There are a multitude of things that parents can do to help support their child’s education. Best of all, most of them only require a small change of perspective or behaviour on your part.
Here are a few quick tips to give you some ideas on supporting your child’s education journey:
1. Create a quiet study environment
Parents should aim to create a quiet study environment for your children. We urge you to minimise any possible distractions by setting the TV to a reasonable volume and refraining from noisy gatherings during their school term.
It makes a huge difference when students are able to focus on their study every day. And if space permits, we recommend giving your child their own study space. At a minimum, it needs a desk, chair and sufficient light for your child to study in.
Setting up a quiet study space allows your child to have a dedicated space where they only do work. This will make them less prone to distractions. It will also send a psychological signal to your child that you value their education enough to dedicate some space in your home to it. This may not sound very important, but your child will definitely pick up on it!
2. Value the importance of education
Kids often take a lot from what parents think about things, education included. Parents might unconsciously give the impression that the content taught in school is not important through remarks such as “you will never need that in real life” or “what are you learning that for?” Even if some of these remarks might be true, it’s important for to support the idea that learning is powerful.
Even if the specific content might not be useful, the way of thinking and the skills built up will likely be useful. For example, with Maths, parents could:
- ask students to work out the best value for money among different options
- plan a day trip so that they need to use public transport timetables
- ask them how they would budget for a particular event
When done from an early age, these questions will convey the idea that Maths is important and has real-life benefits.
Parents can do the same thing with English, asking their children to:
- interpret and find the meaning in films you’ve watched together
- imagine what might have happened to characters after a book or movie
- watch a documentary with them on an issue they find interesting
Doing this encourages your child to use the skills that they’ve learned in school in their day-to-day life. That then makes school seem much more useful.
It’s important to foster a culture of education at home and help kids understand that the best way to get ahead in life is by investing effort into their education.
3. Don’t put too much pressure on students
Fostering this culture of education does not mean that parents should put extra pressure on their kids to achieve. In fact, it’s very important that parents don’t put too much pressure on their kids. Some parents put immense pressure on their children from a very young age to do well at school. This only ends up making kids more upset rather than instilling in them a really strong work ethic.
This is because kids, when the pressure is too great, never get to experience the joy of their learning.
In their childhoods, especially before high school, children should be playing and exploring things rather than just learning how to work. There is a time and a place for kids to learn to put their heads down, but it can wait until the child is ready for it. Overactive parents tend to give students hours and hours of homework in addition to what they do at school. This can make students dislike the subject and it can ruin parts of their childhood.
It’s important to remember that a good deal of education does not come from academics or the classroom. Endless worksheets will not make a child more intellectually curious or more empathetic. These skills can only be developed through experiences outside the classroom.
4. Make learning fun for students from a young age
From an early age, it is important to give children plenty of authentic opportunities to learn.
Easy ways to make learning fun for children includes:
- taking them to museums or cultural events
- letting them explore and learn about nature on the weekend
- give them lessons in a musical instrument
- cook or do science experiments at home
Parents can also make learning fun for purely academic subjects:
- When kids are learning about addition, they could play games where they have to use addition to keep track of their total score.
- When kids are learning about division, they could be asked to share things among family members so that it is fair for everyone.
These are much more beneficial for students than forcing them to complete pages and pages of exercise questions!
Certainly, there are times when practice is important, but at least for young students, the priority should be to make them understand that learning is fun and rewarding. Plus, these experiences can help them develop into well-rounded adults too.
5. Allow children to learn in their own way
Everyone is different and they also learn differently. It is important for parents to recognise that and allow kids to learn in their own way. Some kids might prefer a more hands-on approach. For example, parents could buy 3D blocks for kids to play around with when learning about 3D solids.
Students might prefer videos over textbooks. In that case, parents should allow students to watch videos rather than forcing them to be glued to their textbooks all the time. Other kids learn best when listening to things rather than reading on page. For these kids, a podcast might be ideal.
It’s important to play to your child’s strengths and understand what their weaknesses are so you can work on them together. This isn’t to say that if your child is not so strong at a very important skill that you should never teach them that skill, but that in cases where there is some choice, go with their strengths.
