Issues  

Beyond paying school fees


With the rising cost of everything including private education in Nigeria, and the fact that for most who desire a better foundation for their children, public schools are just not an alternative, we find an unfortunate trend where parents are just so overwhelmed with working hard to earn enough to pay for their children’s education that they are too fatigued to do anything else regarding their children’s education.

Parents must understand that they have a much bigger role to play than just paying the school fees and expecting everything to be fine. Education especially for young children requires a high level of parent involvement and participation, and parents must forge sustainable partnerships with the Schools in this regard.

Parental involvement in education and partnering with the schools and educators is even more important in these times because of a number of issues surrounding education and our society. For example, we will be pretentious if we do not admit that it is not only in public schools that we are faced with concerns about the quality of teachers – our private schools are not spared either.

After all, it is the same system that produces the teachers whether in private or public, and it is the same society that has unfortunately denigrated the teaching profession. With the challenges we have with teacher-quality, it is in the best interest of parents to be more hands-on regarding the education of their children, if not for anything at least to secure their investment and reap the maximum Return on Investment (ROI).

In addition, we are in a world of multiple competing messages and doctrines. Our children are exposed to different messages from the internet, conventional media, social media, and from their peers.

Parents who are really concerned about preparing their children for the future, must be equally concerned about getting more actively involved in what happens to their children in school.

The children spend more than half of their wakeful-day in school, and if parents are not actively partnering with the schools and educators, parents stand a chance of being completely ignorant of the real issues facing their children, and risk their children’s potential contamination by these competing messages.

People who study generational theory recognize that the generation of children that we are raising today, more than any generation before have a deep psychological need for parental support. We live in communities that are a lot less integrated than in previous generations and children often belong to smaller families with a lot less extended family influence and support.

Parents are today therefore raising children “all by themselves”, often in single-parent families or in families with both parents on a strict 8-7pm career. Children spend more time with nannies, maids and governesses now more than ever before, and school sometimes is the only social stimulus they get considering that we all live in fortified ‘prisons’, and our children hardly interact with neighbours or people who live around us. It is incumbent on parents to pay more attention to what happens in school and build partnerships with the teachers and educators.

So, what do the teachers, educators and schools want – essentially they want continuity, reinforcement and feedback. They recognize that for children to receive all-round education, there must be a continuous and open line of communication between the schools and parents.

Whatever standards are set for the children at school, must be the same standards at home, and that the continuous feedback from and to school ensures that the changes expected from the children are reinforced both ways. The only way to achieve this continuity is when there is an open and thriving channel of communication, and a real partnership between parents and schools.

Schools want feedback from the parents regarding the education that their children are receiving. The schools need input on the other factors that the children are exposed to, so that they can incorporate this into the work they do with the children.

Parents need to understand the underlying educational philosophy behind the school that drives its teaching methods approaches and decisions, so that they can find congruence with these philosophies and get better results for their children.

Often many complaints that parents have regarding things that happen in school are borne out of a lack of proper understanding of these underlying philosophies. For example: Why should my child go to Grade Six? Why should my child repeat? Why does my child need special education? Why isn’t my child receiving a prize on graduation day? Why isn’t my child participating in the sports finals? A lot of your questions would have been answered and perhaps been unnecessary, if you were more involved with your school and the teachers.

So, parents don’t play a passive role, play an active one, not just in attending school events, but even much more in having deep and meaningful conversations with your children and with their teachers and the School. Listen, provide feedback and be open to learn and be better – that’s what partnering and communication is really about.

The truth is that there is a tripod upon which every decent society is built, and it is this tripod that lays the foundation for our children’s future. The tripod must stand strong and stand together –it’s the family, led by you the parents; the faith community in which we all participate; and the School that is calling for your involvement and participation. We must forge a common front and alliance, if we are to bring out the best in our children, and secure their future.
Barrow Is The Co-Founder And Director Of The Abuja Based Creative Learning International School

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