Guest Blog by NumberWorks’nWords
Well, it’s that time of year again – the 2017 NAPLAN results are out and parents all over South Australia are scratching their heads wondering “what the heck do I make of my child’s results?”
Never fear, because Numberworks’n’Words are here to make those results something that you can understand and help your child grow from, instead of just another document that you shove in the top drawer and forget about.
When it comes to the NAPLAN test, we know there is a pretty divided audience. To some, it’s a total waste of time and to others it is a really important way of tracking your child’s progress and ability. Regardless of where you sit in this debate, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER so why not learn a bit more about your child’s strengths and weaknesses?
Identify and Encourage Strengths
Identifying Strengths: If any of your child’s results (black dot) sit above both the triangle (national average) and the light blue area (majority of students), run and give them plenty of hugs and kisses now; their hard work is paying off and you should be extremely proud. They are in the top 20% in that subject.
Encouraging Strengths: Unfortunately, most parents ignore these strengths because they aren’t having any problems with them. What was once a source of excitement, challenge and excellence fast becomes average, easy and boring. Once you have identified strengths, encourage them! Seek further ways to challenge your child in these areas. For example, if they have a writing strength, enrol them in writing competitions; if they are strong in maths get them into some robotics or inventions.
When we identify strengths, we challenge the students to extend their thinking. This might be applying the basics to real-life problems, extending them beyond their current class work, or speeding up what they already know. No child should be left unchallenged in their strengths.
Identify and Support Weaknesses
Identifying Weaknesses: A result (black dot) below the National Average (black triangle) suggests that this is an area where your child has weaknesses. If their result is still within the top four bands, there is plenty of room to improve but they may need support in specific areas of the subject matter, not everything.
If your child has any results (black dots) within, or close to, the bottom two bands, they are achieving below or just at the absolute minimum standard. Your child is finding the work very difficult and will find next year even harder. These are their areas of significant weakness and they will need focused intervention to maintain the pace of their peers.
Supporting Weaknesses: Speak to your classroom teacher or tutor and see how they are addressing these weaknesses. Ask for strategies and activities you could attempt at home to boost those skills.
When we identify weaknesses, we first build the foundations. Just like a house built on sand, a lack of educational foundations has no support for new learning. We go to whatever year level and topic in the curriculum we need to consolidate the work that hasn’t been learned effectively. We also build confidence. It is human nature that we want to get better at the things we are strong at and hope that the other things just go away. Through lots of non-threatening tests, praise, and rewards we turn their weakness into a strength.
Most importantly, remember that we all hate the things we aren’t good at. So, when supporting weaknesses, go at a pace that makes it fun and develops confidence as these are the cornerstones of lifelong learning!
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