Saturday October 30 2010

PARENTING: Reasons why you should attend PTA meetings

culture

 

As the year comes to an end, you are yet to be invited to the PTA meeting at your child’s school. Carol Beyanga writes about why it’s important for each parent to attend such school meetings

I recently attended a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting on behalf of my parents at my little sister, Ruth’s school. During my school days, we looked forward to this day because it was an extra visiting day and our grub and pocket money would be replenished. And so when I set out to the school that morning, my foremost thoughts were about carrying enough eats for Ruth.

By the time we were done with the meeting though, my perspective had been broadened on the importance of this day. I left exhausted but quite pleased. Here’s what I found out and why I am making sure that I shall attend as many of such meetings when my child/ren start attending school;

How are your monies being used?
This is a good question. Sometimes you find that the school seem to increase the fees every term or you wonder why school X asks for a huge sum compared to school Z. But when you attend a PTA meeting though, you are given reasons as to why the extra Shs100,000 is needed, why more money was spent than planned for and why that bus is not coming yet. Whether the money is being put to good use is another matter but what is important is how the school plans to spend it.

Rooting for changes in the school
I found it interesting – almost amazing how the parents in the meeting were able to get the school to change/fix a few things within the few hours we met. One of the pressing issues for some parents was getting a new facility built for the girls. The board and school tried to explain why it might not be easy to do this but the parents were insistent that something be done. At the end of the day, the parents were granted their wish and the facility will be built first. So at a PTA meeting, with the support of fellow parents, you are able to ask and root for changes that you deem important for the wellbeing of your child.

Learn about developments in the school
This might sound obvious, but you need to know certain basics of the school your child is studying in, things such as the history of that school, the principles they live by, the amenities the children are provided and so on. However, there are many things that keep going on during the term that you are not aware of and that your child might not let you know about – perhaps because they feel it is not necessary. If the administration of the school is responsible, they should be able to let you know of any changes in say the curriculum or organisation of the place, the school’s projected performance when it comes to PLE, UCE and UACE among others.

In this particular PTA meeting, we were told of children who had lost their parents or children the school had lost. The school is a community which you become part of once your child joins it. It is therefore important to know what is happening in it, the big and small things.

Get to meet your child
Then there is of course the obvious, checking on your child after the meeting. Every time I calculate how many months children spend at (boarding) school compared to home, I wince. The ratio is just too wide. It is why I wonder, with all due respect, how a parent can take their child to a boarding school during their primary. A child is forming behaviour patterns and is being shaped and moulded between the ages of birth to 13 years.

Leaving them in the hands of teachers, matrons and their peers at this tender age is a matter that should not be taken lightly. That’s why whenever as a parent, you get the chance to visit them, you must.

Find out how they are doing. Have they had malaria? What is the studying like for them? Are they coping well – especially if they are new to the school? Do they have enough pocket money and grub to take them through the next few weeks?
Parents should therefore plan to attend all such days. The importance cannot be overestimated.

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