This week we asked the man/woman in the street about their role in their children’s schoolwork. At a recent meeting with the Ministry of Education parents were offered training to help them make their children better students and this was enthusiastically welcomed.

Francine De Nobrega, housewife: ‘I have two teenagers. A 13-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl and I would take more interest in the boy’s schoolwork. However, I aid them with their research and ensure that they get their schoolwork done. When my son gets home I allow him to play his games for a while and then it’s time for homework. I check through his homework; I have to because like any other 13-year-old he’s always in a rush. Taking an interest in my son’s schoolwork is important because that is my duty as a parent. I also have my children do chores around the house because this teaches them to become responsible. I think people who know they won’t have time to guide children shouldn’t have any. Further, parents should make an effort to be supportive of their children’s extracurricular activities. Showing up at your son’s football game makes him feel supported and will motivate him to do what he’s supposed to at school.’

Mavis Melville, legal clerk: ‘Yes I help my child. It is very important that parents take special interest in their children’s schoolwork. Sometimes I am so busy that I don’t get the time to help my child with homework but I make the effort to ensure that this doesn’t happen often. I encourage all parents to make that effort to help and even when children don’t have homework to find work for them to do. Giving your children extra work at home will make them better students. I send my child to extra lessons because I get off work long after he’s done at school. When he’s at lessons I know he’ll be gainfully occupied and I don’t have to worry.’

Sarah Cummings, private sector employee: ‘I think parents should most definitely assist their children with homework. Some children go home after school and do nothing. Parents must guide them and ensure that they get their schoolwork done and not just leave them alone. Children in primary school can be cut some slack but those in secondary need constant guidance.  Younger children should be limited where the television is concerned as this is a major distraction. Parents should teach their children to follow a routine: Friday and Saturday some schoolwork, television and games and Sunday it’s time to prepare for the new school week.’

Marcus Anthony, public sector employee: ‘I don’t have any children of my own but when I become a parent I plan to take as much interest as possible in my child’s education. Extra afternoon classes would be a big yes for me because it would allow me to ensure that my child gets the practice he or she needs to master a subject area. An important thing that many parents fail to do is maintain a steady flow of communication with their child’s schoolteacher. They need to do this to check on their child’s progress at school and ensure that they are attending. Sadly, because so many parents are busy working they fail to do these things and their children go astray. When I see schoolchildren walking aimlessly on the streets during class hours, I blame the parents because it is their duty to keep track of what their children are doing.’

Bruce Haynes, University of Guyana employee: ‘Parents should take interest in their children’s education because it all starts from home. They should not rely on the school system to inculcate good values and morals into their children because the system is no longer able to do this. There are way too many children in the classes now and teachers are overwhelmed. Parents should check whether their children have schoolwork to do and assist them; teach them as much as you can at home and relieve the teachers somewhat. I think that parents should ensure they teach their children to be kind, courteous and respectful so that when they’re at school they don’t give teachers trouble. Parents need to realize that teachers aren’t as dedicated as before and they need to play a more serious role in educating their children.’

Gerald Persaud, private sector employee: ‘Yes parents should take interest in and assist their children with their schoolwork. In the first place, our children didn’t ask to come here. We’re the ones who brought them here and therefore it is our responsibility to see that they are educated. Teachers are being put under pressure now because class sizes are steadily growing. Further, I’ve noticed that many children are fetching around large bags on their backs. The schools should be able to provide them with a timetable. Carrying around so much weight daily can affect these children’s health.’

Lavern Gordon, public sector employee: ‘Definitely, definitely parents need to take interest in their children’s schoolwork and help them with their homework. I don’t have much qualifications and I want my children to be well educated so I take as much interest as I can in their schoolwork and life. These days if you don’t have an education you suffer and I want to ensure that my children don’t. I think that classes are overcrowded now and teachers aren’t able to give much attention to each child. This is why it is so important for parents to give their children that attention and help them along. What happens now too is that teachers don’t teach everything during school time and leave the majority of the syllabus to be taught during extra lessons. In my time, we never took extra lessons and yet we produced good students back then. What happens too is that many mothers now work and seldom have enough time to check whether their children are doing their homework. I advise such mothers to take at least one minute to check whether their children were given homework and ensure that they get it done.’

Dione Sealey, technician: ‘It’s obvious that parents should help their children with their schoolwork because teachers can’t do it all. As a parent, you have a major part to play. Teachers have many children to attend to and they can only give so much attention to each child. My child is attending nursery school but I still try to see her teacher as often as possible. I ask what they’ve been doing in school and I check on her progress. I think that it’s parents’ faults that children go astray. They shouldn’t wait on the end-of-term report but rather they should check throughout the term to see how their children are doing. That way they may be able to help their children in areas they’re weak in. It doesn’t matter if your child has moved on to tertiary studies, they never become too old for you to help them and take interest in their education.’

Karen Zamnett, housewife: ‘It is very important for parents to get involved in their children’s school life. Parents are the main educators and if they put their all into teaching their children then we’ll have better citizens. It doesn’t matter if a child is educated in the city or rural areas they will do better with the support of their parents. My children all wrote exams in the interior and when they went to school, they didn’t have access to computers and text books but I tried my best to help them with as much as possible. Financially things weren’t always good with our family but I never gave up on their education. I must remind parents that the way out of poverty is education.’

Alan Singh, self-employed: ‘There are many illiterate parents out there and it is very difficult for them to help their children with their schoolwork. While I think that parents should take interest in their children’s schoolwork; many parents don’t even know about the things their children learn at school. For children who grow up with uneducated parents their speech, language and manners aren’t as well developed as those who are more fortunate. I think that these parents, more than any others, should ensure that their children are attending school and while they may not be able to help with homework, they can display an interest in their children’s schoolwork by communicating with teachers and checking on their children’s progress. When parents support their children and take an interest in their work at school I believe that those children are motivated to do better.’
By Sara Bharrat with photos by Jules Gibson

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