Education is important for everyone. But, where you live can make a huge difference in your children's education. Whether it be the type of school system or quality of schools, many factors affect how well your child does in school. If you have kids, then this post will help you to understand what makes Australia such an attractive place to live and raise a family."
"Australia has one of the best education systems around with some great public schools as well as independent ones too! This blog post will give you all the information about how to ensure your child gets a good education here!"
"How do I make sure my child gets a good education in Australia?" you ask? Well, it's not as simple as you might think. There are many things to consider when choosing the best school for your child. "What type of curriculum should they offer?", "Do they have an area that focuses on children with disabilities?", "Will there be enough students enrolled this year so that my child will get attention?"
These are just some of the questions parents may want to ask themselves before enrolling their child in any given school. The key thing is to find out what type of environment would work best for your family and your individual needs. It's important to research all the options available so that you can choose wisely!
Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School
Attend Back-to-School Night and Parent-Teacher Conferences
Kids do better in school when parents are involved in their academic lives. Attending back-to-school night at the start of the school year is a great way to get to know your child's teachers and their expectations. School administrators may discuss school-wide programs and policies, too.
Attending parent-teacher conferences is another way to stay informed. These are usually held once or twice a year at progress reporting periods. The conferences are a chance to start or continue conversations with your child's teacher and discuss strategies to help your child do his or her best in class. Meeting with the teacher also lets your child know that what goes on in school will be shared at home.
If your child has special learning needs, additional meetings can be scheduled with teachers and other school staff to consider setting up or revising individualised education plans (IEPs), 504 education plans, or gifted education plans.
Keep in mind that parents or guardians can request meetings with teachers, principals, school counsellors, or other school staff any time during the school year.
Visit the School and Its Website
Knowing the physical layout of the school building and grounds can help you connect with your child when you talk about the school day. For example, it’s good to know the location of the main office, school nurse, cafeteria, gym, athletic fields, playgrounds, auditorium, and special classes.
On the school website, you can find information about:
- the school calendar
- staff contact information
- upcoming events like class trips
- testing dates
Many teachers maintain their own websites that detail homework assignments, test dates, and classroom events and trips. Special resources for parents and students are also usually available on the district, school, or teacher websites.
Support Homework Expectations
Homework in grade school reinforces and extends classroom learning and helps kids practice important study skills. It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility and a work ethic that will benefit them beyond the classroom.
In addition to making sure your child knows that you see homework as a priority, you can help by creating an effective study environment. Any well-lit, comfortable, and quiet workspace with the necessary supplies will do. Avoiding distractions (like a TV in the background) and setting up a start and end time can also help.
A good rule of thumb for an effective homework and/or study period is roughly 10 minutes per elementary grade level. Fourth-graders, for example, should expect to have about 40 minutes of homework or studying each school night. If you find that it's often taking significantly longer than this guideline, talk with your child's teacher.
While your child does homework, be available to interpret assignment instructions, offer guidance, answer questions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the correct answers or complete the assignments yourself. Learning from mistakes is part of the process, and you don't want to take this away from your child.
Send Your Child to School Ready to Learn
A nutritious breakfast fuels up kids and gets them ready for the day. In general, kids who eat breakfast have more energy and do better in school. Kids who eat breakfast also are less likely to be absent and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger.
You can help boost your child's attention span, concentration, and memory by providing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fibre, and protein, as well as low in added sugar. Send along fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich if your child is running late some mornings. Many schools provide nutritious breakfast options before the first bell.
Kids also need the right amount of sleep to be alert and ready to learn all day. Most school-age kids need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. However, bedtime difficulties can arise at this age for a variety of reasons. Homework, sports, after-school activities, TVs, computers, and video games, as well as hectic family schedules, can contribute to kids not getting enough sleep.
Lack of sleep can cause irritable or hyperactive behaviour and might make it hard for kids to pay attention in class. Therefore, it’s important to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on school nights. Be sure to leave enough time before bed to allow your child to unwind before lights out and limit stimulating diversions like TV, video games, and Internet access.
Teach Organizational Skills
When kids are organised, they can stay focused instead of spending time hunting things down and getting sidetracked.
What does it mean to be organised at the elementary level? First, it means having an assignment book and homework folder (many schools supply these) to keep track of homework and projects for schoolwork.
Check your child's assignment book and homework folder every school night so you're familiar with assignments, and your child doesn't fall behind. Set up a bin for papers that you need to check or sign. Also, keep a special box or bin for completed and graded projects and toss papers that you don't need to keep.
Talk to your child about keeping his or her school desk orderly, so papers that need to come home don't get lost. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help stay organised.
