Teachers nurture your child in school; you do the same at home.
Here are 10 valuable parenting tips from primary school teachers.
1. Give precise instructions
“Never tell a child what not to do; tell him what to do instead. For instance, I’ve encountered occasions when a teacher says: ‘Do not run.’ And the kids just stand there, not knowing what to do.
“Instead, say: “Please walk.” They’ll naturally stop running and start walking. In the same way, don’t tell your kids ‘don’t waste your time’ – give them a timetable to follow instead.” – J. Heng, Primary 5 mother-tongue teacher
2. Let them fail
“We need to instil in our kids curiosity, confidence and resilience. So allow them to try, meet obstacles and yes, even fail. Often, we’re too protective and try to remove potential problems. Give them a chance to solve them – it may not be up to our standards but it meets theirs.
“Some kids are simply late bloomers. If we start branding them as ‘bad at maths’ when they’re in lower primary, it’s not fair to them – they could improve in P4 or P5.” – H. Lim, lower-primary English teacher
3. Extend learning in simple, effective ways
“Instead of asking your kids to do stacks of assessment books or attend endless tuition classes, extend their learning in simple ways.
“At home, they should read, review the day’s work and talk with you about what they learnt that day. This will lead to higher retention of knowledge and a better appreciation of what was taught.” – Ivy S., Primary 4 English and science teacher
4. Avoid gender stereotypes
“It’s important not to practise gender bias – give children the opportunity to show what they are capable of. Although boys are generally stereotyped as being rowdy, they can shoulder responsibilities like men! Trust them and they’ll rise to the occasion.
“Likewise, girls are thought to be physically weaker, but I have female pupils who are strong and can rearrange tables and chairs faster than the boys.” – Grace Loong, Primary 5 English and maths teacher
5. Appreciate what they can do
“Understand that every child is different and we shouldn’t use the same benchmark to measure success. Recognise every little effort your child makes to perform better – we do not always have to aim for the best results, but we should aim to put in our best effort in a task. Build confidence in your children, support them and help them to believe in themselves.” – Lim Hwee Chen, Primary 5 and 6 mother-tongue teacher
6. Find teachable moments
“Long car rides, a trip to the wet market or a walk at a nearby park – your kids can learn something every time you go out. On such outings with my three-year-old son, I introduce place-specific vocabulary, like the names of places, landmarks and related occupations, to him.
“Likewise, with my students, I try to share about current affairs and issues whenever possible. These teachable moments encourage a more vibrant discussion point for the English oral examination.” – Sharon Chia, Primary 5 English teacher
7. Invest in chatting with your kids
“No matter how exhausted you are after work, take a few minutes for a short catch-up with your child. During Career Day in school, I was surprised that some of my pupils didn’t know their parents’ occupations – some are asleep by the time their parents come home.
“Parents who talk to their children a lot help their kids become more confident. These parents engage in meaningful conversations with their children, where both parties are given the opportunity to listen and speak up.” – Constance Toh, NIE trainee teacher who has taught lower-primary students
8. Speak the same language as your child’s teacher
“Keep yourself updated on the syllabus and teaching methods used. It’s common for schools to offer workshops for parents, like Maths Model Drawing or Answering Techniques for Science Questions, to help you revise effectively with your child. Or consult the teacher to ensure that you’re using the same methods.
“Don’t introduce methods not in the syllabus – it will confuse your child. For example, don’t teach him to use algebra to solve a Pri 4 maths problem that instead requires the model-drawing method.” – H. Wong, Primary 6 English and maths teacher
9. Recognise and develop your child’s passion
“Support and develop your child’s interests and talents, whether academic or not. Self-esteem and confidence will stem from it, enabling your child to do better in other areas of life.
“One of my students had been losing motivation due to his learning difficulties. Things changed after he joined a co-curricular activity. He found his passion and went on to win competitions. His newfound confidence motivated him to persevere in his studies and he even managed to top his class.” – K. Tan, Primary 4 English teacher
10. Use music to engage them
“Music is a form of expression, and when children are actively involved in it, it can encourage their creativity. It could be singing, movement or playing instruments. Find out what songs your kids listen to and enjoy these songs with them. They’ll open up to you and be more willing to share about their lives or any problems they may have.” – S.W. Loh, primary-school music teacher
Bonus tip: be taught how to parent better!
Parenting isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need a little help to fine-tune your skills as a parent. Anita Shankar of Perceptive Parenting is a psychologist, social worker and parenting coach who can help you to be the best parent you can be.
By Young Parents, 21 April 2016