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So A Pink Elephant Flew Into School Today?

“So a pink elephant flew into school today did it?”

This is the question I pose to Eliza after all questions about what she actually did do at school fall on disinterested, disdainful ears. She normally says “Don’t be silly Mummy, I just don’t remember what I did”.

They exist at Eliza's school.

They exist at Eliza’s school.

Clearly on the days when I’ve been working and don’t get home till 7ish she’s completely over school and in fact the entire day by that point and she’s doing the 5 year old equivalent of having a glass of wine and watching Eastenders.

But when I’m around during the day, as I was today, and I ask her this question as I pick her up from school, it’s a bit implausible that she doesn’t remember. So today I asked if she learnt anything new at school today.

“Not really no.”

“Nothing? What did you do after lunch?” I thought a more specific time frame might help.

“We did choosing.” Wow, how education has changed.

“Oh. And what did you choose?”

“Mummy, you should KNOW what I chose.” She’s over this conversation already. She’s already thinking about the packet of pink wafer biscuits she can see in the driver door compartment (don’t ask).

“Well weirdly I don’t what you chose because I wasn’t there. What was the choice?”

“Oh, you know, everything really.” Clearly the lesson had a deep impact.

I coincidentally got an email yesterday from a company called Dore entitled “Top Tips for How Parents can Get More Involved in Their Children’s Education.” There were a few that I think would be useful for older children, but for my reception age child I liked this one:

1. Setting small, achievable tasks

There are many barriers that can stop parents being involved in their child’s education, such as a busy job or young babies at home. Sometimes parents can feel too intimidated or embarrassed to become involved, especially if they have not had a good experience of school themselves.

For parents, it is so easy to feel guilty for not doing enough with their children. However, it is important for parents to know that there are so many valuable ways that they can become more involved, however small. For example parents who work long hours may not have time to come to evening events at the school; however they may have half an hour each week to read with their child or help them with their homework. Keeping a log of this will help to remind parents that they are still playing a valuable role in their child’s education.

I also like the fact that it, for once, takes into account working parents. SO much stuff I read about helping children with school work and helping children develop makes the assumption that you are present all day every day or at least there at tea time to have a chat. This simply isn’t the case for me and many like me and it winds me up that no one seems to appreciate that. Mini-rant over.

Another tip that might be useful for parents of children 7 and up was this:

4. Make the most of resources that are available

Education resources are no longer confined to school. Through websites such as the e-Learning Foundation’s Good for Learning Portal (www.goodforlearning.org.uk), parents have access to a wealth of resources and information which they can use with their child. The portal provides links to resources such as ePace, an online assessment tool (www.epaceonline.com) that has been designed for children aged 7 to 17 years, to find out how they learn. Through a series of fun exercises, each child registers their strengths and weaknesses in 11 different skill and ability areas. The results are instantly generated and performance is compared to national averages

Understanding how their child learns can make helping their child with their education so much easier, and can improve learning outcomes significantly. For example, if they are a visual learner, drawing a diagram or a mind map to explain a concept will work much better than describing it verbally.

Anyway you may find them useful.

I have to say, in the interest of not portraying my daughter as a 5 year old delinquent, that I do get her download on school at moments that are completely unconnected to school. Like a Sunday morning when we’re making pancakes or a walk through the woods. She’ll ask me about what type of house we live in (they are learning about houses clearly) or tell me what 5 add 4 is or tell me about the man in the wheelchair who came to visit and talked about his accident.

She’s reading really well now too and her inquisitiveness has ratcheted up several notches since school, so the questions come thicker and faster than ever. I often find myself completely flummoxed by them. I simply don’t know how many bricks it took to build our house or how many hours I have lived for. Being Eliza the questions are highly practical and require factual answers. Think my days of making up fairies for her are pretty much gone. Shame really. Mind you Tilly’s so far away with the fairies I think there’s life in my stories yet.


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