5 Things to Do Following Parent’s Evening
So, you’ve come out of parent’s evening knowing that your child could do with a bit of help, but not knowing where to start.
The great news is you’ve already taken a big step. Many studies show a strong link between parental involvement in a child’s learning and improved grades, social skills, and behaviour. Irrespective of income or socio-economic background, parents have the power to make a huge difference. The very fact that you’re reading this and looking for ways you can help shows that you’re on the right track and to try to help, we’ve pulled together a few suggestions for you.
1. Work with your teacher, not against them
It’s really important to remember that both you and your child’s teacher want the same thing and have your child’s best interests at heart. Creating a mutual trust and respect with your teacher can help ensure you are both pulling in the same direction.
Support the teacher and what they’re asking your child to do. If homework is set, encourage and help your child to complete it on time. Children will follow the example you set, so try to be positive about the teacher and subject in front of your child.
Maintaining good communication is key. If you think there are things going on at school or outside that are impacting your child’s performance or mood, then speak to the teacher. Sharing information can help both of you to better understand and assist in your child’s learning.
2. Try to generate interest in what your child is studying
The teacher will normally be more than happy to explain what your child is currently studying and what may be coming up in the future. So, if they’re about to start a particular topic, such as Ancient Egypt, see whether there are museums you can visit, TV shows you can watch or books you could read. Ask them questions when you’re driving in the car or walking around the shops. This could help your child engage with the topic as well as make it easier for you to help them with any homework outside of school.
3. Help with areas where they are struggling
During parents evening, you will have discovered how your child is performing in each of their subjects. The teacher may have highlighted some subjects where your child could improve or needs extra assistance but that can sometimes feel daunting. Knowing where to find resources to help your child reach their potential can really help
- As parents we often feel that our children are taught using completely different methods to when we were at school, and we worry that using a different method might confuse them. Schools and teachers are often very happy to offer special parent events where they explain how they teach a subject. If not, just ask them – they are normally very keen to encourage parental engagement and happy to oblige. Remember, everything you do to help your child, ultimately helps the teacher.
- Try to develop their passion for reading. Let them choose the books they want to read and set them a challenge to get through a number of pages or chapters during the week. Libraries are a great source for free books with a wide range on offer and usually offer great recommendations to help children to decide what to read. There are plenty of paid sources both on e-reader or physical books with companies like Usborne stimulating young minds with their wide range of books.
- There are also some great free resources available to support children through the curriculum. Search online for what you need help with and visit sites like BBC Bitesize where you’ll find lots of videos to help Home – BBC Bitesize
- You can make learning fun at home by playing educational games. Children love playing games – especially board and card games – and they often don’t realise that they are learning as they play. Some games are particularly well suited to helping with English such as Bananagrams and Scrabble, whilst some help with maths such as PLYT games. National Numeracy recommend playing games to help develop a positive attitude to maths whilst Orchard Toys have a number of different games for younger children. Children can also learn some other really helpful life skills such as resilience, winning and losing etc. by playing family games together.
- You may feel less comfortable assisting with certain subjects. Maths for example is an area where many parents do not feel as confident to help their child. You may prefer to do what 1/3 of parents do and find a one-to-one tutor to help your child. They can identify areas of weakness and offer support to help your child improve. PLYTIME Learning can offer primary maths tuition starting from just £12 per week.
4. Improve their confidence
Some children are more confident than others and you may find your teacher suggesting that your child needs to get involved or put their hand up more often. It may give the impression that they don’t know the answer, but it could be a lack of confidence. Not wanting to speak up in case they get the answer wrong in front of the whole class.
For many children, outer confidence is linked to how well they know the subject. If they are 100% sure they know the answer there is more chance they’ll put up their hand, but what if there isn’t a right or wrong answer? What if getting involved is about offering an opinion or a view?
Being able to think through problems and offer opinions is a great life skill. You can help by talking to them at home – maybe about something that’s happened at school, or on the news, or everyday topics. Ask them questions, encourage them to express their opinions. Offer different views so they consider the alternatives and give praise for trying.
Ask them how many times they put their hand up at school today. If they know you’re going to ask they might take that leap and give it a go. It may take time, but the more they do it, the easier it becomes.
5. Find ways to motivate your child
Sometimes children need some additional encouragement to try harder or to do extra work at home. It may be that you have to entice them by using some sort of reward system such as a star chart for finishing a book or completing their homework. Another idea is a day out if they get a good report from school. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It could even be choosing what they want to eat as a treat or letting them have the TV remote for the evening. Children often respond well to little enticements and it’s about finding out what works best for your child to encourage them to try a little bit harder.
It’s also important to incorporate other extra-curricular activities such as sport, music, cookery etc. Having time out doing other activities can help focus your child’s mind and re-energise them for when they come back to doing schoolwork.
Whatever you decide to do to help your child, being engaged or involved in any way with their education can make a big difference to them and their chances of success – something that every parent wants.
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