“Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference.”
I thought I was doing it all “right”. I made sure my children had plenty of books to read at home, reviewed their homework at the end of each night and made sure they understood everything (because too often I found they didn’t feel comfortable, or think to ask the teacher to explain something in more detail), maintained regular contact with their teachers, and took them to museums and such to build on the topics they were learning in school.
It was my answer to the following question that led me to doubt my support: Were my children prepared to compete with their peers for the same spot in a school or job down the road? When I answered that with a “no,” I realized I didn’t know (nor did I ever think to ask) for a few basic pieces of information.
- What are the long term goals beyond the chapter or topic they are currently studying? What is it that is expected of them the following year, or even a few years down the road? Without this information, my children are simply setting short term goals to get through an upcoming test or chapter, and not preparing for what’s to come.
- What is in the curriculum? For example, my kids come home and share what book they read in school. They have no idea what the teacher is trying to teach them through that story; be it a genre, grammar, or an underlining message. If I know what the curriculum is, I can work on the same thing at home using a different story or in a different context, and ask more thought provoking questions about the book; reinforcing everything taught in school.
Do I think I wasted my time over the years or not add to their learning experience? No. But with these few things I can begin to be a real partner, more effectively supporting learning at home. If parents and teachers are going to work together as a team to educate our children – parents need to be provided with the information, tools and resources to do so.
(A note: this is one of my “live and learns” with my oldest, who is getting ready to transition from elementary to middle school.)