Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Stop kidding around, parents!

Published:Tuesday | September 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM

It can't be easy helping a child with homework you barely understand yourself. But such is life. It's a critical part of the parenting contract you inadvertently signed when you brought life into the world. For too long, teachers have become this superhuman beast of burden - expected to make lawyers and doctors of these children they see in bulk, six hours a day.

The belief that pass or fail is up to the work teachers put in is inconsiderate and near impossible.

I hear the argument that schools should offer instructions to level the playing field for those who can't afford extra lessons and whose parents are not smart enough to provide academic clarity at home. That poorer parents have to work harder and be absent more, so the school has a duty to fill the gap. But I don't buy it.

The MP never had your baby. You and teacher didn't conceive. Once you made a decision to become a parent, you should do the job. And that goes for both father and mother. It drives me crazy that courts, at best, stipulate in rulings that a meagre amount for child support be paid. As if a little cash can help with homework. With personal development. With building self-confidence. With providing a child with love. I wish the courts would also mandate that parents be present. Active. Give a damn.

 

MORE INVOLVED

 

This academic year, my wish is that parents become more involved. It isn't a poor people failing. I have a real concern that too many students are on autopilot. Their parents are too busy working, or worrying, and just aren't finding time to actually do what should be their most important job. Parenting.

Take an interest in your child. Find the time to attend PTA meetings, make use of parent-teacher consultations, take the initiative to start a class WhatsApp group so you can discuss issues with the other parents.

Every class in Campion appoints a homework monitor each term - a student whose job it is to write down all the given assignments each day. My little brother hated that I would always get that person's home number. And if he ever told me he didn't have homework, I would be making a call to double-check.

Better parents make better students. This has nothing to do with financial status. In my primary school, teachers paid more attention to two sets of children, those who had a natural aptitude for As and those whose parents were present and involved.

It was also instructive that both sets of students often overlapped. Constant contact meant learning and - or behavioural issues were identified quickly, and addressed quickly. And as a child, you knew if you formed the fool, before the week ended your parents would hear about it.

 

TRUANT

 

Last year, I saw a uniformed boy loitering in my community at about 10:30 a.m. I enquired why he wasn't in school and he said he had no exams that morning. It sounded suspicious. My neighbours and I marched him straight to school, only to discover that he was, in fact, being a truant - for the third day in a row. When I followed up with the principal days later about what his mother said, she had little to report. The mother hadn't come because she couldn't find bus fare.

I was angry. You child is in trouble, find the bus fare. How does your child skip school for three days and you do not know? Every evening requires a detailed debriefing session, complete with 'show me your notebook and your homework book'.

I support Mr Corcho at Calabar's stance. There is no way my child could be failing and I do not take serious remedial action to pull his grades up. What have you done with your failing child other than cuss him/her?

There are parents out there, rich and poor, who are stellar examples. Parent who sacrifice selflessly to give their child the tools they need. Parents who, even if they can't afford it, are proactive in talking to school administrators about challenges. Parent who stay up with their children while they study, even if they can't help with the material. Company counts.

Let's establish something. You don't need money or smarts to be a good parent. You, however, need time and attention. There's no substituting that. This absentee parent business has to stop. It's proving to be the real root of evil.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.