It is almost a month since school started. Some children were moved from one school to another for different reasons. Some parents took children to new schools because the former schools stop at particular levels like top class or lower primary like P1 to P3 while others switched residence and so the children switched schools. Richard Mukama, transferred his seven-year-old son to a new school in Bukerere, Goma Division, in Mukono Municipality, because he shifted from Kibuli.
Last week, Mukama returned home at 11 am and to his surprise his boy was already at home. He wondered what had happened to his child since he had not earlier complained of anything. He asked the youngster why he was home during school time. No answer. He became furious and beat him up and also took him back to school.
At school he was informed that the boy had not even reached. Teachers were wondering why he had missed. In fact teachers told him that the boy had earlier missed a day. This surprising to Mukama because his boy always leaves for school at 7am.
He got angry and slapped the child. As he was still arguing, the boy’s classmate came out and told them the boy had told her that he does not like the new school. “Tom told me he does not like this school. He said he fears the teachers. He also told me he wanted to stay at his former school,” the girl said. It was at this point Mukama asked his son why he does not like the new school. In response, the boy said he misses friends at his former school, the swings that were at the entrance of his classroom, colour of the uniform and his new instructors shout while teaching.
Reception on day one
Olivia Nabunya, a teacher says children may fail to cope with the new school depending on the reception they get on the first day. This could be the teacher’s behaviour or manners exhibited by pupils knowingly or unknowingly. This makes him feel out of place and hate the school. One kind of such behaviour Nabunya cites is negative description like you are short; you look too old to be in this class or relating a child to his parents’ conducts.
“These children look young but they have emotions that can be triggered by simple negative compliment of which the pupils or teachers may not realise. That alone could scare the child and he develops a bad taste for the school,” Nabunya says.
Some children feel offended when are laughed at them especially when they stammer or when you sarcastically talk about their body features. A child experiences social difficulties when she is teased or bullied especially in the first days at a new school. Some teachers do not get to know that the child has been attacked by colleagues or may not know how to handle a child who has been teased to make him comfortable. A child who is laughed at whenever he speaks may become anxious and could resolve never to speak in class, isolate himself or sit at the back.
“I have ever seen a child who failed to adapt to a new school because of a play kit. The play kit looked like a leopard yet he had once survived being hurt by the leopard. That experience was being reechoed by the play kit and we had to remove it,” says Nabunya.
Parent’s dictatorial ways
Bena Nalwanga Nakku, a child and marriage counsellor, says some children fail to adapt to a new school because of harsh decisions made by parents. She says some parents do not involve children in decision making because they are the bread winners or family heads. Parents insist even when the child expresses dislike for the new school Nakku believes, a parent should take time to understand why the child does not like the new school.
“You force the child to go to the school you have chosen yet they show that they do not like it. You might find that there is a pupil who beats her on the way from school. Or maybe a former teacher she feared was transferred there. Ask the child to tell you why she does not like the school,” Nakku says.
When you change
Muhammad Kakiika, Vienna College head teacher, says choosing a school for your child takes research. Good performance in sports or academics is not enough to determine a good school but it includes understanding the reason as to why you are switching a child’s school. He cites among other things the cultural values, proprietorship, management; majority staffing and student community.
“You need to study the cultural identity and values of the school. You must find a school that understands its cultural values. Do they allow religious freedom and do they have respect for society values?” Kakiika says.
Also, consider the environmental set up. It must be friendly right from the entrance, compound, washrooms, dining, and classrooms. The personnel should be those who understand children. Otherwise, you cannot do much when you child is not cooperating because you forced them into a certain school.
Bena Nalwanga Nakku, a child and marriage counsellor, says parents should always make children understand why there is need to change the school. It is because of searching for better grades or low school charges. The child must know why he is being switched to another school as it makes them feel that the parents have respect for their feelings. Do not act like a force commander where juniors do not ask why but just to act as ordered.