Teacher Says…

Yesterday I talked about why I’ve been thinking about teachers so much lately, and featured my  chat with a dear friend and passionate teacher, Fiona Dunajewski. When I interviewed her I asked her what teachers want parents to know at this time of year as we prepare for Back to School. Here is what she said…

If you’re feeling a bit emotional…

Whether it’s your first baby starting school or your fifth, the first day is going to be emotional for everyone and we teachers understand, so don’t worry.

Fiona teacher 2.jpgOn those difficult mornings…

It can be very hard for a parents when their child starts out the day saying they don’t want to go to school – it’s so hard to know if they are having genuine difficulty at school or if they are just a bit tired and fancy a day on the sofa. What I suggest is that on days like these you talk it through with the teacher and try and find out the reason why. We are always happy to address any concerns parents have and welcome them to talk to us when they drop their kids at school. I have often had parents come into my classroom with a tearful child and tell me their child didn’t want to come in, but as soon as the parent leaves they are all smiles, playing with their friends and they end up having a happy day.

We are all on the same side.

Something I feel is so important is for parents to know is that we are all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. We want the best for your child – it is our job is to make sure they progress and they are happy. Please know that we wouldn’t suggest putting a strategy in place if we didn’t feel it was necessary, whether that be an Individual Education Plan or being kept out of assemblies for a bit of extra reading. At the end of the day it’s more work for us and we are certainly not going to give ourselves more work for no reason! It is so important that teachers and parents work together and support each other and that the children see this.

On how we can make education a happier and richer experience for our kids…

Please, please, read with your child at home! Unfortunately the school day is only six hours long and a lot needs to be covered in those six hours, so teachers won’t have time to do more than one or two quality reads with your child. It is a fact that those children who read at home progress faster in reading than those who don’t. Once children learn to read, everything else becomes much easier for them. You should aim to read with your child every night.

I know sometimes this is easier said than done. If your child refuses then try and offer a reward such as ’15 minutes of reading with Mum and then you can watch TV/go on the Xbox’ or suggest ‘you read one page and I’ll read one page’. If they are really not into it then occasionally you could read to them and ask them questions about what is going on in the story – ‘why’ questions are always good. Decoding words is only a very small part of learning to read; comprehension plays a much bigger part because what’s the point of reading if you don’t understand what you are reading? Often parents of older children stop reading with them at home because their child can read the words on the page, therefore they can read. However, there will be vocabulary in what they’re reading that they can decode but don’t understand. They will get much more pleasure out of reading if they get the full experience, and this is best when facilitated by a parent.

Reading to your child and asking questions is also a good strategy for those parents whose children are just starting school and are not able to read yet. It helps them to think about the book a little more and so when they learn to read themselves these comprehension skills will be second nature.

On the dreaded homework…

The other thing that parents need to do with their children (and this should really be a ‘no brainer’) is their homework. We don’t give homework for the sake of it – again it is more work for us at the end of the day. Homework not only helps children to progress in subject areas but it helps them with time management, which is a huge life skill. In our school we set one mini project every two weeks, normally based around the topic that the children are learning about. Some parents feel this is too much for their child and tell them that they don’t need to do it. This is a huge mistake. Fast forward a few years to high school, and parents who didn’t support homework will find that their child is completely overwhelmed by the amount that is given (at least 1 hour per night) – they are unprepared and they and they can’t cope. In real life we all have to work towards deadlines and the small bit of homework that we give in primary school, however insignificant it may seem, is preparing them for life beyond primary school.

On the start of the school year…

I hope you all have a fantastic 2016/2017 academic year filled with fun memories! To the newbies (parents and children) at the school gates, good luck on the first day – and don’t forget the tissues!

teacher.png

The pencils in the Featured Image of this post are by Letter C Design – find them on Etsy.

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