By Yvonne Sam
I am not talking about large classrooms, inadequate-student-teacher ratio, or poor school funding. Nor is this article to be viewed as a name, blame or shame game.
Out the gate, and straight to the point, I am putting a fierce and unrepentant spotlight on the issue of responsibility for the negative classroom behaviour being displayed by children.
Ill-discipline or a bad attitude not only hurt the outcome of the student, who brings such an approach to school, but, additionally, can infect an entire classroom. As indiscipline continues to blight our educational system, parents must be made aware that they cannot simply renounce their responsibilities at the school gate.
Children are arriving at school not really ready to learn. In actuality, they are not being sent in with the right attitude to learn. It is every individual parent’s responsibility to ensure their child is fulfilling their potential at school – and is not holding others back. Kids who want to learn should not suffer.
Far too many children are arriving at school, armed-to-the-teeth, with the wrong equipment—electronic devices such as cell phones, I-Pads and MP3 players, when, in reality, the teacher would much prefer the child to come to school, ready for learning, armed with the basic equipment– a pen or pencil.
At a recent summer school session, a Grade 1 student had a cell phone, which he used every moment, with blatant disregard for who or what was going on around him. Child behavior is a shared responsibility and parents play a crucial role in setting the scene in what they believe should be the expectations of their child coming into school and behaving in a classroom.
Parents should check and ensure that what the child is carrying to school is what supports their learning, thereby supporting teachers in maintaining all that they require on a day-to-day basis to ensure that pupils can learn in a safe and ordered environment.
If parents instruct their children that school is important, that they must go ready to learn, that they need to arrive at school on time, not to engage in back chat to the teacher, and focus on whatever they are doing, then this is a great help to the teacher who, in turn, will carry out their responsibility when the child gets in the classroom.
However, before beginning to speak about quality, we must start with the basics. Before they can learn, children must know how to listen. What chance does a teacher have of being listened to, if at home the child is not being taught respect?
If they are allowed to have their own way, not given clear boundaries and not expected to communicate in a courteous manner, then that is exactly how he/she will behave in school. Do not expect a child to suddenly transform into being receptive and respectful at the school gate, if they are not listening to their parents at home.
Naturally if children are not being taught to sit and listen at home, or are being constantly entertained and babysat with electronic devices, then it follows to reason that they are not going to sit quietly and listen, astutely, at school.
It is the teacher who has to deal with the fallout from family breakdowns, and parents failing to set boundaries. Some parents have failed at the first hurdle.
Parents are reminded that magic words, like hello, please, thank you and I am sorry, all begin to be learned at home. It is also at home that children learn to be on time, diligent, show sympathy as well as display utmost respect for their elders and all teachers. Home is also where children learn manners, especially not talking with their mouths full.
At school on the other hand, teachers teach writing, language arts, mathematics, geography, history and other subjects. They only reinforce the education that a child receives at home from their parents.
Conclusively, it can be seen that parenting involves not only taking care of children’s basic needs, but also teaching social behavior and discipline to them. While parents are primarily responsible for their children’s behavior, teachers can collaborate with parents and supplement the learning process for children. Together, parents and teachers can be far more effective in grooming children and ensuring that they have no behavioral issues.
So parents, ensure that when your child his school bag is packing, the basic equipment is not lacking. If they a future must earn, then they should enter school ready to learn.
Bringing electronic devices to school is certainly not cool, it just shows disregard for rules.
Aleuta—the struggle continues.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.