Each new academic year presents restored vigour, new goals and a fresh opportunity for greater fulfilment and success. Peter Allison, Head of Prep, offers his top 10 tips for success and personal best achievements.
1. Strong secure relationships
Boys thrive when they’re in positive relationships where they feel safe, secure and appreciated. If boys feel liked, respected and valued, they most often respond by engaging with enthusiasm. Positive relationships need to exist both at home and at school for boys to thrive. Parents should look to create opportunities for one on one time with their children, even if it’s in the midst of completing household or outdoor chores together. Whilst the School will provide many varied experiences where boys can develop strong relationships with their peers and staff, parents need to take an active role in providing opportunities where student relationships can be further fostered. A Saturday afternoon spent playing with mate after sport, for example, allows boys to share more unstructured time together.
2. A consistent routine
Boys need routine in their lives. Routine helps them to feel secure. Negotiate clear boundaries around daily routines and then stick to the schedule with dogged consistency.
3. Parental involvement and support – homework, school events
Children need regular interaction with their parents where they obtain reassurance and gentle guidance. Time needs to be found each day where families can communicate. The dinner table is the perfect setting – with the television and phones switched off. Ensure that your children feel more valued than the device that seeks to compete for attention. An interest and awareness of homework tasks sends a powerful message to your children that you care about their learning.
4. A regular reading habit
Strong language skills are the foundation of success at School. Some children are gifted with instant success in this area, whilst others will find the journey a tiresome battle. However, it is a battle that needs to be won, and will, with tenacity and consistency. Daily reading should occur for a minimum of 5 evenings a week. The format will vary in each household with some requiring more input from parents than others. If reading material is too hard or lacking interest, please see the teacher librarian, Shelley McMorran, or your classroom teacher for some guidance on connecting the right book with your son.
5. Controls on digital use
Technology is attractive and powerful. It is particularly appealing to boys. However, it can also be addictive and used as the third parent in a home. As part of the negotiated daily routine, clear boundaries need to be established for the amount of screen time that children should be exposed to. Some parents create technology free days during the week with good success. This is a critical area that requires careful, tight management and control and certainly – no devices left in bedrooms at night.
6. Active involvement and support in extracurricular activities
The goal of a King’s education is to create well rounded young men. Academic achievement is important, but so too is a balanced lifestyle and admirable character. Schools are finding that children are arriving with poorer gross motor and coordination skills than ever before. This coincides with the increase in work commitments and hours for parents. Just as parental interest and support is provided in academic studies, this input should be extended to extracurricular pursuits and particularly with sport whilst children are developing foundational movement and coordination skills. If time can’t be found during the week, then this should be sought on weekends and during holiday periods.
7. Adequate sleep
A tired brain is one where learning will be limited. Children need adequate sleep periods for their age and regular sleep patterns. For children between the ages of 8 to 12, medical experts suggest 10 hours a day of sleep is an average requirement. More hours are recommended for those who are younger.
8. Experiencing success
Boys in particular respond well to success. When they experience success in a subject, an assignment or an extracurricular endeavour, they invest even greater energy in that endeavour. Help your sons to find his strengths and seek to employ initiatives that will foster further opportunities to grow and enjoy success.
9. Developing resilience and independence
Our goal as parents is to raise children who are happy, connected, responsible human beings who can operate successfully within a community. This requires thoughtful and strategic action that will encourage the growth of independence and resilience. All members in the household need to accept responsibility and this should increase each year as children get older. Negotiate what these responsibilities might look like in your home. Certainly care for possessions, packing the bag in readiness for the next day each night and a regular household area of responsibility should be established and consistently maintained. When things go wrong or others upset or disappoint, help your children not to catastrophise, rather to problem solve. Calmly model how a resolution might be achieved. Ask questions that help to empower your child to strategise a possible solution. In so doing, you’ll be teaching resilience and equipping them to face future issues with confidence and control.
10. Using mistakes to your advantage
Often there is a reaction to castigate ourselves or others when mistakes are made. However, mistakes can be very helpful in highlighting a need. At School we encourage our boys to see mistakes as a helpful indicator that highlights an area that we need to address. The focus isn’t on the error itself, more about how we can turn this factor into an area to target. It isn’t that we can’t do something, we just can’t do something yet.
Mr Peter Allison, Head of the Preparatory School