A parent’s instinct is remarkable! Even when school says everything is fine, the parental antennae can detect when their child is not doing their best. What triggered the message that you are picking up?
Loss of enthusiasm for school?
Signs of boredom?
Loss of interest in learning?
Homework causing problems – or not being done properly?
Reluctance to discuss the school day – beyond the regular teen “whatever” response?
Feedback along the “same old, same old” lines?
Results seem fine – but there seems to be little effort going in?
A general feeling of complacently?
Visit the classroom and you will probably witness an environment where pupils are getting on with something and their teacher, and the teaching assistants, are busy offering support where it is needed. Everything looks good. Those who are hitting problems are receiving careful support, which is all very positive and praiseworthy. Nothing to worry about there then!
Perhaps it is worth looking more closely – especially if your child, about whom you have some concerns, is able and cruising - not making much effort. Of course, you are pleased that they are coping well, but should you be? Is there evidence that they are wasting lots of potential learning time? Are there even some signs that lack of challenge and free time is tempting them to push the (non-academic) boundaries? Is your child coasting?
Let’s turn that class visit on its head. What was actually happening to learning for those who are able? Had they actually become invisible, except if they misbehave? Were they really fulfilling their potential or were they just marking time, and managing to remain invisible – under the radar.
For some children this is their reality. They are well “trained” and generally behave themselves – you brought them up well! But are they, as a result under achieving? No! This is not a pop at teachers – far from it! I have worked in enough classes of 30+ to know that it is really tough to be truly aware of every child’s individual needs all the time. I was optimising all the children’s learning if I ensured that everyone had the chance to try; to get on without disturbance. Come preparation for parent meetings or report writing, it was only then that occasionally it would hit me that I was not really completely in touch with an individual’s capabilities and their learning. That some individuals may be being sold short. That they could be excelling, and pushing forward to future excellence. I hope I usually picked it up before their behaviour deteriorated and they developed behavioural problems – or were downright naughty!
Is this what your parental radar is detecting? Is it really realistic to think that your delightful daughter or son will always be receiving all the opportunities that they could use to develop their abilities to the full? Probably not!
With all the pressures on time that are crowding in at home, what can you do to maximise the chances for your children to develop their full potential?
This is where MagiKats comes in. With a maths or English programme that has been put together just for them, to extend their strengths and sort out any weaknesses, they can thrive. Their subject skills will grow, along with their confidence and their social skills as they work with their mentors in our small, carefully selected groups. The “something is not quite right” feeling can be replaced by the satisfaction of watching a happy, thriving, successful offspring to whom you are giving the chance to achieve the best standard of which they are capable. They will not be held back by their less fortunate peers.
You will be involved in their learning – as you want to be – not least through weekly tracking sheets, brief reports every few weeks and careful parent meetings always available. Your main role will be to be their personal cheer leader and to be there at MagiKats Prize Giving as they receive their certificates and medals.
The best result will be your happy, fulfilled child and a radar system that can stop bleeping!
By Jan Lomas
Curriculum Director and Principal at MagiKats