The subject is not up for debate – in order for our kids to succeed in the world, they need to have a good education. As a parent, it’s often an uphill battle to keep kids motivated and to help them attain good results. We need to invest endless hours and boundless energy daily, not only help our kids cope at school but to help them achieve the best results that they can.
We need to be our children’s supporters, cheerleaders, fans and role models and we need to walk with them through their 12 year learning journey, making sure that they reach their full potential. This may be easier said than done, especially when the demands on parents seem to increase continually!
Sadly, many South African government schools are unable to give a child the support they need and the onus is on the parents to provide the support. Few families are able to afford the high fees charged by private schools, but through ongoing assistance your child can reach his or her full potential.
Here are a few tips that can help you as a parent to give your child the tools they need to cope and excel at school.
Join a library! The best way to learn a language is to read. When kids read they improve their vocabulary, and what’s more by sitting down and reading, they improve their concentration and if they see mom or dad reading, they may be more encouraged to sit down and read. If your child is struggling with a particular school subject and you don’t have the extra funds to send them for extra lessons, a library is filled with thousands of books that will help your child learn more about any subject and the books can be used to improve their skills. Joining the library is often free of charge!
Educational games and computer software: Getahead is a supplier of South African-based computer software that is designed to for SA kids and is based entirely on the South African curriculum. (web address: www.getahead.co.za/). The software is very affordable (sold at R385 per grade) and it covers all the subjects which are done in schools, including maths, life orientation, English and Afrikaans, etc. One CD covers a full year’s work and the lessons are fun and interactive! Parents can also monitor their child’s progress and they will also notice particular learning areas where the child needs additional support. Apart from computer software, parents can find dozens of interesting educational boards games, these can be played as a family and besides having fun, kids will be learning.
Use the internet: The internet provides an infinite wealth of educational resources and parents will find hundreds of printable worksheets or websites that assist kids to understand complicated formulas, or tricky language questions. There are also numerous good quality educational online games.
Rope in the family: As moms we need to wear many hats – but we are not all great at maths, social science or biology. Call on family members who are willing and who are able to help tutor your child. If your child is lucky enough to have older siblings, older kids can use their own knowledge to help younger kids figure out a difficult sum! If your child attends an aftercare facility and they don’t seem to be spending enough time on their homework, find out if there are any stay-at-home moms in your area who would be willing to collect your child from school and help them with their homework. If moms work full time, they seldom have the energy to lend a hand with homework and if a friend or family member can spend a few hours with them in the afternoons, it will make a big difference.
Keep in touch with teachers: The child’s teacher is the best person to speak to in terms of your child’s progress. Schedule meetings with the teacher and find out how you can help. A teacher will value the interest that you are showing in your child’s schoolwork and will be happy to offer practical advice on what you can do at home to help your child succeed.
Make learning fun: Find ways to make learning fun. There are so many entertaining ways to teach kids. Kids loving baking and by learning to read and follow a recipe, they are unknowingly mastering maths skills, life skills and they are improving their reading skills. If a child is learning about apartheid, visit the apartheid museum, or if they are learning about polar bears, take them to the zoo to see the bears. Learning is enhanced with the senses and when kids see that you too have an interest in their schoolwork – their interest will grow.
Be involved: Enquire about your child’s day and find out what he or she learnt that day. Check homework diaries and make sure that they have done their homework correctly.
Be present and supportive: Attend parent’s evening regularly and if there’s a special function on at school, make every effort to attend. A child who spots their parents sitting in the audience as they do their rendition of Oliver Twist will feel valued and will realise just how important they are!
A big part of being happy at school is being accepted and liked by other kids. Get to know your child’s friends. Arrange playdates and find out who your child is spending their time with. If a child is happy at school, the chances are they will be more focused on their schoolwork.
With continual support and encouragement, you child will succeed and reach their full potential!