For many this week seems more like the beginning of the new year than January 1. Kids are back at school, beginning a new school year, filled with excitement and apprehension about what lies ahead for them. Many parents are also filled with apprehension as they wonder how their little shining stars will do in school, whether they will thrive, learning and successfully working in the school system in a way that will help them progress, achieving success as the year unfolds before them.
Elizabeth Renzetti in the Globe and Mail, Aug 31 Feeling anxious about school? Parents, you are not alone discusses the seemingly global concerns of parents around the quality of education their children are receiving. She spotlights some countries, identifying what appears to make their educational system somewhat superior to others. It is interesting to learn how different countries approach the universal challenge of providing a high standard of education to their young in a way that supports continued learning, where the children can thrive and maximize their potential.
She makes reference to Amanda Ripley, an American journalist who has written a book “The Smartest Kids in the World”. The book discusses her exploration of the educational systems in the 65 countries in which all 15 year students take a standardized test through the Programme for International Student Assessment. In the very last paragraph of this piece, Renzetti refers to Ripley who recommends: “The main thing parents can do for their kids, Ms. Ripley argues, is to read to them (a lot), ask them questions (a lot) and above all, expect them to think. A lot.”
This struck a chord with us. It seems the learning of children in all countries involved can be supported by parents who are intentional in how they connect with their kids. By reading with them, being curious – asking questions of them and expecting them to think, parents can provide the kind of support that will help their children learn. Once again, curiosity manifested through the asking of open questions which can encourage kids to think is found to be useful! Once again, we see the power of curiosity.
So what does this mean? We believe this means, as parents, there is a need for us to support our children and how they learn by showing up in a curious way, asking those open questions that ensure our kids pause, reflect and are thoughtful in their response. Such communication opportunities ensure they have the opportunity to build those reflective skills so necessary for thinking and learning.
This is the beginning of a new school year. How can you be more curious with your kids? We invite you to take just five minutes at some point during your time with your kids, perhaps in the evening or over the dinner table.
- BE Present with them.
- BE CURIOUS.
- Ask those open questions (begin with who, what, how, where, when or why) that can’t be answered by yes or no.
- Listen 110% to what they say focusing on and being in the moment with them.
- Explore their thoughtful comments in an open way that encourages them to reflect and be thoughtful in their response.
- BE CURIOUS
- What have you learned?
- What has your child learned?
We invite you to develop this practise on a daily basis and reflect after 5 days:
- What have you learned about your child?
- How have these conversations supported learning for your child?
- What is needed to continue to build these conversations to be even better?
Share with us below what your tips are for back to school and how you like to support your child.