The past couple of years has been tricky for many kids (and their families!) We recently asked teachers what they would like you to know as the school year begins for kids around Australia.
Here are some of the tips they shared …
Teachers and parents who work together can be a formidable team, but you can really let the side down if you’re careless with what you say to and about a teacher in your child’s presence. Teachers say that if there’s an issue, speak to your child’s teacher privately, not in front of your child. It’s rarely helpful to let your child hear your criticisms of a teacher, so even if you have your own views about the teacher’s personality, skill, judgments, or appearance, remember your child must spend many days and hours in that educator’s classroom. Let your child form his own opinions and help your child to respect the teacher’s role whenever you can.
If your child is disorganised at home, teachers tell us there is a fair chance that he’ll be disorganised at school too. To avoid messy desks, lost books and forgotten homework, set up a system at home where routine items are easily found. Establish a set spot for backpacks, shoes and notes that need to be signed. Teachers recommend having a centrally located calendar or whiteboard on which upcoming events are noted so that everyone knows what is going on. If your child has a phone, try using the ‘memo’ or calendar section and teach him how to use this so that he can become accountable for himself and his activities.
Studies show that just 10 minutes of undivided attention each day is all that kids need to feel connected to you. Teachers advise that the time you give to your child before you check phone messages, scan your social media accounts, or start organising dinner is incredibly important. You can help your child to transition from school to home by creating a routine where you listen to your child talk about his day. This will show him that he can count on you and that the experiences and feelings of the day can be managed. This small investment of time will encourage the development of your child’s emotional intelligence and maturity.
Kids need fuel to ensure that their minds and bodies work properly. Teachers say that a well-balanced diet will maximise your child’s learning potential. A healthy breakfast and a lunchbox that’s filled with nourishing snacks are very important for kids of all ages. When each meal contains protein, your child will avoid ‘sugar highs’ that can affect concentration and behaviour. Teachers understand that pre-packaged food is convenient, but they also encourage parents to make good purchasing choices to ensure that the nutritional value of their child’s weekly food intake is high.
In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget that kids do not have the stamina of an adult. Tired kids find it hard to hold it together at school and home. Teachers recommend that you try to maintain a schedule that allows your children to go to school rested. Include calm, peaceful times in your children’s afternoons and evenings so that they have the energy to concentrate, learn and behave well at school.
The only way a teacher can determine what your child knows is by receiving work that is truly his. Encourage, support, and show your child how to answer homework questions by all means, but don’t do the work for him! Teachers tell us that they gauge what a child has learned and understood by what they are able to remember and complete independently. Doing homework by themselves also helps children learn to be responsible for the quality of their work and helps teachers to identify any gaps in their learning.
What happened when you last went to work feeling unwell? Did you have the best day ever? Teachers tell us that it’s unfair to ask kids to manage the demands of a challenging classroom when they are ill. Now, more than ever, teachers need families to have a system in place so that sick children can stay home and get better, both for their own sake and the sake of their classmates and teachers. Of course, you’ll know how to sensitively and sensibly manage a tummy ache that mysteriously appears on the morning of a spelling test; however, teachers remind us that children can’t learn or behave as well as they might when they are sick. And if the teacher catches the bug, the whole class may be interrupted if the teacher has to take sick leave.
The amount of time some children spend on ‘screens’ alarms many teachers. There’s no doubt that computers, iPads, smartphones, and other devices are a great source of information and enjoyment, but teachers also tell us that kids also need to engage in physical activity every day. The number one reason why your children should make the move from ‘screen’ to ‘green’ is that it’s fun. Plus, your kids are likely to be happier and healthier when they get social with other children (and yes, siblings count!) The bottom line is that getting the balance right between green time and screen time is important for your children’s physical and mental health. There is a growing body of research that shows the positive effects of unstructured outdoor play on our kids’ lives and studies also show that ‘green time’ supports kids’ resilience, problem-solving, and social skills too.
Teachers know that some children are sensitive. They are so conscious of looking silly in front of their teachers and peers that they may be afraid to raise their hand and ask a question in class. You can be a good role model for your kids and teach them to believe that no question is a dumb question. Kids do ask silly questions…sometimes repeatedly, but that’s part of being a child. When you respect your child’s questions and encourage his efforts, teachers tell us that he is likely to be more willing to give unfamiliar things a try at school.
Teachers say that kids who are confident and know that they are loved often find is easy to be kind to others. You can remind your child of your love for him by tucking a note into his lunch box or sending him a text message to let him know that you are thinking of him. As they get older, your children might not want to hold your hand or give you a kiss as they walk through the school gate – but no matter how old they are, they will always need affirmations from you. You may need to be inventive as you find discreet ways to build your child’s confidence, but he most important thing to remember is that secure kids are usually happy kids…. and happy kids find it easier to learn and make friends.
This article was written by Sonja Walker
Kids First founder & teacher
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Kids First’s experienced team has supported hundreds of children of all ages.
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