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The importance of parent-teacher relationships and how to have them
Your child’s education does not end when the last school bell rings. Rather, it continues at home with you, the parent. Parents take the baton from teachers once school lets out; it becomes their responsibility to make sure the learning continues. This is why the relationship between parents and teachers is very important--they are partners. They have to be on the same page and have trust in each other. Education researchers S.L. Christenson and S.M. Sheridan wrote in School and families: Creating essential connections for learning (2001): Both parents and teachers have an important role to play; their roles do not replace but rather complement and reinforce the other’s role, thus providing the student with a consistent message about reading and learning. Thinking of parents and teachers as “partners” refers to this mutual effort toward a shared goal. It also implies shared responsibility of parents and teachers for supporting students as learners. It is best when parents know what teachers are doing in the classroom and teachers know what attention parents are providing at home. This way they reinforce the same teaching practices and habits that will boost the child’s learning and self-esteem. It is a lot more collaborative when both parties are on the same page. Here are a few ways parents can make sure they keep their bond strong with their child’s teachers: 1. Set expectations from the beginning Even before meeting the new teacher or sending your kid off to school, you need to go in with the right mindset. This means to decide on what you expect from the teacher and the school year, as well as what the teacher can expect from you and your child. You could let the teacher know your child has a hard time coming out of their shell, but you hope that they will become more expressive by the end of the year. You could let the teacher know you work multiple jobs but are generally free for night events. You and the teacher should be on the same page--and it helps if you have a clear vision of this page going in. 2. Attend parent-teacher meetings Try your best to go to all parent-teacher conferences, meetings, and events. By attending frequently and punctually, you show respect for the teacher and prove that you take your child’s education seriously. This is also the perfect opportunity to discuss successes, challenges, and other important information. 3. Communicate clearly and thoroughly Ask questions to understand the classroom environment. You can ask teachers about how they handle issues and talk to children, as well as what they expect from students and parents alike. You can listen to the teacher’s concerns as well as raise your own. Ask for the best way to contact the teacher outside of conferences. 4. Show your appreciation and respect Show that you respect and appreciate teachers. Write them thoughtful cards or get them appropriate gifts. Compliment them on any progress that you see or explain what seems to be working well for your child. However, do not act too chummy; there should be boundaries as it is a professional relationship. Never vent, either. If you have concerns, phrase them constructively. If you give the right attention to the teacher, they will do the same toward your child. Think of how you treat the teacher as the way you want the teacher to treat your child. 5. Maintain your child’s positive opinion Children are quick to pick up on things. Be wary of how you speak to and about their teacher when your child is within hearing distance. This may negatively affect their view of their teacher, which could then affect their behavior in the classroom. This negative view might even be passed along to your teacher, intentionally or not. Either way, behave respectfully even away from the teacher’s eye. 6. Collaboration is key Working together with your child’s teacher can bring about great things, especially if your child is struggling in certain areas. You can create plans with the teacher to address challenges observed in the classroom and once they are in place, check if they have helped in any way. This is a partnership, so rather than telling the teacher what to do or only working on said problems at home, you want to make sure both sides are on the same page and in agreement with the next steps to take. Listen with an open mind to the teacher’s suggestions. Feel free to give your own input. Also, update your teacher on how the child behaves or studies at home and what you have been doing to help. Remember, communication is key to collaboration. 7. Create a comfortable environment Another thing you can do is to speak more personally rather than directly. This means you should put more of an emphasis on how you are feeling or doing than what the teacher is doing so as to avoid putting them on the defense. Instead of saying, “You did not tell me how my son is doing on his homework,” you can say, “I would love to know how my son is doing on his homework.” There is a greater sense of engagement this way. It will make the teacher feel more comfortable about relaying news, updating you, and addressing any issues, which then opens you up to knowing everything that is going on in your child’s school life. Keeping all of these tips in mind, you will be able to nurture a strong and mutually respectful relationship with your child’s teachers. By communicating openly and politely, you will be opening doors for your child’s education. Think of teachers as your child’s mentors and your partners striving for a common goal. Do you have any tips you want to share with other parents?
