By Sharmon Carrington
PRIDE Guest Education Columnist
It is indeed a very important time of the year. A time when your children, for the first time, are either entering the world of academics, or continuing their academic education, as they commence their first day in a new scholastic grade, or in a post-secondary institution.
Whatever the case may be, it is a very important time for you and your children.
In preparation, as parents, you should have already spent the three to four weeks prior to this time, engaging in discussions at different levels, with your children about their academic education; the reasons for, and the roles this aspect of education plays in their lives. However, if you were too busy and did not engage in this preparation, that’s all right, as it is not too late to begin now
Equipping your children with all the latest fashions and electronic gadgets for school, is not as important as equipping them with the mind set of their expected functionality and performance, as well as physical, emotional and spiritual tools, which would allow them to maintain the focus on their academic education and its purpose.
This can be done via interesting discussions, which should include daily or weekly goal setting, via a written time-table or agenda which must include free time, in accordance with the age, level of knowledge and demonstrated intelligence.
Even the young children who are starting school, should have a time-table. You can write it for and with them, and discuss that we (you and child) will do reading, numbers and colouring at an allotted time, and we will have play and TV watching at an allotted time.
When your children get to the age of doing chores, their chore time must be included. The sooner your children become accustomed to making and using a time-table/agenda, it will be easier for them to continue this pattern during the entire period of their academic education, and their personal lives.
Once these discussions begin early, they set the stage for a successful school year. Do not allow them to be lengthy, in order to avoid presenting an opportunity for your children to ‘tune you out’.
Remember to present opportunities for them to ask questions or share their views and suggestions. In other words, allow for their contribution, bearing in mind that it is a “discussion” and not a demonstration of your authority.
Your discussions should also include behavioral expectations, and attitudes of great self-esteem, as well as respect for teachers, students and friends. These are all components of a progressive parental model, and yes, they begin at home.
Encourage grandparents to have conversations with them also, as most children have a special relationship with their grandparents, and would pay attention to what they have to say.
Remember to invest some time to get acquainted with teachers for the duration of your children’s elementary and secondary educational periods.
Speak a blessing on your children every day, and whenever you think of them. Bless them before they leave for school, during the day and at the end of the school day.
If you are a Caribbean or Guyanese parent or grandparent, it is most likely that you have a strong belief in The Divine Supreme Being — God — so continue to give thanks for these wonderful gifts, presented to you in the form of your children and grandchildren, whom you received from Him, who requires us, parents and grandparents to be accountable.
As you release your children to the various educational institutions, recognize and acknowledge God’s Infinite supply of wisdom, and acknowledge His gracious willingness to share His Wisdom freely. Although He knows what things your children have need of, as parents and grandparents, we must stand in the gap for them, and give thanks for wisdom which would allow them to make right decisions, on a daily basis, throughout these years of their academic education and beyond.
Although there are numerous dangers in the world surrounding our children, we need to be steadfast in remembering that God is still in control of them.
We can say that they are given to us to be nurtured and directed until the age of majority, but God owns them for eternity. He has a plan for their lives and He would unfold every plan in His own time, so He wants to develop their gifts and talents.
And as Carol Stream said in her book, ‘God Bless My Child’, “We are the ones who must petition Almighty God, to do in our children a work of eternal significance”.
We, parents, must know that our fervent prayers would reveal God’s gifts and help to unlock His Character within them.
While we are standing in the gap for our children, let us do the same for all our extended families, and those in our community at large. We must trust God to take care of them and we must shower them with unconditional love, just as God does for us.
This type of love that accepts our children for whom they are and not for what they do or do not do. Because we are accountable to God for the lives he has placed in our care, at no time should we relinquish our parental authority or disciplinary actions to the school system.
We must remember that discipline, respect and self-love, like charity, begin at home.
Keep the conversations going, especially at the end of each school day, and always demonstrate interest in their activities.
Those of you who have young adults in a post-secondary institution, especially if they have moved away from home for the first time, ensure that you make the time to communicate with them regularly, not to find out what is their every move, but to demonstrate that you love them and you miss their presence in the home, as well as to send positive vibes towards them.
During the period of time in which they were under your immediate care, if you had provided the support for growth, development, a loving foundation of values and guidelines relevant for successful living, and encouraged responsibility and independence, then you should have no fear of them vacating the nest.
Although it is difficult to let go, you should trust them to do their best when they are away from home, with God’s help and guidance, and you must continue to ‘stand in the gap’ for them, as well as for their teachers, professors, fellow students and friends who would influence them in a positive and progressive manner.
Enjoy and utilize these progressive parenting techniques shared, as you “stand In the gap” for your children and grandchildren.
Sharmon Carrington, a retired federal bureaucratic middle manager, was the co-recipient, with her longtime husband, Victor, of the African Canadian Achievement Award (ACAA) Excellence in Parenting award.