Well the sun was shining for about 5 minutes here in the UK – now back to dull and rain! We’re about to approach the end of the school year and I’ve been reflecting on this last year.
Firstly I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well my children have got on with school this year. The two older ones are in year 8 and 9 at Secondary school and have navigated their way through the minefields quite well. Options were discussed, argued with the school over and eventually set, friendships groups still rocky but a little bit more established and those tricky extra credits of awards and acknowledgements gained. All in all a pretty good year I’d say. I’m constantly reminded though how difficult it is for our children to cope with all the anxieties growing up brings. I won’t go into too much detail but adolescence is interesting to say the least. I am constantly amazed at how well they are growing into their growth as young people.
The youngest too has had a challenging year in his final year at Primary school. Now the children looked up to by others, the ones held responsible and the ones encouraged to reach their full potential. My son has risen to the challenge in his way and although his final report showed me once again that his teacher hasn’t really grasped his retention difficulties I am pleased with his progress and the fact that he can finish as ‘average’. He’s not average of course to me – none of them are. They are incredibly brave and courageous young people with great potential and I look forward to seeing that develop.
As I am reflected though as a parent and as someone passionate to aid the home/school relationship I’d like to give a few tips on improving our partnership – whether you are a parent or an educator reading this:-
- Communicate regularly about the childs’ progress but also about them as a person. What do they enjoy outside of school? What are they good at in school? How kind and caring are they to others? What are they worrying about? Academic progress is one thing but social and emotional development is important to.
- Work together to get the child interested in something. This is one of the things I hear the most from other parents is that their children doesn’t want to be involved in clubs – it is too difficult to navigate the anxieties of working with other children without an adults help. In Primary this is slightly easier. As the educator you can encourage them and even go find them in case they have forgotten to come (they invariably will). In Secondary this is much harder. It needs staff to understand that to just say ‘they can come along anytime’ will not get them to come. They need a friendly face, a guiding hand and strong supervision to make sure the relationships aren’t hindering the child coming to a club.
- Listen to each other. Don’t assume you are always right. I see this from the parents point of view. We often feel that the staff working with our children have no idea about them. And it can feel like that of course if we are continuously ignored. But the same can be said for educators. As parents we often don’t see the big picture of how challenging it is to run a large Secondary school for example. I met our new Head of House last week and she is pastoral care for 280 students from year 7 to 11 – such a huge spread with many, many issues I would think. Being mindful of each others lives can help us to be more empathetic to each others needs and aid communication greatly.
- Say thank you. I often think how difficult it must be in schools as I’m sure there’s not much appreciation going around at times. As parents of children who need more time and energy invested in them, we need to appreciate the staff more. Saying thank you is not hard but it can have huge impact.
- Stay focused on the children. It can get hard to remember that we are both working towards the same aim – the development of our children. Both home and school want the same in the long run. Of course for us it may be that we see and celebrate the smaller achievements of our child attending a club not necessarily winning. I went to our youngest’s school to meet his new form tutor for year 7 when he moves up in September, and the evening did make me smile. Some of the excellent students were wheeled out to show what your child could achieve. It only made me think ‘yes but what about all those young people who just coming through the doors each day is an achievement?’. We need to notice and celebrate together those small steps that actually are huge for our children – let’s do that together.
So as you look back over the past academic year – whether it’s been on balance good or not so good I hope you can see the progress in your child or the children you work with. I hope that as you have a break over the summer you will be refreshed to try again next year as we look to work together in this great role of developing young people to be fully rounded, balanced individuals.