As parents, we are always worried if we are ‘doing the right thing’ for our children, whether we are thinking about simple things such what goes in the school lunch-box, or dealing with larger decisions, such as choosing a school for them to attend. Most parents understand that the decisions they make for their children can impact on their long-term well-being, health and life chances.
Recent research into parental engagement in children’s learning highlights further just how much we parents matter. A recent report from Oxford School Improvement (2012) has concluded that:
• Children of parents who take an active interest in their education make greater progress than other children.
• During primary school years, family influences have a more powerful effect on your child’s attainment and progress than school factors.
• It does not matter how wealthy you are, what REALLY matters is what you DO with your children.
• Parents’ aspirations for their children (i.e. how high you aim in life/how ambitious you are!) strongly predict children’s achievement.
So much relies on us! Which can be scary… but in reality, ‘engaging’ with our kids doesn’t have to be difficult or even expensive. There is great value in simple activities such as:
Playing a board-game together as a family (discuss rules, taking turns, playing fair, practice counting skills, negotiation skills, how to win and lose well etc.)
Inventing stories together on a car journey (children can take turns contributing to the story and adults too! In this fun way, they can learn about story structure, different types of stories, learn new words, practice using words and phrases that connect sentences, develop vivid imaginations!).
Enjoying a sporty game together as a family (you don’t have to be Andy Murray or David Beckham to do this one but you CAN ‘model’ to your children that you are (a) happy to ‘give something a go’, that practice can make perfect, and that sport is not only very good for you, but lots and lots of fun! Remember, none of us are perfect parents, but it is the trying that counts!