By Simon Porter
Images courtesy of Compass International School
So you’ve chosen the best school you can find for your child, and you’ve negotiated the admissions process – so the job's done, yes? No!
The hard work has just begun, and it’s parents – not teachers, who have the greatest influence on how children do at school. So, what can you do to make sure your child receives the best from their education?
It seems obvious, especially if you’re spending thousands of riyals on their education, but send them to school! Don’t accept ‘I’m not feeling well today’ as an excuse. Schools such as Compass International School Doha have full-time and fully-qualified nurses who will look after your child and send them home to you if they’re sick. You must establish from the start that school is important and they have to go every day. Any teacher will tell you their best and most successful students have 100% attendance. If your child is not at school, we can’t help them.
Nothing tells your child that school is not important more than you allowing them to be late. It also disrupts learning for themselves and their classmates. This life skill will lead to future success in continuing education and, also, the workplace.
Ask them to teach you what they’ve learned during the day and listen when they tell you. Having to recall facts and explanations is what examinations are all about, and this is a skill children have to learn and practice. It also lets your child know that what happens at school is important and that you value it. Set an ‘Electronics-Free Zone’ with your child to ensure full engagement and they feel you want to hear what they have to say.
Don’t ever say things like ‘I wasn’t very good at math either.’ It gives them an excuse to fail at math. The reason that children in many Asian nations are years ahead of their Western contemporaries is a culture that if you’re no good at math, you have to work harder and practice it. Use the advice of the psychologist Carol Dweck: tell them ‘You can’t do math yet’ or, as in France, tell them maths skills are appreciated and, ‘It’s quite cool to be good at math.’
Praise the process – not the job. Instead of saying, ‘Good job!’ to your child, try saying, ‘You worked so hard on that!’ We need to encourage the effort more than the result. As Michelangelo said, ‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.’ We want to encourage our children to be ambitious, to take risks, and aim high.
Get your children to cook. Reading scales, measuring, and following instructions are great practice for school and something they’ll need to do themselves when they get to university anyway. Plus, it’s time away from screen and a good time to make conversation as a family.
Go to Parents Evening. I was once at a school where parents used to send their child’s tutor to Parents Evening. Nothing tells a child more about your attitude to school, study, and their academic success.
Be a learner
Read with your children and read on your own at home. Turn off the television or computer for an hour a night and let your children see you reading. They will not read if you don’t. As a parent, you’re the greatest influence on your child, much more than a school.
Get your child to learn a musical instrument. There’s nothing better for teaching them discipline and the power of practice. They’ll also learn great social skills when playing with a band or orchestra, and it will be a skill they’ll treasure for life – if only I had a dollar for every parent who said to me ‘I wish I’d learned to play an instrument’.
Make them go to bed at a decent time. Take their phones off them and turn your Wi-Fi off. It will be good for you too! Children need a good night’s sleep if they’re to work well in school the next day.
So the hard work starts after you’ve selected a school for your children. That’s the reason we all had children in the first place – and why it can be such fun, as well as a real worry.
Simon Porter is Compass International School Doha’s Director of Learning and is also a parent of three children who are all presently studying at university in the UK. To find out more about Compass International School Doha click here.
How do you encourage your child to give it their all in the classroom? Drop us a line and let us know in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to like and share this article.
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