Children can be under immense pressure at school to succeed, fit in, catch up, move quickly and compete for attention. More and more parents are finding themselves faced with a child complaining of a sore tummy every Monday morning. We hear stories of terrible bullying and sometimes even humiliation by teachers. Students are often too scared to put up their hands and tell the teacher that they did not understand as they are afraid of ridicule by their peers or are simply terrified of any sort of public speaking. These conditions are hardly conducive to a happy, encouraging learning environment and it often results in learners being “left behind” and falling through gaps. Prolonged emotional and psychological stress often means that children steadily withdraw deeper into their shells and are not the same happy children that their parents once knew. So what can you do to help create a nurturing learning environment for your child?
Some argue that the most important thing that you can do is be present in their lives and keep communication open whilst providing a stable, loving environment at home. It can be difficult to get your kids to talk about their feelings or experiences, especially if they are negative experiences at school. Try to ask them every day how their day was and what happened in it. You can reciprocate and tell them about your day and what you did and things that may have happened that made you anxious or sad. This could help them to feel that it is ok to have bad days or to talk about things that make them feel bad. It is important for children to know that they have a safe and loving environment in which they can share their feelings and experiences honestly. Really try to listen to your child and let them do the talking. They will most often come to the solution themselves. Try not to jump straight to giving advice or trying to solve their problems for them. Use the “clucking” method by saying making sounds of acknowledgement and encouragement and words such as “yes, I see” etc. This will encourage your child to continue talking and give you the opportunity to continue listening. Remember not to react strongly and judge them or shout, as this would only further discourage them from talking to you. This gives you a chance to potentially identify any bullying and negative experiences around school.
You can also talk to them about what they learned that day and become interested in what they are doing. If you are excited about their school work and what they are learning about then they may get excited as well. Ask questions so that they can explain things to you – this will help to ensure that they properly understand the concepts and it helps to reinforce the knowledge in their brains.
Another way that you can help to create a nurturing learning environment is to attend parent-teacher evenings to get a chance to meet your child’s teacher and get a sense of what sort of person they are. It is good to know how the teacher feels about your child and any difficulties that they may have noticed during the school day. You can also be involved in their homework time, helping them and letting them know that you are there for them and that you believe in them. You could quiz them when they are learning for a test or make them a little treat to help them when they are studying for an exam just to let them know that you are thinking about them and that you support their efforts for their education.
Sometimes parents are faced with a seemingly hopeless situation where endless meetings with teachers, principals and other parents do nothing to improve bullying or another bad situation at school. Sometimes changing schools is not an option or perhaps you have already tried it to no avail. There are alternatives to mainstream schooling. Homeschooling is becoming an ever more viable option for parents in creating a safe and nurturing environment for their children. Educating your children at home allows you to provide a loving environment where your child feels cared for and confident to ask questions. This one-on-one attention allows them to properly grasp concepts before moving on to the next section, which ensures that they have a solid foundation upon which to build their school career. Having somebody who believes in them and has a vested interest in their lives and education can really make the world of difference to a child, and indeed to us all. Their confidence will grow and their marks will more than likely improve. Most importantly, they will blossom into the happy individual that they were meant to be.