Week 2 has been another busy week. Now that we have completed the welcome activities of the first week, and settled into our routines, it is a good time to reflect on both the term and year ahead and think about our goals, plan the actions we will need to take to achieve those goals and identify support that will help us succeed.
In the secondary years, students can undertake this process by themselves, although they benefit from the opportunity to talk with teachers and parents. In the younger years, traditionally these things would be done by parents and carers.
Regardless of their age, our students have the best chance of achieving their goals when parents and schools share a responsibility for helping children to learn and meet their educational goals. This occurs when parents commit to prioritising their child’s educational goals and teachers commit to listening and providing a space for collaboration with parents.
Research shows that the best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education (PTA, 2000). This is because when parents are engaged in their children’s school lives, students have the home support and knowledge they need to not only complete their schoolwork, but also to develop a lifelong love of learning. This results in significant benefits for children:
They are more likely to enjoy learning and be motivated to do well
They have stronger relationships with other children
They have greater confidence and social skills
They have enhanced cognitive development, allowing them to do better at school
They have increased wellbeing
They have higher retention and graduation rates
They have higher motivation and greater ability to self-regulate their behaviour
They are less likely to miss days at school.
As we commence another school year, I’d like to spend some time sharing just a few ways parents can engage in their daughter’s learning:
Communicate with your daughter’s teachers, including by reading the weekly email updates (primary years) and Care mentor communications (secondary). Respond to the emails with any questions or clarification you may require.
At any time contact us if you have concerns about your daughter’s progress or engagement. We welcome the opportunity to work together to get the best outcomes for each girl.
In the secondary years, help your daughter to prepare a study plan for the term. Include within it specific blocks of time dedicated to homework, revision of that day’s lessons, completion of assignment tasks and study for examinations. Ensure that she has a balance by also scheduling time for co-curricular involvement, regular reading and relaxation activities, either alone or with family and friends.
Attend next week’s primary information session if your daughter is in Prep to Year 6. An opportunity to meet with primary teachers will be offered immediately following the Primary Leadership Investiture Ceremony on Wednesday 10 February.
Attend parent-teacher feedback conversations – Girls Grammar provides two formal meetings per year, at the end of Terms 1 and 3. These provide an opportunity to hold a real and focused conversation, with both parents and teachers able to listen to each other.
Schedule time to read with your daughters. This could include reading aloud to her, listening to her read or reading alongside each other. All forms of reading have important developmental and wellbeing implications, and all will help build your daughter’s reading capacity, her value of reading as an important activity and her love of reading.
Help your daughter with her homework, by guiding and encouraging her. Offer assistance but don’t do the work for her. Encourage her to let her teacher know if she hasn’t understood a concept or skill.
Discuss upcoming school events and how she will be involved.
Attend functions at the school that allow you to talk to teachers and raise any issues or feedback you have. Each term we host a P&F ‘meet and greet’ that provides a forum to share time with other parents and talk to the Executive about your daughter’s experiences at school.
Parent engagement in schooling is also a national priority of The Australian Government and hence there are a host of resources available for parents to use to support their children. I found the following resources that could be very useful for the start of the year, however, I encourage parents to look through the wide range of resources available and find the ones they find most pertinent or useful.
How was school today – good. Tips for parents to ask questions that will evoke more detailed responses about what happened in school that day https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/articles/how-was-school-today-good
Parent resources for Primary years (one article for each stage of learning) - https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/search?age=25&keywords=&curriculum_level=All&topic=All&sort_bef_combine=title%20ASC&sort_by=title&sort_order=ASC&page=7
Reading out loud - benefits to reading aloud with your child – even after they can read for themselves https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/articles/reading-out-loud-keep-it-up
The power of praise – the importance of parents praising effort rather than results. https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/articles/the-power-of-praise
How to ask your teen about school https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/articles/how-to-ask-your-teen-about-school
Too much screen time - a growing body of evidence suggests too much screen time is becoming a hazard to our teenager’s eyes, general health and to their social skills. https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/being-smart-about-screen-time
Books every teen should read https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/books-every-teen-should-read
Giving your teen a great start to the day https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/articles/giving-your-teen-a-great-start-to-the-day
Top tips for tests and exams https://www.learningpotential.gov.au/articles/top-tips-for-tests-and-exams
Old Girls STEM Mentoring Program
Yesterday we hosted a function to launch our Old Girls Mentoring in STEM Program. We currently have 15 past students who have volunteered to become mentors, showcasing the breadth of experience and expertise available to our girls. Throughout their careers, many of the mentors would have faced stereotypical beliefs and perceptions about women in science-related fields and, by sharing their experiences, they can encourage our students, build their self-confidence and provide suggestions for overcoming stereotypes and barriers to participation in STEM.
The STEM mentoring program, and our STEAM Enrichment Club and activities, supports Girls Grammar girls to develop the skills, independence and self-confidence to overcome perceptions and pursue fields previously dominated by men. My thanks to Director – Middle Years, Christie Dey, who has designed and coordinated the program as part of the work she does to promote STEM within the school. Through her work, and the generosity of our Old Girls, our Girls Grammar students are encouraged, empowered and supported to become scientists, engineers, mathematicians, technologists or whatever they want to be!
On Wednesday next week we host one of the most important events on our calendar – our leadership investiture ceremonies. Our secondary ceremony commences at 9 am and will see the commissioning of our Prefects and our secondary student council leaders.
Given the hall-capacity, this year we will need to limit attendance at this ceremony to staff, students, invited guests and two guests per Year 12 student and two guests per Years 7-11 student leader. We will also live stream the event so that other members of our community can view it.
Should other parents or family members wish to attend, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We are happy to create a waiting list and, if we find there are available tickets, extend the invitation to other adults.
We extend an open invitation to the Primary Investiture of Student Leaders.
To rsvp to either investiture ceremony, please rsvp by emailing email@example.com and advising the number of people attending.
Invitations with the above details have been communicated this week but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Australian Government (2020) “Parent Engagement in Children’s Learning” https://www.education.gov.au/parent-engagement-children-s-learning
Emerson, L., Fear. J., Fox, S., and Sanders, E. (2012). Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research. A report by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) for the Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau: Canberra
PTA, N. (2000). Building Successful Partnerships: A Guide for Developing Parent and Family Involvement Programs. (pp. 11-12). Bloomington, Indiana: National PTA, National Education Service.
Waterford.org (2018) “How parent involvement leads to student success”