ok where do you start?(22 Posts)
I am probably late to this game - blame becoming a parent before I was ready, being of flighty nature and generally a bit "everything will turn out alright in the end"...but I need to grow up and getting more worried about the pressures children are under now, the results you're expected to get to be able to go to a good university and set them up for life in a job they can choose but will help them. Should mention I work in theatre and DH works in software so we're hardly the types to push DC into traditionally well paid careers - DH has fallen unexpectedly on his feet and I work in the worst paid industry in the world!
But, DS is now 6.5 and I'm worried I don't think ahead enough about his (and DD who is 3.5) education and "progression" but have no idea where to start. Not helped by the fact we're currently in the states and don't know where we'll be by the time DS reaches 11yo
So, for those of you more on the pulse, vaguely where did you start with your thoughts and research? How do you start to work out what kind fo school you and your child will be best with, do you focus on future academics or on creating a love of learning in the hope this inspires your child to do well (my tack to date but feel this might be lazy on my part)
Argh I think I'm tying myself in circles
I know things are different in the states but I certainly wouldn't be worrying at this stage!
I just read lots of books with them School think DC is G & T, which is largely meaningless but does show some inclination towards learning so I'm not worried. I just sent to local school, all was fine ...
Late to the game? He's only 6? How can you possibly be late to the game???
Age does not make you a good or a bad parent. However caring enough to question how you should raise your child does make you one of the better ones.
This is my opinion and it does differ greatly from a lot of what you will read on these forums. I always thought my child's education was my responsibility and too important just leave to the state. I taught her as much as I could at home, but always kept it fun. It is a fine line between inspiring a love of learning and pushing education too much. All I can say from my experience is that if you did want to add your child's education it involves a lot less telling a child things and a lot more listening to what your child is working out and trying to understand for themselves than most people would think.
Not much to say about the state sector (in England) - you have to be there to be in the system - and are likely to end up at your nearest school unless you make strenuous efforts (tuition / genuflection) not to be.
Where there is choice, in the independent sector, I'd say 6.5 is a sensible age to start thinking proactively. By this age your child will be showing you who they are and what they might need to reach their full potential. So you ask yourself where you'd like your DS to be at 13 (or 11 if you insist) and get your ducks in a row to make that happen.
Or you could stay in the US. Can't help with that!
Ok a few things that I've done that comes to mind
- choosing the right school for your child (it might not the the best one!)
- reading, reading and reading with your dcs
- talking and explaining everything. Don't worry if you think it's too hard or too comes or children aren't (suppose to be) interested in that. Talk about your job, about the plants around you. Go for a walk and point out the caterpillar and explain it will become a butterfly. Anything really.
- play and encourage self confidence. With self confidence will come the ability to stick with things and learn
- teach them to do things properly, incl the ones they don't like. Eg dress the table.
- resilience !!
- oh last one, if you see your dc is struggling in one area, support them the best you can at home (ie support the reading or the spelling if it's an issue etc). Don't wait until it has become a huge issue and you are at the end if primary.
In effect it's not that much about the academic issues, it's about learning to learn, learning to stick up to things. It's more about attitude.
All the academic stuff you were referring too will come later, end of primary when choices can make a big difference.
At this age, the most important thing you can do is read to them and listen to them read.
My DC are almost 16 and I guess there GCSE results in August will tell me if I've made the right choices .
Like the poster above, I've always seen their education as my responsibility and school as only one resource we use.
That said, a responsibility need not be a source of concern or anxiety. It's not a problem to be solved but a thing of enjoyment for you all.
At 6 I had chosen a primary school with lots of outdoor space and small classes.
I spent a lot of time reading to them! Lots of visits to our local zoo ( we had an annual pass), local farm ( ditto). Lots of visits to new places.
I was also a stickler to enduring their homework was done well.
Ensuring not enduring... Though sometimes it felt that way.
While I believe in reading to/with your child and listening to your child read, there is an awful lot more you can do to create a language/story rich environment than "just" reading. Theatre, musicals, films, singing, specialist guided tours (on holiday and for home grown tourism).... I'm a huge believer in the superior ability-boosting powers of spoken language, providing it is carefully crafted spoken language (not everyday utterances).
The other really useful skill that parents are uniquely placed to impart is emotional literacy: helping your DC to recognise and name, accurately, all their feelings/emotional reactions. This is a difficult, higher level skill that requires years of work.
getting more worried about the pressures children are under now, the results you're expected to get to be able to go to a good university and set them up for life in a job
One of the things you have to learn is that what worked / was true for your generation doesn't necessarily hold for your DC's generation. In my day, A grades were exceptional and set you up for life. Now everyone gets A grades (or so it seems!) and it is work experience or internships that set you apart.
