Parents often approach teachers wanting to know what they should teach their children or how to prepare their children for school—should they teach them the letter names or sounds or how far should they teach them to count?
However, for most teachers, these are not of highest priority.
What teachers value most is an ability to:
- engage in conversation about experiences and ideas
- get along with others and make friends
- identify and organise personal belongings
and to have:
- an interest in books
- a curiosity about the world, and
- a willingness to have a go and try new things.
The best way parents can prepare their children for school is by spending time with them, talking with them, playing games with them, reading stories to them and encouraging their curiosity by providing them with opportunities to question, learn and explore.
It is important for parents to see themselves as their children’s first and most important teachers. When their children start school, it is not time for them to relinquish their responsibility. Instead, it is important for them to work in partnership with teachers to ensure the best chance of success for their children.
Last week I shared an article, originally published in The Conversation, in which Kym Simoncini provided parents with suggestions for developing young children’s interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)
This week, I share a letter to parents of children beginning school, congratulating them on their contribution and requesting their ongoing support.
Congratulations on teaching your child to speak!
Easy wasn’t it?
Did you know that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers?
By the time children start school some of their most important learning has already been accomplished.
- They have learned to walk and talk, to interact with others, and to recognise and name family members and friends.
- They know their way around their home and other places they frequent.
- They recognise features of their neighbourhood.
- They have acquired a great deal of knowledge about their environment and the world.
All this they have learned without formal instruction.
Now that they are starting school, with your continued support, teachers will guide your children through the next stages of their learning journey.
In their years before school, you encouraged your children’s learning by:
- talking to them
- playing with them
- reading stories to them
- giving them time and space to grow and develop at their own pace.
Parents, as your child’s first teachers, you are to be congratulated for laying these foundations for learning.
Starting school is not a time to stop doing all these wonderful things. Rather it’s a time to work together with the teachers to help the learning continue by showing interest in what your children are doing and learning, forging a strong partnership between the school and home.
It is also important to foster positive attitudes to school. The attitudes children have already formed about themselves as learners and to school will have an enormous impact on how well they adjust to the school situation and to learning.
Attitudes that will be of great benefit to your children’s learning and progress include:
Confidence–an “I can” attitude with a willingness to have a go, to try something new, and to not give up if not successful on a first attempt.
Curiosity–a willingness to investigate and explore, and to ask and answer questions.
Friendliness–kind and empathetic, aware of the effect of their actions on the feelings of others.
Persistence–prepared to see difficult or unpleasant tasks through to the end.
Organised–the ability to look after, and recognise their name on, their belongings.
Resilience–an understanding that they can choose their feelings and do not have to be influenced by hurtful words or actions of others.
Mindfulness–able to quiet their mind and be calm in the present moment.
Realise that every child is unique. Celebrate who your children are, what has been already achieved and the learning journey about to begin. Have a firm belief and expectation that your children will learn, but be patient with their learning and don’t expect it all to happen at once.
Schooling is a great adventure, one you should all enjoy.
Your child’s future teachers
A copy of the letter, ready to print, is available free in readilearn resources. Simply register to download and print.
Other newsletters and resources for parents include:
readilearn: teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
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