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Parents in the news – Headmaster’s Blog

July 2, 2014

Parents in the news

In a recent article in the i newspaper, I read the following: ‘Children do better in school when their parents are fully involved with alastair reid mar 14lowrestheir education, right? Amy Chua would certainly say so. The author of the controversial Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother famously argued that strict supervision of children’s learning was the best way to optimise their achievement. But it seems she may be wrong. Earlier this year, US researchers came up with astonishing findings that parental involvement in children’s schooling makes no difference at all to test scores and exam grades…’
The full article can be read in the i education section on the 26th June 2014. I have to say that much research of this kind I tend to treat with extreme caution even though in this case it seems to have been lengthy and extremely thorough. Our approach at Ballard is to engage as much as we can with parents in partnership although there are times when we hope that parents would trust our professional judgement more when assessing how their children are doing! Obviously we don’t always get things exactly right all the time but in the main I think we do well – and this is mostly when the home and the school relationship is robust, collaborative and positive.

There was a useful summary at the end of the newspaper article in which the writer (Hilary Wilce, author of The Six Secrets of School Success) summarised ‘five ways to help your child do well at school’ – and I believe this to be wise advice. She mentioned, firstly, ‘teach the magic word ‘yet’ (as in ‘I haven’t yet understood electromagnetic induction)’. This helps children to see the learning process as optimistic and positive. Secondly, ‘move the bedtime forward’ by half an hour. Research has shown that children with less sleep tend to achieve lower grades in exams as sleep helps to process learning and regulates health. Thirdly, ‘read together’. Reading for pleasure, ideally with your children, is more important than wealth or social status when it comes to being effective in school. Fourthly, ‘learn something yourself’ – that is take on something new and let your child see you overcome inevitable obstacles with cheerful fortitude! (I am learning to sing at present and have yet to learn this latter lesson!) Finally, the advice is ‘do nothing’. The author argues that if your child acts up in class or doesn’t do homework then let them take the consequences rather than trying to intervene on their behalf or try to shield them. The shielding approach can produce passive, dependent, learners.

I know we shall all have to weigh this advice carefully for our own family situations and no doubt much of it will apply to us as adults, too. No doubt, also, we shall aim for a balance – but it’s good to be challenged!

Alastair Reid


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