Going back to school can be a hectic and stressful time for parents and students alike. We’ve put together some key back to school advice for the new year, to help your children maximise their potential, while minimising your stress level.
1. Talk to your child – and listen to them
This sounds obvious, but how and how often you speak to your child will have a major impact on them and their academic progress. And the more adult conversations they have – especially for younger kids – the better they can hone skills of vocabulary and verbal reasoning.
Asking questions can also help you identify what they’re enjoying, what they may be struggling with and how you can help.
2. Have a positive attitude towards school
As a parent and role model, your children will take many of their cues from you, and you can encourage them to have a positive attitude towards learning rather than seeing school as a boring necessity or imposition. You can even volunteer to help out at school events!
At Minerva, our tutors encourage a love of learning and a fun, positive attitude towards education, which can greatly benefit a student’s motivation.
3. Help them to set goals
The annual academic step up can intimidate some students, but you can help counteract this anxiety by identifying academic problems from the previous year and setting small, manageable, regular goals. These can be related to grades, homework or extracurricular activities, and can even be aided by a rewards system.
Achieving these goals can help stimulate confidence and motivation, helping to break down the journey towards end of year exams into a gradual step-by-step improvement, rather than unhealthy cramming sessions in the month before exams start.
4. Help them to get homework done
Homework may not be every child’s best friend, but it’s important to help consolidate learning and keep young brains active and engaged beyond school time. We recognize the importance of this, and Minerva tutors will always set a small homework task after every tutoring/revision session, so our students can benefit from our expertise between sessions.
5. Get to know their teacher
This can help you follow your child’s progress and identify and address weaknesses or learning difficulties and find out how the school can help. Prioritise attending parent-teacher meetings, or consider joining the PTA. It is beneficial to find out who’s who at the school and whom you should speak to about specific issues: having a good relationship with your child’s teacher is at the centre of this.
6. Encourage their social development
Friendships are incredibly important to a child’s development, and an integral part of school life. As a role model, encourage your kids to be kind, polite and empathetic to everyone – friends or not. Get to know their friends when you meet them, and don’t worry if they prefer to have one or two friends instead of a big group – everyone’s different!
7. Encourage hobbies and active learning
Sitting in a classroom is not the only way to learn, and for many students it may not be the most effective. Minerva promotes active learning, which can involve museum, gallery and landmark visits, music lessons, reading, art, sport, games, drama or any other hobby that can stimulate a child’s mind.
Support your child’s interests and let them identify their passions: this independence outside the classroom will often help improve a student’s participation in school, encouraging responsibility, self-motivation and independence
8. Help to set a routine
Organisation and time management can be some of the hardest and most important skills for young people to develop, but helping children to effectively structure their time can make everything easier – especially when the revision period comes round.
9. Encourage reading
Reading for leisure is beneficial for every academic subject, and more importantly can help develop a lifelong love of learning. It can improve a child’s confidence, vocabulary and imagination and open them up to new ideas. Use your local library as a place for discovery, and an alternative location for homework and independent study outside the home and classroom
10. Limit screen time
Phone, television, video game and internet use shouldn’t be unlimited or used as a fallback. It should be the exception not the rule, and prioritised behind homework, reading and other hobbies. If kids become too reliant on technology for entertainment, you may face a struggle every time you try and get them to ‘switch off’