At Waiheke High School , parents are considered to have an important role in the education their children receive and are, therefore, a key part of the High School community.
Research indicates that children whose parents are actively involved in their education achieve better academically as well as in other areas such as social and emotional development.
But it’s a mistake to respond by saying – ‘They need their space – let’s leave them to it.’
Anecdotal research shows that while many teens express a need for distance, they really want mum and dad there, in the background. They still need your involvement.
Many teenagers do not want their parents to go into school except on occasions when all parents are expected to be there, but teenagers still need their parents to be involved in their education.
So, at secondary school, parent involvement at home becomes just as important as involvement at school and parents should try to maintain a balance of the two.
It is worthwhile remembering that learning continues outside the school. Mark Twain is reputed to have said – ‘I’ve never let my school interfere with my education’, indicating the importance of what occurs throughout our lives, those enriching experiences that happen to all of us every day, any day. We looked for widening experiences when our children were young and enjoyed the moments of revelation. Those sorts of moments need to continue in our families.
So, school and home provide learning for our children and parents have a role in each area.
What can parents do to assist learning at school?
Show an interest and listen to your son or daughter.
Avoid asking direct questions such as ‘What did you do at school?’ ‘Where are you going?’ as many teenagers will give as little information as possible in reply. They hate the implication of ‘20 questions’ from their parents. Try commenting on your own day, or thoughts, or opinions, even inviting your young person’s opinion, and giving them the space to respond as they wish. Just chatting is more supportive and productive than an interrogation. When children grow up with good habits of communication, they are ready to learn, succeed and be confident students.
Let your teenagers see you reading. Visit the library together. Have books and magazines in the house. Reading needs to be a part of our lives to give skills and knowledge for study. Show your children how to break a big job into small steps which can be done one at a time. This works for everything from tidying their rooms to completing a major assignment.
Value education by expecting your children to develop regular home work habits, not just for work set by their teachers but also for revision, reinforcement and research. When they show you their work, remember you are their most important coach and cheerleader. Let the teacher do the marking while you provide the encouragement and support.
Connecting with the community, for instance, by getting to know your neighbours, teaches your children important lessons about friendships, independence and social responsibility. It may also help to keep them safe if friendly adults know who they are and look out for them.
Every school depends on informed and active parents. You have valuable skills and experience that our school needs. You and your son and daughter will benefit from your knowledge of what goes on at Waiheke High School and why. Even if you cannot be actively involved your children will be more successful students if you:
Talk about the value of hard work and the importance of education
Talk about what is happening at school
Read school newsletters, reports, and the website
Attend school meetings such as information evenings, report evenings
Help with cultural and performance activities such as Piringakau, International students
Offer your services to a sports team to coach, manage, drive team members
You cannot be involved in all of these – no one has that amount of time. But any involvement will pass the message to your teen – ‘my parents are for me and for my school’…
Children admire their parents and strive to measure up to them. If your son and daughter know you have ideals and goals, and are working to achieve them, they will try to do the same.
Children learn security and responsibility through stable routines, consistent limits and high expectations. They may test the limits over and over again – to find out what they can depend on. These could involve time for homework, time for bed, time away from the computer and so on.
Resilient children have a sense of the future. They need realistic goals and the satisfaction of meeting some of their goals. They grow through helping to make decisions and learning that decisions have consequences. If you are looking forward to next week, next month, next year, your son and daughter also learn to plan hopefully.
Parents have found it useful to have contact information for other parents of pupils in the same class as their children. This helps with even simple things like knowing where your teen is when they say they are ‘going round to John’s place’. Or you can check information when your teen comes home with a request that does not sound quite correct – ‘but this is what we HAVE to do’ and they tell you on Sunday night! Share telephone numbers with other parents in your son and daughter’s class.
However, as part of normal development, teenagers begin to distance themselves from their parents, so parents’ involvement in their education needs to change when they move to secondary school. You may well begin to feel this ‘pushing mum and dad away’.
Waiheke High School with its key values of Excellence, Endeavour, Community and Leadership is the road map for our students’ life journeys. Respect of self and others is paramount and it is important that you support us in this by always speaking positively about the school and the teachers of your son and daughter. If you speak disrespectfully about the school or a staff member, you make it very difficult for your son or daughter to act in a respectful manner.
We do not always get it right and you may hear of things happening at school that concern you. Please approach one of the Senior Management, a Guidance Counsellor, or the Dean, should this occur. We will listen, investigate the situation and work with you towards an appropriate solution.