For the first five years of our children’s lives we are (with most kids) in control.
(Well to a certain degree right?)
What they eat, what they wear, what they do is up to us – their parent.
We guide them and nurture them and steer them towards success in every endeavour.
And then they start school, and suddenly so much of their success seems to be out of our control. Whether they make new friends or remember to put up their hand to ask a question hinges on them, whether they listen in the classroom or remember to put on their jumper when they get cold isn’t up to us anymore.
So much of what we, as parents could steer them to and guide them to and make them do is now totally out of our reach.
When they start school suddenly so much of their success seems to be out of our control. Via IStock.
But as a parent there has to be a way to help them succeed.
There has to be some ways we can still have an impact upon the educational outcomes of our children.
A recent article published in The New York Times looked at just this.
The article highlighted how studies have found that children who experience early failure develop a negative attitude about learning and about themselves - and are less likely to graduate from high school.
There are steps we can take – early steps – to help give our children the very best start in their education.
"This is a very big change in a little person's life". Via IStock.
Jules Woodhouse, the Director of Birrung Education has been working as a teacher and as an expert in education for 17 years. She told Mamamia that the first year of school was a big change in the lives of our little ones.
She says the most important thing is to be patient.
“This is a very big change in a little person's life. Even if the child has attended long hours daycare before school, although the length of days may seem the same- the amount and level of learning in the first year of school is a wonder.”
She says parents can help their child by getting into a daily learning routine at home.
“Coming home to enjoy afternoon tea practicing letters, sounds, sight words and readers. If your child is not collected until the late afternoon or evening from a care provider, it is crucial that you make the relevant home learning time; possibly in the morning before school.”
She agrees with the following tips from Dr Gregory Ramey, the executive director of Dayton Children Hospital's Pediatric Center for Mental Health Resources.
1. Read to and with your child.
A study by book publisher Scholastic has found that only 37 per cent of Australia children (aged 6-17) are frequent readers. Sixty-three per cent of children admitted they rarely read books for fun (as opposed to the books they have to read for school work).
The study found that nine out of 10 children said they enjoyed being read to by their parents.
We hear it over and over again and yet it’s hard to emphasise just how important it is.
Children need a high degree of self-control to succeed in school and in life.Via IStock.
2. Focus on self-control.
Dr Ramsey writes that children need a high degree of self-control to succeed in school and in life. "
Teach your kids about the importance of delayed gratification, completing small chores, and the appropriate way to behave when emotionally upset."
Ms Woodhouse agrees and says it extends to being independent.
“They need to be able to open and close drink bottles, lunch containers, dress themselves, put shoes on and off, toilet themselves and most importantly- ask for help when needed.”
Think about helping other children. Via IStock.
3. Help someone else.
This is the final tip from Dr Ramey, he writes for The New York Times that even you can’t get everyone to graduate from high school, consider volunteering to read to a young child.
“You can make a difference in the life of one person.”
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For Jules Woodhouse the key to helping your child succeed – and thrive – in kindergarten is social and emotional development.
She says that success is often defined as academic levels, whereas she sees it, in the first year of school - as also being emotional.
“Having a child who is happy to skip their way to school and farewell you at the gate is the successful child, the child who is crying and clinging to a parents leg after the bell is not what you want.”
She gives us a few more tips for those getting their child ready for school next year:
* Teach them to being independent- being able to open and close drink bottles, lunch containers, dress themselves, put shoes on and off, toilet themselves and most importantly- ask for help when needed.
* Academically it helps if they can write their name, count, sing the alphabet and recognise letters, numbers and basic familiar words (Mum, Dad, siblings names etc.) it all helps give them a good head start to their future.