The family is the oldest socializing agency in the world, as its history can be traced to the creation of the first human beings. Throughout our history, families have created tribes, villages and nations. It is a haven for safety, love and security. The cornerstones however, of every family, are the individuals who comprise it. Chief among these individuals are the parents.
Research has shown that children perform better academically, are more disciplined, respectful and amicable when they are raised in families that demonstrate good parenting skills. It is thus clear that the secret to family happiness and success lies in the role of parents.
Parent Month is an annual celebration to recognize and honour those parents who have made a significant contribution to our education system and our country. Throughout the month several activities are hosted for parents. These include concerts, parents’ award ceremony, seminars, workshops and fairs.
History of Parent Month
In 1991, the Ministry of Education designated March 10-15 as Parent Week, using the theme: You can make a difference to your child’s education. This was the first step towards deliberately motivating parents and guardians to become more involved in the educational process and in their children’s development and learning.
This observance came about when the numerous challenges facing the family such as: child abuse, anti-social behaviour among youth and several criminal acts were linked to poor parenting skills. There was therefore a clear need to sensitize the nation to the understanding that teachers working on their own are unable to bring about the maximum academic achievement in our children. The home was a vital link in that partnership since 4/5 of the child’s time is spent under the direct influence of the home, and it is still recognized as the most powerful socialising agency.
By November 1995, Senator Burchell Whiteman, the then Education Minister, launched a Coalition for Better Parenting (CBP) to further address the parenting needs of the nation in a collaborative, coordinated and holistic manner. Prior to this parenting education in the Ministry, or the sole responsibility rests with the Guidance and Counselling Unit.
Although the school system provided the largest body of parents for the intervention, there was an immediate recognition that many other organizations island-wide worked with parents and children, and there was a need to involve them in the vision for parenting conceived by the Ministry. The CBP was thus established as a non-government organization funded mainly by the Ministry of Education and Youth.
It supports and extends the parenting education role of the Guidance and Counselling Unit. Key partners in the formation of CPB also included the Ministry of Health (MoH), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Jamaica Foundation for Children (JFC), and the Women’s Crisis Centre (WCC).
With the successful staging of Parent Week by the Ministry and its partners, the decision was taken in 2000 to extend the week’s celebration to a month. November was selected as it represented the most suitable month on the national calendar to celebrate the achievements of Jamaica’s parents, and strengthen the relationship between the family and the school.
Objectives of Parent Month
- To celebrate and recognize the achievements of our parents and guardians
- To create opportunities for parents to further develop their parenting skills
- Support the strengthening of the home-school relationship
- To encourage our men to be more involved in the role of parenting
- To remind our youth that parenting is a serious responsibility that should be undertaken only by prepared and mature adults
- To encourage parents to join the PTA so that they too can have a voice in the transformation of the education system and the running of schools
- To develop an awareness in parents that they are their child’s first teacher so they should be good examples and mentors to ALL children
- To encourage communities and ALL adults to protect our children, support parents in their role and be partners in the raising of children
- To promote family life and health education in schools, as preparation of tomorrow’s parents begins with the education of children
- Create networks among parents for their own support and that of their children and the schools the children
- Inform parents of the material and human resources that are available to help them to become effective parents