Parents told to sit and dream with their children

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Parents should make time to look at the stars, make a tent, and sit and “think and dream” with their children, according to headteachers.

Mothers and fathers are an invaluable part of a child’s education and should help their youngsters to continue learning after the school bell rings, it was suggested.

The advice comes in a new leaflet published by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Family Action charity, which is being sent to schools to pass on to parents.

It urges parents to get involved in their son or daughter’s schooling by helping out on school trips and in class, taking in an interest in their child’s education, attending parents’ evenings, reading information sent by their child’s school and keeping teachers informed of any changes at home.

The guide, which the two organisations said is based on the latest evidence about what helps children to succeed at school, also says that parents should come up with educational activities for youngsters.

It suggests that parents could take their children to visit museums and libraries, go for a walk in a wood or pond dipping, plant seeds, make a tent, model, picture of collage, or plan a route using maps, a compass or GPS.

It also suggests families could “look at the stars at night and find out about the planet” or “find time to sit together and think and dream”.

The guide is the latest in a series of leaflets produced by the NAHT and Family Action as part of an ongoing campaign to make sure that children start school ready to learn.

Previous leaflets have focused on building children’s communication skills, and urging parents to take more responsibility for making sure that their children arrive for lessons ready to learn – for example by getting a good night’s sleep and eating a decent breakfast.

The latest advice also says parents should make sure their child has a quiet place to do their homework, and to help them learn the basics such as spellings and times tables.

It goes on to urge parents to take time to listen to their youngster’s concerns and answer questions, as well as to be patient when their child is helping them with something.

The guide says: “Get to know what your child is learning and ask the school about it. Take time to listen to your child and explain things carefully, developing their understanding and vocabulary.”

It also advises: “Ask your child what they have learnt at school and take an interest in these topics.”

David Holmes, chief executive of Family Action, said: “We know from the work that we do with families that a good home life is vital for a good school life. Giving children the best possible start means helping them learn, not just at school, but also at home and out and about.

“Whether it’s taking them to a museum, visiting a library, or providing a quiet place for them to do homework, we want to encourage parents to think even more about what they can do to support their children to learn and to enjoy learning.”

NAHT president Bernadette Hunter, said: “Learning shouldn’t end at half past three. There are hundreds of activities that can be enjoyed by families that will help children to be better learners and show them the links between learning at school and applying this in real-life situations.”