In Trinidad & Tobago’s current social climate, the responsibility to ensure a high quality educational experience is becoming more heavily reliant on the parents of our nation’s children. With cuts in the National Textbook Rental Program, students are now more likely to be left without all the supplies needed to ensure that the time spent at school is productive and beneficial to their scholastic development. Here are some steps that you, as a parent, can take to ensure that your child is reaping all the potential benefits to be gained from their schooling.
1) Create a Reading Environment
The importance of reading to a child’s development cannot be overstated. Recent findings published in the journal Social Science Research show that raising a child in a home filled with books positively impacts his/her future academic growth and job attainment.
It is widely known that reading is at the core of all learning and is the foundation of our educational experiences, from pre-school, continuing straight through to tertiary education. However, many parents would testify that their child does not read enough. If you are one of the many who have made the mistake of not ensuring that reading is a priority for your children, I implore you to begin correcting it today.
Create a reading environment for your child.
If you are a new parent or a parent of a very young child, read to them. As often as you can, choose to take a more active role in their development. Turn off the TV and spend 10-20 minutes of your day reinforcing the idea that books are fun. Fostering this attitude helps create positive associations that will stay with your child throughout their lives.
Parents, of children already capable of reading, who believe that there should be an increase in the amount of time spent reading, should take a slightly different approach. Spend about 30 minutes a day with your child, reading WITH them, instead of TO them. Take your child shopping and pick out a book of their choosing, even if it is a graphic novel or comic book. Allow them this freedom and as they gradually increase the time spent reading, their taste will expand. Remember, even if it isn’t a classic British novel, what is important is that they’re spending time reading.
It is important to remember that your goal here is to foster a positive association with reading for your children. Shutting off the TV and shouting at them to go to their room and pick up a book will not work. Take the time to do it correctly, no shortcuts; you’ll thank us in the long run.
2) Ensure They’re Well Equipped.
We understand that not all parents are in a position that allows them to be able to afford every item listed on their children’s booklists. However, we want you to understand the importance of making sure that your children have all the necessary supplies for their classroom activities.
You as a parent have to carry the torch in this aspect of your children’s education. Their teachers aren’t with them at home; it’s your job to ensure that at-home learning is carried out when it’s supposed to be.
Don’t opt out of purchasing a textbook if you can afford to purchase it; you’re putting your child at a disadvantage. Lacking those one or two textbooks can be the difference between success and failure at the end of the school year. Give your children the tools they need to succeed.
Our Shop has a wide selection of books and school supplies that make finding the items you need very simple and hassle free, with affordable prices.
For parents with very limited budgets, Pembroke & Iere is looking into starting a Textbook Rental & Used Textbook service for books that can be supplied at discounted prices. A public notice will be released when this option has been launched.
The Donation Box is another service for parents with very limited budgets. Via this service, our Pembroke & Iere family collects school resources from generous donors and gifts them to families in need.
If you’re interested in applying to become a donor or you know of/are a parent/student that can use our help, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Have Conversations
This is the tip on the list that requires the least amount of effort on your part as parent; it can be done anywhere, at any time.
Speak to your child.
It’s often understated just how important a role conversation plays in the development of children. Most of the day in school is spent with teachers talking AT, not even TO your children, much less having conversations with them. With anywhere between 20-30 other students in a class, odds are that your child doesn’t get a lot of time to express himself/herself on any given day.
Obviously, the conversation matters and has to depend on the child.
If you have a young child or pre-teen, try asking them what they thought about the storybook they just read and how it made them feel. Get them to talk. This shouldn’t be too hard as young children usually have a lot to say.
With children in their early-mid teens, you can try asking them to explain the topics they learned in class that day. This can give you insight into how well they actually understand what is being taught in class and how much information they’re retaining. This would allow you to address any shortcomings that may be occurring.
With children in their late teens, we know dealing with teen angst can be one of the most tiresome aspects of parenthood, but we know you’re a great parent and you’re willing to stick to it. Try focusing on their interests, encouraging critical thinking and problem solving skills. If their interest is sport, ask how they’d have adjusted the team to get a desired result. If the interest is politics, ask what they think of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or Korean de-nuclearization. Find something that will help you pull them out of their shell and get them talking.
4) Complete Homework
Make sure your children complete their homework.
*Disclaimer* – We understand that the advantages and disadvantages of assigning homework to students are currently being debated. However, for this post, we’re going to assume that homework has an overall positive impact on students.
Homework shows students the important life lessons, such as how to read and communicate with others, that they will use as an adult. Homework also teaches students how to problem solve, think independently, and build an understanding and interest for the issues in our society.
Benefits of Homework:
- Teaches time management.
- Teaches how to set priorities.
- Helps teachers determine how well the lessons and material are being understood by their students.
- Teaches how to problem solve.
- Gives another opportunity to review the class material.
- Gives parents a chance to see what their child is learning in school.
- Teaches that they have to do things, even when they don’t want to.
