“The school’s best ally in the task of nurturing a student’s innate ‘urge to learn’ is, first and foremost, the parents,” said author Bernie Poole in his book, Education for an Information Age.
As a parent how do you become this type of reliable ally?
If you want to be a terrific parent, raising a happy, healthy child, the secret is to build a bond with your child so that they feel safe enough to talk to you about anything—including what happens in school.
Since your children spend most of their time in school, many of their concerns will be around what happens there, ranging from their relationships with others to academics.
While you might feel comfortable talking about domestic issues, you may not know enough about the school system to be of much help. This is because you can’t draw on your own experiences in school. You have to remember that education has progressed far beyond what was available when you were little. It’s frustrating for your child to confide in you when you can only offer vague advice because you’re only capable of making vague generalizations.
As a parent, how do you teach your children to love school and how do you empower your child to develop a lifelong love for learning that will carry them far in life?
Here are four suggestions:
- Get to know the teachers.
Participate as much as you can in parent-teacher meetings to get an understanding of their personalities, their educational philosophy, and their teaching methods. This will give you a broader understanding when your child raises an issue that involves one of the teachers. Since you have gotten to know the teacher, you can relate to what your child has to say about them.
- Get to know the school counselor.
If your child is having difficulty in school, arrange to spend time with your school’s counselor. As a parent, it’s easy to dismiss your child’s poor grades as sloth, indifference, or defiance and simply pressure them to try harder. But there may be deeper issues at work. Someone who has gone through the effort of spending several years to acquire a masters in school counseling will have a deeper understanding about why children fail to learn and will be able to diagnose a learning difficulty.
According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America: “Since difficulties with reading, writing and/or math are recognizable problems during the school years, the signs and symptoms of learning disabilities are most often diagnosed during that time. However, some individuals do not receive an evaluation until they are in post-secondary education or adults in the workforce. Other individuals with learning disabilities may never receive an evaluation and go through life never knowing why they have difficulties with academics and why they may be having problems in their jobs or in relationships with family and friends.”
- Get to know the school system.
On the surface of it, school has not changed much. The subjects are pretty much the same. However, when you look a little deeper, there is a radical shift in the education system. Not just the use of computers, but even the way traditional subjects are approached. For instance, when you learned math in school, you probably simply learned fundamental concepts by rote memory. Today there is an emphasis on teaching children the quantitative reasoning behind these concepts. By understanding the way subjects are now taught you will be able to understand your child’s academic challenges better and be more helpful when they ask you for advice on how to tackle things.
- Get to know your child.
It’s a mistake to assume that learning only takes place in school. By getting to know your child’s interests, you can create educational opportunities for them. The school may not have the budget to give your child exposure to the things your child is gifted in. School budgets tend to focus on developing linguistic and verbal intelligence (the humanities), logical intelligence (the STEM subjects), intrapersonal intelligence, (analyzing things) and kinesthetic intelligence (sports).They don’t emphasize cultivating spatial intelligence (art), musical intelligence (music and rhythm), interpersonal intelligence (people and communication), and naturalist intelligence (understanding the natural world). As a parent, you can arrange for extra classes outside of school if your child is gifted in something outside the scope of the school curriculum. For instance, if your child loves to dance, you can enroll them in children’s classes at a dance studio.
Bring Down The Berlin Wall
Most parents draw a line between what happens at home and what happens at school. They see the two worlds as separate and don’t make an effort to integrate the two domains. It’s as formidable as the Berlin Wall used to be. The wall forced East and West Germany to evolve as distinctly different cultures. It was only when the wall came down that the Germans became one people again.
It’s not enough as a parent to simply know what grades your child is getting and to make sure that they do homework. You have to find more ways to participate in your child’s academic growth. Instilling a love of learning in a child arises from a collaboration between parents and schools.