The active participation of a parent, or guardian in a child’s school journey plays a crucial role in their mental, emotional and academic development. However, in today’s fast-paced world, many struggle to rise to the challenge.
The demands of daily life and work commitments often make it difficult for parents to strike a harmonious balance while providing the necessary support and encouragement for their child’s needs. However, by making a deliberate and conscious decision to prioritise involvement even in the smallest way possible, parents have the ability to unlock a host of benefits such as improved academic performance, enhanced behaviour, heightened self-esteem and stronger parent-child relationships, just to mention a few.
The primary areas of emphasis include the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between parents and their children. It is essential to connect with your child on a daily basis, dedicating time to inquire about their day, including both the positive highlights and any challenges they may have faced. This can seamlessly integrate into your everyday routines, requiring minimal effort.
By remaining tuned to both your child's thought process and staying updated with the school's communications, you can acquire valuable insights regarding their growth and progress. This proactive approach facilitates the development of a comprehensive understanding of any potential challenges they may face and empowers you to actively monitor your child's academic advancement and emotional well-being.
Beyond school-related conversations, parents will discover other interests, hobbies, and aspirations that contribute to well-rounded development. By actively listening, supporting their interests, and encouraging exploration, parents can nurture their child's abilities and help them develop a sense of purpose and boost their self-confidence.
Secondly, it is vital for parents to actively engage in school activities and events, such as parent-teacher conferences, school fairs, sports matches and other gatherings. By prioritizing the time to participate in these events, parents demonstrate a genuine interest in and appreciation for the significance of their child's educational journey and overall development within the supportive learning community.
Third, maintaining a positive attitude towards the educational journey is crucial. If a child attends boarding school, they benefit from structured support systems that foster conducive learning environments. However, parents of day scholars should actively contribute to creating a positive atmosphere and a well-structured space. This can be achieved through a consistent routine, providing a quiet and comfortable study area, and limiting screen time. These are some essential elements in facilitating productive studying habits and maintaining an optimal learning environment.
Children may often feel anxious and overwhelmed about their studies, which is why it is important for parents and guardians to remain positive and encouraging, even when the going is tough. In addition, it is also important that parents help their children foster a growth mindset and develop a love of learning.
Parents can achieve this by encouraging curiosity, creativity and critical thinking and by helping their child set realistic and achievable goals. Celebrate progress and do not diminish their setbacks. Provide constructive feedback and guidance on the way forward if that is what they need. Always remember to regularly celebrate a child’s effort rather than outcomes only.
It is the responsibility of every parent to recognise the significance of parental engagement and the core role it plays in shaping a child's academic journey and overall school experience. This extends beyond the boundaries of the school environment, enabling children to become well-rounded individuals equipped for success in all aspects of life.
Coetzee is managing director, Crawford International School, while Ouya is education director at the Makini Group of Schools