The sheer range of texts their children study over the course of a year in a high school English class can be daunting for parents.
Children could study Shakespeare, The Simpsons and World of Warcraft all in a single term.
Edith Cowan University education researchers say parents can play a key role in helping their children tie all the different texts together and understand the different ways language is used.
ECU education senior lecturer Dr Brian Moon says that English has become more diverse than many of us remember, but language and communication are still at the core of the subject.
Here are Dr Moon’s top tips for parents of high school aged children:
1. Engage with curriculum your children are studying.
“Parental attitudes are a powerful influence on children’s motivation to learn, and motivation is often the key to success.
“Showing an interest in the texts you children are reading for class can be a powerful motivator.”
2. Provide access to a wide variety of reading materials.
“Providing access to reading materials—books, newspapers, magazines—is a great first step.
“Most adolescents have preferred topics or genres that they read within: parents can respect and support these existing preferences while looking for opportunities to extend reading in new directions.”
3. All reading is valuable.
“Books are not the only thing that counts, though they are invaluable for building reading stamina.”
“Works of fiction help build empathy for others and insight into human experience, while non-fiction materials help build understandings of argument and evidence.”
4. Look for opportunities to build cultural capital
“Theatrical performances, concerts, public lectures, poetry slams and recitals can all be stimulating and can provide insights that go far beyond the specific topics addressed.
“A play or lecture doesn’t have to be on the official curriculum to be of value.
“The same content can often be accessed on DVD, or online, if live performances are not an option.”
“Cultural capital works like money in the bank—it provides greater returns as it accumulates.
5. Let them read!
“While it may be tempting to take charge of your child’s reading and leisure activities in the name of improving their cultural capital, adolescents often react against heavy-handed intervention.”
“A light touch is best, along with quiet confidence that the program of work offered in English, while it may sometimes be unfamiliar to parents, does have a sound educational purpose.”
“With parental support, all children can learn to not only embrace and enjoy studying English, but to thrive doing so.”
(Source: Edith Cowan University)