It is third term. Doreen Nankinga, a mother of four resumed her daily routine of waking up at 4am to drop off her children to their respective schools by 7am before heading off to her place of work. Nankinga is however worried about this short yet demanding term where she needs to see her children progress to the next level of their academics.
“ I’m wondering how best I can help them remain focused on their studies without making them feel like they are under duress to succeed. On the other hand, a friend has advised me to discontinue the Saturday outings, because it could be the only way to help them concentrate more, since one of them is in a candidate class,’’ laments Nankinga.
Meanwhile, some parents believe that work without play makes their children dull and others are not sure of how to balance school and fun.
Monitor their time
Jessica Nakazzi, a teacher and mother of two, says unlike first and second term, third term is the only time children whose grades were not good enough, will need to put in an extra effort to make it to the next class.
“As caretakers, we always have ambitions of seeing our offspring stand out academically and at this trying moment in their lives we instead become harsh towards them,’’ says Nakazzi.
For example, restricting them from activities such as watching TV, playing with friends, going to swim at the weekend, playing video games or participating in their favourite activities would not be the best option, but rather monitoring how much time they spend engaging in most of these activities.
She adds that even at school these children have break and lunch time, it is not necessarily about eating but they are given a chance to think outside class and play with friends. In other words, to refresh before the next curriculum.
Heron Namagembe, a resident of Ndejje, says two of her children are in candidate classes, but what is most challenging is that they commute from home to school. As Namagembe keeps an eye on her children, she does not stop them from engaging in any healthy activities whether at home, school or with friends but allocates them on the right time they must do all that.
Not all time is study time
“Having the child occupied by books will neither save the parent nor the child from bad grades. This is because these children resort to pretending they are reading,” says Namagembe. They will only show up for breakfast, lunch and dinner but if one investigates, they may discover that only five per cent of work is remembered reading all day and ask them a few questions. Only five per cent is remembered or nothing at all.
Motivate your children
However, Namagembe says, at this critical period of the year parents would find ways of motivating their children. For instance, sit and talk to them as much as you can. Your relationship with them must not end because you need to prove a point to them.
“When my son was in his senior Four, I told him it was time for him to prove to dad and mum that he was that giant we had always thought of,” she explained.
“I asked him to promise me that we would have less of the outings, games, TV and visits to friends. This was to apply to every member of the family just to encourage him and show that he is not missing anything and we were together with him, as he read harder.”
She also promised him that if he followed what they had discussed whether in his parents’ presence or not, they would surprise him at the end of the course. This worked perfectly and he drew a timetable to read and watched less TV. Instead of playing football for three hours, he would take walks for 45 minutes and freshen up for evening tea before doing 30 minutes of recapping his work.
Talking to their teachers
Unlike other parents who spend most of the time with their children, Andrew Matovu, a business man in Nateete and a father of five, is miles away from his children but this does not prevent him from monitoring their progress. “My children are in boarding schools but a week before they report back to school I take time and ask each of them where they would wish us to hang out from,” says Matovu .
On the reporting day to school she drops them off early enough and gets a chance to speak to class teachers.
“I ask them to provide me with the class time table for each of my children and the school programme for the term,” he says.
Matovu also says he asks them to draft their personal reading timetables basing on the school programme and their class time tables. He goes through the timetables and guides them where necessary. “However, one thing I realised on their personal time tables is that they do not allocate any resting time as they have no co-curricular activities involved. When one is expected to be in bed sleeping for about six hours, they are waking up at 2am to read yet they are also expected to be in class for the morning lessons by 5am,’’ comments Matovu.
Take it easy on them
Matovu says many children in boarding schools tend to over work themselves . In your absence ask the teachers to do a follow up. Since doing revision when the brain is exhausted is a wastage of time.
I also think most of these children, if not all, know what third term really means to them. What we parents can do is to advise them accordingly without putting too much pressure on them, and reminding them not to stress too much over books. Forgetting their happiness can also affect them as one cannot excel without fun.’’
Do not worry about what you are not doing.
Set a schedule for the week and get organised.
Remember that you are only human.
Use your support system.
Do not focus on getting straight A’s. Have some fun.