role whenever you can.

2. Create order at home
If your child is disorganised at home, teachers tell us there is a fair chance that he’ll be disorganised at school too. To avoid messy desks, lost books and forgotten homework, set up a system at home where routine items are easily located. Establish a set spot for backpacks, shoes and notes that need to be signed. Teachers recommend having a centrally located calendar on which upcoming events are noted so that everyone knows what is going on. If your child has a phone, try using the ‘memo’ or calendar section and teach him how to use it so that he can become accountable for himself and his activities.

3. Make time at the end of the day
Studies show that just 10 minutes of undivided attention each day is all that kids need to feel connected to you. Before you check phone messages, read the mail or start organising dinner – teachers advise you to give your child some of your time. You can help your child to transition from school to home by creating a routine where you listen to your child talk about his day. This will show him that he can count on you and that the experiences and feelings of the day can be managed.

This small investment of time will encourage the development of emotional intelligence and maturity.

4. Fuel your child up for success
Kids need good food to ensure that their minds and bodies work properly. Teachers say that a well-balanced diet will maximise your child’s learning potential. A healthy breakfast and a lunchbox that’s filled with nourishing snacks are very important for kids of all ages. When each meal contains protein, your child will avoid ‘sugar highs’ that can affect concentration and behaviour. Teachers understand that pre-packaged food is convenient, but they also encourage parents to ensure that the nutritional value of their child’s weekly food intake is high.

5. Give your child a chance to relax
In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget that kids do not have the stamina of an adult. Tired kids find it hard hold it together at school and home, so teachers recommend that you try to maintain a schedule that allows your children to go to school rested. Include calm, peaceful times in your children’s afternoons and evenings so that they have the energy to concentrate, learn and behave well at school.

6. Remember…homework is for your child, not you
The only way a teacher can determine what your child knows is by receiving work that is truly his. By all means, encourage, support and show your child how to answer homework questions, but don’t do the work for him! Teachers tell us that they gauge what a child has learned and understood by what they are able to remember and complete independently.

Doing homework by themselves will help your children learn to be responsible for the quality of their work.

7. Have a Plan B for sick kids
What happened when you last went to work feeling unwell? Did you have the best day ever? Teachers say that asking kids to manage the demands of a challenging classroom when they are ill is unfair. They recommend that families have a system in place so that sick children can stay home and get better, both for their own sake and that of their classmates and teachers. Of course, you’ll know how to sensitively and sensibly manage a tummy ache that mysteriously appears on the morning of a spelling test, however teachers remind us that children can’t learn or behave as well as they might when they are sick. And if the teacher catches the bug, the whole class’ learning may be interrupted if the teacher has to take sick leave.

8. Let kids know it’s OK to ask questions
Teachers note that some children are so conscious of looking foolish in front of their teachers and peers that they’re afraid to raise their hand and ask a question in class. You can be a good role model for your kids and teach them to believe that no question is a dumb question. Kids do ask silly questions…sometimes over and over again… but that’s part of being a child. When you respect your child’s questions and encourage his efforts, teachers tell us that he is likely to be more willing to give unfamiliar things a try at school.

9.Be discerning about how your child spends his ‘down time’
The time children spend on ‘screens’ alarms many teachers. There’s no doubt that computers, smart phones and other devices are a great sources of information and enjoyment, but teachers also tell us that books still have value. They offer children quiet opportunities to explore using their imaginations and to expand their knowledge. Teachers encourage families to fill their homes with books that kids can read, look at and find answers to life’s many questions in. They also advise you to encourage your kids to join and borrow from the public or school library. This will empower them and expose them to a variety of resources that will broaden their horizon.

10. Find ways to tell your kids you love them
Teachers say that kids who are confident that they are loved often find is easy to be kind to others. You can remind your child of your love for him by tucking a note into his lunch box or sending him a text message to let him know that you are thinking of him. As they get older, your children might not want to hold your hand or give you a kiss as they walk through the school gate – but no matter how old they are, they will always need affirmations from you. You may need to be inventive as you find discreet ways to build your child’s confidence, but he most important thing to remember is that secure kids are usually happy kids…. and happy kids find it easier to learn and make friends.

© 2014 Kids First Children’s Services

Note from Nikki @ the MoM team …

Sonja, these tips are so good to read and fantastic that they’ve come straight from the teachers’ mouths.  To be honest …

If I’d known about these tips, my no. 2 would have been much happier about school all of last year.

Thanks for sharing these points. Nik x

  • No silly questions…sometimes when i am asked the same simple thing over and over, its easy to forget it is all a part of the learning curve.

    Reply

  • these are so true and keep them home intill they are no longer sick as they really cant learn when not well

    Reply

  • My daughter is in Uni at the moment training to become a teacher.
    Ive told her that she should keep a diary of funny things the kids say and do so that she can make it into a booklet at the end of the year. Imagine what a giggle it would be.

    Reply

  • Some really wonderful and valid tips!! I’ll beside to remember and put these tips to good use when my children start school!

    Reply

  • Some truly valid points, I like the idea of at least ten minutes of talk time about their day. We often do it at the dinner table and everyone shares highlights of the day.

    Reply

  • Great to read. Thanks for sharing, very interesting, something for me to work on

    Reply

  • Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply

  • These are really wonderful tips. Thanks.

    Reply

  • Some great tips. Some we do better than others but they are all worth reflecting on regularly and trying to improve on.

    Reply

  • This is such a great list.
    I follow quite a few but could try harder with others.
    Thanks for this.

    Reply

  • I love and agree with all of these tips. I’m also pretty satisfied that we follow them all. We’ve always had great relationships with my son’s teachers and I’ve seen first-hand how some kids struggle when their family situation is less than ideal. We’re very lucky that we can follow all of these tips, too I guess.

    Reply

  • Nice article Sonja, and here’s something I learned from my mum: ‘Stay Connected’
    Nothing’s more important than being there for our kids, and keeping good relationships with teachers is very wise.

    Reply

  • Great article Sonja. Having a partnership with the school is so important. The school seems more happy to help a struggling child when they know you are working with them.

    Reply

  • great tips! Bookmarking this page.

    Reply

  • Interesting article with good advice and tips – children do need down time as well.

    Reply

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