Is My Child Falling Behind?
Friday 3rd July 2020
Normally, if a pupil is underachieving at school, we blame a host of reasons - from online distractions, to relationship issues and the dreaded ... hormones! Most secondary pupils now expect to be equipped with a mobile phone (thanks Bank of Mum and Dad). And, with the rise of online platforms and gaming, being a constant and active part of social media takes priority for many young people, with plenty seeing this as the gateway to making money. Online activities can become an intense preoccupation, and that's before we even consider the potential pitfalls of being open to trolling. Dealing with relationships is par for the course for young people trying to navigate their own path and gain more independence - be it online, or in reality: friendship groups and inevitable peer pressures, 'personality clashes' with authority figures (that's us!) and the beginnings of romantic attachments all take their toll. Growing up is a tricky business. It's emotional and it's certainly time consuming. All this potential angst, whilst also trying to get an education.
We know that all of life's distractions can leave little time for study. However, with the recent culture of lockdown, some of the issues facing our children have been even more exacerbated. Whilst some schools have set and monitored remote learning for their pupils, others have been less rigorous, leaving our children with far too much time on their hands to devote to their X-box, or their preferred online preoccupation. In handfuls of conversations over the last three months, frustrated parents have admitted to simply resigning themselves to seeing their child plugged into their device at the expense of tackling their online learning. We know these are 'unprecedented times'; we know that 'we are all in the same boat'. We know that lockdown has plunged our children into a new culture and destabilized their accustomed ways of studying. But how can we intervene to make sure that our young people are not wasting this time and are still getting the support they need to ensure they make progress?
'Ideas without action aren't ideas. They're regrets.' - Steve Jobs
Achievement culture within schools initially depends on the structure that the usual school day provides: a disciplined approach to learning and time-management. This is what many of our students are desperately missing: a timetable! Strictly setting aside time for learning - without any distractions - must take priority if our children are going to make progress. Students need the opportunity to focus in depth on just a few things at a time. They need to see purpose in the things they are studying. Most importantly, they need to have the opportunity to take an active role: direct experience in making sense of something; constructing, interpreting, applying, and making connections. Let's face it, this is not always easy to achieve outside of the classroom. Nor is it easy to implement if your child just isn't driven to get on independently without someone cracking the whip! However, motivation often springs from prior knowledge. We need to remind our children what they know, what they can do and how learning has enriched their interests. Interestingly, whilst I'm sure we all know that one child who can be bribed to buckle under, for the majority of people, motivation is not dependent on reward or punishment - learning is its own reward! To achieve this, our children need our support, and truth be told, they want our support too.
'Collaboration allows us to know more than we are capable of knowing ourselves.' - Paul Solarz
As a parent, you may feel that you do not have the skills, time, energy or patience to guide your child's learning. (I can clearly remember my own dad took me out on one very brief driving lesson before swiftly handing me over to the professionals!) Yet, none of us want our children to lose the structure to their academic studies or their personal motivation to be their best. Figures have showed that only 52% of primary schools followed the government's orders to reopen by July, with only around a quarter of eligible children going in. The government have also rolled out ambitious plans to implement catch-up for pupils when they return in September, which all of us welcome. But should we wait until then? For some pupils, waiting until September will mean a potential gap in their learning of five months! That's the equivalent of more than a whole term off school.
Research shows that learning is often most effective when it is social, when learning occurs as a shared activity within meaningful relationships, and when it allows for increasingly responsible participation. To ensure this happens, professionals working with children are busier than ever - social workers, speech and language therapists, learning support teachers and academic tutors are all out there to support our children and help plug the gaps caused by lockdown. We can support our children's learning.
There are loads of helpful websites out there to support your child's continuing education now, and gov.uk is a really good place for parents to start:
And, some tips for learning at home for those in the know:
If you are in the Gloucester or Cheltenham area and are concerned that your child has fallen behind, is struggling or has lost their academic edge during lockdown, then get in touch. Our maths, science and English tutors are ready to motivate and inspire. Let's see the rewards of meeting challenges. Make learning a priority: don't let your child adapt to the lethargy of lockdown life!
If you require a maths tutor in Gloucester or English tutor in Gloucester who can both challenge and get the very best out of your child, then please get in touch with Achievers Tutoring
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