At this time of year, it is so easy to become focused on end of year reports as well as HSC results and using these to measure if a child has ‘succeeded’. However, this only conveys a limited representation of how our children have performed in particular summative assessments – a snapshot of one learning moment in time. We all love the feelings associated with success – happiness, satisfaction, positive self-perception and even relief.  However, for our children to be successful learners throughout their lives, we need to reconceptualise how we perceive educational success. We can do this by focusing on are our children’s learning gains and engage them in this reflective process. As parents and learning role models, we can achieve this in the following ways:

1)    Talk to your child - ask them what do they think they improved upon the most in their learning this year? What are their new learning goals? What do they need to improve on next year?  How do they think they can do this?

2)    Talk to their teacher – your child’s report can present limited information about their educational performance throughout the term/semester/year. Ask your child’s teacher(s) what they perceive to be your child’s strengths and areas requiring consolidation. Ask how your child can maximise their learning as well as their assessment performance. Your child’s teacher should be able to suggest ways you can support your child as they learn.

3)    Encourage reading every day – your child’s ability to articulate what they have learned as well as their awareness of grammar, spelling, syntax and textual form will improve as will their imagination and their knowledge about worlds beyond their immediate environment. It does not matter what kinds of texts your child is reading as long as they are doing so every day. Their literacy skills will develop without them even realising it!

4)    Learn together as a family – share what you have learned with your children and show them that you never stop learning. Investigate and explore new environments, ideas and situations together. Involve your children in planning family holidays or researching family purchases to enhance their literacy and numeracy skills. When we travel, I develop a resource file with open ended questions about the places we will visit to develop numeracy and literacy skills as well as  geographical, historical, social and cultural understanding. Discuss the news and current events with your children so they become active global citizens, aware that situations and personalities can be complex and multifaceted. Learning can occur organically, does not always have to be structured and can be extremely fun – board games like Trivial Pursuit are a great example of how learning can happen while you enjoy time together as a family

5)    Role model a positive attitude towards learning – developing new knowledge, skills and values should be empowering, enlightening and, most of all, satisfying. Demonstrate to your child that you are open to always learning and enhancing your understanding of yourself and the world around you. Show them that knowledge is power and it can significantly change the way you live your life, presenting opportunities and possibilities you may have never previously even conceptualised.

We all want our children to achieve educational success but we should try to avoid focusing too greatly on grades, reports and ATARs and instead reflect and act on how we can help our children to become lifelong learners and experience educational success throughout their lives. Embark on the learning journey together as a family and empower your child for learning success not just educational success!

Tamara Jones-Hood