How do you respond to parents who fail to see the benefits of your school's thinking skills approach?
What would your response be to a bold and seemingly uncompromising written statement like this, from a parent who is adamant they know what is best?
A first reaction might be to firmly suggest that they know nothing about education’ and ‘how dare they tell us how to do our job’. Maybe understandable, but perhaps not very constructive?
Homework has always been a hot potato; even when a school manages to have a broad agreement about how much homework will be given to which year groups, the content still throws up many different points of view.
This is something that occurs frequently when I work with schools in the middle of making changes to their curriculum or approach to homework. (or both)
These are some of the things I often hear or see written by some parents:
‘The school needs to make sure they concentrate on the basics’.
Children need more drilling and rote learning is the best way to learn. (made me think this parent wants learning to be like a trip to the dentist!)
I like worksheets and so does my child (I have actually followed this one up with the children concerned and not one of them agreed with their parents which I thought was interesting)
‘I don’t think that all this talking and not sitting writing something is teaching them anything.’ (sadly, too many parents don’t fully understand the power of talk for learning)
When schools introduce the sort of homework activities we design at Thinking Child it can create an initial fear in some parents.
Despite the fact that each of the activity cards in The Literacy and Numeracy Boxes clearly describe the literacy/numeracy focus and the learning benefits, it seems there are always some parents (a minority it has to be said) who object to being asked to ‘visualise, explore, give your child strategies, encourage discussion, improve observational skills, develop reasoning…and so on.
So what is the best way to respond? I don’t have the magic answer; each individual school must, of course, decide on the path they take.
However, it’s always worth having a meeting with these parents, to explain more fully that successful children are those who are given regular, fun opportunities to be able to practise becoming independent thinkers.
Follow up workshops work well (thinking clubs?), for parents and children to attend together. Here children and parents do the activities together but with the support of a teacher/TA modelling and explaining the value to their child’s learning. This can be a powerful way to help parents understand.
Schools know that thinking and learning skills lie at the heart of a good primary education and many are implementing a range of different things, including Thinking Child resources.
Why not visit the Literacy Box webpage where you can download some sample activities and learn more about our approaches?
Different schools are at various points along this thinking/learning journey.
We know it will always be an interesting voyage; not always plain sailing and often more than a little bumpy at times. But the destination is more than worth it.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or to chat about how a support visit from me might be something that would help you in your ‘thinking skills journey.’
Email: email@example.com Tel: 01604 491511