In this short podcast, Six Seconds Director of Parent Education, May Duong speaks with Ann Chang, a teacher at Synapse School about how parents can support their child’s learning in and out of school using EQ.

On the first day of Kindergarten, what parent hasn’t waved goodbye with a rush of emotion, whether relief or sadness as they turn their child over to the care of others? And then comes the first parent/teacher conference, the beginning of a long and hopefully fruitful relationship full of opportunities.

I will never forget my first parent teacher conference. My son had bit his kindergarten teacher.  I had failed as a parent already in just four years. A big fat “F”. Next meeting, I felt pride as his teacher told me he was reading three grades above his level. Looking back it was I who had “separation issues”, separating how I showed up as a parent and a person from my child’s ups and downs at school.

As schools often evaluate, measure, grade and sort children, so too do parents often judge themselves in relation to those same measurements. Anyone who doubts this might observe how much pride (and ownership) some parents take in their children’s science fair projects.  This can hardly support independence or learning, but when that big project is due, it’s so tempting to “just help a little” and end up taking over without meaning to. So how to resist getting caught up in the “race to nowhere” that is grade pressure? It starts with curiosity and fun, and nurturing  that natural urge to figure stuff out that is in us and our kids. 

As my children got older, I loved volunteering in their classrooms. Cooking and  singing and writing silly songs together, I was able to celebrate my own curiosity, and to form a bond with my child’s teacher, and also with the community of parents and children. The learning did not stop or start with the classroom, but spilled over into group camping trips, science hikes, and gardening, or sometimes rescuing a giant beetle from the swimming pool and looking it up in the local wildlife book. One teacher stands out from all the others in our family’s memory. Third grade teacher Joan Harrington opened her heart and mind to the whole community. She was the one who came to everyone’s birthday party. Feelings were honored. She was attending brain science conferences long before Social Emotional Learning became a known field. Her class was a safe place where every student felt special and smart. She even came with flowers to all the her students’ high school graduations.

What if emotional intelligence and social competencies were the real measure of family, child and teacher success? What would schools look like then?

They might look a lot like Synapse School in Menlo Park, Six Seconds’ laboratory school for experimenting with ways to integrate social emotional learning into every aspect of academics. Classes and homework are largely project-based, and learning is not just academic. 

Synapse School integrates EQ, Innovation & Academics

Where does emotional intelligence intersect and support learning at home and at school? How can parents understand their own thought and emotional patterns about school? How can moments of drop-off and pick-up from school, evenings at home, family outings and homework be opportunities for discovery or reflection?

As a team, parents and teachers can be powerful advocates for children’s learning at home and at school when they all row in the same direction. Yes, there can be tension between the style of learning going on at home and in the classroom. Or the personal style of the teacher and the parent. But when parents and teachers agree on the basic premise that each child has a unique brain style and learning style, and has their own way of navigating the world of school and emotions, then there is a better chance the student will find their own inner motivation and passion. Once that happens, they can grow into the changemakers they have the potential to be.

What are your experiences as a parent in relation to your child’s school? What EQ tips can you share for wisely guiding our children through their education at home and school?

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Rachel Goodman

Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and communications professional, editor, producer, and writer for effective outcomes. Ms. Goodman has been a radio producer for much of her career, specializing in short features and documentaries. Some of her work includes Southern Songbirds: the Women of Early Country Music, Pastures of Plenty: A History of California's Farmworkers, and The Boomtown Chronicles: Reflections on a Changing California. Ms. Goodman teaches journalism at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County. Her goals are to facilitate positive change in the world through effective communication, and to continue conducting her work with the highest level of integrity possible.