Preparing children for the real world

With Crop Over festivities completed, people now look towards the last few weeks of the summer and the start of the new school year next month.

For children, these next weeks will be a time to enjoy themselves and be entertained to the fullest before having to settle down to serious academic work. Still, summer can be a time for learning as well; not the standard English, Mathematics etc., but life lessons – things that cannot be taught in school.

There are a few teachers and other role models in the family and community who may undertake the responsibility of teaching children rudimentary skills relating to manners, etiquette, personal safety and security, and even some social lessons, which are not usually part of a school’s curriculum. However, it is solely a parent’s duty to ensure his/her child learns life’s lessons to prepare them for the real world with all its complexities.

Unfortunately, not all parents fulfil their role and we are now faced with a generation of youths who simply grow up (physically) into adults, instead of being raised to be men and women.

The evidence is clear. How many times do we witness youngsters on this country’s roads skylarking with friends or doing stunts on bikes with no care for their safety or that of other road users? How many times do we hear youths speaking in language too crass or filled with profanity to be even considered Bajan dialect, with no thought of a “please”, “excuse me”, “thank you”, or even consideration for if someone else is speaking? How many times have you witnessed young adults falter or get stumped at simple general knowledge and current affairs questions, like the names of political leaders or the location of important landmarks? Even understanding common processes like hire purchase, vehicle registration, international travel etc. can cause a little confusion for some.

These areas, even if touched on in formal education, need to be honed in the home. Parents and guardians, it is your responsibility to raise your child, mould them into the men and women of tomorrow; men and women who will make a positive contribution to this society and not be a burden to the state. And do not just tell them the things they need to know, show them through example. Let them see that it is not a case of “do as I say but not as I do”, or else these lessons may fall on deaf ears.

On occasion though, youngsters may still refuse to listen or do as they are told and instead rebel. How then can you show them the way?

There are no guarantees in life and so despite one’s better efforts one’s child may veer off the path you desire for them, however failure is also a life lesson and parents should allow their children to experience their own failures on occasion, focusing instead on teaching them the skills to cope with and overcome their problems, while giving them the support they need. Teach them never to accept defeat and always strive to achieve.

Therefore, as children and parents gear up for a new school year starting in September, realise that there is a lot more that can be learned, in and out of school, and the test for these lessons is life.

Barbados Advocate

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