Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Supporting all members of our school community to make a difference.

School and family life in Hong Kong can have really interesting differences to living, working and raising a family than in many other countries. One difference, that was certainly new to me when I first arrived, was that many families have a helper to assist and support  them with daily household duties. These 'Aunties' often become a treasured part of the family and in many instances have a major role in our students' life.

This means that Aunties may be the person who listens to the child read at night and helps them navigate the very complex task of learning to read or developing further skills in reading. We recognise the very real and important place that helpers play in this process and for the last few years, have taken steps to support them in this process.

One major way we do this is to run a 'Helpers' Workshop' that outlines some of the basics of supporting reading at home. This is run by a team of staff members, including a Vice Principal, teachers and a Tagalog speaking Educational Assistant, as many of our helpers are from the Philippines.

When this idea was first mooted some years back, it was both welcomed and met with resistance by staff members. Some staff understood that whoever was listening to a child read at night needed to be upskilled and supported to do this, so that our students could benefit from home reading. Other staff saw this as a way that might allow parents to opt out of this responsibility and have good justification to hand over this reading role to the Aunty.

To me, it didn't matter who was listening to the child read- just so long as someone did! So the workshops went ahead...and what a huge success they have been! Yesterday we had nearly 50 helpers attend our workshop and it was so good! These ladies were totally committed to learning as much as they could to support their children, who become very dear to them. As with many things, you can measure the need by the response and these workshops are certainly going to continue to be held at Bradbury.

For many of our parents, time spent at home is a precious commodity. Yesterday, one of our staff members commented that research has indicated that parents need to spend a minimum of only 15 minutes of quality time with their child each day to make a positive impact. Of course, the key word here is 'quality', so what would this look like? I would say uninterrupted one- on- one time , maybe reading a story, doing a puzzle, kicking a ball around, going for a walk- the list is endless, but... no devices on that walk with you!

So, thanks to all of the parents who yesterday supported our school  and your helper to become better informed about making a difference to your child.