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A Home for an Academic

by Eddie Rayner

An inviting learning space is fundamental to a child’s development. We know we want our children to be successful at school, but we often forget there is more we can do to our home environment to support them.

Aby Fishbourne, Principal at Aldar Academies The Pearl Academy, explains: “Make sure learning at home is different from the formal education of the classroom by finding exciting things to do together: shared reading, research, food or card games, trips and visits, high quality film, theatre, singing, music, spoken words and events, but, above all, talking about learning. Offer support, but not pressure, and encourage children to be the best they can be. Develop resilience and a ‘have a go’ attitude.

Showcase a Good Relationship with the School

Kephren Sherry, Head of Primary at Arcadia Preparatory School, agrees that the relationship between parents and the school is crucial in a child’s development, commenting: “By taking time to talk to the child’s teacher, parents can stay aware of the school’s study expectations and what they are learning in school, which can be reinforced through day trips to places that are linked to the subjects; for example, a museum or a science learning hub.”

An Enticing Home Environment

Another sure way to generate interest in study topics is through theme birthday parties around a school project, such as gathering all your children and having them build a volcanic explosion.

Other times your best bet is a well-lit desk and some quiet space. “Schedule a regular study time; students like routines, becoming more organised and efficient,” James Lynch, Principal of Ambassador International Academy, suggests. “Keep distractions to a minimum, too. This means no TV, loud music, or mobile phones. Be a motivator and be supportive. Ask about assignments, give encouragement, and make yourself available for questions and concerns. Develop the child’s mindset. It’s a good idea to study this concept and apply its principles.”

Janecke Aarnaes, Head of School at Dwight School Dubai agrees, saying that most young students thrive when working independently in a space and knowing that they have someone to ask help from. If students work at home, the same applies. “Working with school assignments (or homework) late in the evening is not recommended, as the ability to focus will be disrupted by fatigue. Routines, in general (set by the family in relation to what works for them) is something that most children prefer, whether they are conscious of it or not.”

A Student’s Lifestyle       

Suzanne Sumner, Principal at Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery, points out how important sleep is, which may seem obvious, but is often overlooked. “In order for children to be at their healthiest and in prime stance for learning, pre-schoolers typically need around 10-13 hours of sleep each night. Bedtime routines are paramount for preparing children for a day of active learning, discovery, and play at nursery. The time they go to bed and the amount of sleep a child has directly impacts on their experience of early learning.

Our Suggestions

Finally, Aida Nemer Saadeh, Principal at Arabic Horizon Private School in Abu Dhabi, lists a number of effective ways that could be the stimulus your child needs to tackle math or science problems.

  • Keep a home library filled with different genres; a surrounding that invites the use of imagination and expansion of the mind to understand varying concepts.
  • Apply 21st century skills for students: teach them how you research credible websites, academic journals, audio or visual encyclopedias, to back up your arguments with facts. Once familiar with the process, they will become self-reliant and self-taught.
  • Help them understand what critical thinking and problem-solving mean by showing them movies about the aviation or surgical industry. Not only will they get a glimpse into a potential career option, but they will also understand how these professionals make decisions and tackle issues.