You wouldn’t think of a head teacher as being that supportive of home education. But one recently said to me; ‘The home education you created with your children, which you describe in your book, just reminds me of the way we used to teach before it was ruined by mountains of paperwork and politics’.
Learning and teaching has changed enormously over the years, not always for the better. We both agreed that it is some of the more positive aspects of education that have been sacrificed, like teacher time, spontaneity, and being able to adapt to the real needs of children rather than the demands of an often irrelevant National Curriculum.
The other thing that has changed is the increasingly prescriptive educational approach which has made some parents feel excluded.
‘Parents say that they’ve no idea about the work their children are doing in school. So they tend to keep completely out of it. And they also say that their kids are so full of school, its influence feels more important than their own. But this is not the case. Parents’ influence is paramount.’
I asked her what she thought were the five most influential things parents could do to support their children’s learning. This is what she suggested:
– Communicate. Spend time talking with and listening to your kids. Kids need to be able to articulate their needs, speak up and discuss. This practise starts at home.
– Parents tend to worry that the teacher means more to their child than they do. But this is not the case. The relationship the child has with their parents has far more impact than any relationship with a teacher, even though it feels like teachers spend more time with them. The child may often be quoting what teacher said at home, but remember that at school, he’s quoting what mum or dad said! Mum and dad matter most, so make the most of your time with them.
– Show interest, be involved, support any homework or reading that needs doing. If you show that this is important then the child will feel their work has value and this creates a positive attitude, which impacts on their education.
– Be aware that however you behave will be the way your child behaves, at school and towards school. Children do what you do, rather than what you say. So creating respectful, positive and caring relationships will help your child create the same with others.
– Take them out. Children do not always need to be practising academic things in order to excel at academic things. Outings and physical activities (even a walk in the park) stimulate mental development and confidence enormously. Sadly these activities are being sacrificed in school so it is even more essential that parents provide them.