By Allison Williams
As a community of parents and educators are we getting tired? How about we try to support each other and create a culture of collaboration to help our children?
I have been a teacher for over 30 years, and I am also a parent. I’ve enjoyed my teaching years, in and out of the classroom, and consider myself very fortunate that I can also marry this to my faith and teaching in my parish as a Catechist.
As a parent and teacher, I’m on both sides of the fence and have experienced the moments of being overwhelmed, at times frustrated and the what to do next?’ many of us feel. I understand fully where the weariness comes from, but these are our children, the ones we have and the ones we teach.
While I believe we all agree that there is a need for change, education reform, simpler curriculum, stop SEA etc, can we as educators and, parents (being the first teachers of their children), work together? At the risk of sounding cliché, why not be the change and let’s grow where we are planted.
What I’m suggesting is that we need a shift in approach. We all hear the latest complaints of slow learners in the classroom, students who need remedial work, restlessness, inattentiveness and possibly undiagnosed cases of dyslexia, ADD and ADHD.
In this article, I want to introduce the idea of applying brain-based strategies to our homes and classrooms. Teachers may be aware of this, or perhaps need to be reminded. Parents need to be educated about it. But first let’s look at some contributing factors to what seems to be a “new epidemic”.
Recognising the Current Challenges
With the return to classrooms post-pandemic, there has been an increase in indiscipline in and out of the classroom. If there were problems before, certainly Covid has widened the gap on several learning levels, not just behavioral. I had hoped that prior to the eventual return, there would have been conversations taking place among all adults concerned as to the best way forward and how a supportive climate could be built for students’ benefit. Instead, we’re back to the same-old, same-old.
There is no one size fits all. The solution depends on the differences in backgrounds, sociability, quality of relationships and the list can go on, but at least start having a conversation, so we can all contribute to our children’s success.
What as parents and educators are we missing? If it was not recognised before, we would have a crisis in childhood. Today’s lifestyles are a major part of the problem, and the choices we make can have a long-term effect on a child’s developing mind.
The brain is a wonderful organ, and the great news is it keeps growing as we develop. However, watching a child struggle unsuccessfully in school with their learning, poor motivation, and social relationships is devastating to families and leaves parents and teachers discouraged. Many school and personal problems are the cause of learning differences, and these affect the way the brain processes information. They include social skills, inattention, or motivation problems but most definitely academics.
Emotional development, at the top of my list, is closely intertwined in the brain with social and academic learning. You see where this is going?
A Systemic Approach
I want you to imagine our children, each one as a network or system, growing, learning, and developing as a part of a much larger system, which is home, school, and neighborhood. Whether support is available or not.
Now think about them in chaotic, stressed lifestyles, brain disruptors such as poor sleep, bad food choices, lack of outdoor playtime, and certainly, overuse or hazardous type of technology/media. Picture our children in a one-size-fits-all curriculum about what they should learn and achieve, and sadly some professionals who are eager to label.
Environments can shape brains into powerful learners and it’s time we stop being careless about our children’s brains and what they need.
I hope your interest has been piqued. Our next step is to look more closely at what brain-based teaching is and explore a few strategies proven by research.
In the meantime, let’s try to meet our children where they’re at. Celebrate who they are, not mourn who they are not.
I will part with this verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. Proverbs 22:6. Love is a powerful remedy.