We asked our director, Rachel Dreier, to shine a light on some of the most common questions parents ask. Stay tuned for more questions in upcoming installments, or book Rachel for a Q&A with your parent or community group.
1: I have the NAPLAN results, what do they really mean?
NAPLAN is a way of tracking educational progress across the country. It was designed (originally as WALNA) to measure performance of schools.
NAPLAN is a useful system, although problematic. The results are based on one day’s performance and are not necessarily reflective of the abilities of a child. Children’s performance throughout the year is far more relevant and should be considered more valuable, and ideally schools and teachers are teaching to optimise student learning, not teaching to a test.
However, for Year 9 students it is important that they are above the National Average or they will have to sit OLNA. Therefore, preparation is necessary at this stage, if there is a chance they might not score above the national average.
2: How can we support learning at home without having “The homework battle”?
“The Homework battle” is known in nearly every household with school-aged children! It generally is caused by children having to do school work that they do not want to engage with, and their lack of engagement can be for a variety of reasons.
Children learn more from experience and are most engaged when they are having fun, so if a task seems like just a paperwork exercise, try turning it into a game. Instead of reciting times tables repeatedly, roll dice and multiply the number that are rolled. Perhaps make it a little competitive: who can do the multiplication the fastest? For a bonus point, ask for a division fact using those numbers. Your child is still learning their tables and related facts, but it does not seem like homework!
While making things into games is great in the early to mid-primary years, it should be noted that Year 6 students should get into the habit of doing some homework so they are prepared for high school. Bribery often just reinforces the thought that homework is a chore. Instead, try making it into something where other people in the family also have tasks to do: “While you do your homework, I will work on ‘X’ that I need to finish for work and then we do not have to worry about getting it done for the rest of the weekend.” That way the child does not feel that they are the only one having to do something work-related in their free time.
Occasionally parents cannot see the value in the child’s homework tasks or feel ill-equipped to explain the value to their child. In these cases, it helps to speak with the teacher to understand why certain tasks are set, and to suggest the teacher reinforce this to your child.
Parents are not always able to help in these ways with homework, due to a lack of time or a feeling that they don’t have the ‘teaching skills’. Many arguments arise when children feel overwhelmed by the task or workload, and/or accuse their parents of not teaching it ‘the way the teacher does it’. It’s a great idea to get suggestions from your child’s teacher on things you can do to support homework, and in some cases, working with an experienced tutor away from the home environment really does help to get the most value out of homework assignments while keeping it stress-free.