Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend one of Rachel Vecht’s parenting sessions in Maida Vale. It was the third session in a course of ten and focused on ‘Setting up for Success: Preparing our children to do their best’.
Having worked with children for almost 20 years, I always hoped that my background would stand me in good stead when I became a mother a few years ago and I do feel lucky that having the tutoring experience under my belt gave me an insight into how children operate that other parents might not have had at the start. However, I must have nodded my head in an ‘Oh, that’s a really good point/suggestion/why aren’t I doing that already?’ kind of way over 20 times in the two hours that I sat in Rachel’s class. Not so smug any more, eh?
Rachel was getting us to consider the idea that we can’t just expect children to do what we want straight off: they need clear and measured guidance as to what is expected of them, and time to understand, absorb and then carry out what they need to do. Here is a glimpse of what we discussed:
- Rachel talked about taking time to discuss with your child why it is that he refuses to get out of bed in the morning and allow him to suggest ways that would help him get up without you shouting at him and dragging him out from under the duvet.
- You can’t just expect a child to ‘clean her teeth’: teeth cleaning can be broken down into around 20 steps and each step has to be explained and sequenced so she can learn how to do it herself.
- Talk to the child about how he should behave before you go on a bus/to a grandparents’ house/ a restaurant…
- Set up a pattern at bedtime to ensure the child feels safe and secure when you leave her room (Rachel gave a wonderful example of her daughter wanting her bedroom door left open at night – but during the summer, this would let too much light into the room so they came to an agreement where the door would be left slightly ajar and each night Rachel and her daughter measured the gap between the door and the door frame with a ruler to ensure both parties were happy).
Rachel has a background that gives you the utmost confidence in what she is preaching: she taught for 7 years at primary level in both the state and private sectors; she has lectured and mentored student teachers; she is a parent governor and has tutored; and to top it all off, she has four children of her own. As well as running the parenting courses, she goes into multinational companies and delivers seminars to the parents working there on how to support their children at home with their learning.
In the same way that as a tutor we create a space for a child to say ‘I don’t understand, help me’, Rachel creates a space for parents to admit they are struggling and talk freely about the issues they are having with their children. I feel that all parents need a session with her – we need as much help and support as our children.