When families and schools work together, children are more likely to build good relationships and do better at school. There are simple things you can do at home, and with your child’s school, to help your child to be their best.
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What you can do
Parents play a big role in helping their children to be confident and enthusiastic learners by encouraging them to believe they can do well at school, and that trying hard and doing their best is important. Parents can also assist their child with organisation, navigating challenges and solving problems.
Here are some tips and ideas about the little things families can do in their daily routines to help their child’s learning.
Aim high – believe in your child’s potential
When a parent holds high aspirations for their child, they do better at school.
Showing your child that you believe in them and their ability to do their best at school is really powerful – it builds children’s confidence and helps them see themselves as someone who can do well.
Research shows that what parents believe about their child’s ability to do well at school is linked to their actual achievements.
- Praise your child for trying hard (not just for doing well) and celebrate little successes.
- Aim high – let your child know you think that learning and school are important and that trying hard matters.
- Discuss children’s dreams for the future with them– this is important at any age! Talk to your child often about their hopes or ideas for the future.
Talk with and listen to your child
Spending time talking with your child helps them to learn and grow.
Simple ways to do this include talking about what they’re learning at school and what they enjoy or find difficult. Listening is a really important job!
You can also reminisce and chat about the times your family has spent together, your own childhood, or talk about big ideas – such as the things you and your family believe in, your culture, science and nature or important issues that are happening in the community or the country.
- Talk with your child about what’s happening at school. Ask about activities, topics, what they are learning or what they found interesting or fun in their day. Talking like this helps them believe in themselves and gain confidence.
- Ask specific questions to out draw information – instead of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, try open questions that encourage discussion.
- How do you think you went with your maths or reading today?
- What made you laugh today?
- Who did you see being a helper today?
- What was the most interesting thing you did today?
- Keep trying, even if the answers are ‘good’or ‘nothing’! Find out what your child’s favourite subjects are and what they are learning about. Try to make connections between what they are learning at school and everyday life, such as practicing reading and counting at the shops.
- Talk with your child about current issues and ideas. Exploring big ideas together is a way to get children thinking critically and being curious about how things work. Children can enjoy learning and putting their thoughts into words.
- Ask about friendships and relationships at school. Get to know who their friends are and how they spend their break times.
Learn about the world together
Parents, more than anyone, can help their children enjoy learning new things. Children learn by exploring and finding new interests. Children can learn about the world doing everyday things like cooking, shopping, cleaning, gardening, or playing sport. There are plenty of free things to do too.
- Give your child the opportunity to discover new things, to explore new interests, and to participate in their family, community and culture. These all help to develop a positive attitude towards learning and school.
- Talk about your own learning – tell your child about what you are currently learning or what you remember about being their age. Share the message that learning is important at all ages. Explain how you plan, solve problems and think about the future.
- Head out to libraries, museums, free concerts, sporting and cultural events together. Check out activities for children such as after school programs, holiday activities and free community programs.
Make reading a family affair
Reading to children from a very early age has a lasting positive effect. Reading together can broaden vocabulary, create an environment for learning together and give you things talk about later. Having your child read to you is also a safe and nurturing way for children to practise and learn.
- Tell your own stories. Share stories from or about your own family with your child. Tell the stories that have been passed down for generations or that are part of your cultural heritage.
- Read and talk about books and stories with your child. Ask about their favourite character in a book or what they think might happen next in the story. Ask what they liked or didn’t like about a story.
- Shared reading activities do not have to be in English to help with learning. If you speak a different language at home, speaking and telling stories in your first language is excellent for your child’s education and life experience.
- Praise your child when they make an effort and keep trying, when reading. You could consider setting small milestones for reluctant readers, and involving your child in choosing a book or content that appeals to them.
- Ask your child’s teacher or school for advice or ways to support your child’s enjoyment and skill development in reading.
- These days, we read more than just books – reading on hand-held devices (eg iPads) also helps to familiarise your child with technology as well as build their reading skills.
Create a good homework environment
There are a couple of important things you can do to get the most out of homework. One is building your child’s confidence and the other is to support them to learn on their own. The ways to help them will change as they get older.
- Create space – children benefit from organisation. Create a special space for doing things like homework and try to make homework a calm experience.
- Be available to help if your child has a question. If you are helping your child, try to make it a positive time that you share together and minimise stress related to homework. Focus on building their confidence, rather than ‘having the answer’.
- Talk to your child’s teacher about homework, and find out what the school’s guidelines are. It’s good to have rules about homework, but it’s confusing for children to be expected to do more or less than asked at school.
- Praise your child for their effort and persistence when they are doing homework.
Support good relationships
Parents can help children develop friendships and get along with other people, including their teacher.
Children tend to do better when they get on with their teacher and classmates. Children also tend to enjoy learning and being at school when they have strong friendships.
- Be positive about school and respectful of teachers – help your child to build and maintain a positive relationship with their teacher.
- Support good relationships with friends and classmates. Skills that help friendships include cooperation, communication, empathy and emotional control.
- Talk about:
- your child’s friends and relationships
- how they respond to any problems they are having
- their ideas for resolving conflict positively.
- If your child has negative experiences at school, you can involve teachers and school staff to help with this.