Preparation of tomorrow’s parents and guardians begins with the values and attitudes you pass on to your children today. Parents’ lives are children’s guidebooks and parents and guardians should always be prepared to live a life that a child can emulate. We were not born with parenting skills. We learn them from our parents and persons who we interact with. As the society is shaped more and more by a proliferation of information and the family unit becomes threatened, it is pivotal that we share best practices which can help us in our role. Here are some tips to help you:
How to cope with unemployment
Safety at Home
Teaching Your Child Responsibility
Improving Your Child’s Learning
HOW TO COPE WITH UNEMPLOYMENT
The present economic climate is resulting in an increased inflation rate, high cost of living and unemployment. The unemployment rate world over, is increasing tremendously as more firms close their businesses or curtail production. As parents, you too may be one of the many victims of unemployment. Unemployment can be frustrating and can lead to illnesses and depression if you do not employ creative strategies on how to cope when you have lost your job. The Ministry of Education recognises that the schools, students, community and indeed the country are affected when persons are unemployed. Here are a few strategies to help you cope with unemployment.
- Reduce your budget – Unemployment is no time for you to spend unnecessarily. Revise your budget and stick to it. Buy only items that are necessary. You may even have to give up some non-essentials such as cable and Internet. You can access these at other sources
- Sell something – If you and your spouse have a car each, you can sell one and car pool.
- Revise your loans – Inform financial institutions that you have loans with, such as mortgages, about your circumstances. For example, based on the mandate from the Prime Minister, the National Housing Trust offers several ways that mortgagers under pressure can get relief. These include: suspension of mortgage payments, reduction in monthly payments and re-scheduling of mortgage payments. Other institutions too have several alternatives for their borrowers should they lose their jobs
- Improve your education – The requirements of the job market are changing rapidly, and some skills may become obsolete. Make sure that you are literate and have a profession or a skill. If you do not have what the job market wants, go back to school
- Bond with families and friends – Make sure that you always have a continuous and good relationship with your family and friends. You will need them for economical and emotional support if you become unemployed
- Be careful of employment agencies – Beware of employment agencies both locally, internationally and online who make unrealistic job offers and ask you to pay large sums of money to obtain a job. Contact the Ministry of Labour and Social Security if you have any concerns about any employment agency or job offer
- Buy in bulk – Purchase goods in bulk to reduce cost. Shop around to ensure that you are getting the best deal
- Learn how to preserve food – Use your culinary skills to preserve foods such as fruits and vegetables when they are in abundance and are very cheap. These will reduce the cost of spending on the item when it becomes expensive
- Maintain proper health and hygiene – Exercise regularly and eat nutritiously so that you do not get sick very often. This will reduce money spent on medicine and doctors’ visits
- Try small scale gardening and breeding – Plant a backyard garden and if possible raise animals such as chickens and goats. Utilise even the smallest space that you have to do this.
- Get involved in community/church/charitable organisations – Participate in the activities of a church, community organisation or charitable organisation. This will help you meet people may be able to offer you a job. This will also help you to utilize your skills prior to you gaining employment
- Sit back and wait for the ideal job – There is no right or ideal job. Be flexible and willing to adapt. Challenge and assert yourself.
- Exploit children in order to get income to maintain the home – Do not force your children into any form of activity in order to gain income for the house. This is illegal and can come back to haunt you in the future. Explain to them about what is happening. Remember they still love you even if you are unemployed
- Place your savings in get-rich-quick schemes – Stay away from get-rich-schemes which promise high interest rates and the opportunity to get rich overnight.
- Give up – Despite the challenges you are facing pray, work hard, be creative and press on
SAFETY AT HOME
Creating a safe and secure environment for your child is one of the best ways to improve his/her learning and ensure that he/she is a responsible, respected and educated citizen in the future. When your child feels safe and reassured in his environment, he/she develops more confidence and enthusiasm when he/she is to perform a task. You can create a safe home environment for your child irrespective of the community in which you live. It may be challenging, but persistence and creativity can help you to overcome some of your obstacles.
- Put medicine out of the child’s reach. They should be locked away preferably in a cupboard
- Store all household chemicals in a locked cupboard. It is best to keep them in their original containers so they are clearly identified
- Dangerous household utensils such as knives, scissors and appliances should be locked away and stored out of the reach of children. If you are using them make sure that they are not near the edge of a table or counter
- Flammables such as matches and stove lighters should be kept away from children
- Make sure that your stair rails are not too wide that a child can slip through and fall. Stair gates should be at least 30 inches high and erected at both ends of the stairs. Your stairway should also be well lit and free from clutter
- Make sure that your windows and balcony doors are equipped with child-proof safety catches and chains that are high or install some safety device which will prevent your child from opening them or squeezing through them
- Furniture such as bookshelves should be properly secured to prevent them from falling over and hurting your child
- Place a lock on outlets that are not in use. Cords from electrical appliances should be attached to the wall so that the child cannot pull them down and get struck if they fall. Never leave the iron on the ironing board
- Cover buckets/barrels/tanks containing liquids. Young children can fall in them and drown
- Make sure that your house plants are not poisonous as curious toddlers will place anything in their mouths
- Keep drape and blind cords out of the reach of children. They can strangle small children
- Crib slats should be close together to prevent children from falling through
- Never leave a child unattended in a bath tub
- Never leave children alone at home, or in a car
- Discard toys with sharp edges or corners. Throw away small toys and those toys that can be broken into very small pieces. The eyes and nose of toys such as teddy-bears should be very secure.
