As teachers and parents, we are guided by certain principles in playing our roles as their guardian. Often times, these principles overlap and all we need to do is identify and reinforce these areas. The tips we need in managing our communication with our children to perform better academically has been discovered. 5 easiest ways teachers and parents can best educate young children include :
1. Ask (the right) questions:
Asking children questions in the easiest ways to make them understand better will educate young children.
For example: Some parents shared their experiences of asking their children questions and the responses they got.
When my daughter came out of her class one day shortly after her course started, I asked her, ‘What did you do in class today?’. She replied, ‘I sneezed’. Then, I realised that if I were to get any useful information about what she had done in class, I was going to have to change my line of questioning.
Although my daughter is only two years old, (and more experienced parents than me would not have asked such a broad question to start with), questioning our children at any age about what they have done in class is a natural thing to do. We want to know that they are happy and settled, and that they are learning. Doing this immediately after class is a good strategy, when things are still fresh and you are still in the school environment.
Similarly, a child’s artwork can provide a prompt for asking questions: ‘What (or who) is it?’; ‘What colours did you use?’; ‘Can you show me how you did it?’; ‘Did you like making it?’; ‘What other things did you like today?’; ‘Who did you play with?’; and so on.
Teachers also want their students to reflect on their lessons, but with young children especially, this is a learned skill. Setting aside a few minutes at the end of a lesson to ask children what they liked best, or what helped them, is always a good idea. It is most beneficial when followed up with ‘Why?’. For very young children, providing them with pictorial prompts that illustrate feelings – fun, exciting, interesting, easy, hard and boring, etc. – can often help elicit responses. Using crafts or activity books to prompt reactions is also useful. Reflection will later build into self-reflection if the habit is re-enforced, enabling children to recognise the value in the activities we set them.
Asking children questions refreshes their memories and reminds them of what they’ve learned in school for the day and before.
2. Reinforce desirable behaviour
Early-years lessons should contain themes and values that are broadly desirable as opposed to culturally specific. They should include sharing, helping friends, saying sorry and forgiving each other, making amends, accepting each other, team work, taking turns and being polite.
In the classroom, activities can easily be developed to include turn-taking and sharing, and encourage polite and co-operative behaviour, but the teacher needs to provide support and encouragement. For parents, letting children talk politely with shop assistants and people in lifts and restaurants is a positive way to keep the context real for them. Also, encouraging positive behaviour when playing with friends or asking for something supports the process enormously.
Children don’t learn these behaviours automatically, yet they are an essential part of being a well-rounded adult. Starting early and reinforcing this behaviour in and out of the classroom will yield positive benefits in the future.
3. Avoid grading
This is an aspect of early-years education, which can be difficult for parents from a variety of educational contexts to come to terms with. In many countries, children are graded and measured against their peers just to get into a kindergarten. Yet we would never dream of grading our children at home.
Every child has a range of strengths, but these will not be apparent all at once. The absence of grading means that children can develop their skills and try new ones in a relaxed and natural environment. It also means that teachers can spend more quality time helping children develop those skills without feeling pressure to assign a grade to them.
When planning lessons, we need to take all our learners and their varied needs into account. Children will find that movement, reading, writing, visual, and audio input all help them learn. Children use a combination of these, and the way they use them is not set in stone. As children acquire new skills, they develop new ways of solving problems and getting the most out of activities. Similarly, at home, providing a range of materials and toys for children lets them experiment with different ways of learning.
Of paramount importance is the issue of confidence. If young children can use English in a fun, creative and inclusive way, the hope is that this will support happy, secure learners who, in future, won’t see English as a hurdle to overcome, or just another school subject they have to study.
Growing up as a child, whenever I received my test script or mid-term report card and I sighted an F9, that drastically lessened my high morale as a happy and cheerful child that I was. It made me feel inferior to my peers and almost depressed whenever I had to go home because I knew my dad would lash the hell out of me like he wanted to beat a demon out of a child. This always made me feel like I didn’t need to go to school because school wasn’t meant for people like me, I thought. School wasn’t fun at that point. I always cried endlessly, thinking my teachers never liked my tomboy face and my peers didn’t want to play with me, that’s why they were failing me. Lol. Isn’t that funny thinking like a child that I was?
4. Praise strengths, but also effort
Giving praise can be tricky. Both parents and teachers naturally want to encourage children and instil a positive sense of achievement, but this often takes the form of quite generic compliments, such as ‘well done’, or ‘good work’. In a classroom, it also tends to be reserved for academic progress. While praise in itself is heartening, it can be much more effective when targeting specifics.
One way to do this is by commenting on the actual thing a child did well, such as sharing, following instructions, helping a friend, giving a correct answer, or singing well. This shows that a teacher or a parent appreciates that particular aspect, and in doing so reinforces it as desirable and provides an example to others.
Another aspect of praise, which is often overlooked, is effort. For young children, this is at least as important as the result. Praising the effort they have made shows that we support them through the full process, and notice their small triumphs. It’s important to note that adults don’t do things equally well either, but the effort is still appreciated.
Most parents do not know that praising or buying gifts for the child for performing well academically was a form of motivation to do better the following academic term. When a child performs poorly in school, you shouldn’t blame it on him/her. Instead, you could say “You are better than this result, put in more efforts”, or “I know you’re the best in your class, so you must do better in the coming academic term. ”
This reminds me of my childhood years, I wasn’t performing well due to switching schools as a result of relocation. This affected my academic performance the first term in the new school and my parents blamed it on me because my academic performance reduced drastically. I was regularly lashed and it boosted the poor academic performance contrary to what my parents had planned. Physical attack doesn’t solve the problem of your child’s poor academic performance, rather it either worsens the case or it brings the worst result out. I started performing better when my dad realised he could relate with my class teacher, then it made him understand the challenges I was encountering in school and how to deal with them.
5. Develop the parent-teacher relationship
There are many ways in which the parent-teacher relationship can be mutually beneficial. Parents and teachers can both share valuable insights into a child’s personality. Teachers can pass on information about how the child copes with a classroom environment, and additional strengths and skills which they have uncovered through various activities. Teachers can keep parents informed about the syllabus, including themes, which can be easy to reinforce at home. Parents can easily present the theme of helping friends, for example, by introducing a book, cartoon or song on the topic, role-playing with toys, or setting up a play date with another child.
It’s most effective when teachers and parents speak to each other face-to-face, but occasionally emailing parents with brief feedback can help maintain the relationship, and encourage a more meaningful exchange of views. Keeping the lines of communication open for queries or information from parents helps make the relationship more equitable, so that the information isn’t going one way, as often happens.
Finally, one of the most important ways to develop and maintain a good parent-teacher relationship is simply by showing appreciation for each other. If a child sees a parent and teacher thanking each other, the co-operative aspect is reinforced. It’s also valuable to have your child thank the teacher, and for a teacher to thank the children for coming.
I could remember while in school, my mum was involved in a Parent-Teacher Association which was strictly for parents, teachers and the school administrator to have a one-on-one discussion as regards to our performances. She used to attend the PTA meeting in my school. After a while, I started improving in my academic performance and it got better than before.