May 31, 2020
Hi there, following on from last week's blog post on "Some things they don't tell you about parenting", I have decided to write a series on the topic just for a few more weeks. I do feel parenting is interesting to write about.
Research shows that school age children perform better in their studies when parents are actively involved in their education. Teachers also agree that parental engagement increases pupils progress. This could be support at home, reading to them even before they reach school age and being involved during their school life. I remember when my children were starting primary school and we had a home visit from one of the teachers who happens to be a phase leader. She visited to see my child in their home environment (or maybe to see if we really lived in the catchment area). I still remember the chat we had even though I had my few months old son next to me at the time. The teacher always mentioned to me whenever she saw me at school meeting, that she still remembers that meeting at my house! During the introductory session, my child was asked to write their name on a piece of paper and write the numbers one to ten. The teacher was pleased that the task was done with ease.
From then on, I was determined to keep on doing what I had began doing and gave the utmost educational support to my children and to the school. I applied for the School Governor role at the school; running for two terms and supporting three head teachers. It was a vital experience for me especially visiting the school premises and speaking to the teachers, senior management team and completing a summary report at the end of my visit, which I presented to the Head teacher before leaving the school building. I thoroughly enjoyed the activities concerning the "pupil's voice", especially when some pupils were selected from different achieving groups. They were willing to chat to me about school and areas for improvement; what worked well for them or not so well. For example, they suggested having more science posters as a display on the walls, in the class rooms (Maths and English posters were very well represented). I took the feedback to the Head Teacher at the time, of which he was grateful and advised I revisited in a few months time to see if any changes were made. It was a learning curve for me as having a growth mindset, I appreciated the opportunity I had and the feeling of giving back to my community which impacted not only my children but others.
Here are some key memories for me as a supporting parent in my children's education. I understand that not every parent is able to participate in all activities, but identifying what works for you, trying your best to achieve it and giving support to your child is what really matters.
A) School Runs - Ensure good attendance
I changed my working arrangements to start later in the day in order to take my kids to school. This gave me the opportunity to meet their friends along the way and speak to their friends' parents. I some times enjoyed chatting with other parents as it gave me some insight stories. Some days, I wasn't able to take them to school, I would take them to the breakfast club instead which was conveniently on the school premises so no need to travel far.
Other days I started work earlier and finished the day much earlier, in order to pick them up from school (parents need flexible working arrangements). I had the chance to see their teachers and quickly developed a good parent-teacher relationship; which was important to my children and I. I definitely saw the benefit of doing so and would highly recommend other parents do the same if possible.
B) Family involvement
Apart from the usual school Christmas play and occasional end of year class parties, I also enjoyed other school activities such as the Musical Soiree which gave the pupils opportunity to show case musical talents, my daughter's played the piano & violin and my son played the steel pan drum. It was fun to watch and record (of course!).
Whenever I received a letter from school regarding sporting events outside school, I was keen to volunteer, not only because I wanted to see what the kids were up to but also to get to know the teachers and other parents. I have volunteered and was selected (some times when there are too many parents, a selection process takes place) to volunteer in various school outings such as trips to the Science, History & Transport museums. I also visited castles such as Colchester castle and still remember the medieval times (e.g wells) that were on display.
In the summer, the school introduced a Family Picnic which didn't take place during the time my oldest child attended the school. I took this new idea on board and was happy to take part, again meeting & chatting with other parents and my children's friends who always felt free to come sit with us and enjoy meals together.
I remember attending Ancient Egyptian Day - Story of the Nile...it was lovely seeing the pupils dressed up in their different Egyptian costumes.
I also got involved with fund raising activities through the Parent Teachers Friends Association (PTFA). I gave up some Saturdays and sold at the tea & coffee stall, to raise money.
C) School Camping
For someone like me who has never been camping before, (as I prefer to sleep on the comfort of my bed) this was a big deal! The children were keen to take part and since we couldn't convince Dad to join in, I decided to brave it and took part with camping on the school field. There were other families who 'circled' the field with their camping gear, so it didn't feel too bad after all. Needless to mention, I came down with a cold the following day but I would not trade the experience for the world!
Lesson here is to get out of my comfort zone and try doing new things :)
In conclusion, I applaud all of you parents actively involved in your children's education, especially during the nursery and primary school age. As parents we are pleased when we raise happy children; we all want the best for our children after all. However, if any one of you reading this blog is struggling, please remember there is plenty of support out there. Don't feel isolated because we are all in this parenting journey together!
For other successful ones, what parenting tips would you share with the younger 'new' parents? Love is sharing.