Ethan Hildreth is a parent of five and school leader at Nord Anglia American International School Abu Dhabi. As we approach the Easter mid-term break, he shares his tips on the ways that parents can encourage learning from home, and still have fun with their children during the school break.
Students might have similar abilities and access to a similar quality of education, but very different outcomes and achievements. One of the main factors that influences this is their family and home environment. Support in the home can enhance a child’s learning ability in school and may give them a distinct advantage over those with a less advantageous home environment. With this in mind, here are seven ways in which every parent can help improve a child’s path to success at school:
1. Encourage reading this mid-term holiday
School holidays are the perfect time to catch up on reading, which is one of the most beneficial activities for children. Reading is the source of hours of entertainment: not only does it open up a world of imagination, it also improves vocabulary and creativity, which are key to learning and development.
Use this time to reconnect with your child. Things can be hectic during the school term, and it’s hard to find time around school, work, and everyday chores. Be open with them; ask questions about school, friends and interests to open and maintain channels of communication. From there, you can help your child to discover their strengths and interests, while encouraging creativity.
3. Help shape their character
This can be achieved by focusing on their little habits. In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It’s really important to encourage children to pay attention, to listen, to be organised, and to share. Perhaps the most important thing is to teach children the importance of respect: for adults, their peers — and for themselves.
4. Enjoy the Outdoors
There’s nothing quite like breathing in the fresh air to escape from it all, especially at this time of year. Taking nature walks together in Spring is one of the best ways to build and share a sense of wonder, peace, and gratitude.
5. Appreciate the arts
Use this mid-term break to introduce your children to the arts, and to encourage them to appreciate and express their own opinions. Why not take a day out with your family and visit a museum, gallery, or a show?
6. Take advantage of technology
Technology is central in our lives. This mid-term, try to encourage your child to interact with smart devices in a positive way. There are lots of interesting alternative apps and websites that encourage learning while being fun and stimulating. Khan Academy is just one example of a great resources that can accelerate learning.
7. Live a balanced life
Everything in moderation! Enjoy the extra time with your children and encourage health and wellbeing as a cornerstone of life. Model a lifestyle that emphasises self-care: good nutrition, fitness, and adequate rest.
Help your child to understand the enriching value of hobbies, sports, and other interests. Most importantly of all, remember that when you take care of yourself, it becomes easier to take care of your child… and enjoy your time with them.