Parents play a pivotal role in shaping the character of children as they grow towards adulthood. As a parent and teacher, I am convinced that the COVID-19 period presents the opportunity for parents to be engaged in the lives of their children like never before.
With schools closed, parents have had to take up the role of being both parent and teacher. At this time, most parents may feel like their space has been raided by their children and we are all trying to figure out how to balance between working from home and ensuring our children stay on track with their learning. We are all adapting to a new routine and as crazy and hectic it may seem, it is important that our children feel supported in their academics as this is also a new adjustment for them.
So how can parents support the education of their children during this time and even after schools re-open? Here are a few thoughts:
Maintain communication with the teachers
Every parent should develop a habit of keeping constant and continuous communication with the teacher(s) who engage with their children. With remote learning in place, it has become much easier for families to have one on one contact with teachers either through their work emails or work phone numbers. Use this time to schedule a virtual meeting with the teacher to catch up with your child’s progress. This not only shows your child that you care but also assures the teacher that you value what they are doing and that you are committed to supporting the benefit of your child.
Share your personal school experiences
Parents should always create time to interact with their children and share their experiences both positive and negative during their days as students. Feel free to share their moments of glory as students and those painful moments that shaped them into the people they are. Such stories make children feel easy around their parents and will no longer look at them as superhumans that only lead perfect lives devoid of mistakes. This will, in turn, encourage the child to open up and share any academic challenges that they are encountering.
Monitor their academic progress
Now that the children are learning from home, parents have so much visibility into the lessons that happen in class. Spare some time and discuss lessons or assignments given. This is also a great opportunity to go through their academic reports with them and prompt questions on their performance on areas they need assistance on.
Appreciate positive outcomes
Students who perform well will maintain their good results if they are regularly appreciated. Parents should devise a way of appreciating their learners every time they bring improved results home. This will continue to motivate them to work hard at all times and maintain high expectations. However, parents should be careful when rewarding good performance. They should make it very clear to their children that it is not a bribe to maintain good performance but rather an appreciation for doing well.
Listen to their needs and desires and support where necessary
Trying to rule your children with an iron fist may work only when they are still young but upon attaining the adolescent age, this may be a difficult road to travel. Parents should be open to their children and must demonstrate the commitment to supporting them in whatever way possible. Create opportunities for them to bring their thoughts onto the table and see how they can support them. Children who feel listened to by adults also grow up to be people who are considerate and accommodative of others.
Successful people will always tell you that the best way to succeed in life is not to be afraid of failing. Normalizing failures and making it part of everyday life creates a safe space for learners to be innovative and risk-takers. Parents who encourage their children to constantly try new things without fear of being reprimanded stand a better chance of raising children into adults that are innovating and critical thinkers.
Written by Fred Ndhine (Lead Chemistry & Mathematics teacher at Nova Pioneer Boys Secondary School – Eldoret)