Your child might spend 15 years at school (from nursery age 3 - 18), so they had better enjoy it! A positive experience of school makes learning easier. It also boosts your child’s resilience, their social skills and their confidence.
So, how can we make school the best days of their lives? This guide has some practical advice that should help.
Talk to your child about your own schooldays and share your happy memories. Hunt out your old school photos, books, reports or uniform – and show them. Discuss your achievements, friendships and favourite subjects. Let them know what your schooldays were like.
Ask about the friends they have spent time with. Keep it casual, though – don’t be too intrusive!
Focus on positive things and how a negative situation can be turned into a positive. Reassure them that they can deal with anything – they have your support, and other people, to help.
Having friends helps a child to feel secure and accepted.
If your child has difficulty socialising, they might need some gentle guidance. Talk to your child about how:
Clubs and after-school activities are good ways to meet children with the same interests.
Encourage your child to:
Or set up an outing with other parents and children.
Most schools offer a range of after-school clubs or other activities. These include sports; creative subjects like music and drama; or academic clubs like Spanish, Maths or Computers. Encourage your child to join in. Clubs enable them to:
Enjoying other aspects of school helps to make it a positive experience.
Encourage your child to make the most of every opportunity school offers - learning, socialising or having fun:
Every opportunity is a chance to develop new skills, and to grow, both emotionally and mentally.
There are opportunities for you, too! Get involved in the school when you can:
Your child will know that they are supported and you will both have school experiences to share.
Children need routine in their lives to feel secure. Having a structure to their days and knowing what to expect at certain times will help them to feel comfortable and confident.
Establish a regular routine for daily tasks like mealtimes. Prepare school things the night before, so there’s no rush in the morning.
Ensure your child is eating a well-balanced diet. A good breakfast will set them up for the day. Healthy, nutritious food is required for thinking and learning and will give them energy throughout the day. Water helps with emotional balance and thinking skills, too.
Sleep is also vital for feeling good. If children do not get enough sleep, they will become irritable and unable to take in information for learning. Children under the age of 5 need up to 15 hours sleep, and older children need around 9-10 hours (Family Action).
Try to get your child to enjoy learning and take pride in their schoolwork. Look at Education Quizzes together.
Help them to keep up with homework. Rather than saying, “Do your homework!” ask them, “Will you be doing your homework before tea, or after tea?” This gives them a choice – but no choice, really - they will do homework!
Ask your child about their day, what they have enjoyed and what they have not. Take an interest in their learning and progress. Pick a regular time for listening to their reading, and help them with handwriting.
Ask to see their work – out of interest, not criticism – and discuss projects. Sit and help them if they are finding their homework difficult.
More advice is available here on the BBC website.
Help them to choose their own goals to work towards, but make sure that they are achievable.
Let your child know that they can come and talk to you about any issues.
Unfortunately, not all children have a completely positive experience of school. Look out for any early signs or changes in behaviour, and take action where necessary.
Intervene, if you feel they are struggling, or there are any serious problems. Build a positive relationship with the school and find out where your child might be having difficulties, academically or socially. Ask their teacher or head of year what you can do to help.
Often emotional upset is caused by friends falling out, or worse, by bullying.
According to the NSPCC, over 16,000 UK pupils miss school because of bullying. Do not hesitate to go and talk to someone at their school if this is the case. Depending on the seriousness of the issue or the size of school, approach either their teacher, head of year or headteacher.
Enjoying school is a sound foundation for your child’s future.
Since positivity is a learned response, if you are happy and positive, your child will learn this, too.
With your support, your child will succeed. Help them to be the best they can be – whether that is a kind, gentle, caring and helpful person – or an intellectual genius. Academic or sports achievements are just the icing on the cake of a happy life.