Promoting educational success at home with our tamariki

Ngā mihi mahana to our guest blogger for this week.

A super-mum, passionate kaiako and good friend blogs about the importance of taking accountability for the education of our tamariki, promoting positive attitudes toward learning and leading by example.

Ngā mihi nui to all our readers and contributors to date. You all are examples to behold.



Within this piece I hope to enlighten readers about the importance of promoting educational success from a young age.

Being of mixed ethnicity, my love for things Indigenous began very early – a passion that in my adult life would progress into an on-going curiosity closely linked to my profession, educating Indigenous youth.

I have heard varying opinions, positive and negative, that relate to the reasons why our kids fail and fall short of educational expectations, year after year. But what we need to do is look at ourselves (adults) and see what type of patterns we are creating at home, at work and in our social lives which directly affect our kids and their attitudes towards learning.

I’ll begin with ‘the cycle’. What is ‘the cycle’? referred to often as the ‘Poverty Cycle’. It’s a situation that kids are often enough caught up in without knowledge (of), and/or without a willingness to be a part of. It’s a scenario that places kids within an on-going cycle of unemployment, educational underachievement, poverty and listlessness. More often than not Indigenous kids are living in ‘the cycle’, not to say other youth aren’t also, however this is an Indigenous blogging site hence my focus, Indigenous youth.

In all honesty, whanau play an enormous role in the attitude our kids have towards educational success. If not the most important role for our Indigenous youth. From my experience, hui for families to share a meal at the marae or watch kapa haka performances are generally well attended. On the flip side, when it comes to hui for assessment information, meet the teacher or careers hui, we’d be lucky to see a handful of whanau turn up.

Our kids pick up on what’s important and what’s not, from the behaviours of the adults in their lives.

After speaking with parents of children from all different age groups, a pattern of ‘it’s the teacher’s responsibility to educate my kids’ was very clear. Let me be clear, I DO believe it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach the child at school in the classroom. However, when a child gets home, this is when reinforcement and ‘real’ learning takes place. Best of all, this requires minimum understanding (of the content) but THREE important things must take place (to promote educational success):

  1. Positive attitudes (encouragement of learning and its importance)
  2. Time! (say goodbye to your evenings on FB/ Twitter/Insta/Pinterest etc)
  3. Attentiveness (letting them know you want to hear what they have been learning and focus on them).

Trust me I am no parent of the year, but if you are told something once (6 hours prior) that you didn’t quite understand, and possibly didn’t like or agree with, are you likely to remember it?

These kids are required to recall (for assessment purposes) facts, reasons, examples and add opinion to influence the audience. This is where attitudes make or break our kids.

What attitudes do we (as adults) have towards educational success?

Well I have a job, didn’t like school and I turned out ok. What’s homework got to do with success?

Sure, so we don’t all need to push our kids to become Emeritus Professors, however they have to be at school anyway until 16, so why not instill positive values from a young age?

Seeing first-hand the lack of motivation among our Indigenous youth (not all) is discouraging at its lightest form; to not want any success in life? To not have any aspirations? It’s horrifying. On a positive note, some (not all) Indigenous kids have a real yearning to succeed and are taking every step possible to get somewhere in life. There are patterns – some kids have intrinsic motivation. They are motivated without having to be pushed; however their whanau in every case I have seen are present, supportive and promote educational success – contradictory? Maybe, but true? Yes! If your kaiako is always on your case about doing well, and then you return home and there is a lack of any interest from whanau, you have to be fairly head strong to remain positive.

To add, there are those who in any circumstance, will set goals at school and/or university and succeed. The moral of the story is look out for kids, get interested in their learning so they know what’s important, celebrate their academic success, promote academic success, improve indigenous involvement in our communities and let’s see if we can change some of those stereotypes that permeate through the veins of our Indigenous youth. Kia ora!

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