Let’s face it – working mums do a lot! Between the ferrying to and from school or childminder, to ferrying to and from the aforementioned to home, cooking, working, staying sane, and maintaining good relations at home and outside, we can be forgiven for not being a walking National Curriculum guru.
Here are some quick wins, some tips that will help you keep that toe in the water, so you don’t fall completely out of synch with what your child is and isn’t learning.
1. Read in the car or while you travel
If you do just one thing, read with your primary school aged child. That’s what I tell parents who bring their children toy tuition business, Geek School. After seeing how many bright children fall behind in their work because they are glued to technology and have lost all interest in reading by the time SATs or GCSEs come up. Reading helps with every subject – even the mathematicians and scientists of this world need to read and understand questions and formulae.
If you drive your child to school, reading in the car on the way in in a fantastic use of time. I used to have our eldest child reading in the morning for 15 minutes, then his younger sister would take over for the remaining 10 minutes of the journey.
Sometimes, it’s really difficult to sit down and read, but if you’re a driver, or you get on the bus to do the school run, you can make use of that time.
2. Use audiobooks – children learn how to read by listening, too
If you’re a regular on Mothers Who Work, you’ll know that we love audiobooks. When time just doesn’t allow us to sit down and read a book, audiobooks are the next best thing. For children, listening to reading also helps with their expression and pronunciation. What’s great about audiobooks, these days, is that they are so much more dramatised. It’s like watching a play with your eyes shut, or listening to The Archers. It’s also a great compromise for the reluctant reader (on the days when you just can’t get them to read!).
3. Stay in the loop
Love our children though we do, and as important as we take out children’s education, it can be a bit of challenge to stay in the loop when you’re juggling Afterschool clubs, childminders or nannies. Somehow, bits of information can slip.
One way I stay in the loop is with ParentMail. If your child’s school uses it, or another form of communication, don’t treat it like junk mail – read it.
Also, try to schedule a catch-up with your child’s class teacher every fortnight – just a few minutes to let your presence be known. For older children, it can be harder to get access to your child’s teachers – there are so many more teachers in secondary school. So keep your ears to the ground, and make note of any concerns that your child raises. Most teachers will receive emails form parents, so that might be a good way to keep in touch and on top of what your child is doing. Whatever you do, don’t wait until parent’s Evening to raise every single issue you have – there just isn’t the time, and the teachers and other parents probably won’t appreciate you sabotaging their schedules!