Teachers know best when it comes to how kids learn, and fortunately, Canadian Family has access to the nation’s top educators! We’ve asked some of this year’s Great Teacher Awards finalists for their thoughts on how parents can be active partners in engaging their kids in meaningful learning and making the school day count. Here’s what they said.
As a parent of two boys (ages 11 and nine) and a physical education, drama, music and visual arts teacher to more than 100 Grade 1, 2 and 3 students, I would recommend some physical activity to start the day, especially if there is a bus ride involved. The statistics are out there to support it—20 minutes of activity will give a student about two hours of focus. —Chris Rapin, Grades 1–3, Ernest Cumberland Elementary School, Alliston, Ont.
Be a co-learner
Kids love being able to share their excitement—but they need us to know the questions to ask. By tracking year-long plans, talking about books being read in class, helping with research work or cooperatively doing Internet searches for more information, parents and students can share the excitement of being co-learners. —Wendy Parliament, Grade 7/8, Enterprise Public School, Enterprise, Ont.
I encourage parents to raise children who are not afraid to take chances, children who are curious and want to explore. Don’t give your children all the answers. Guide them, yes, but let them make discoveries on their own. Help them to become critical thinkers. —Cecile Gerwing, Pre-Kindergarten, Ecole Camille J. Lerouge, Red Deer, Alta.
Get to know your child’s teacher
I’d strongly recommend that parents take any opportunity they can to get to know their child’s teachers and develop a partnership with them. Teachers don’t only want to see you when there is an issue—building a positive relationship is beneficial on many levels. —Julie Lade, Grades 10–12, Highroad Academy, Chilliwack, B.C.
Encourage the right attitude
Parents (and students) really need to see education from Grades 1 through 12 as that first, all-important career and not just a way to fill seven hours a day. Can you show up late to a job? Can you come in unprepared? Can you fall asleep at your desk? Can you fail to pull your own weight? Can you refuse to complete your responsibilities? Maybe every once in a long while, but not weekly, not if you want to succeed. —Andrew Smith, Grades 9–12, Bert Church High School, Airdrie, Alta.
Develop healthy habits
Ensure proper sleep and nutrition. Limit use of electronic devices. Help your child become organized for the day the night before. Know where they are and help them develop routine and effective study habits so that in class and out of class, he or she is aware of classroom and home expectations. Make sure they know you are interested and that you care. —Carolyn Stacey, Grades 7–9, Macdonald Drive Junior High, St. John’s, N.L.
Teenagers are at the point where they are starting to pull away, but stay involved in any way you can. Be aware of what’s going on at school. Come cheer them on in sports or in the school play. Attend parent-teacher night. —Tamiko Ferguson, Grades 9–12, Queen Elizabeth Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Kingston, Ont.
Ask the right questions
Be very specific when asking your children about their learning. Kids often get asked, “What did you do today?” and respond, “Nothing.” Or “How was your day?” and respond, “Fine.” By asking “What was the best thing you did today?” or looking at their work together and asking “Can you explain this to me?” children are more likely to respond in detail. It shows them that their parents are interested and truly care about what they’re doing in school. —Melissa Brown, Grades 4–8, Talbot Trail Public School, Windsor, Ont.