Education 2021

Education 2021: Three areas for parents with teenagers to consider in the new year

As we enter into a new year, many of us will remember the disruptions and challenges of 2020. Restrictions on global movement, the unbelievable strain on worldwide healthcare systems, unemploy-ment figures and citywide lockdowns have contributed to an unstable work environ-ment and an anxious community. In the face of these considerable challenges, the education sector continues to evolve and operate relatively well. This is an opportu-nity to make the best out of a bad situation, to learn how to ‘make lemonade out of lemons’. In 2020, we already witnessed some of the finest evidence of human endeavour with medical scientists work-ing ‘round the clock’ to produce a vaccine, governments looking after their citizens with the largest stimulus packages in his-tory and a workforce of billions around the world managing work and schooling from home. Still, the psychological impact of the pandemic is considerable. To support parents during this trying time, especially those with teenagers, I am sharing a couple of areas of consideration based on my years of experience working with teenag-ers as a classroom teacher, academic life coach, mentor, friend and education con-sultant.

Develop effective relationships

The interconnected parent-teacher-student triangle is a useful framework for co-designed student-centred education. In this framework, all parties support each other through regular discussion and planned action. An action plan is then formulated around the student’s pastoral and aca-demic needs, which include goal-setting, analysis of work, intervention needs, and engagement in authentic feedback. Pedagogy has changed considerably over the past decades from traditional direct instruction and memorization to collabora-tive learning, 21st Century critical skills, higher-order thinking processes, multi-modal instruction, and confident use of technology. It is important that parents get involved in developing a critical orienta-tion and understand these new approaches to education. Parents can help nurture these skills at home. They can encourage their child to make the most of oppor-tunities at school, such as being actively involved in class discussions, volunteering for peer-to-peer support, sending advocacy emails to teachers expressing interest in a particular topic, or joining an after-school club.

Building a positive relationship with the teacher quite often contributes to an effective family-school relationship. Constructive communication from parents provides school administrators and teach-ers with authentic real-time feedback to guide the planning and delivery of teach-ing and learning at school, such as the efficacy and provision of study guides. Studies have shown that the quality of instruction accounts for up to 75 percent of student attainment. Positive reinforcement and support from both school and at home provides students with a safe environment to ask for guidance and know that they will be cared for. Whilst there are both limita-tions and advantages to government and private schooling, parents and students can receive better value by leveraging the expertise and talent at their school.

Coach student agency

When you step into the transformational and often challenging profession of edu-cation, you quickly realise that no gains in attainment are made without motiva-tion and student agency. A student gains agency in their education when they start taking responsibilities. Students are complex mammals who are always devel-oping physically and reacting to their environment. The rate of development in each student varies considerably but can be positively shaped through care-fully planned involvement from parents. The planned involvement needs to be EducationEducation20212021by FreD Zhangcarefully selected. These could include age-appropriate activities that are high in discussion, negotiation, higher-order thinking, responsibility, and creativity. Regular reflection and goal-setting with your child will help in developing trust and ensure that the exposures in the arts, sports, literacy, STEAM (science, technology, arts, engineering, mathemat-ics), social, academic and non-academic activities are relevant and meaningful. In addition, tracking the improvement of habits such as responsible gadget use, procrastination and use of planner will have positive long-term impacts on agency. This cycle of negotiation and critical orientation provides parents with the basis for developing executive func-tion, particularly in self-agency, organi-zation and emotional control. This deep learning cycle can be enhanced with the input of an educational expert such as a teacher, tutor or academic coach who can provide scaffolding of evidence-based study strategies, executive function sup-port and identification of learning oppor-tunities through work sample analysis.

Stay on top of higher education trends

There has been considerable disrup-tion amongst major examination boards due to the pandemic, which culminated in changes to exam format, cancellation of exams, use of teacher evaluations and changes in university admission policies and requirements. The most recent of these changes comes from Collegeboard, which is dropping its optional essay section from the SAT and administration of its subject matter tests in the United States. Combined with the cancellation of most sporting, musical, extra-curricular activities, competitions and work experi-ence, these changes create new gaps in the process of applying for higher educa-tion. Therefore, it is essential that parents pursue the latest developments and consider how they can affect their child’s higher education plans. The unpredict-ability of the pandemic highlights the need for families to engage in early strategic planning to identify and nurture their child’s interests in addition to the preparation of the requirements needed for strong applications to chosen higher education institutions.

To find out more about Academic Coaching or University Advisory Services contact Fred Zhang, fredzhang@precislearning.com To find out more visit precislearning.com

John Doe, ACME High School Principal

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