Must-have skill for children #6: writing vividly
Narrative writing is one of the easiest types of writing for young children to grasp. Before they graduate into expository or persuasive writing styles, they often learn how to tell a story. In order to tell a story effectively, children need to relay stories, feelings, and ideas in a way so that readers understand the message and can live in the experience. And in order to do that, children need to write vividly. It all comes down to this must-have skill. However, children may have a hard time being specific and writing in detail when they are young. They are in the early stages of understanding grammar and communicating coherently. This is why it is important to get them to exercise their creativity and expressiveness early on. There are many figures of speech and other tools to up-level their writing. Here are just a few, and we have included this in a downloadable file near the end, so you can share these tips with your child! Your child can use... Prepositional Phrases: Phrases that use prepositions to indicate where one object is in relation to another. Ex. She placed the book on her bedside table. Your child does not have to give stage directions, but adding a few extra details helps the reader envision what is happening. Little specifics can turn a passage into a scene. Sometimes a sentence seems incomplete without this detail. The example above would seem cut short or unimportant if it had just been, “She placed the book.” By saying where she placed the book, your child provides both a visual and a suggestion that she plans to read in bed later. Metaphors: These are figurative speeches that compare one thing to another. Similarly, a simile is a type of metaphor that uses “as” or “like.” Ex. Hugs from mums are as comforting as naps in front of crackling fireplaces. You cannot get more colorful in your writing than by including some beautiful metaphors. Similes may be the easier type for your child to understand and utilise, but no matter how they do it, their writing will definitely become more flowery and vivid to the reader. This especially is helpful in moments when the reader may not understand a new concept or object introduced in the story. Plugging it into a more familiar scenario, like “the cloud looked as fluffy as a pillow,” could make it easier for a reader who never saw the cloud to imagine what it actually looks like. Interjections: These are abrupt remarks to express or exclaim a feeling or response. Ex. Wow! Geez! Oh no! Hah! Yeah! These can be inserted in as dialogue to add some excitement and realism to a conversation or event! If a character comes across something surprising and does not say anything of the sort, that seems unlikely or bland for the narrative. Add in excitement through reactions, and what better way to show such reactions than to sprinkle in some occasional interjections? Onomatopoeia: These are words to express a sound that is made. They can be used as a noun or a verb, as well. Ex. Rrrring! Plop! Ruff. Spice things up! Make things more fun and exciting by using onomatopoeia! Instead of saying, “The telephone rang,” your child can introduce the telephone into the scene by jumping right into the “Ring! Ring!” Part of vivid writing is to awaken the senses and what better way to awaken the hearing sense than to use onomatopoeia? It will grab the reader’s attention as if they heard the sound in real life. Variety in Word Choice: Antonyms: words that have opposite meanings Synonyms: words that have similar meanings Your child can switch up their language through the appropriate use of synonyms and antonyms. After a while, language can get boring and repetitive. To keep the writing dynamic, your child can look up ways to replace certain words that have been said too frequently. This will also help to improve their vocabulary! They should take care to not constantly use big words for the sake of it and to truly understand nuances because even synonyms can be used in different ways. For example, “renowned” can mean being known by many people but is often used positively. On the other hand, “infamous,” a word that is used incorrectly quite often, means being well-known for a bad reason. They can also insert adjectives or adverbs as well as change their sentence structures to switch things up. == With these new tools and tips, included in the convenient downloadable file, your child will have up-leveled their writing in no time! Download and print the file so your child can use this handy aid in school or for homework. They will surely feel more confident and impress their teachers. Other things that always help with writing is to encourage your child to read as many books as possible and enrol them in our English and Reading & Writing programmes! Check them out here, and happy writing!
