Helping your child succeed at school

From Nine To Noon, 11:22 am on 28 July 2016
child writing at school

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Education consultant and parenting commentator Joseph Driessen talks about what parents of children who succeed at school are doing right.

Joseph Driessen explains what some families do to help their children succeed at school in this excerpt from the interview:

In families where it goes well, the parents do not think that learning is what the child does by themselves with the school and the parents have nothing to do with it. The parents think the opposite. They really foster a tremendous culture in the home that learning is a team effort and that we all do it and that it’s really important. It’s fun, it’s great, but we all should revolve our lives around it so the children can learn and do well at school. These parents talk to their children, they listen to them and they have a dialogue about how it is going. They’re part of the team.

And then what happens is that these parents encourage their children to have good habits, they might give them a good desk, and they might have a structure for when they should do their homework - when they’re younger especially. They want their children to be autonomous and independent, but often it takes a lot of discipline by the parents first of all before the child gains that self-motivation and discipline to do it. Then they are very caring and supportive.

Research shows that many of these parents don’t hesitate to sit next to their children and give them that emotional support and say "I can give you a hand here for a little bit." They don’t do it for them, but they definitely send a very strong signal; "I know what it’s like and I will help you if you need it. I am here for you". That is a very supportive stance.

They also have a fairly strong stance of being accountable, saying what needs to be done. "We’ve got a job and your job is to go to school and do your learning processes and enjoy it but realise it is your duty. It is something you have to do and you’ve got to do it really well".

That theme of being involved and helping the child, being nurturing and supportive and yet communicating to them that it’s actually very important, that doesn’t happen very well in some families. They’re a little bit passive. They think it is the job of the child. They might be watching television while the child is in their bedroom on their lonesome. These parents might have been repelled by the child who says, "This is my job, keep out of it". Then the child drifts off and the parents don’t intervene and think, "Well, we wouldn’t allow him not to go to school, so why would we allow him not to do his homework?"