There was a time when heaps of marking was the preserve of secondary teachers, but now primary children get homework (as well as class exercise) to mark.
Gone are the days when primary teachers could ‘go with the flow’ as long as children were learning. Every lesson has a lesson plan, every child is assessed every day for every session. No wonder teachers suffer from stress – and it’s no surprise to discover that most teachers don’t have much of a social life as their workload takes up most of their evenings.
Schools today may have interactive whiteboards, state-of-the-art computer suites and the latest teaching aids, but they also have Ofsted inspections, large classes and inset days.
Teaching is no longer a ‘job for life’, ask around most businesses and you’ll find at least one teacher who ‘got out’. If the best teachers are leaving the profession and taking long breaks because of stress-related illnesses – what is that doing for the kids in our schools?
The demands of the educational institution make it difficult for teachers simply to be the best teacher they can be. They’ve got all this other administrative ‘stuff’ demanding their attention.
In a class of 30 plus – how can you possible give every child individual attention? This means that the troublesome ones tend to get all the attention and the top performers are left to get on with it. It’s not surprising that some talented kids go off the boil and grades slip; nobody likes to be ignored. But it’s not the teacher’s fault – it’s the system they have to satisfy to keep their job.
So what can a parent do to give their child the support and attention they need?
- If you’ve spotted a slip in previously good grades, invest some time in talking to your child about what would help them to regain lost ground.
- Be interested and suggest creative ways of your child enhancing their learning. Have a family day at a museum or other location that is relevant for a particular subject.
- Encourage them – and catch them doing it right. Give praise for effort and achievement, don’t just wait until there’s a problem to take notice.
- Don’t treat homework as a chore – be interested in what they’ve been learning. (It’s a well-known fact that people learn more by explaining things to others than just be hearing a lecture or reading a book).
- If your child is struggling with the basics – maths or English – get a free assessment and find out how to get them up to speed.