Supporting Learning

    21 December

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    I sat with a boy and his mother recently discussing behaviour in the classroom. The teenaged ‘liked’ some teachers on his timetable and ‘didn’t like’ others, subsequently he chose to behave well in one set of classrooms and not in others.  This is common in all of our experience – we all behave differently according to the environments we are in, only with some people the range of behaviours can be wide. What struck me was the lack of understanding of both the parent and the child of everything that was being learnt by going to different classrooms with different teachers.  During the teaching of the various academic subjects, there are many opportunities also for personal development.  We teach thinking, how to deal with people (some of whom are difficult), determination (when life is hard, hard work pays off), and manners (the rules by which society can operate). The function of the school timetable is to promote a range of subjects, but it should also develop character.

    How do you as parents support your son through the academic journey of secondary school?  I have found the following to be most useful:

    • Congratulate hard work and encourage curiosity.
    • Stress the importance of homework, and find a method of how this is best done.  These years of secondary school are some of the most exciting and interesting in the life of your child and you as a parent, enjoy them together.
    • Give, and insist upon, domestic responsibilities. The term ‘chore’ is often neglected. Teenagers need the structure and discipline of chores: preparing one family meal per week, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom. This brings responsibility and encourages a sense of belonging to the family. 
    • Attend parents’ meetings, talk to staff about how to support school and school work, share comments with your son.
    • Stay involved by initiating conversations on the various subjects – frequently they will enjoy informing you about the theories, observations and practical experiments they have been learning.
    • Discuss current events, politics and other topics, such as sport, music, drama to stimulate conversation.
    • Finally, enjoy reading by being a role model.  Books, magazines and newspapers should litter your home.  Find support in school for the best reading and make reading a staple of everyday life.

    The ideas above can also help your son learn how to develop strong, healthy relationships with others that are based on trust and respect.  Helping your children develop the right approach to their learning at this stage will stand them in good stead for the future.