In This Together
The power of parent modelling....
Children look up to their parents. As a young child, I can remember thinking that my mum and dad knew absolutely everything, they had all the answers! Parents play a vitally important role in their children’s development, and most do a great job organising a variety of things for their children to be involved in to aid their learning as well as their social development. But often it is the day to day things parents are naturally doing, or involving their children in, that will have a greater impact. Here are just some of the areas in which positive adult role modelling will aid your child’s development:
• Read, read, read! If your child sees that you enjoy reading, that you are doing it as a leisure activity, they are likely to follow suit. And it doesn’t matter what you are reading! Novels, newspapers, cookbooks ... anything! Even 15 minutes a day of reading will help a child’s literacy skill development; vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar and importantly, her general knowledge. Again, it doesn’t matter what she reads!
• You are good at Maths! Please never tell your daughter you are no good at Maths. Maths is part of our everyday lives – when we shop, drive, cook... the list goes on. Maybe you weren’t great at Maths when you were at school – but the way we now teach Maths has changed! Be positive about the subject, point out to your daughter how you use it every day. We really do need to change so many of the girls’ views that, ‘I’m no good at Maths, and neither was my mum/dad!’
• Limit your screen time: Technology is part of all our lives and can be so very useful! But dependence on technology isn’t, and it’s important children are spending time outdoors, are interacting with their friends face to face, that they’re playing games (remember cards and board games?!) and reading (real!) books. Statistics show an alarming number of screen time hours spent by the average child; and adults too! If children see their parents spending all their time on their phone, using their computer, watching Netflix, they will do likewise. So please, put the phone away, and turn the computer and TV off!
• Lead a healthy lifestyle: Of course treats are allowed! But modelling healthy eating and including exercise as part of family activities will help your kids flourish in both their physical and emotional wellbeing. Of course, if you are a marathon runner you are setting the goal high! It can be as simple as going on a walk together, or playing a family game of cricket (or other!) outdoors. And talk about food with your child, cook together, so they learn to appreciate food. But remember it’s all about balance - food doesn’t all have to be green!
• Get outdoors! And one of the best ways to get away from screens and to lead a healthy lifestyle is to get outdoors! Sydney’s natural environment is amazing – take your kids for a ferry ride, do a coastal walk together, have a family picnic in one of our city or National Parks ... embrace the great outdoors and all that it offers, at the same time developing in your children a love and appreciation of the natural world in which they live.
• Do you really need that drink? I enjoy a glass of wine (or two!) as much as the next person, but we do need to think of the messages we are giving children when they regularly see adults with a glass in hand. Is alcohol the only way to celebrate an occasion? Is alcohol really the only antidote to a bad day? Is alcohol really necessary at a young child’s birthday party? On the evening of June 17 this year, Paul Dillon, a national expert in alcohol and other drug education, is coming to SCEGGS to address parents of girls in Kindergarten to Year 4. Paul will be talking to parents about the things they can be doing now to help their girls during their later years; including the responsible use of alcohol. Please save the date!
• Get enough sleep: so much has been written in the media lately about the importance of sleep; why do so many of us get too little? We should all be bouncing out of bed in the morning, ready to start a new day! A number of girls arrive at school tired, due to lack of sleep. Make getting enough sleep a priority in your family - stick to children’s scheduled bed times, and you make sure you get enough sleep too!
• Do nothing! Yes, it’s ok not to be busy! We live in a society where being busy is worn like a badge of honour. But why? Down time is so important – time to unwind, to reflect, to ponder, to let our imaginations run wild. Adults need this as much as children! So take time out, just be – and let your kids just be too. Resist the temptation to organise numerous activities for your children to keep them busy. And if they say they are ‘bored’ doing nothing: ignore it! They will soon find things to do, something they have thought up themselves, using their own creativeness.
• Model positive emotions: It’s natural to worry about your children, and it hurts parents when they can see their child struggle when something goes wrong for them, or when a child makes a mistake. But try not to catastrophise! Be a good listener, talk about the issue together, model problem solving skills – and above all, be positive about ways forward. This will really help your daughter develop her resilience and her capacity to’ bounce back’.
• Be careful whose listening: Children have big ears! Unfortunately, I have quite often heard parents talk about their child while the child is standing next to them. Children believe what you are saying, and quickly label themselves. So even if her brother is doing better than her academically, or you think she’ll never be a great artist/runner/public speaker, or you are worried about her socially or emotionally, talk about it with someone when you are certain the child (or her siblings/friends) can’t hear you.
• And finally, The Golden Rule. Do for others what you want them to do for you - from the Bible, Matthew 7, verse 12: The more we as adults can model kindness and respect for all human beings, the better the world we all live in will be. Show your children how much you care for others, through what you say and through your actions. Speak well of others, and always show courtesy and manners. While sometimes you may need to hold yourself back and count to 10 (we all have bad days!) your modelling will have such a positive impact on your children.
I have spoken to so many parents over the years, and I know it’s not always easy - no one is expecting you to be 100 % perfect! But setting good examples for your children to follow will help them enormously as they navigate their way through childhood, and will lay solid foundations for them in later years as well.
Head of Primary School