TTUTA writes a weekly column for the Newsday called TTUTA on Tuesday.
As the term draws to a close and the excitement of the vacation and the festive season builds, it is an opportune time to remind parents of their responsibility to ensure that their children’s education continues during the vacation period.
While in some cases report cards may be the basis for rewards or sanctions, parents must remember that their children must learn that schooling and their education means a lot more than a toy or gift. While some students will perform well in school owing to a number of factors, report cards should not be used as the sole basis for the valuation of a child’s worth.
Conversely, great report cards should be taken in the right context and not used as a means of over-reward. Gift giving should be done in an overarching moral context. While children are on vacation, parents must ensure they continue to be schooled in the hidden curriculum whereby values such as love, honesty, kindness, empathy, respect, tolerance are inculcated.
These principles must be the basis of children’s experiences and great care and effort should be made to ensure they live experiences that will impact positively on their emotional well-being.
In some instances parents may opt to expose their charges to formal instruction in sport or culture and this is commendable, for these experiences help to instil a sense of discipline and self-confidence, broadening the developmental focus.
However, care must be taken to ensure that at all times these experiences are fun-filled and exciting for the child. Parents will also do well to remember that they must model behaviours they want to see in their children.
Children learn what they see, hear and experience and if these experiences reflect hate, anger, disrespect, intolerance, violence, greed and dishonesty, these are the values the children will learn and their behaviour will reflect these traits.
Younger children are sometimes more vulnerable to negative interpersonal encounters and great care must be taken to ensure that those adults into whose care they are entrusted are worthy of such responsibility. Great care must be taken to scrutinise the suitability of people who are placed in a position of trust over children.
Christmas vacation presents an ideal time for parents to teach children the softer social skills, building their emotional intelligence capacity. This can be done through regular and focused conversations and the allocation of chunks of the day to engage in routine activities involving the child.
While it is tempting and easy for parents to shower children with material gifts, it is more important for them to simply talk and express their love and affection for the children by spending quality time with them and ensuring they know that they assume top priority in their parents’ lives.
Vacation schooling should include reading in both a structured and unstructured manner. This helps to sharpen children’s vocabulary and comprehension skills, which in turn positively impacts their ability to cope with the breadth of the formal curriculum. It is one sure way of augmenting what is done at school and should form an integral part of the vacation calendar.
It does not require much effort or skill and can be adapted to many situations, making it an easily attainable target.
A good way of ensuring that children learn the value of material things is by giving them age-appropriate chores. This also has the capacity to teach them responsibility and diligence — traits that are desirable for success at school.
The attachment of rewards to the performance of these chores must be done only in specific circumstances otherwise it will diminish the social skills being nurtured.
The encounters teachers have with children in the school and classroom continue to reflect a state of poor parenting and by extension a deficiency in the informal education process.
Our schools are already overburdened with a formal curriculum and given the social deficits that many children exhibit, it is imperative that parents take greater care to ensure that the schooling that should take place in the home is carefully planned and undertaken.
Social capital must be accumulated in a targeted manner and when acquired augers for a successful child and a successful adult later on.
Leaving children unsupervised for prolonged periods is a common practice in many homes and communities and has been identified as the basis for the development of delinquent behaviours that characterise many of our teenagers.
Let us use this opportunity to engage children in meaningful and productive endeavours. Here’s to a great holiday.