Back to school

It’s Back to School for kids this week. Parents have been getting all the resources ready, new uniforms, books, laptops and other devices depending on the school requirements, and teachers have been hard at it planning for the year ahead.

But the homework doesn’t end for parents when we send our kids off to school for the first day. Here’s a few homework items we suggest!

Be mindful of your children’s emotions and tiredness

Whether they’re starting school for the first time, moving from primary to high school, or simply moving to a new class, it’s always a big transition. Kids have come off 6 weeks of family holidays, uninterrupted play and activities. Getting back into the grind can be a challenge.

Most schools and teachers realise this and they’ll ease kids into the routine, but others will start loading up on learning from the start. It’s up to us as parents to monitor how our kids are coping. Nobody knows them better than you.

They’re bound to be tired and maybe a bit irritable in the afternoons. Don’t be afraid to cut them some slack on homework. In fact, in primary school it might even be a colossal waste of time .

Let’s face it, our brains need time to recover after being engaged for significant time at work, our kids are no less in need of the opportunity to rest their weary heads.

Don’t surrender to the parental guilt of not pushing your kids hard on the homework thing. Even if they’re not keen to read their books, offer to read to them. It’s still valuable.

If you’re concerned with the amount of homework coming back, don’t be afraid to chat to your teacher to find out what their expectations really are. If you have any concerns, or feel your child’s sporting and musical classes that they might do after school are more valuable, don’t be afraid to make that point to the teacher. After all, it’s not all about the school and the teacher, learning is a team effort and you, your child and your teacher need to be on the same page.

Say no to NAPLAN

This might sound like controversial advice, but if your child is in year 3, 5, 7 or 9, don’t forget you have the right to withdraw your child from participating in NAPLAN. The high stakes nature, the media obsession, the tying of funding, and in some states even attempts to tie high school graduation to year 9 NAPLAN results – it all leads to stress and anxiety on kids, schools and teachers to make NAPLAN a focus.

There is no evidence that obsessing over NAPLAN is helping our academic results, and increasingly it seems that focusing on it, is actively reducing effective learning time, as more time is spent preparing.

More broadly, high stakes standardised testing has been shown to be ineffective and indeed leads to a misleading view of a child’s performance, let alone the school cohort.

But why withdraw? Quite simply because the higher the rates of withdrawal, the less meaningful the data is. The less meaningful the data is, the less the data appeals to media, politicians and bureaucrats who like to make a big deal about things.

In fact, maybe the NAPLAN story in 2017 will be about the levels of withdrawal? Now that’d be newsworthy!

So your tasks are:

  1. Ask your child if they WANT to do NAPLAN. Some kids really enjoy doing tests, and we would never suggest denying them the opportunity to do something they want to do – even if, in reality, it’s pointless.
  2. Write a letter to your teacher and principal, advising that your child will not be participating in NAPLAN testing or PREPARATION for NAPLAN testing.

It’s also a good idea to chat to your child’s teacher about what level of preparation they will be doing with the class. As your child won’t be participating, you want to be sure that their time will be usefully spent. Of course, that could just mean letting them go play, but as most schools have strict supervision guidelines, it’s probably worth suggesting reading, writing a story or drawing pictures.

There’s no doubt your child will achieve more than doing any NAPLAN practice testing anyway.

Make home fun

Above all, whether it’s the first week or the last week of term, home should be where your kids feel most comfortable. Let them play, let them have fun, and try not to be too demanding about schoolwork.

We hate taking our jobs home with us. So do our kids

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