Parents’ fears as children join boarding school

Monday February 19 2018

A van ready to transport students back to

A van ready to transport students back to school in Kampala recently. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI.  

By ZUURAH KARUNGI

Most parents have mixed emotions as their children have joined boarding school. For some children, it is their first time to be far from home. One parent whose child joined Senior One, says her biggest fear is how her child will cope at school, who she will confide in in case of any problem or when she is sad.
Her case is not unique to that of Janat Kasumba whose daughter has just joined Kawempe Muslim School. Kasumba says her child has never been away from home for even a week. She is worried that the youngster might become lonely at school because she will miss people at home.
“She kept asking me whether she will manage at school and at some point I felt like taking her to a day school, but I’m sure she will get used,” she explains. Just like her, Margret Tumusiime a teacher and counsellor is also filled with fear of leaving her sister at school alone as she is too young and may not manage.

Child’s behaviour
Parents are worried about their children’s survival given how they behave at home. Some are used to being helped with every task. How will they manage at school? John Mwikya’s son who has joined boarding in Primary Six is so stubborn and might get punished all the time since he sometimes makes mistakes and regrets after. He says he has tried talking to him and since he does not have many friends in his new school, he will settle a bit.
Aisha Dhamulira, a teacher, says her daughter who has joined Nabisunsa Girl’s School takes her time to do everything. She takes long to wake up, to bathe or prepare for school. When she is pressurised, she just does things the wrong way. Dhamulira says she explained that to the house teacher and asked her to help.
“I’m also worried about her young brother who has been crying since his sister left home. She has been like a mother to him, helping with his homework and staying with him while I’m at work. It hurts,” she adds.

Loneliness
Other parents are worried about loneliness at home. Saidah Hamis’ whose son has joined Kawempe Muslim School says her son is all she has. He is the only child at home and has always been with her. She adds that though he seems excited to begin school, he will reach a time and miss her.
Jane Tusubira can relate as her child has never been far from home. The longest time he has been a way was a week and he had gone for a school trip. “My son is a loner and I don’t know if he will cope with others,” says Tusubira.

Feeding habits
Some children are used to eating a certain type of food and may take time to cope. Others do not like eating at all and will need someone to coerce them to eat. Peter Okello says his daughter’s eating habits are bad. She does not like posho which is the school staple. “Sometimes we have to persuade or even force her to eat while at home as she prefers junk to nutritious food.
There is always a first for everything and parents ought to take heart as their children learn to engage in new environments.

Handy tips
Emmanuel Kakuba, a teacher at Nyakasura School, Fort Portal says parents could use the following tips:
•Befriend any of the teachers especially their class or dormitory teacher and request them to help out. Be open to them about your child’s weakness so that they know how to help.
• Tell your child about different people they should go to in case of a problem.
• Ask them to make enough friends so that they do not feel lonely at school.
• Get them a friend who is a class a head and ask them to help out. They should preferably be in the same dormitory.

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