Sunday, July 13, 2014


Yesterday I heard our middle-aged tour guide here in France talking about the local education system and how students at around 14 years old are required to take particular exams.  The results dictate their career future from that point on.  Those who pass can go on to higher education in fields rewarded by good salaries.  Those who do not pass are delegated manual tasks such as restoration of old buildings, furniture etc.  Naturally the students become very afraid of these exams because she said there was no opportunity to retake them.
In the process of giving us this information our guide used her own family as an illustration.  She said, "My daughter never did a jot of homework in her whole school life and now there is no hope for her securing a well paid future."  I was astonished for two reasons.  One was that she said there are no second chances offered by the school system for making up for failed examinations and secondly, that she never indicated any parental responsibility for her daughter's lack in fulfilling school requirements, as in doing or handing in any homework!


A child's attitude towards school work is most influenced by parents especially in the early years.  

1.  If your children see how interested you, as a parent, are in learning new things - whether it 
     be taking adult courses, looking up subjects of interest on the computer or at the library,
     and they see your enjoyment in achievement, then they will see the value in continual
2. If you tell a child (in jest) that you only went to school to eat your lunch and play
    with your friends this might well negatively influence your child's view of the importance
    of learning.
3. If you tell your child you only did enough work to scrape through exams and that you
    turned out 'all right', that does not take into consideration the many skilled jobs that are
    now being offered and that those with high grades are going to be chosen first in this work

Up to a point.  Initially a parent is responsible for instilling positive attitudes towards learning and school.  Parents need to gently guide their child's educational growth through positive affirmation and setting effective guidelines for study.  They will need to help their child steadily acquire knowledge and establish firm routines.  Providing a suitable place to complete their homework is necessary.

The transition from parent directed study to the child taking ownership for their own progress and success in education probably will differ according to the child's maturation and how long the parents have held on to controlling this part of their child's life.  Create high but realistic expectations and your child will rise to them.  When they feel like they are a stake holder, and the results are due to their attitude and work habits, the child will be hard to stop.

Does this mean that you can then abdicate from the responsibility for your child's education?  Not at all!  Once all these things above are in place you can then adopt the role of encourager, referee, and guide.  You need to make adjustments according to the results your child attains.  Please remember that your child should always be encouraged to do THEIR best, because they can't always be THE best.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

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