It’s that time of year again. After roughly three months of long holidays with kids home from school, parents are anxious both positively (Yay! They’ll be out of my hair now) and negatively (Weh! How will I make it to payday after this rentree scolaire) as the kids return to school.
Given that very few Cameroonian students of primary/ secondary/ high-school age are going to be reading post, we’re targeting parents like you. What are you are you doing during this back to school period apart from shouting at the kids to put their things in order and going out of your mind as you tally the cost of uniforms, books, fees and other needs for your child? Have you sat them down for a back to school message to talk to them one on one, prepare them mentally, spiritually and emotionally for the year ahead? If not we advise you to.
Start the year by sitting your child down and giving the first lesson. The parent is always the first teacher, the one who sets the foundation for everything else the child goes out to learn. We’ve put together some points you may want to include in your message; we hope these direct you as you seek to influence your child positively for the year ahead.
1. Know the purpose
Does your child know why he or she is going to school? When asked, most of them would respond “to get an education”, “because that is what we are supposed to do” or another of such correct yet unsatisfactory answers. The reason we do things often determines how well we do them. The child may not have had much of a choice in being enrolled in nursery school, or even primary, but if that child is older (particularly in that I-hate-school stage) it would be wise to let your child know how going to school plays in their own plans for their life. And not just to fulfill parental obligation.
2. Begin as you mean to continue
You may have done this already, but if not, it is wise to tell your children that school does not begin with the first sequence/tests but rather with the first lessons. And explain again the pressure they put on themselves by accumulating work till last-minute – forget the fact that as adults we may need this lessons ourselves, tell them anyways.
3. Learning is fun, don’t let anyone fool you otherwise
Our educational system is flawed all over world. You see we are more concerned with the score the child has than whether they actually mastered the topic, or whether they can use that knowledge practically, if at all the knowledge is useful. But we know that real learning isn’t just about memorization and grades. Real learning is fun. It is the joy we felt at discovering the how day and night came about or the impressive awe in finding out about the water cycle. If done right, education and learning is more fun than any Playstation can offer. Convince your child of this, help them go to school with the mindset that will help them learn and not just memorize or “cram”. Help them save a bit of their curiosity and ingenuity
4. School is more than a place for education, it is one of the bloodiest social battlefields
As adults we’ve passed this stage so we sometimes forget that there is often a lot more than lessons taking place in the classroom. Yes children learn something every day in school, but not always related to academics.
“What is the most important thing one learns in school?
Self-esteem, support, and friendship.”
– Terry Tempest Williams
To add to the above quote, children also learn lessons on failure, betrayal, independence and interdependence etc. So as you counsel them on their academics don’t forget to talk to them about interrelation with other students, the social part of school definitely affects the academic performance of the student. And pretending the relationships don’t matter or don’t exist doesn’t make the problem go away.
5. Failing doesn’t make you a failure
No parent wants to see their child fail. And in truth no child wants to fail (some just don’t want to work to want to pass). However it is necessary to let children know that if they do fail, it is not the end of the world, it does not mean, they cannot pass and it definitely doesn’t mean they are stupid. Remind them early that failing is a part of the learning process much like falling was when they first tried to walk. Many parents put demands for “first place” on their children and avoid the topic of failure until it comes. By broaching the topic of failure you are not encouraging failure, you are encouraging self acceptance. Ask them to try their best and remember that everyone’s best is not the same.
All in all as your child goes into school ensure that you are sending them not only with enough provisions, or with their fees fully paid, they should also be leaving home with enough drive, ambition, courage, kindness, hope and self-esteem to weather what will surely come.
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”
– Oscar Wilde