By Michelle Anzaya
It is slightly over 18 months since Kenyan schools reopened following months of closure as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic. The more than nine months our children stayed at home disrupted our education calendar and even though it seems like a long time ago, the truth is we are yet to fully adjust to the school calendar.
Every few weeks it is time to pay school fees again and many parents find themselves in a “did I not just pay school fees the other day” kind of situation. We can’t even properly plan to spend time with our children anymore. Look, it is hardly five days since they closed for the first term break and here we are already stressing about back-to-school again.
Now imagine if that’s how you feel as a parent or guardian, what is it like for your child? Is there anything we can do to make them get the best out of their school term, even as we adjust to the new normal?
Build partnerships with your child’s teachers and school community.
From the start of every new school year, make an intentional effort to contact your child’s teacher. Today, technology is working in our favour and many parents are in WhatsApp groups with their children’s teachers and other parents. Let the teacher know that you want them to help your child learn. That you will collaborate in helping both of you achieve that goal. Your child succeeding at school is both beneficial to you as a parent but also to the teacher and to the school at large.
Fostering a healthy and collaborative relationship with your child’s teachers will help you bring out the best in them. While it is every teacher’s responsibility to ensure that all children under their care receive the assistance they need, this can be greatly improved where such partnerships are built. Especially for public schools where teachers are also dealing with a large number of students.
Building partnerships with teachers also means getting to who is who at the school and how they can be of help to your child. Many people at your child’s school are there to help your child learn, grow socially and emotionally, and navigate the school environment.
Most schools have at least one parents-teachers conference per year, some have more. Attend these, but do not limit your interactions with the school to these meetings only. You can always ask to meet with your child’s teacher any time during the year. Plan it at a time that is convenient to both of you – avoid making impromptu visits. If you have a concern and can’t meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note using your child’s school diary or set up a time to talk on the phone.
Support your child academically.
Regularly evaluate your child’s performance. Ask your child’s teacher how your child is doing in class compared to other students. This is especially important today because schools do not rank learners anymore. If your child is not keeping up with his/her peers, find out what you or the teachers can do to improve this.
Assist your child in getting their homework done if they are in day schools. Let your child know that you think education is important and that homework needs to be done each day. You can help your child with homework by setting aside a special place to study, establishing a regular time for homework, and removing distractions such as the television and social phone calls during homework time.
It is also important to encourage your child to read. Helping your child become a reader is the single most important thing that you can do to help the child to succeed in school and life. The importance of reading simply can’t be overstated. Reading helps children in all school subjects. More important, it is the key to lifelong learning.
Because children learn a lot from what they see around them, what we say and do in our daily lives can help them to develop positive attitudes toward school and learning and to build confidence in themselves as learners. Showing our children that we both value education and use it in our daily lives provides them with powerful models and contributes greatly to their success in school.
Provide financial support.
Finances play a big role in supporting our children’s comfort at school. School fees, textbooks, school transport and shopping and pocket money for those in boarding schools all require a considerable financial investment. In this post-Covid era, we all have to deal with slightly tighter budgets. If not from the frequency of school terms, it is from our strained earnings, now made even more difficult by the current high cost of living.
A good way to navigate this and still support our children’s learning needs is prudent financial planning bearing in mind the new school calendar. Additionally, it is important to know what kinds of financial solutions are available to us from our financial services providers.
Equity customers for instance can get a cash boost to cater for all their back-to-school needs such as fees payment or back-to-school shopping or related costs. They can access a loan of up to Kshs. 3million instantly on theirphone. All these without filling in any forms or having any guarantors. What’s more, they can monitor theirloan balance and make repayments by simply dialling *247# from anymobilenetwork, via Equitel line or Equity Mobile App. The only qualification is that, you must have an active Equity account and have activated Equity mobile banking by dialling *247# on your current mobile line.
To deliver convenience to parents, Equity has also rolled out Pay With Equity, a solution that enables customers to pay from any payment channel whether it is Mpesa, Airtel Money, PesaLink. Through Pay With Equity, you can send school fees directly to the school’s account and pay for shopping anywhere you see Pay With Equity Paybill or Till Number sign for FREE e.g. at supermarkets, uniform sellers, and bookshops. All you need is to input the merchant’s Pay With Equity Till Number or school’s Pay With Equity paybill number. Pay With Equity is available when you dial *247# on your line, your Equity Mobile App and Equitel line.
Talk to your child.
While it may be the last on our list, it is probably the most important tip for helping your child succeed at school. For older children, talking fosters a feeling of mutual respect and love. It will help them open up to you and express any difficulty they are facing.
For younger children, it is through hearing parents and family members talk and through responding to that talk that they begin to pick up the language skills they will need if they are to do well.