Being a parent of a school-going child nowadays can be extremely stressful. The frustration of not knowing what the homework is about, hearing about how the new computer program at school is “soooo amazing” and having to understand all the latest features of the social media world can get very overwhelming.
With all of this going on, it can be an added difficulty when your child is not as interested in school as you would hope. Tough love does not always work and to make matters worse, you cannot also allow them to just do whatever they want.
Most of the time, children know exactly what they want. They go through phases where they might enjoy listening to Justin Bieber and then suddenly, it’s all about Drake. Trying to stay up to date with the latest and hottest new celebs or songs can be quite exhausting.
The same can be attributed to school. Learning, and the manner of learning, has been modified and it changes constantly. It can therefore be quite dreary thinking about all the content that you as a parent have to invest in, but imagine how that might be for your child?
Board to paper is now a thing of the past. Children are exposed to technology, fifty different teaching platforms and a vast amount of knowledge. They should be totally into learning right?
Well, not exactly.
Children sometimes develop anxiety over the amount of new content that is presented to them, and it can be even more stressful with the classroom environment, not to mention peer pressure. A parent’s job becomes that much harder.
So how do you manage to keep your child interested in learning?
Create an ethos of learning
The definition of ethos is to develop a character trait that becomes part of your identity. As a parent you are a key ingredient in how your child’s identity forms, and what forms part of it.
Being a lifelong learner yourself is a great way to encourage your child to “want” to learn.
Have conversations with your child about what learning means to you. Parents often expect their children to just learn, to know how to be ready for and good at school, but this is rarely the case. Children need information too. Forming connections is the best way to build ethos.
Ethos is not a word, but an action. Your child should therefore radiate the need for knowledge, while you, on the other side of the coin, should radiate it too. Allow and encourage them to ask questions at home!
Here is an example: If your child asks you how the fridge works go to Google and ask them to read up about it and explain it to you. In this way, they are actively involved in their learning.
Creating this need for learning may be time consuming, but it will eventually be worth it.
Find the right motivation
Motivation in the right direction can be challenging. Children have so many distractions these days. It’s easy to lose focus on school when there is so much happening in the online world.
As parents, we need to motivate our children to stay on the right path. Yes, sometimes the idea of becoming a social media influencer can be so tempting, and can even be a very good job opportunity, but your child needs to understand that they still need school to accomplish their goals.
The best way of finding the right motivation for your child is to find out what interests them. This does not mean taking it away from them when they don’t listen, but rather using it as motivation for them to want to do better. For example, I am sure that the person who created TikTok went to school and worked hard to learn how to perfect their app.
I would suggest you create a vision board with your child. This vision board can be as creative as they want and can include pictures and drawings. First, ask your child what he or she would like to become and then work backwards to where they are now.
A vision board will allow them to visualise exactly how they would like their future to look. It does not matter how old they are, your children will enjoy being able to share their dreams with you. Once they see their desired future set out like this, they will know that they are accountable for their own future and will hopefully start taking the right steps towards this future.
Set the tone
Learning is a holistic skill. It is not just aimed at one sphere of their life. School and home should “speak” to one another, just as the parent and teacher have to have an open form of communication.
Find a space in your house that is conducive to learning. It can be a room, if you have one, or a little corner in the lounge, where you can create a comfortable space for your child to read or complete their schoolwork. Place some of your child’s work on the walls, and maybe put their vision board up. Take some of the books that they like to read and make a reading corner. These ideas can help you to create an atmosphere of learning. There should also be a fixed time each day where your child knows that it’s learning time.
Some days, you can teach your child something and other days your child can be the teacher. Make your child aware of the importance of this time, even when you are not there.
Mistakes are meant for learning
There should be no limitations on learning. Teachers find that the reason most learners do not come to school to learn is out of fear of making mistakes.
The one thing I maintain in my classroom is that it should rather be wrong, but not blank. Learning cannot happen if only one party is involved. Learning is an interaction between the teacher and the child, or the parent and the child. In order for learning to take place, the child has to engage. If the answer is wrong, great! At least they tried. Chances are, they won’t get the answer wrong again.
Give your children the opportunity to learn in their own way. Kids are unique and they can navigate through the journey of learning pretty easily without feeling as though they need to do it one way. We need to create an environment for them to learn, while motivating them on their level.
It will be tough, but as Nelson Mandela said, “It’s always impossible, until it’s done.”