Children learn from birth, not just when they start school. I think mostly people understand that. Most people also understand that parents do not simply hand responsibility of teaching over to a school, like a baton in a relay race.
Rather, it is a partnership that the school and families enter into, with the understanding that children continue their development already started at home, supported by both parents and teachers. Families and teachers work together to help children achieve the outcomes they need for life-skills (academic, social, emotional, spiritual, moral and physical development).
When I speak to parents who ask how they might prepare their children to start school, (entering Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten), there are some ideas and suggestions I leave with them (one is - don’t stop reading if you have older children – because it is still relevant).
Children respond well when given a voice; when their opinion counts and they are included in choices that involve them. For the little ones, it may start simply with input into their lunch box design; for older students it may involve more indepth input regarding what digital device they require for school.
When a little child chooses their own lunch box, he or she will be more inclined to have ownership and look after it. When involved in what goes into the lunch box, on a daily basis, he or she should be guided to make wise and healthy choices, and learn to justify requests. Requests do not have to be granted, but responses should be plausible. Not fighting to get one’s own way but healthy debating, is a good skill to have and will lead well into persuasive writing as a future skill.
We should encourage critical thinking and communication at this level. If we prompt children and students to come up with creative ideas, involving real-life issues, they respond by considering things in a more personal way.
Children should also be given authentic tasks. If we take the lunch box again, it should be the child who has the responsibility to take it out of their bag in the afternoon when arriving home (together with any notes from school). The responsibility to remember sport clothes, jackets, hats and library books is students’ responsibility. Parents can help students learn responsibility, by the expectations they have for very basic self-care.
Let us start when they are young, and this will continue to be a natural progression in their life-skills.
Mrs Antoinette Wilson
Head of Primary