• We should make education a fun and enjoyable experience
Building the foundations for future academic success must start from when a child enters school for the first time, and the focus must be on cultivating a love of learning.
Parents have an important role to play in the early years, in terms of developing the framework for a child’s educational journey.
One of the most important ways in which a love of learning can be established early in a child’s life is to help the child navigate this new environment with humour and enthusiasm, ensuring the process of learning and discovery creates positive associations in the brain rather than feelings of anxiety and despondency.
During the early years, homework is relatively limited, but ‘after school work’ is still important in terms of establishing good routines for the future.
Whether at home or at boarding school, students must be encouraged to put aside some time every day to focus on and master the day’s activities.
At home, parents can assist this process by talking over what was done in school during the day and reading together, for instance.
In this way, young children will start getting into a natural routine of building upon what they have learned.
By making this a fun and enjoyable experience, and a positive family interaction, they will also start to associate learning with empowerment, which will pay dividends down the line when the workload does start to grow.”
In addition to setting up a daily ‘connection’ routine with positive associations right from the start, parents should also help their children build the skills which will be required from them later in their school careers.
It is vital for parents to do thorough research when choosing a school
Below are some ideas.
1. Healthy Routines
Children need a healthy diet, plenty of sleep and exercise. Unhealthy habits and routines can manifest in a child’s general disposition and academic engagement, so establishing good habits, including limiting screen time, is key.
Help your child keep a balance and put things into context. Sometimes small things going wrong can have a big impact, especially on sensitive children, so young children need to understand that just because they have not yet mastered something, this does not mean failure because they can achieve their objectives in due course. Help them by emphasising the word ‘yet’: ‘I haven’t mastered this YET, but I will keep trying and then I will’.
3. Staying Positive
While it is normal for parents to feel a little competitive and compare their child’s progress to others, this instinct should be kept in check. Children can very quickly sense if parents feel they are not measuring up to their peers, and this can kick start a downward spiral in terms of motivation and belief in self.
The early years is a developmental stage, and a time for students to explore, discover and hone their skills. Mastering a skill may take many attempts and parents should afford their children the time and space to do so.
Therefore, do not let the child feel their school performance is the “be all and end all”. It is okay to not get a perfect score in every spelling quiz and to focus on mastery rather than performance.
4. Learning Styles
If you see your child struggling and experiencing anxiety, it is worth speaking to their teacher or a counsellor to determine whether they perhaps have a unique learning style or special needs which require additional support. There are many different approaches to learning and finding those that work for your child will work wonders on their learning journey.
Additionally, it might be that the environment is not right for your child, which is why it is important to find a school that is a right fit. It is therefore vital for parents to do thorough research when choosing a school, by talking to other parents, visiting the school, finding out what their approach entails, and how they will enable your child’s success.
Jenny Coetzee is the managing director at Crawford International School Kenya and Angelica Ouya, education director at the Makini Group of School, brands of Africa’s leading private education provider ADvTECH.