The best thing you can teach them is not the IQ stuff so much as the EQ stuff. Teach them self-confidence and resilience. Show them that hard work and dedication trumps brain cells (Edison: genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration). Above all, teach them mutability and adaptability for the fast-changing future world (especially if you think that you might move house to a different continent!)
All the advice here and a little extra helping of explain everything to your child in as mature a way as possible, don't dumb anything down. Plus, never say you don't know something, go and find the answer together.
You are in the US. State school quality varies widely in the US just like it does in the UK. Are you happy with your DC's school? Are you aware of it's results/reputation? If it's good, then just make sure he is keeping up/ahead and worry about fitting back into Britain if that day ever comes.
Marking place to say to ATB that she is doing just fine with her kids and zoning out from the ultra pushy me me me US parents is no bad thing
Also remember they your dc might not want to go down the route of academic success. They might well go a more unconventional
Route where it's having learnt how to learn and resilience that will make the difference.
Thanks all - waves to TiP
You've made me feel a lot better. I've always read to DS and in the holidays we've been doing certain books that he reads, a set of books we're reading together and then every night I read a book to him (or more like a chapter of a longer book). He's really into art so we're visiting his favourite galleries and I'm trying to get him out to places like the observatory etc because I know he likes that stuff. I think I'm getting my knickers in a twist over sunday times supplements my mum keeps sending me, and worried that I'm not thinking ahead enough and planning enough.
When DS started school last summer I immediately wanted to pull him out and take him travelling and home school him, not that I would ever actually do it
because teaching kids how to read is boring but did make me question us going down the normal, traditional route. We don't have option to go private but there's a miasma of charter, magnet, public etc schools here which I suppose if nothing else (ie if we come home before the end of elementary) it will give me a good reason to look into all the schooling options. We are happy with the school - it's got a very high API, big parent involvement, people get on a very long list who live out of catchment to come there but feels very chilled once you're on there - and all the children know the principal who makes herself very available to everyone, but it doesn't have the same resources as some other schools (way more than a lot though). He seems to be doing well and he enjoys it but he just finished K and apparently the move to 1st grade is quite big
I like the "responsibility for learning", and I think I'll write down some quotes from you about building confidence and resilience and adaptability. Otherwise I'm going to tie myself up in knots
The balance with this generation seems to be between not closing down future opportunities by ticking the boxes of the best GCSE etc grades possible for a DC but at the same time ensuring that this does n't engender a narrow restrictive perspective about learning and achievement. As a parent there is often a major gap in what ideally we would have done and what we did do but it does n't stop us passing on our 'ideal' list.
My list at this stage for them would include of course the reading or listening to books and lots of games and discussions to make them confident and fluent with spoken language and articulating their thoughts and ideas (but also listening to others and thinking about their point of view). Also ensuring that they are not left behind with maths and are secure with the basic tools of arithmetic ( if they don't have a natural aptitude early on).
Encouraging them to concentrate on learning tasks for increasing periods of time (comes more easily to some than others).
Explore lateral thinking puzzles and open ended questions without the mentality of right and wrong.
Don't let them just stay within their comfort zone of what they are naturally good at in their activities and academics.
Encourage the mentality and the practice that other languages are spoken and not just an exercise in school ( not an issue if a DC is from a multilingual family).
Make sure that they have the courtesy to listen and willingness to try which will help teachers teach them IYSWIM.
I never have really planned any learning, formal or otherwise, even though we've done plenty. Its always just sort of flowed in, whether that's been from museum visits leading to questions or just random every day occurences like going shopping. We did cover a range of topics not just curriculum ones, but certainly at a young age I guaged it on her interest rather than what I thought she should know, eg she was interested in learning about evolution long before any desire to learn to read so that's what I went with at that period and so on. And the same now really.
I picked her primary on their attitude and ethos and my opinions on the staff, the actual results were below national average but were composed from individual levels over a wide range which for me was a big indicator they were willing to do their best for the individual child not just good ratings.
This may be a subset of resiliance but one of the most important things my DC have learnt is not to be afraid of making mistakes. DS2 was something of a perfectionist which led to him not trying anything new. Point out your own mistakes and remind him that everyone makes mistakes.
I think this is fascinating & even though my dd's are younger my husband & I see ourselves as their main educators with school supplementing the acedemics that we can't teach at home. I can understand the op's post having relatives in the states it seems the US schools really push acedemics from a very early stage & have cut physical education time/free play to boost the acedemic results. Also it all seems riciculously competitive over there... sweeping generalisation but just going by relatives attitude..
I think I get easily panicked by the number of other children doing kumon and extra languages and all sorts of other things outside of school which are paid for by professionals, not parents teaching them....
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