Teachers and parenting their students
“I pray you’ll be our eyes,
And watch us where we go.
And help us to be wise,
In times when we don’t know.
Let this be our prayer,
When we lose our way.”
The Prayer - Andrea Bocelli and Katharine McPhee
More and more, teachers are being required to take on responsibilities that are outside of their job description. For some, they have to be grooming students, getting them breakfast, and doing tasks that should have been carried out by those students’ parents.
With some children being more difficult to control than others, there needs to be a partnership between parents and teachers to effect discipline in not just schools but also the society.
To expound on this issue, Family and Religion reached out to Joan Cameron Allison, a teacher at Osborne Store Primary and Infant School in Clarendon.
Allison said it is taxing on teachers to carry out the dual role of parenting and teaching because it robs them of valuable time away from their core responsibility, which is teaching, and it leaves many of them feeling drained and frustrated.
“Some students suffer in the process because teachers may have to neglect them to give ‘parental attention’ to others. It can be taxing financially, too, because some teachers have to take from their meagre salary to provide essentials for their students,” Allison said.
Acknowledging that it is not a requirement to give, Allison said if you are a caring teacher, you won’t be able to turn a blind eye to the needs of your student, and besides, if the child is hungry, a teacher would be wasting her time trying to impart knowledge because it is difficult to learn on an empty stomach.
The solution, for her, is for parents to be mindful of the integral role they have to play in the total development of their offspring.
With the Ministry of Education pushing the mantra ‘Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn’, Allison said that this can only be realised when parents step up, take responsibility for their children’s lives, and realise that they, too, must do their part at home, making it a partnership with the teachers.
The educator said that parents who can do better should ensure that their children get a good breakfast before they are sent off to school.
“Too many children go to school and are told to buy soda or cup soup for breakfast. Small children, especially, need porridge in the mornings,” she pointed out.
Stating that economically, it can be challenging for some parents, Allison said if they prioritise their lives in terms of how money is spent, their children can be fed.
Using as an example the cup soups that children often buy for breakfast, Allison said that the money used to purchase that food item could be used to buy cornmeal, sugar and a pack of milk powder.
“Hairstyle and new clothing can be put off for later and that money spent to push the children forward,” she added.
There are times, she said, when teachers must divert from the norm and instead be counselling students on their TV-watching habits based on some of the things they share.
“Not every TV programme is good for children. If home practises the right things, children will not be easily led to do the wrong things”.
X-rated movies are not for children. Parents should be discreet with even their own sexual lives at home, to prevent children from being exposed to too much too early,” she said.
Allison stressed that parents can assist teachers to more effectively carry out their roles by being consistent in disciplining their children.
“Teach them to abide by rules at school and reprimand them when they break them,” she advised. This, she said, will go a long way in making teachers’ tasks lighter.
According to Allison, parents’ attitudes at home towards the school and teachers determine how students behave at school.
“Parents should say what school is saying so as to prevent conflict in the children’s minds,” she pointed out.
Allison added that the ultimate goal is a working partnership between parents and teachers as this can only make children’s lives better.
“While teachers sometimes don’t mind acting in parental capacities, they should not be expected to be a replacement for the real parents,” the educator said.