Back to School

So thank goodness, after this summer’s huge disruption children are now back at school. Fingers crossed, there will be no more lockdown problems. I think that Heads and school staff have a huge burden placed on them to keep children safe. They need all the help they can get. My granddaughter (Year 4), after her first day back, exclaimed to me, ‘It’s been my best day ever!’ Brilliant! Long may such enthusiasm last. I suspect her joy in going back had been more to do with meeting her friends again after a whole summer in isolation, than in getting to grips with the learning itself.

Like many children, she has found it hard to continue her learning at home during this lockdown. After all, school is the place where learning mainly happens – so transferring learning to the home situation is not something most children find easy to do. As I thought about this limited attitude – that children only associate learning with school – it occurred to me that two things need to happen.

Firstly, that many children have lost out on their schooling during this period of the lockdown and therefore need to catch up – fast! They can only do this by extending their learning into the home. Parents are needed here. Teachers have a huge job to do now, helping children to refocus on their learning habits and routines. Six months is a long time for such habits to have been abandoned. The National Curriculum has not been visited for a while.

Secondly, that this is a chance for parents to become more involved and help their child to view learning as EVERYWHERE – not just at school. The brain does not close when the classroom door closes. On the contrary, outside of school there lies a whole world of reading, writing, numbers, measurement, shapes, data – even algebraic problem solving, if you fancy delving into maths at secondary level.

I provided my granddaughter with a host of games and fun activities to do this summer – but getting her to focus on the activities was far from easy. After all, things on paper do not compete well with computer screens and tablets. But we all need to extend children’s attitudes – and help them to see that learning does not cease at 3.15pm when the school bell rings.

So what can parents do? Firstly, it’s about knowledge. Knowing roughly what a child is learning from year to year in the basic skills of maths and English helps parents to tune in effectively to what’s going on in their child’s brain. Homework for instance: being far more aware of how types and levels of homework fit into the developmental stages of different subjects, enables parents to help where necessary. Imagine the Brownie points from their offspring when Mum or Dad get to show off a knowledge of what their child is doing: whether it’s equivalent fractions (at Year 4) or algebra at Year 9?

My books, written especially for parents, are designed to offer support and guidance as their child moves through the National Curriculum. Book 1 focuses on children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), while Books 2 to 5 guide parents through the key stages. Find them on Lulu and Amazon.

Good luck.

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