How can I assist parents and carers help their child get the best from the school system? How can I promote good learning, and successful outcomes?
Well, I can provide the tools but ultimately it is up to your child and you. It is about conversation, it is about being aware of what goes on, not treating school as a convenient babysitting service. Talk to your child. Do not accept the response of what happened today at school, with 'Nothing'. Something did happen today, your child should have been provided with nuggets of information, perhaps a deeper understanding of a subject. Perhaps a new piece of information, something that when they set off from school in the morning, that they did not know about. Each day is a new day. While that new day builds on existing knowledge, it should also provide new topics, and new learning. Ask your child. And listen. Ask about who their teachers are. What are they like? What subjects did they do? How did the lesson go? Set these questions from the start, or even if you start to ask, each day your child will become aware that you are interested. This in turn will motivate your child.
Forget about your experiences that may be negative. Do not let the negativity of your education continue in your child. You may feel that school did nothing for you, and was a complete waste of time. Say that in front of your child, and you are giving that impression to your child that they can play truant, can mess about in class, and take the experience lightly. Think about what you say. While you are thinking, try to remember the positives of your education, perhaps a teacher that inspired you, a lesson that made you want to find out more, even the ability to read and write, to understand those words. I can promise you that if you try really, really hard you will be able to remember something. That new thing that you didn't know in the morning that you set off for school. That is what your child needs to know. It’s exciting, it is! Everyday gives the opportunity for new knowledge, for new information, for new understanding. And that is why good teachers do the job of teaching. We accept our responsibilities that everything that comes out of our mouths could influence a child.
I once read some research that stated every adult took something that happened at school, and carries that for the rest of their living days. In my case, it was a Maths teacher telling me that had I sat the 11+ examination, I would have failed. It was not said in a shouting fashion, but just matter of fact. While I do not use this as an excuse, I walked out of school with only 5 'O' levels, and climbed trees at Sixth Form College. I did not return to education until my late twenties, and finally completed my degree and post graduate teaching qualification in my thirties. It was not until this time, that I could think about what this Maths teacher had said to me, and I could say, 'No, actually, he is wrong'.
It is this that makes teaching such a responsible profession. That knowing that we as teachers can make such an impression. That anything negative can and is taken into the grey matter of the children we teach. We sometimes do not get it right, we make mistakes, but every teacher should remember that every word that we speak can influence a child for life. As parents and carers, it is our responsibility to ensure that only the positives influence our children, and if we are not happy, or aggrieved about any teacher, that we go into the school and question that negativity.