Academic Study – Starting the Year Right
This week I have been spending some time in classrooms and the learning is in full swing! It has been lovely to see high levels of engagement and girls striving to do their best. Development of these sorts of habits help build academic success over the longer term.
Parents can support their daughters by asking them about their learning and encouraging them to enjoy the challenge of learning, praising their efforts and focusing on the processes they engage in.
Parents can also support girls in middle primary upwards, by talking to them about their goals, helping them to identify what academic habits and skills they will need and supporting them to develop good routines and processes.
In the secondary years, whilst it may only seem as though the term has just begun, and assessment is a long way off, it is a good practice to identify time pressures early. Our Care teachers have already started supporting the girls to set goals, but it is also a good idea for the girls to establish a term planner that identifies all assessment, co-curricular activities, family needs and other commitments. Once this is graphically organised, your daughter can plan homework and study times and learn the skill of spacing her assessment and study to aid retention of knowledge and skills, develop quality and depth and attain her desired results. Most importantly, creating a planner like this helps encourage good routines, which are so important for successful learning.
As someone with a background in secondary teaching, it is very important for me to be immersed in the early and primary years learning so that I can better understand how girls learn at each age and stage and also better understand the needs of our Girls Grammar girls. I am thrilled that the primary teachers are happy to include me in their learning environments and I am timetabled to join each class each week. This will help me to get to know the girls, but also observe the rich learning that occurs in each of our classrooms.
One of the best things primary parents can do to support their daughters’ learning is to find time to read with them. Reading with your daughter is an invaluable way to spend quality time together on a daily basis. However, there are many other benefits of reading to and with your children, including the development of enriched language and vocabulary, improved listening skills, better reading comprehension and the development of cognitive skills. Reading with your children also models that reading is an important activity and one that should be valued and enjoyed.
Tonight, we will hold our AGM for the RGGS P&F Association and I thank all those who will be able to attend.
Parent associations, such as a P&F, play an important role in schools as they provide a forum for parents to work in partnership with the school for the betterment of their children. When the partnership is respectful and productive, our children are the winners. A publication from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), released January 29, 2020, has confirmed the importance of schools embracing parent engagement. It shows that “when parents and families are engaged in what their children are learning, the effect on students’ achievement and wellbeing is overwhelmingly positive.” The report defines the relationship between students, parents and the school as a triangle, and explains that each needs a strong relationship with the other two parties in order to successfully support the student’s learning.
The report also makes an important distinction between parental involvement and parental engagement in learning, with the latter having the greatest impact on student achievement. The report defines them as:
Involvement in or with schooling - actions undertaken by parents and families, often on school grounds, such as volunteering in the classroom, attending parent-teacher conferences or fundraising for the school.
Engagement in learning - learning that happens in homes, in cars, in communities – anywhere that families spend time together, through everyday activities. This has been described as ‘anywhere, anytime learning’. This is something that isn’t always ‘seen’, as it tends to happen away from, or outside of, the school environment.
As a School, we really appreciate parental involvement. Attending events, supporting fund raising, volunteering – these all make an important and valued contribution to our community and to our culture. We are very grateful for our parents’ generosity of service to the school and we hope our parents will continue to build community through their involvement.
However, when it comes to student outcomes, parental engagement is more likely to influence the learning outcomes of our girls. The most value comes from parents and families fostering a general atmosphere of learning and a supportive, motivating environment for children to undertake learning activities. This could include, for instance, communicating educational expectations, demonstrating (directly or indirectly) the value of learning, linking school work to current news and events, and providing a supportive and stimulating home environment.
I am looking forward to working with our parents to find opportunities and discuss strategies for them to engage in their daughters’ learning. The P&F meetings will be one forum where we can discuss ways we can work in partnership with our families to enhance their engagement. I will also look into ways of communicating these messages with our boarding families and other parents who are unable to attend P&F meetings.
The full report is available on the website of the Parents Network of Queensland Independent Schools https://www.parentsnetwork.qld.edu.au/2020/01/29/parent-engagement-a-fantastic-new-free-guide-for-schools/
I am very committed to working in partnership with our families and I have been universally welcomed and supported by our community. I also understand that, as in any community, there can be worries and concerns too. I encourage families to contact me early if there is an issue they would like to discuss. By working together, and raising concerns in a proactive and productive way, I am confident we can resolve any problems so that we continue to enhance our beautiful school’s positive, supportive culture.