Long holiday offers parents time to engage their children

Pupils at a library at Koyaya village, Kabondo Kasipul in Homabay County. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Reported fears and concerns among parents and guardians over the potential effects of long holidays on their children are not unfounded. A circular to all regional, county and sub-county directors of education from the Ministry of Education states that Grade Four pupils will remain at home.

According to the circular, only Pre-Primary 1 and 2, Grade One to Three, Standard Five to Seven and Form One to Three learners resume classes next week.

During the ten-month stay at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, cases of early pregnancies, drug and substance abuses, child labour and delinquent behaviour were noted.

Cases of school dropouts increased as some students engaged in commercial ventures and saw no need of getting back to school. Many others were married off to cushion families’ income thereby exposing girls to sexual exploitation and even gender-based violence.

Healthwise children out of school are less active, spend too much time on television and less favourable diet resulting in weight gain. Parents now fear the resurgence of similar challenges with Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four candidates who have been asked to stay home for another two months.

Now that they will be home, parents remain the best resource for the learners. They remain the best bet to help the children deal with physical and psychological issues and help them cope with the extended isolation.

The extended holidays have revealed how much parents often rely on teachers to nurture healthy behaviour in children but it has been a time of reflection on parenting. Good parenting can help change behaviour through being role models.

It can also be a time to help strengthen the bonds between the children and their parents and develop certain self-discipline skills and engage more in family activities.

Parents, especially, of Grade Four students can help reinforce some of the lessons they had learnt in schools even just to expand their general knowledge and understanding of the general world.

They can engage them in nourishing activities like music and sports to keep them from regressing. Let parents take the extended break from school positively.