How we can help our children as they head back to school
Most schools have gone back this week. It’s an exciting time for everyone.
Whether it is a new school, a new teacher or just a new exercise book, everything is start-again fresh. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a reception pupil or a seasoned Year 11 student, it takes a few days to settle into the new routine and in my experience it’s an anxious time for both parents and children.
As a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to strike the right balance of supporting your child at school without doing everything for them or getting overly involved. I think the important thing to remember is that school is their space. Of course you’ll want to keep a check on how they are getting on academically, make sure they are happy at school and show an interest in what they are doing but try to make sure that you help them grow towards independence from the start, both in their application to their learning as well as personally.
For example, if they haven’t done their homework, don’t rush to do it for them the night before.
Time management is an important lesson to learn, as are the consequences of not doing what you’ve been asked to do. A good way to avoid the homework battle is to ask the school if you can have a copy of the homework policy or timetable, that way you’ll be able to gently remind your child of their responsibility on the night they’ve received the work.
If they come home with a tear in their trousers be secretly pleased that they are having fun and letting off steam, then offer them a needle and thread, or show younger ones how you sew it up.
They need to take responsibility for their own uniform.
Get them to check their bag every night, you’ll be amazed at what students can find at the bottom of even the smallest bag and it is a really good habit to get into when they are older and will need to pack their bag with different books every day.
There are ways you can be involved with the school without being in your own child’s space. You could consider becoming a member of the PTA, to help raise much-needed funds, or become a Governor or Trustee. You could volunteer in another class or find out about employment opportunities in the school (we are always looking for mid-day supervisors).
If your work, family or other commitments mean that you can’t be at the school as much as you might like, may I offer one simple way of understanding what is going on at your child’s school?
Read the school policies.
All schools have a list of statutory policies, some of which must be published on the school website. Often schools will also have a good number of additional policies and protocols which are available for parents to read. These documents will give you a really good understanding of how the school works, who is responsible for what and what is expected of you and your child. I warn you that some of them are very long (and boring) but each one will enable you to feel part of what is going on at the school and help you support your child at home.
So next time, I’ll bring along a little-known school policy that I think is one of the most important for parents.
Emma Gray is a School Business Manager and also runs education blog workingsbm.com