It's also helpful to teach your child how to make a to-do list to help prioritise and get things done. It can be as simple as:
- put clothes away
No one is born with great organisational skills — they need to be learned and practised.
Teach Study Skills
Studying for a test can be scary for young kids, and many educators assume parents will help their kids during the grade-school years. However, introducing your child to study skills now will pay off with good learning habits throughout life.
Kids usually take end-of-unit tests in math, spelling, science, and social studies in elementary school. Be sure to know when a test is scheduled so you can help your child study ahead of time rather than just the night before. You also might need to remind your child to bring home the right study materials, such as notes, study guides, or books.
Teach your child how to break down overall tasks into smaller, manageable chunks so preparing for a test isn't overwhelming. You also can introduce your child to tricks like mnemonic devices to help with recalling information. Finally, remember that taking a break after a 45-minute study period is an important way to help kids process and remember information.
Your child probably will be introduced to standardised testing in elementary school. While students can't really study for standardised tests, some teachers provide practise tests to help ease students' worries.
In general, if studying and testing becomes a source of stress for your child, discuss the situation with the teacher or school counsellor.
Know the Disciplinary Policies
Schools usually cite their disciplinary policies (sometimes called the student code of conduct) in student handbooks. The rules cover expectations and consequences for not meeting the expectations, for things like student behaviour, dress codes, use of electronic devices, and acceptable language.
The policies may include details about attendance, vandalism, cheating, fighting, and weapons. Many schools also have specific policies about bullying. It's helpful to know the school's definition of bullying, consequences for bullies, support for victims, and procedures for reporting bullying.
It's important for your child to know what's expected at school and that you'll support the school's consequences when expectations aren't met. It's easiest for students when school expectations match the ones at home, so kids see both environments as safe and caring places that work together as a team.
Whether kids are just starting kindergarten or entering their last year of elementary school, there are many good reasons for parents to volunteer at school. First, it’s a great way for parents to show they're interested in their kids' education.
Many grade-schoolers like to see their parents at school or at school events. But follow your child's cues to find out how much interaction works for both of you. For example, if your child seems uncomfortable with your presence at the school or with your involvement in an extracurricular activity, consider taking a more behind-the-scenes approach. Make it clear that you aren't there to spy — you're just trying to help out the school community.
Parents can get involved by:
- being a classroom helper or homeroom parent
- organising and/or working at fundraising activities and other special events, like bake sales, car washes, and book fairs
- chaperoning field trips
- planning class parties
- attending school board meetings
- joining the school's parent-teacher group
- working as a library assistant
- reading a story to the class
- giving a talk for career day
- attending school concerts or plays
Check the school or teacher website to find volunteer opportunities that fit your schedule. Even giving a few hours during the school year can make a strong impression on your child.
Take Attendance Seriously
Sick kids should stay home from school if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. In addition, kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don't seem to be acting "themselves" should also might benefit from a sick day.
Otherwise, kids must arrive at school on time every day because catching up with classwork and homework can be stressful and interfere with learning.
If your child is missing a lot of school due to illness, make sure to check with the teacher about any work that needs to be completed. It's also a good idea to know the school's attendance policy.
Sometimes students want to stay home from school because of problems with classmates, assignments or grades, or even teachers. Unfortunately, this can result in real symptoms, like headaches or stomachaches. If you think there's a problem at school, talk with your child — and then perhaps with the teacher — to find out more about what's causing the anxiety. The school counsellor or school psychologist also might be able to help.
Also, try to avoid late bedtimes, which can result in tardy and tired students. A consistent sleep schedule also can help students.
Make Time to Talk About School
It's usually easy to talk with elementary students about what's going on in class and the latest news at school. You probably know what books your child is reading and are familiar with the math being worked on. But parents can get busy and forget to ask the simple questions, which can have an effect on children's success at school.
Make time to talk with your child every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they'll take school seriously as well.
Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your child can influence how well your child listens and responds. It's important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you talk. Be sure to ask questions that go beyond "yes" or "no" answers.
Besides during family meals, good times to talk include car trips (though eye contact isn't needed here, of course), walking the dog, preparing meals, or standing in line at a store.
These early years of schooling are important for parents to be informed and supportive about their child's education and set the stage for children to develop and grow as young learners.
Learning: Primary And Secondary School Year
How Children And Teenagers Learn
Children and teenagers learn by observing, listening, exploring, experimenting and asking questions.
Being interested, motivated and engaged in learning is important for children once they start school. It can also help if they understand why they’re learning something.
And as your child gets older, he’ll enjoy taking more responsibility for his learning and getting more involved in making decisions about learning and organising activities.
