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How Can I Support My Child Outside School?

It may be difficult to find the time to support your child at home. Your child does need your interest and, particularly, your praise and encouragement when he/she has done well. That needn’t take too much time and can make a lot of difference.

You can support your child at home by listening and talking to him/her, finding out what’s happening in his/her school life. Inviting his/her friends to your home might give you an insight into what goes on at school and how your child is coping. You’ll also get to know other parents and might learn about aspects of the school that your child doesn’t remember to tell you or want to talk about.

Television and computers aren’t all bad. You can watch television together and discuss what’s happening or points that are raised. Some computer games have educational benefits and you can always play them with your child if you’re concerned about the contents. There are also websites that help with homework topics and they can be very entertaining.

You can go to libraries and choose books to read together. You might also be able to borrow audio tapes, videos and computer software. Most libraries have computers, and you’ll be able to book time on them so that you can have free access to the internet.

Many museums and galleries don’t charge an entrance fee and you might enjoy learning with your child by visiting them together. Some organise special activities for family groups.

Homework

Making sure that homework gets done and checking it will help you to find out what your child is learning. There’s no need to worry if you don’t understand, you can get your child to explain it to you, which will also help to reinforce what is being learned.

Try to listen to times tables or spellings. You might be able to help your child by using simple counting or language games. If your child is learning English, you can still help by reading with them in your first language. Fluency in a child’s first language will also help with English. It will help your child if you can make sure that he/she has a quiet time and space to do homework.

Extra teaching

Supplementary schools (sometimes called ‘complementary’ schools) offer additional help and support with National Curriculum subjects outside of school hours. They may also have mother-tongue classes. Supplementary schools can help to boost your child’s confidence. You can find out more at www.supplementaryschools.org.uk. Religious and cultural lessons may take place in madrassahs, mosques, churches and temples.

Your child may benefit from help from a private tutor outside of school hours. Tutors may specialise in a particular subject such as Maths or English or non-verbal reasoning (often needed for secondary school entrance examinations). Tutors will charge a fee. You can often get recommendations for tutors from other parents.

Exams

Most teachers try to keep children relaxed about SAT examinations. They’ll set ‘mock’ exams so that children get used to what will be expected of them. Children do, though, sometimes feel the pressure. You might want to try to reassure them about the tests and explain that they are not being judged – the aim is to find out what they have learned.

Cultural identity

Many parents feel that it’s important that children should be encouraged to respect each other’s cultural backgrounds in school. They want to help to strengthen their own child’s confidence in school by maintaining traditions and beliefs. Contact with friends and family, attendance at the church, temple or mosque can be important. Many parents also make a special effort to talk about family and cultural history or to make sure that this is taught outside of school.

Some parents feel that it’s also important to seek out learning materials in which their children are not marginalised. Multicultural books and games are available, often by mail order. You can find some suppliers and relevant websites as well as details of cultural activities and events in the Real Histories Directory.

The Black History Month sites at www.black-history-month.co.uk/ and www.blackhistorymonthuk.co.uk have information on activities and events taking place during October of each year.