Education is not only about learning but also creating
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Some suggest Einstein’s theory of relativity and general genius did not derive from how much he knew to be true but how much he imagined to be possible. Your child could be the next Albert Einstein--but only as long as they protect their creativity. Here at JEI Learning Centre, we believe that creativity is one of the most important aspects of learning. That is why we encourage our students to stay curious and ask many questions; doing so feeds their imagination and innovates their thinking process. That is why we do not primarily focus on repetitive drills and memorisation; they fail to foster understanding and creativity. Children are naturally born to be creative. However, as they grow older, they become less so. NASA did a long-term study on children that found 98% of the 1,600 participants between four and five years of age could be considered creative geniuses. However, after a mere five years, only 30% of that group could still be considered creative geniuses. Another five years lapsed with the percentage dropping to 12%. When the same test was given to adults with an average age of 31, only 2% were considered creative geniuses. Education and creativity advocate, Sir Ken Robinson, believes the problem lies in the school system. In one of the most viewed Ted Talks, he asks, “Do schools kill creativity?” and goes on to say that children, as they grow into adults, become more afraid of being wrong because of what they are taught. Schools do not reward mistakes; rather, they try to wring failure out of everything as much as possible. He is not the only one to note this problem. Andria Zafirakou, a teacher who received Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher Prize, said, “There are not enough opportunities for teachers to promote creativity in the classroom, simply because our syllabuses are so tight there’s no time to deliver the content, let alone enjoy and be creative in the ways we deliver the subjects.” A former finalist for the same prize, music teacher Brian McDaniel, said, “A lot of kids are taught out of their creativity—they are taught right answers and wrong answers.” The testing system is also deemed problematic. One article states, “[S]tudents have been exposed to such a rigid form of education that the only thing being ingrained in their minds is the importance of memorisation and how to fill in bubbles.” Another points out, “Testing limits creativity when focused on finding a single correct answer when, in reality, there could be multiple.” Sir Ken Robinson concludes, “Creativity, now, is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” It is important to integrate creativity into your child’s education for many reasons. One of those reasons is that your child is going to need it for the workforce in a couple of years, whether they are going into the arts or business field. These days, employers want to see that potential candidates have the creative thinking skills to tackle projects and envision growth for the company. Some of the most successful businesses practice the “20% rule” now in which they want their employees to spend 20% of their time in the office brainstorming new ideas and thinking outside of the box. Executives believe that the global market has greatly shifted to prioritise critical thinking, creativity, and communication rather than calculation and other tasks that robots or computers can handle on their own. This goes hand in hand with The World Economic Forum’s 2016 future of jobs report, which predicts problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity would be the top three skills required in the workforce by 2020. From current employees’ perspectives, 55% of employed Americans in a 2018 poll agreed with the statement that creativity is required in their job, and 60% believed that being more creative leads to greater success in the workplace. As a parent, you will want to take note of such trends to give your child the best chance at success in the future--but this is not limited to the career trajectory. Creativity will uplevel your child’s life in general. It will improve your child’s flexibility and personal motivations because creativity puts the process before the results. Your child will be much better at adapting to situations on the spot, which comes in very useful for unexpected setbacks. Creativity allows them more agency, as well. It may look like daydreaming, but thinking outside the box is very active, go-getting behaviour. It involves asking questions and searching for information. On the other hand, learning at school can be quite passive with students absorbing what their teachers say, consuming textbooks, and taking everything at face value. One way to help your child with their creativity is to promote the act of reading, which is a more active form of entertainment than binge-watching Netflix. Reading will help your child to mentally construct the worlds and characters described in the pages. You can also encourage them to write their own stories! There are many other creative tools at hand like colouring books. You can encourage your child to get really creative by colouring outside the lines or using unusual colours! Vision boards are another fun idea that has the added benefit of setting goals for your child. Whenever your child gets a project in school that allows them to use some creativity, take full advantage of it! Instead of having your child take the easiest route with the project, have them think outside of the box to come up with something truly impressive. Get creative with your child and watch them grow to become innovative and vibrant! You will see it pay off in the long run, not only by bringing success to your child’s future but also by improving their quality of life overall. Watch them become coveted members of society with companies vying for their creative solutions in a rapidly changing job market. Watch them connect to people through their ability to think outside the box and keep an open mind. Creativity is the foundation for all of these possibilities in the future. Join JEI Learning Centre in our belief that each individual has infinite potential--and education with a big dose of creativity is the key that will unlock this for your child.