6. Encourage students and celebrate their achievements
It is important for parents to recognise that doing well at school can be very difficult and time-consuming for their children. Students should always be encouraged to do their best and their achievements should be rewarded and recognised, no matter how small they may seem. This is because kids need something to show for their efforts. Otherwise, they can become demotivated very quickly.
Parents should not compare their children with other children, but instead compare kids to themselves: focus on how your child has improved in the past and what they continue to improve on to help with their motivation and their self-esteem. Doing this will mean that a child has more confidence in themselves and is more willing to engage in the difficult task of learning new things.
7. Give your child a reading habit
This final tip is perhaps the most important one, so it’s been saved for last. One of the things that is most likely to help a child succeed is if they have a solid basis in any given subject. To do this for almost any subject at school involves giving your child a love of learning more in that subject area in their spare time. This will allow them to be learning beyond the classroom, and will give them a big advantage when it comes to their schoolwork. This tip is best applied to get great results in English.
One basic fact about English education has to be acknowledged: it cannot, by itself and its homework, give your child everything they need to succeed when dealing with literature.
This is true even when one invests in tutoring on top of the regular school education that your child is receiving. Really, the only way for a child to truly go above and beyond in the subject of English is to read widely and deeply in their own time. The fact is, that to have a good understanding of English, students need a good understanding of a wide range of books.
8. Analysis gets easier with practice!
This will encourage your child to make connections across different works of literature they read, making their analysis both sharper and faster. As someone analyses more works of fiction, themes begin to repeat and patterns become more obvious. When a reader is able to recognise different patterns across works of fiction, they are able to recognise and apply those patterns with more accuracy in their actual analysis.
Imagine this child…
Consider a reader who has read a whole stack of poems, novels, and Shakespeare plays about the theme of love. If they were to encounter a new text that also deals with the theme of love, their analysis wouldn’t have to start from zero. Instead, they would be able to incorporate many of the ideas they had learned up to that point about love and create a wonderful piece of analysis.
One way to give your child this sort of profundity and depth in their studies is to introduce them to the readings of the ‘canon.’ The canon is not something you would use to bring down a castle’s walls but a collection or list of books which represents what most scholars would agree is the best work from any given time period or country. Every country has their own canon of works, but to give your child the best head-start in their studies, you can encourage them to read works from the 19th century British and Irish canon. Later, this can include some 20th century American works from their canon too.
Shakespeare is also a great choice, but only once your child has a solid grounding in their reading and is able to tackle the difficult language by themselves.
As a jumping off point, you could consider letting your child read some of the works by Dickens, Austen, or if they’re looking for something a little more adventure-like, Arthur Conan Doyle.
Teachers do a wonderful job of educating their students and ensuring they are prepared for life beyond the classroom. Parents have the ability to support teachers immensely by reinforcing, extending and encouraging learning. Supportive parents that discuss the value of education, create a quiet space at home for their kid’s to learn and encourage them to participate in extra educational activities, often see their kid’s enjoying school and performing their best.
More about Maths Words not Squiggles
At MWNS, we offer primary school tutoring and high school tutoring in Maths and English to ensure students understand their schoolwork, meeting the requirements set out by NESA and achieving grades they are proud of. All our Maths and English tutors tailor their lessons to the individual needs of our students. By working at a pace that suits and benefits each child, we are able to maximise their learning in an enjoyable environment.
Our Maths and English tutoring is available in centre (Central Coast Tutoring, Eastern Suburbs Tutoring, Inner West Tutoring, Northern Beaches Tutoring, South Sydney Tutoring, Sutherland Shire Tutoring) and online. Whether you are looking for a Maths tutor or an English tutor, MWNS is able to help build your child’s confidence.
We are known for our mission of “Building Confident Learners inside and outside our classrooms“. We are experts in educating our students, helping them thrive at school and preparing them for life beyond the classroom. We want to ensure all lessons are related to what they are learning at school while ensuring students see the value in their education.