- Place foods such as candies, peanuts and small fruits, such as guineps, out of the reach of small children. They can get stuck in a child’s throat.
- Make sure that your child knows his name, his parents’ name, address, and contact number
- Tell your child that no one should touch him on any part of his body that makes him feel uncomfortable
- Pay close attention when your child tells you that he was “inappropriately touched”. Do not shun him. Investigate it thoroughly and quickly; if it is true, report the matter to the police or the relevant authorities immediately
TEACHING YOUR CHILD RESPONSIBILITY
Research has shown that children who are more responsible are those who will complete assignments, are more respectful and can function more effectively in the school environment. Teaching your child responsibility should start from an early age. This will ensure that he becomes a more productive citizen and better student.
- Give your child chores to do. This will teach him/her responsibility and independence
- Give children animals and plants to care. This will prepare them for their roles as parents and teach them responsibility
- Teach your children how to care for the environment by ensuring that they place garbage in bins and plant flowers and trees
- Depending on your child’s age, teach him/her to help his/her younger siblings with simple tasks such as getting them dressed
- Teach him/her to accept responsibility for his/her improper behaviour and explain to him/her why he/she is being punished for it
- Teach him/her how to care for his school bag and books
- Teach your child how to be kind to other children
- Teach your child proper manners, honesty and how to be respectful to everyone
- Teach your child the value of friendship and what qualities they should look for in friends.
- Do not allow your child to take gifts, food or rides from strangers.
- Teach your child how to cross the street and other road safety rules
- Teach him/her how to protect him/herself in the event of a disaster and how to use the telephone to make emergency calls. Make sure he/she knows all emergency numbers.
- Teach your child how to love himself, his/her race/colour and culture
- Teach your child to care for his/her body by encouraging him/her to practice proper hygiene and nutrition
- Make sure that he/she completes his/her tasks/assignment including his/her homework and school projects
IMPROVING YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING
Every parent wants his or her child to excel in school. Children who do well in school make their parent proud and boost their morale. However, getting good grades can only occur if you are prepared to get involved in your child’s education. Becoming involved means more than just purchasing books for your child or ensuring that he does his homework. It means immersing yourself in your child’s life: at home, at school and his peer group. To do so you must:
- Join the PTA
- Talk to your child and listen to him/her. Do not shun his/her ideas
- Read to young children as often as possible. Ensure that older children read often and join a library
- Monitor TV viewing and video/computer/telephone game playing
- Help your child to use the Internet safely and wisely
- Make sure that you send him/her to school every day and provide him with the resources that will make him/her learn
- Visit your child’s school regularly and not only when there is a problem
- Get to know your child’s teachers and peers
- Celebrate your child’s achievements and encourage him/her to do better when he/she has failed at a task. Remind him/her that you still love him/her
- Make sure that he/she completes all his/her assignments on time. Help him/her with those he/she is having problems with. DO NOT do them for him/her
- Ensure that your child joins a club or society and participate in extracurricular activities
- Help your child to develop his/her talents or skills
- Ask other parents about the resources and agencies that are available to help you
- Encourage your child to attend a religious gathering (for example, a church service) at least every week. Jamaica’s main religions are Christianity, Islam, Rastafarianism and Judaism
- Teach your child to respect all persons
SELECTING A SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILD
No one knows more about your child than you, therefore it is important that you choose the school that best suits your child in order for him/her to excel and develop his/her full potential. Jamaica has numerous school types at both the Primary and Secondary level. Most schools are owned by the Government of Jamaica. However, there are some that are owned by churches, private parties, etc. Here are a few things to consider when you are choosing a school for your child.
- Know your child – This is very important. Children are not mini versions of their parents. They are their own unique beings with their own personalities. Some are academic oriented, whilst others are skill or artistic oriented. Try to understand what are your child’s interest before selecting a school for him/her
- Know the school – Do some research and find out the type of curriculum the schools offer. If your child is more skill oriented then a technical school may be best for him/her. Find out about the facilities and infrastructure of the school. If the school is a private or independent one, make sure it is registered with the MoE, and abide by all the rules stated in the Education Act.
- Travel/Distance – Examine the cost of travel when selecting a school for your child. If a school in your community offers a curriculum that suits your child, then it would be more advantageous if your child attends that school.
- Avoid stereotypes – Many parents tend to choose schools based on the influence of other parents, their perceptions, and what they have heard from the mass media. Choose a school that is in the best interest of your child. Remember, a child can do well at any school, if you get involved in his education and encourage him along the way.