Back to school: What every parent must look out for

After a long eventful holiday, children must report back to school for the new term this week. But how prepared is your child? Or is it even necessary? Well, Education Times explores why early child preparation for school is important and how it should be done.  Teachers say preparing for a new term starts as soon as learners break off for holidays. They always encourage parents to occupy holiday makers with various activities since an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.  Jimmy Drasi, a teacher at Ecole Primaire Umubano, says parents should involve their children in constructive activities such as helping the maid with house chores, reading, sports and playing. He says doing work develops the independent aspect of the child.
Parents are encouraged to buy school requirements early and accompany their children to school for the new term. (Timothy Kisambira)
Parents are encouraged to buy school requirements early and accompany their children to school for the new term. (Timothy Kisambira)

After a long eventful holiday, children must report back to school for the new term this week. But how prepared is your child? Or is it even necessary? Well, Education Times explores why early child preparation for school is important and how it should be done. 

Occupy the child at home

Teachers say preparing for a new term starts as soon as learners break off for holidays. They always encourage parents to occupy holiday makers with various activities since an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. 

Jimmy Drasi, a teacher at Ecole Primaire Umubano, says parents should involve their children in constructive activities such as helping the maid with house chores, reading, sports and playing. He says doing work develops the independent aspect of the child. 

“As a teacher of Social Studies, I always teach students to help each other and associate with good people because it provides important lessons to the child in regard to socio responsibility,” Drasi notes. 

Pay school fees early

Many parents during holidays budget for everything else except school for the next term thinking they still have a lot of time on their hands. But how time flies is what has puzzled parents and guardians over the years. As a result of poor planning, parents take children to school after either paying only half of the school fees or nothing at all. In fact experts say stressing a child with financial matters during the early days of the term has a psychological effect on the child. If parents only knew what their children think about being sent home to collect school dues… 

Jessica Nyiransega, a holiday maker, says: “It is weird when you find your name on the defaulters list every term. It feels like your parents don’t care. It happened to me at the beginning of last term and I don’t want to go through that experience gain. I doubt whether I can attend school again before they (parents) have sorted out my fees issue.”

Wake up early

Teachers also advise parents to understand how many hours their children sleep for at home. Faith Namusoke, a teacher at Umubano Primarie, says a schedule should be designed and enforced by the parent to keep the child in check. 

“In order to cut down on the child’s stress and worries of waking up early to prepare for school, a parent should train the child to wake up early for a whole week before school resumes. This will help the child to adjust immediately to rising up early from bed during school time,” Namusoke explains. 

She notes that once a child sleeps for more hours than expected, the parent should get concerned, adding that teachers always refer such children to the school nurse or health personnel for review.

Focus on the future, not past

Parents usually fall into the trap of focusing more on the child’s previous term performance than concentrating on the future. 

“There is no need to be learner-biased regarding the previous term performance,” says Namusoke, adding that it is important to target improvement of a child than to get emotional about past performance. 

“Students are always ready to improve provided they are given the opportunity to believe in themselves. They can always work extra hard and results may shoot to expectations. Parents should encourage their children by suggesting reading mechanisms such as revision and research in order to create more interest and focus towards education,” Namusoke advises.

Attend meetings regularly

Most parents do not follow up about their children’s wellbeing and progress at school. No wonder teachers and administrators have always complained that very few parents attend meetings and other school activities. In fact a number of them do not even read circulars and reports. Teachers say detaching yourself from your child’s school life can be suicidal. 

For instance, they argue that only teachers can tell you about your child’s disciplinary record and his commitment to studies. It is only after knowing who your child really is that you can know how to help him. Namusoke says failure to detect bad behaviour early only breeds disaster for the child. She says a parent should endeavour to have contacts of the school administrators at their fingertips in order to monitor the child far away from school.

Encourage innovation, practice

Present day situations require the child to be innovative in most disciplines of life. Therefore, students should be made to understand the purpose of education, their goals and ambitions. They should also be given an opportunity to practice educational aspects outside class. Drasi says parents should assist their children in establishing projects such as a backyard garden and poultry since practical activities improve their creativity.

A week before school

A week before the new term opens, a lot of things need to be checked out by the parents as well as the students themselves. For example the parent must check whether the homework has been done to his satisfaction and put his signature to acknowledge that. 

If the child did not read hard during the rest of the holiday, the last week should be treated differently. When a child revisits his notes, the mind wakes up and gets used to the routine school activities. Educationists urge parents to assist their children in case need arises. 

Shop early

Every term, learners make a list of items they need for the new term. Teachers advise parents to ask for that list early and scrutinise it well. “Parents are supposed to go through the list of the requirements to make sure that they are all covered,” a teacher advises, adding that shopping should be done in time. 

Drasi also urges parents to involve children in the shopping because it might be fun for them. 

“Provide limitations, but allow him to pick out a backpack, food box, water bottle, new clothes, and other basic school supplies,” he notes.

Medical check up

The medical status of a student needs to be checked before the start of a new term. It makes no sense for someone to fall sick after a few days into the new term. Doctors always encourage routine medical check-ups to avoid avoidable diseases. Namusoke says it is even better when a doctor who knows the family/individual’s entire medical history carries out the examination.

Identify weakness 

Teachers say there is need to identify the weakness of the student and probably share it with the teachers. For instance some children have special needs and the teachers have to be made aware of that condition so as to find ways of best assisting that child.

Personally drop children

On the first day of school, parents should make it a point to accompany their children to school. Teachers say sending maids or another person to orient the children at school during a new term is not good. Getting involved in a student’s life begins with showing interest in all the main activities at the school. 

“This will leave less room of doubt by your child since they always compare with what other parents do for their children,” Namusoke argues.

If your child is feeling a bit nervous about going back to school, always keep a positive attitude. Excite them by recalling the fun time of the previous term like picnics and field trips and emphasise that more are yet to come in the new term.

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HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE NEW TERM

Daniel Habumugisha, a parent

Most parents are taken by surprise when they learn that the new term is beginning. Sometimes students also don’t notice it especially if busy watching movies or doing other activities. However, it is important to read and do homework o keep fresh.

Nobert Kwesiga, parent

I always take my child to school on the first day. I do it in order to meet the administrators and find out if there are any changes that I may not be aware of. Sometimes one is busy but what’s more important than getting involved in your child’s education?

Faith Namusoke, teacher

Labelling a child as ‘lazy’ or ‘dull’ because of their performance in class is not good. Besides, every child is gifted with a special talent which can be developed into an asset once identified. Improvement is a process, and if given time, we can all reach our peak. Poor grades should not not affect the parent-child relationship which involves openness and dialogue between both parties.

Drasi Jimmy, teacher

A parent should always take an extra step to find out the people his child is associating with and the movies they are watching. You do not have to be very strict but you need to guide them on a number of occassions.

Aisu Richard, teacher

When preparing for school, both the parent and the student should be aware of the starting date. The parent should then ensure the child has all school requirements in place before the term begins. This avoids last minute confusion.

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