What you need to share with your child before going back to school

By Dickson Tumuramye

Our children are ready to go back to school next week. Others are reporting this week. It’s the promotional and mostly the final term of the year. Every term may come with its own fears and anxiety. As a parent, you need to sit with your children, check their concerns, and give counsel at the beginning of the term. We have candidates doing their final exams at any level of their academic journey. Soon they will start their vacation. Such counseling speaks to their mental well-being.

Whether a child is a candidate or not, they are all expected to excel in exams in order for them to go on to another class/level. This requires them to work hard, concentrate and stay focused. Please remind your child that this term is so short and it calls for serious revision and concentration.

If the performance was not to your expectations the last term, give an encouraging talk that inspires a child’s confidence and hopes that “yes, I can make it.” Don’t remind a child how dull s/he is and how you doubt s/he will make it. Such words destroy even the little self-assurance a child has. Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue; it can kill or nourish life. You can speak better than that, even when you seem discouraged. Give a positive package to your child because out of the same mouth proceed blessing or cursing (James 3:9).

Parents, especially fathers, are spiritual leaders and priests of their children and therefore support them in prayers before they report. Have a special session to pray with them before the opening of the term and continually ask them for their prayer requests, use scriptures as you pray, and prophesy upon them. Scriptures like Daniel 1:17, 5:12, and Deuteronomy 28:13 talk about the spirit of excellence, knowledge, skills, and understanding in all literature and wisdom, being heads and not tails, above and not beneath, and many other scriptures.

share strategies for improvement in subjects where they don’t perform well. As you take your child to school, try to develop good relationships with teachers and take their contact, especially those who handle such subjects or for any questions and concerns. Or ask a child about any teacher s/he feels comfortable with and who can be of help to improve his/her performance in the remaining short period. And again, don’t talk to children harshly or provoke them to wrath (Ephesians 6:4). This exasperates them to resentment. Instead, bring them into the good discipline, counsel, and admonition of the Lord.

It’s better for you as a parent to pay all school fees for your children’s candidates to ensure fewer disruptions at school. Send them to school at least with all the requirements so that they are not anxious about school requirements. Where possible, inform the school headteacher about your inability to meet all requirements on time and that your child/ren shouldn’t be chased out of school.

During the term, please check on them regularly and give them psychological support, pray with them, and see how they are progressing. They will know that you care, and they will be inspired to work hard to avoid disappointing you. You can attend their classes once in a while and evaluate their activeness in class, and when you are having conversations with them, you speak from an informed point of observation directly from their classroom.

Some of us may look at that as a waste of time, or we may make excuses for always being busy. If we can commit so much time to meetings at the workplace or church or social gatherings and networking almost daily, why can’t we commit time to our children’s class time since we are struggling for them?

It is very prudent that both parents take their children to school together. It should not be work for one parent every term. There are some men who only stop at paying fees, but issues like visitation days, regular checks on children, and every child’s call from school are a responsibility of a mother. The journey of parenting is holistic and it’s for both of you to be fully involved because our children will always lean toward the one close to them today and in the future. If you stop paying fees and think it is enough, you may be out of work tomorrow. Children will never visit you but will also send you all the support you need by phone and other means. Why? You too were never in their lives.

I wish you and your child a very fruitful third term in 2022.

The writer is a child advocate, parenting coach, marriage counselor, and founder of the Men of Purpose mentorship program.