- Teaches how to take responsibility for their part in the educational process.
- Teaches how to work independently. ( Although we suggest that where necessary and possible, you take an involved role in the completion of your children’s homework)
- Teaches the importance of planning, staying organized and taking action
5) Encourage Confidence
Student confidence is an important factor in educational success. When a child loses student self esteem, they may lose motivation in learning. By building confidence in students, parent and educators can safeguard the most important ingredient to success: motivation.
Students’ self esteem is directly related to their school performance. By ensuring that your children’s self esteem is healthy, the environment for education and learning begins to thrive.
Confidence boosting techniques:
Reward good grades – It could be something small, but those small rewards go a long way in making your child feel like their efforts have been acknowledged and their hard work has paid off.
Praise good behaviours, but be sincere – Congratulate your children on starting their homework unprompted or finishing it early. Ensure you’re sincere about it; insincere praise or gushing can have the opposite of the desired effect.
Stop comparing them to other children – No one likes this. Comparisons make people feel inadequate. Instead, encourage your children to focus on themselves. Their only goal is to continually be better than they were in the past.
Give options – Allow freedom of choice. When children are allowed to make decisions on their own they feel empowered and more confident.
Don’t do everything for them – Give them the chance to feel challenged. Be patient and let them figure things out themselves. The more they meet new challenges, the more competent and confident they’ll feel.
6) Be More Supportive
Children are more likely to achieve at school when their family and friends take an interest in their school and schoolwork. Getting involved in your child’s education, even in the simplest way, shows that you care about their school life. Often, the more supported a child feels at home, the more effectively she or he will learn at school. Whatever your lifestyle or family situation, it is never too soon (or too late) to start helping a child develop a positive attitude towards learning.
Check school notices, attend PTA meetings, make it to school or extra-curricular events, speak to the teacher if there’s something bothering your child. Play an active role.
Education is more than just maths, English and science. Your child’s talents lie in sport, art, music, drama, computers, or anything else. You can always help them aim high by boosting their confidence:
- Encourage them to join after-school clubs or activities.
- Tell your child how proud you are when they do well.
- Let them hear you praising them to other people.
- Talk together about their future and the kind of job they think they would enjoy.
- Ask them to help you with things they are good at.
- Help your child to find someone to look up to; a relative, friend or celebrity.
There’s no doubt that the teenage years will probably cause you some worry and frustration. There may be times when you feel as if you don’t know your child, or are disappointed by some of their choices. Try to be as loving and supportive as you can through all of their trials, no matter how small they are. If you can do this, they’re more likely to rely on you, share their struggles and come to you when they need help.
Be there for them in the way that you would have wanted your parent to be there for you when you were growing up.
7) Help With Organization
Organization keeps you on track so that you can earn the grades you deserve, it prepares you for the working world, where organizational skills are a requirement in many jobs. If you get your children to start practicing effective organizational skills early in their academic lives, they’ll do much better in university and be fully prepared for a successful career.
How to Get Kids Organized
Use Checklists – Create checklists to post homework assignments, household chores, and reminders about what materials to bring to class.
Organize Homework Assignments – Before beginning a homework session, encourage your child to prioritize her assignments. Start with one that’s not too long or difficult.
Designate a Study Space – Find a quiet place with few distractions. Studying in the same place is good, but changing locations occasionally is beneficial, too. It’s a good idea to have all school supplies and materials nearby.
Set a Consistent Study Time – Set aside a consistent time each day for studying and doing homework. Ideally, this time should not be right after school. Allow about an hour of free time, then studying can begin.
Keep Organized Notebooks – Help your child keep track of papers by organizing them in a binder or notebook. Use dividers to separate his various classes and folders to store classwork.
Prepare for the Next Day – Prior to bedtime, place all schoolwork and books into a backpack so they are ready to go the next morning. It’s also a good idea to lay out the next day’s clothes or instruct them to do so depending on their age.
Not everyone is a neat-freak. In general, this isn’t a bad thing. There are, however, some downsides for children who tend to have trouble organizing. In many cases, disorganization leads to lower grades, completing fewer assignments, frustration, and lower self-esteem. These negatives may further contribute to other student issues such as truancy and indiscipline. Although disorganized students are capable of experiencing many successes in school, there is the potential for their struggles to have a profound negative impact on their future.
Thankfully, organization is not a trait you inherit. It is something you learn. By addressing these issues as early as possible, you’re able to set your children up for academic success in the future, providing them with valuable life skills.
The actions you choose to (or not to) take can weigh heavily on your children’s academic success and by extension, their future. Studies have shown that the biggest predictor of whether or not a person will be successful in life is the actions of their parent(s), not their innate abilities. Consider taking a more active role in the academic development of your children, don’t relegate this important aspect and allow the load to be carried out solely by their teachers. There are no shortcuts when it comes to being a great parent. It’s a difficult task but we know you’ll do your best and that’s all we ask of you.
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