Three ways to supervise your school going child

Our children spend the major part of their day in school under the supervision and guidance of educators. The general assumption we tend to make, is that they are being taught – but how, by whom and what are they being taught- is a question that few can answer honestly.

Being a teaching mom has some advantages and warrants my opinion on a personal and professional level. This is what I try to do on a daily basis with my children because of what I learned over the years. I have seen a vast array of parents from the overly involved to the least concerned. This is by no means an indictment on any parent, because we all have valid reasons for doing what we are doing or not!

The three things I do with my children on a daily basis.
1. Ask about their schoolday.
This is generally an opportunity to encourage communication and get valuable information. It gives them a chance to be heard. Classrooms can get very noisy and busy, and teachers don’t always have the time to give individual attention to each child. The possibility of playing by truant also gets dealt before rearing its head. You get insight into your child’s perception of what constitutes as the ‘best day of school’ other than the ‘last day of school’.

2. Unpack their school bags
Remove everything from their bags. Eliminate the element of surprise by being one step ahead. The purpose is to be vigilant about 3 things – unauthorised items; unreported homework assignments/official notifications and/or anything that raises the red flag. This is the surest method for being on the ball in terms of whether your kid is getting up to mischief or even  playing parents and teachers,up against each other.

3. Assist with homework.
This is a task often left to the child/tutor/aftercare teachers. Parental supervision or just regular checks keeps you  in the loop with regards to possible problem areas – difficulty with a subject; a strained relationship between the teacher and your child; a learning barrier; and any other challenge you pick up from your child’s understanding of the subject. Write letters to the teacher regarding your concerns and establish a parent-teacher relationship.

These three things could be the ones saving parents from unwanted trouble involving their children and their school time. It can all be done in 30+ minutes thrice a week –  but save you a lot of time in losing working hours to attend one-on-one meetings with teachers to discuss issues involving your child.

No parent is perfect, but a little effort can go a long way!


Abstract parenting

Abstract parenting is my personal recovery program, after a hectic week of homework; extra lessons, getting to school and work on time; and life in general.
The whole concept may seem strange, thus my best attempt at explaining the concept is found in Wikipedia; ‘I parent only in the abstract’- meaning I am unconnected from concrete reality.
Which reality? The fact that I choose to turn my back on routine. Saturday is my day for sleeping in and just vegetate, blog, catch up on emails, etc. 
The standard weekend procedure for my children is:
* Wash yourself
* Fix your breakfast
* Make your bed
* Do your chore – dishes/bathroom/sweeping
* Free play/ television
It doesn’t happen that way, ever! I have for the past year spent much time reminding, nagging, threatening and applying some form of punishment to get them doing at least one thing! It drove me insane and made my weekends miserable, until I decided to change my approach; with much difficulty. I have disengaged myself from all that should be done, and decided to focus on my recuperation from the fatigue of solo parenting . 
The result :
* They wash when they please
* Breakfast happens around brunch
* Beds are made the moment I start moving about
* Chores are left to the very last moment
* Free play & television takes precedence over all else
What am I hoping to achieve through this method?
* Retain my sanity
* Avoid jail time for the rest of my natural life
* Regain whatever graces I lost in the course of the week
* Let them realise that I do play some useful role in their lives
* Get some needed rest and sleep.
There are times when a glimmer of success shines through the cloud of unlimited mischief. The commander, my 12 year old, would send a foot soldier to spy on me. Or, ask if I am awake or need anything. Then, I feel somewhat accomplished but obviously that happens about as often as snow in Johannesburg. 
Original concepts seldom have research to back up its practicality or functionality, but I am willing to go out – on a wobbly limb – and say it works ( for me, at least!). I have some alone time and limited monitoring woes for at least 18 hours of every weekend. 
How well it will work in the long run, is yet to be discovered. In the mean time, we will do whatever it takes to keep mom sane, almost happy and out of prison!