Australia is getting schooled when it comes to education. In fact, our achievement ranking is way behind countries that were equal to us a decade ago. It’s as if our kids were being educated with bananas and inner tubes. Unfortunately, we rank 39 out of 41 countries for quality education. And now, the gap between lowest and highest achievers is greater than the OECD average.
According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Australia’s reading, maths and science results have dropped, and that’s despite increased public funding on education services.
It’s easy to #fingerpoint and blame our education system. No matter how good or bad the school may be, parents always seem to find something to complain about. Their children aren’t challenged enough. They’re not getting the attention they deserve. There’s too much disruption in the classroom. Or, the teachers aren’t doing their jobs (and for the record, they have hard jobs, especially when they’re herding the cats in kindergarten).
A forward thinking school in the UK took matters into their own hands and did something about it. Since 2011, Greasley Beauvale school in Nottingham has marked mums and dads from A to D and has seen a “startling” improvement in pupils’ results, according to a report by Britain’s Office for Standards in Education. Students of parents with As and Bs make far better progress than those with Cs and Ds. And through ongoing interaction with parents, there are fewer fails every year.
Education doesn’t start at school.
Any parent who thinks education starts in the classroom probably should have thought twice about having children in the first place. That said, there are some simple things you can do at home to help. These may sound elementary, but trust me, many parents out there could use a refresher course.
Start by helping your kids form good habits again. Put the technology away (hide it in plain sight, they’ll never find it). Take them to the library and let books take them to another place. Have them to write letters to their grandparents – they will cherish them as much as your kids will enjoy writing them. Play board games together. Break out the puzzles. Colour and paint and make crafts. Put a dictionary in the lounge room and have them learn a new word every day (there are lots of them, trust me).
Now, I know what you’re thinking… why should you pay all those school fees and taxes and do the brunt of the school’s work? You’ve got enough on your plate. The answer is simple. Because the family environment is the most important factor of how a child performs in the classroom. Family lays the educational foundations for children, not the educational institution.
You are the answer.
The more you value their education, the more your kids will, too. They’re smarter than you think. With good parenting, any student will thrive with almost any teacher, even the crap ones. If a student knows that both their teachers and their parents actually care about their learning, they’ll go places.
So, work with your kids tonight and every night (no matter how unbelievably tired you are). Make sure they’re learning and know the importance of learning. Don’t ask them “what did you do today?” Rather, “what did you learn today?” When you make these positive changes, you’ll change the course of their education. And that will change their lives for the better.