I am going to take the liberty of sharing some personal information as many of the authors I admire in my field do.
The original article ‘ Success at School, What Are The Secrets?’ was written when all three of my children were at school. Two were in high school and my youngest was in primary school.
Twelve years on they have are all grown up, all have been to university and, as I write this, two of the three are completing post graduate degrees – that is success at school!
I was not overly involved in my children’s school work. I did the mandatory reading and spelling homework with them in the first three years of primary school and really enjoyed this time. It was essential that these basic skills be consolidated at home but I also think another benefit was the close one on one time with each child. We would sit close together on the couch and it was a fun activity. Likewise their father, who had more of a maths brain, assisted with the basic times table homework that was required.
Beyond that I do not recall doing much else. Life was busy, I would sign the homework book and assumed that the homework had been done. I do not recall making this a priority of my day. Perhaps one of the reasons for this was that I was working in my chosen field, the one I am still in now, and simply did not have the time to get too involved.
We also did not believe in helping with school work unless it was something very difficult. Even then I would encourage them to seek out the assistance they needed from their teacher. I had a saying that I often repeated to friends and clients which went as follows, ‘the more you do for your children, the more you rob them of the opportunity of ‘doing’ for themselves’. So my three just got on with it and this was the key to their success at school. I was more interested in having fun with them and ensuring they were happy.
In fact the two who are currently completing their higher degrees both had quite profound learning difficulties which were picked up at pre school. So many hours were spent at speech therapy which produced excellent results. There is no sign of those issues now as adults. What I have also noticed with children I have watched growing up, some family, some children of friends, is that kids sometimes take a while to come into their own. I know a young adult whom I recall had some learning difficulties during primary school and was pretty average in terms of grades. In fact I recall that their sibling too was quite average in the primary school years. Well today one is a top lawyer and the other is completing a Masters degree. Both are now definitely high achievers. What I also know is that they came from a family where there was love and support and I do not recall any worry or pressure around academic achievement.
As I write this update I have something waiting for my attention in my inbox. It is the final version of my youngest child’s honours thesis and Mum has been requested to have a quick read through to check on grammar and the correct use of present and past tense. What an honour, what an outstanding achievement from someone who had quite significant extra support during the primary school years.
My eldest child was in an HSC year that attained the most outstanding results. There were four UAI scores of 100 and many more in the high nineties, my child being one of them. I think most of these individuals who achieved such excellence were simply clever and probably gifted. I think many came from homes where both parents worked. They did not have tons of extra tuition in the hope of getting a good final mark, they were just a very talented year group.
I also know of people whose children did not do well in the HSC and yet they are at university and are doing well.
So I guess the benefit of this hindsight is like my own unplanned long term research study. Success at school can happen if you give your children just the three most important things in the world and then let them get on with it. What are these you may ask? Yet another of my home grown pearls of wisdom: love, love and love!