Even if you think you don’t know much about learning and teaching, your child keeps learning from you over the years. And when your child goes to primary and then secondary school, you can help your child have a positive attitude to learning, just by being positive yourself.
Learning In Early Primary School
Children learn in different ways – some learn by seeing, some by hearing, some by reading, some by doing.
And at this stage, children still learn through play. Plenty of unstructured, free play helps balance formal lessons at school. It also gives children a chance to unwind after the routines and rules of the school.
Children also learn by using objects in lots of different ways. When your child is experimenting, exploring and creating with a range of materials, she learns about problem-solving in situations where there are no set or ‘right’ answers.
Children aren’t born with social skills – they have to learn them, just like they have to learn to read and write. So giving your child chances to play with other children is a great way for him to develop the skills he needs to get on with others.
Your child’s community connections can offer valuable learning experiences too. For example, visiting the local shops, parks, playgrounds and libraries or walking around your neighbourhood helps your child understand how communities work. As you and your child explore your community together, you can talk to her about interesting things you see or share things you know.
If your family speaks a language other than English at home, this can be a great way for your child to grow up as a bilingual learner. Learning two or more languages doesn’t harm or hold back children’s development. In fact, being a bilingual child can have a lot of advantages – for example, better reading and writing skills.
Tips for learning at primary school
Here are some practical tips for helping your primary school-age child learn:
- Show an interest in what your child is doing and learning by talking about school.
- Play rhyming, letter, and shape and number games with your child, and practice taking turns in games and activities.
- Use simple language, and play with words and word meanings – for example, you could clap out the syllables of words or play word association games.
- Keep reading to your child even when she can read for herself.
- Let your child hear and see lots of new words in books, TV, or general conversation, and talk about what the words mean.
- Make sure your child has time for free, unstructured play.
- Help your child discover what he’s good at by encouraging him to try lots of different activities.
Learning In Upper Primary And Secondary School
Your child will become more independent as she gets older. It might seem that she wants you to have less input into her learning, but she does still need your involvement and encouragement, just in different ways.
Even if your child is sharing less information with you, you can let your child know that you’re interested in what he’s learning by actively listening when he wants to talk. This sends the message that his learning is important to you and that you’re available to help.
And when you talk with your child about what she’s learning, try to focus on how she’s learning about the topic, rather than on how much she knows. So, for example, you could say, ‘What was it like to work in a group to make that short film?’, rather than ‘What mark did you get for that film project?’
Most children have one or two areas that they don’t enjoy as much or aren’t as good at. As your child goes through secondary school, you could talk together about whether it’s an option to drop a subject he isn’t interested in. Your child’s teacher can also help you and your child work this out.
Tips For Learning At Upper Primary And Secondary School
Here are some practical tips for helping your older school-age child learn:
- Encourage your child to try new things, make mistakes, and learn about who she is through new experiences. Keep praising her for trying new things.
- Show an interest in your child’s activities. For example, if he enjoys playing the drums, ask him about the music he’s playing and whether he’d like to play for you.
- Watch the news together and talk about what’s happening in the world.
- If your child has homework, encourage her to do it at about the same time each day and in a particular area, away from distractions like the TV or a mobile phone.
- Make sure your child has time to relax and play. For example, your child might like to read, take photos or kick a ball in the backyard.
- Help your child develop or maintain a good sleep pattern.
Sometimes your child will need your emotional support for learning as much as your practical help. Here are some ideas:
- Try to be sensitive to when your child is struggling with learning tasks, and work out what he needs. Sometimes it might be your help, and sometimes it might be a break from the task.
- Trust your child’s judgment. For example, if she thinks she’s ready to play a contact sport or try a new subject, let her have a go.
- Accept your child as a whole person. This means appreciating that he’s strong in some areas of learning and not so strong in others.
- Respond to your child’s feelings. For example, share her excitement when she masters something new and be patient when she’s having trouble.
- Try thinking back to your own learning experiences, both the enjoyable ones and the challenging ones. This will help you understand your child’s experience.
- High expectations
- Great teachers and staff
- Busy, visible children
- Rigorous curriculum
- Vibrant parent-teacher association
- Parents welcomed and questions answered
When you're talking to your child
For example, you could say, 'I can see you're worried about going to school. I know it's hard, but it's good for you to go. Your teacher and I will help you'. Use clear, calm statements that let your child know you expect them to go to school.
Teach them that contributing is important.
Make them contribute to something, for example helping others, learning other cultures and the related pros and cons. This helps you to grow with an open mind, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and being more motivated to do other things in life.