When your kids start school, you can suddenly find yourself with some freedom. Many of us feel some sadness in those few months before their first day. Knowing that our weekday adventures will be over, perhaps even feeling like it’s the end of their early childhood or regretting that we didn’t do more with their time before education. Then, once they are at school within weeks, we’ve all adjusted and learned to make the most of weekends. They settle into the school routine, and we settle into either working more or finally having a little free time. After the first term of excitement and interest, we almost seem to forget what’s going on at school until we get a reminder about a play or sports day.
Some parents are heavily involved in school life. They volunteer, they spend time talking to teachers, they offer their time and services for special projects, and they go on all of the school trips. Others, feel like this is overcrowding their child and not letting them have their own space. They either don’t spend time helping out at school because they feel like their child needs space to grow and thrive, or because they simply don’t have the time to commit around work or other responsibilities.
But, when you have got some free time, however much it is, it’s a great idea to get more involved in your child’s school life and the community that comes with it. Let’s take a look at how to do this and why you should.
You’re never too old to learn new things, and it’s always good to have as much knowledge as possible in as many varied fields as you can. But, there’s more to learning at school than this. Schooling nowadays is very different than it was when we were young. The subjects and topics being taught are for the most part the same, with the addition of more technology perhaps. But, the teaching styles are massively different. Maths, English and other key subjects are taught differently. Even reading and handwriting is different. If you want to be able to help your child with homework or basic understanding, it’s essential that you understand yourself.
Many schools will offer parents meeting and sessions in your child’s early years. To teach parents how things are taught, enabling them to be helpful and consistent with what they are doing at home. Attend these if you can. Even if you think that you know everything already. You might know how to work out sums, but you might not do it in the way your children are being taught to.
If these sessions aren’t offered, don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teachers, either at parent’s evenings or informally before or after school. They will be only too happy to help you to understand, and grateful that you are prepared to offer your child further help and support.
To Have Fun
Many children love the first year of school. They go in and play with their friends without ever realising that they are learning. Then, as school progresses, lessons become more structured, there’s less play time and a lot more obvious learning time. Kids can start to struggle, and you can find that they lack the same enthusiasm when it comes to going to school. But, school is still fun. Think back to your own school days. Most of us, whatever we felt at the time look back with a smile. Remembering our friends, the games we played, the trips we went on and the fun projects that we took part in.
School can still be fun as an adult. Keep an eye on the school notice boards for any trips or events that are coming up and get involved. Ask your children’s teachers or someone in the office if they need any help and support and offer your time. Have fun and enjoy being around a school atmosphere again. You’ll love it, and your kids will pick up on your enthusiasm.
To Meet New People
The playground is home to two types of parent. Those in groups who have been firm friends from the start and have each other’s kids around to play, and those that stand alone in the background. Both of these are fine. But, being around the school is a great way to meet new people. Even if you are never close friends and only ever chat about the kids, parenting is a lonely experience and contact with other parents helps.
To Learn More About Your Child
When your kids get home from school, and you ask what they’ve been doing, popular answers might include “I don’t know” “I don’t remember” “playtime” or telling you what they have had for dinner. You’ll rarely get a detailed description of who they have been playing with or what they have learned. Kids aren’t very good at talking about their school day.
As they get older, it can start to feel a little like you don’t really know them. You see them at weekends when they are out. You see them playing on devices or eating family dinners, but you don’t see them in their environment. Many of us are a little different in our work environments than we are at home, so it’s no surprise that our children are different at school.
School is where they become little people. They have their routines, and their friends, their ways of doing things and they start to develop a personality of their own. You might not see this at home. Spend more time in their school and you’ll not only learn more about what they are studying but also about who they are.
The best thing is, you don’t need to be sat next to them watching their every move to do this. Get a job supervising dinner times or volunteer to help younger students with reading or writing. Even spending time at school watching plays and sports days puts you into their environment. You’ll see them running around and get to know a whole new side of them. But, how do you do this when you don’t have time to spend on school trips or working in the playground?
Make the Most of Parent’s Evening
Parent’s evening is a much for you to ask questions and learn more about what your child is getting up to at school as it is for the teachers to tell you about their grades and behaviour. Don’t just go in, have a quick look at their books and listen in silence as their teacher tells you the basics. Ask questions. Ask to see more of their work, ask about what they enjoy or what they dislike and ask if there is anything that you could be doing at home to help. This is one of the few times it’s just you and the teacher, without distractions Make the most of it. You could even take a notepad or a list of questions to ask if it helps.
There’s plenty going on at most modern schools. You certainly don’t need to spend your days there or volunteer for big trips to be a part of school life. Nor do you need to attend absolutely everything that happens. Just make the most of it when you do get a chance. Throughout the year most schools have trips, days out, open days, fayres and fetes, sponsored events, sports days, competitions, coffee mornings, bake sales, jumble sales and charity events. They are always looking for parents to help out and get involved. So, offer yourself when you can. Spend time getting to know teachers and other parents as well as the school and its policies and rules.
If you don’t have the time or simply don’t want to help out, at least make an effort to attend. Your kids will love seeing you in the crowd watching them or getting to show you around while you attend an event together. Ask questions, let them show off a little bit and enjoy getting the chance to enter their world for a time. Remember, this doesn’t last long. At some point in the future, they won’t want you there so enjoy it while it lasts.
Speak to Your Child
Whether you’ve got hours to give up or not, the very best way to be more involved in your child’s education is speaking to them about it. Ask detailed questions to avoid the dreaded “I don’t know”, help them with their homework, start projects together and take them on educational days out yourself. Be involved with them directly, no matter how much time you spend in school.
Of course, no one is saying that you need to quit your job or give up on your hobbies and interests so that you can be at school all day every day. Far from it. Your child does need this valuable time away from you to make their own friends and find their own way in the world. But, giving up a little of your free time, or just spending more time speaking to your child about their school day can be hugely beneficial to their education, their social growth and your relationship with each other.
*This is a collaborative post.