Part 7 of GSE’s “What We Believe” Series:
Helping Children Learn Faster and Retain More
Achieving the very best outcomes in Education is all about team work. Parents play an essential role in the development of a child’s character, confidence, motivation and they help build personal responsibility for quality of schoolwork – all of which contribute to the child’s academic and personal well-being. If there is a disconnect between school and home then obstacles will slowly develop. Similarly if parents know how best to support their children, improved outcomes can be accelerated. By creating great partnerships and communication between parents and teachers we are helping children learn faster and retain more
We asked Greg Parry, CEO of Global services in Education about how parents can help.”
A love and value in reading begins at home. Right from birth, parents model good choices and if reading is valued in the home it is more likely to be valued by children. Don’t just read to your children however. Reading is an active process and we need to help children to learn the skills we take for granted as adults. Ask questions and discuss the stories. Stop at key junctures and reflect on the story out loud. When we reflect and ask questions out loud we are modelling the normal thought processes that good, critical readers use. Draw comparisons, identify connections, identify similarities. “Can you think of any friends who are like the main character in this book?” “Would you be angry if that happened to you?” “Did you like the ending?” “How could you make it different?” Children need to learn these active critical thinking processes. It doesn’t happen just by accident. Reading has always been an invaluable strategy in helping children learn faster and retain more.
2. Use daily experiences as learning opportunities
We often say to new teachers “Don’t steal a child’s learning.” What that means is that we should not give answers too easily. Prompt the child and allow them time to figure things out. Parents should prompt their child to ask the question ‘Why?’ Don’t give your child the answers; help work through the question with them. Coach them through the steps they may need to find the answer but let them do it. This is how children ‘learn how to learn’.
3. Know what your child is learning at school
Most schools publish a general outline of the content or topics being covered in advance. We don’t suggest parents take on the role of teacher but we do suggest you show an interest, ask your child questions and demonstrate value in what is happening at school. Flip through your child’s workbook and make some of these topics the discussion point over dinner. Help make the topics your child is learning at school, relevant at home and in their every day life. Listen to Shanna Parry talk ‘Best Practice in International Education’
4. Take care of the fundamentals
We all know that good sleep, nutritious food, good hygiene, exercise and regular medical care are important for our well being. They are absolutely essential to maximise learning. The brain cannot operate at its optimum if these key areas are not satisfied. Discuss these things with your child and help them realise how essential they are to good learning.
5. Recognise effort, not just outcome
We tend to focus on grades and we congratulate success but this is not always the very best strategy. We need to focus on the effort that is invested in achievement. So what if your child achieves an A when maybe the task was simple and required little effort. A child might work tirelessly to understand a concept that is very unique and challenging and their result was moving from a regular C to a B. That is significant. We need to change our mindset about what we reward as parents. Helping children learn faster and retain more includes a focus on effort. As adults we know that some things come naturally and other things require determination and tireless work. Let’s help children recognise the difference and reward them for it.
6. Build a great relationship with your teacher
Talk to your child’s teacher regularly and build a productive healthy relationship. Do not burden them but also don’t be a stranger. Be relevant, supportive and helpful in your child’s education by being the teacher’s most valuable partner in the education process.
7. Foster healthy motivations
Be aware of what best motivates your child and make sure it is healthy. If achievement avoids punishment, the child has an unhealthy motivation to do well. We want our children to value success for themselves and the opportunities it provides. The stick and carrot approach is definitely a short term risk for children. As adults, we do things well when we want to do it for ourselves and our own needs. Tap into their motivations and your child will grow and develop faster on their own.
8. Allow your child to fail
Do not underestimate the value in natural consequences. When we rescue children from potential failure they learn to seek out others to save them. This is a very unhealthy way to live our lives. Children need support and guidance but make them responsible for both their success and failures. This is how the real world works. Love and support does not mean avoidance of natural consequence.
9. Discipline and Respect begins at home
When values at home match values at school, discipline and good behaviour is much easier to achieve. We need to all be on the same page. Also we need to understand that sometimes children don’t respect and value others because they do not respect and value themselves. We need to invest in love, respect, modelling good behaviours of thoughtfulness and giving to others. This translates to good behaviours in all contexts.
10. Be a Cheerleader
Parents are a child’s biggest cheerleader and they notice. Helping children learn faster and retain more includes being the motivator. Remember it is not always the big things. “I noticed how you allowed your friend to walk through the door first. That was so respectful.” “I noticed how hard you worked on that assignment. You should be very proud of yourself.” “I noticed the beautiful manners you used at your friends house yesterday.” When we notice only the negative things our attention is in the wrong place. It may be a habit for us caring adults to work on the negatives because we aim to be constructive but energy is best spent on the things we value most.
Creating strong and authentic relationships between the school and parents is invaluable. We believe it is important between teachers and parents, management and parents as well as between all family stakeholders. Never underestimate the power of a school culture where all stakeholders depend on each other in the achievement of quality.
CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry
Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.
Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.
Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.
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