It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to be thinking about going back to school, but this time of year is always full of surprises. Whether you’ve had a summer full of sunshine or have been waiting for the rain to stop so you can go outside, September will be here sooner than we can say “school uniform”. Among the dash to buy new stationery and school shoes, make sure you take time to think about how you can support your child’s school experience this year, and whether you can make any positive changes at home to help them.
Create a Study Space
By far the most useful thing you can do to help your child with home studying is to create an environment that is conducive to learning. Although this might seem difficult if you have a small space to work with, it’s actually surprising how easy it is to adapt a space to suit your child’s needs. If they prefer to work alone in an enclosed space, you could help them to create a study den using throws and pillows. If you don’t have a small enough room to use for this, you could even install internal bifold doors that will give them the privacy they need as you can separate areas of your living space.
If your child prefers to work in a more social environment, you can facilitate this by providing them with their own desk to work at in a family room or kitchen. In order to know what environment they prefer to study in, it’s important to talk to them about where they find it easiest to study. By working together to build this environment, you’re more likely to get them to cooperate when it comes to actually studying.
Take an Educational Trip
It might be nearly time for school to start, but it’s not too late to take a little family trip somewhere that will be educational as well as fun. Depending on where you are based, you might need to travel a little to get to the nearest museum, castle or art gallery, but it will certainly be worth it. Lead by example by taking a genuine interest in the place you are visiting, and make sure you have plenty of conversations about it before, during and afterwards. This will foster a love of learning in your child by linking it to fun activities and family days out. Bristol is full of cultural and educational places to visit, you can see all our favourites by clicking the link. Here is Luke learning about knots on the SS Great Britain.
If you aren’t able to take a day trip as a family, you could try having a fun educational day at home instead. This is a particularly good idea for younger children, as you can allow them to choose the subject and then gather plenty of ideas from the internet. Whether they’re into a specific animal, place or book, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring learning into the home and use your weekends in a meaningful way.
Keep Asking Questions
Once the school year begins and the old routine sets in, it can be all too easy to just leave them to it and take a backseat. While some children might appreciate the lack of pressure that this offers, ultimately it is more beneficial in the long run to show a real interest and be involved in your child’s school experience. Not only will it help to strengthen your relationship, it will also allow you to notice any issues they might be having as soon as they arise.
The key to talking to your child about school is to ask specific questions, not just general ones. Rather than asking “how is school going?” or “how was your day?”, ask “how is your maths work going?” or “how did your science experiment go today?”. This requires you to know a great deal more about what they are doing at school, which you can only get from speaking to them in the first place. If your child is reluctant to talk about their school work, don’t push it, but instead try talking to them about the social aspects of school, or an extracurricular activity they’re doing. This will open things up for future discussions about school. If you have the time, consider helping out in class for a few hours a week, or perhaps volunteering on school trips. This gives an opportunity to get to know the staff better and see how the school functions day to day. Here is Luke on a school trip aboard The Matthew.
Go Beyond the Marks
As we all know, school is about much more than doing well in tests. Although gaining qualifications is an essential part of the overall school experience, your child’s social, physical and emotional development is also key. Remember this when you’re speaking to your child about school, and make sure you show an interest in their friends, hobbies and personal interests. This will be particularly beneficial for children who prefer sports or arts to academia, or those who excel socially but find studying to be a challenge. By taking the focus off of exam results, you can take the pressure away and help your child to feel supported throughout the school year.