Last year, in my usual anally over-prepared way, I was doing some research into schools, curriculums and training methods for children and gained some valuable insight based on my observations and researched-research (sound quite knowledgable, don’t I?). I’d like to share some of my new-found knowledge as I’ve since expanded it and I’m certain some or all of it will prove very useful:
1. Children Learn Better And Are More Confident When Their Parents Are Involved In Their Academics……….. Sounds like a no-brainer right? Well let me see if I can’t make this idea more enlightening. A child’s confidence is built over the first 15 to 18 years of their lives; essentially the years when they’re most dependent on their parents and when they struggle with issues of identity and the meaning of life. Sadly, most parents don’t really interact with their children at this age but mostly boss them around – they’re seen but we try to minimize how much they’re heard. Children can sound so silly sometimes but I’ve found (using my 2 going on 3 year old, often incoherent son, as an example) that they make a lot of sense and can even be wise in their way of looking at things; what they need is an attentive ear. The challenge with patronizing them and giving a ‘pretend’ listening ear is they know and it deflates them. Every time we ignore them for an episode of our favorite series, a football match or chatting with Lord knows who on the phone, we send the message that what they have to say is not that important. Now children are resilient so they try harder and even more often, but as research has shown, soon enough their trying turns to less healthy / balanced methods, they withdraw or become very angry. An even bigger problem is that when these subtle changes in their psyche are taking place, parents rarely notice and before too long the damage is done……emotionally unintelligent children are being raised.
You don’t believe me, think for a moment if you will, of what these same behavior traits do to a marriage or friendship. When a spouse or close friend often ignores you in favour of chatting with friends or checking news updates, barely looks up when you walk in because they’re so engrossed in what’s on TV, belittle your ideas or thought process. Lesser ills have been known to sow seeds that lead to a dissolved relationship, so why would we think it doesn’t affect children the same way? When a child isn’t confident in their parent’s love, they don’t focus on school work with the right aim – drinking in knowledge vs trying to impress impossible parents or anyone who fills that role – and sometimes they don’t do well in school deliberately so that their parents will notice because if their parents aren’t interested in it, then it must not be that important despite all that may be said to the contrary (the issue of parenting with words rather than actions comes to bear here – check out my earlier posts on this area).
Oh and in case it hasn’t become very obvious by now, bullying them to get better grades is as bad as ignoring them and leaving their academics to schools and lesson teachers. If you’re illiterate, then find a way to learn enough to contribute in some small way. Sit with them while they do their homework; even if the lesson teacher is there, ask them what they learnt and be genuinely interested and for older kids, don’t make them feel like they have to get a degree in an area you want to be considered successful. You can share your opinion without trying to fit them into some mold; after all, you didn’t create them so how about letting He who did tell you what He wants for your kids. If you were so brilliant and wise, you wouldn’t make the bungling mistakes that you do, now would you?
2. Nursery and Elementary School Levels Are The Most Important in Your Child’s Education.……………These are the stages where their method of learning, diction, elocution, writing and general content are formed and ingrained in their conscious and sub-conscious minds. After the Elementary stage, good luck with trying to retrain them in most areas; you can increase their knowledge but how they assimilate and what they’re open to is pretty much formed here and will determine how they’ll move through secondary (high school) school and college. The schools matter, but mostly for the kind of foundation they set for your children.
3. Expensive Schooling Will Not Get The Job Done………Especially in Nigeria where the government pays no attention to academic standards or improving education in the country. It’s worse at the Elementary School level, even though that’s the most delicate stage and requires the most attention (note point 2 above). In the area of English for instance, which I’m particularly picky about, I’ve found that virtually every school I’ve checked is lacking in the quality of spoken, written or both forms of the language. Even the French taught in a lot of schools is not the best and most Nigerian children (I assure you my facts are solid) are learning a lot of really wrong concepts in the Languages. The reason is because schools aren’t really regulated, can follow an myriad of curriculums they choose and as a result use any myriad of texts and other materials. They are increasingly in it for the money (not moulding the minds of future leaders) and our educational system churns out the worst students to become teachers – cut off scores to study at universities in Nigeria are lower for Education Faculty students than they are for other faculties; it seems ridiculous now that I’ve thought about it but that’s the reality.
Then parents go and get lesson teachers to continue the bad foundation being laid. Isn’t it funny that the same teachers who can’t seem to get the job done in school are the same people being paid even more to “fine-tune” their classroom teaching. The teacher may not be from the same school but in the end, they’re all being recycled save for a few who are specialists in their field and possibly don’t teach in mainstream classrooms. Time used to be when lesson teachers were reserved for “dull”, “slow” or challenged students; now it’s the latest learning accessory and another way to keep children occupied or make parents worry less about their children’s education. Well I suggest that if you fall into this category, you need to worry….indeed, be very afraid. A lot of teachers now don’t put in their best in school so they can earn extra from from offering extra lessons. A lot of secondary schools now make parents pay for extra lessons as part of the regular fees……it’s ridiculous, yet too many parents don’t question it and just pay. Throwing money at a problem rarely ever solves it, it just camouflages the deeper issues.
4. Education Goes Beyond The Classroom……it includes helping your child concentrate more, be more observant, give a boost in their weaker areas (hoping you learnt how to conquer them in yourself first) and take them on frequent field trips even when you travel abroad on holiday. Every interaction with your child is a teaching and learning opportunity so teach them to grasp those moments, learn those values and help make it more interesting by being there. Push them to do their best without being overbearing. Have you noticed how a lot of prodigies and superstar Athletes, Composers, Musicians, etc were all pushed by their fathers? Yes some had horror stories to tell like Michael Jackson but by and large, all the greats were moulded and monitored closely by their fathers not some teacher they met in school and who’s paid to be there.
5. Research, Research, Research………..Years ago, no one knew that there was a thing like Dyslexia or how it inhibited learning or that it could be overcome with the right help and didn’t mean you couldn’t be a genius. Granted, in Nigeria we’re still in the dark ages about such things but at least those who care, know. Find out what new methods are out there, discuss with your kid’s teachers (the ones who care and went the extra mile in their training), try some promising techniques with your children and watch what happens to their mental growth. They’ll never be better than you if you stick to the old tried and tested in all things (I’m taking it for granted that you’re an enlightened parent who wants them to do better than you in areas other than financial success). A friend of mine clued me in to Kumon Books. The creative minds behind them are of Japanese origin but they’re edited in the USA. I don’t use them for reading as I’m trying to train my children to learn English in the British / Queen’s version but in other areas they’re very apt for 2 to 8 year olds in the areas of Alphabets, Numbers, Mazes, Handwriting, Crafts, Cursive and burgeoning reading skills…..the options are almost endless.
Then there are Bond Books from the UK which she uses to augment her children’s school work to assess how they’re performing in comparison to their contemporaries in the UK. Very suited to Elementary school students. Check them out:http://www.bond11plus.co.uk
I hope I’ve covered an area that you hadn’t previously considered. Maybe you’d like to share some techniques, resources or ideas you’ve found, work?
Comments please!!!!! Also, visit http://ikwosuperfecta.com