What your school-going child needs or doesn’t need

What you need to know:

Where does the parent draw the line between a child’s necessities and giving them what they do not need for school?

It is the second week since children reported back to school. Some parents are still looking around for schools to take their children. The question however is, what do children really need and what don’t they need while at school. What really is and isn’t essential? What are some of the things that parents give their children that are not needed and yet leave out the essentials? After talking to both parents and students, these are some of the things they think are not necessary when going to school.

A lot of ‘grab’/snacks: It is not criminal to make the school term comfortable for a child but it is hazardous to make it overly comfortable to the point that they lose focus of what is really important. A large number of parents when asked said, a lot of grab is really not necessary. A child should be given enough but not too much.
“Some parents send their children to school with a lot of grab and yet have paid half of the schoolfees all in the name of pleasing the child. A child comes with a carton of water, a carton of milk, a jerry can of quencher and a box of Safi all for one term,” Christine Okoth, a senior four student says. Some of the children are given a lot of grab that they end up taking it back home.

A lot of pocket money: Some parents give their children a lot of money that they do not even use it while at school.
“A little too much pocket money isn’t good. I think all children should at least at one point get into kawu (a period of lack as it is known in boarding schools). It’s not for suffering’s sake but it is more of a life lesson showing them that it isn’t plain sailing out there, so they should learn how to save,” says Moses Nuwamanya, a parent.

Gadgets: A child’s primary goal of going to school is to learn and anything that will distract them from that goal should be avoided. For most schools, electronics like mobile phones, radios, camera and iPods are prohibited though some parents allow their children to go with them. These are the items that students use to engage in illegal exercises like examination malpractices or end up getting expelled from school.

Make up: Though looking good is one thing every girl loves, it isn’t something they should be overly mindful of while at school. Students should have basic items like combs, mirrors and lotion but not things like foundation, perfumes, eye shadow and many others that they carry to school.

Jewelry: Basic pins are allowed in most schools for students with pricked ears but not outstanding and coloured jewelry like loops, bangles, rings and neck laces. Parents should desist from allowing their children to carry jewelry to school because it encourages vices like theft among students who end up admiring what they cannot afford but think they need due to peer pressure.

It is also important to highlight those items that are ignored by parents yet are essentials. These may be both physical and intangible. School fees and scholastic materials: For many parents, essentials are the requirements specifically asked for by the school which usually include school fees, a ream of paper, brooms, toilet papers and many other items depending on the school.

“According to me, the essentials on my list are school fees, a school bag and scholastic materials like books and pens. Important books like a Bible, an atlas and a dictionary should be bought,” says Patricia Leku, a mother of three boarding school-going children.

Toiletries: Apart from scholastic materials, get your child basic daily sanitary items. “Children should be given the things that matter. Things that the school will not provide yet they that cannot do without them. Items they will need for grooming,” says Juma Lutaaya, a father of four. These things include soap, tooth paste, toilet rolls, deodorant, sanitary towels and many others.

Career guidance: Though a child may have an idea about what they would like to do or be in future, they need guidance on how to get there. They say the primary learning environment for a child is the home so parents are expected to guide their children regarding their career goals.

Making friends with the child’s teachers and care takers: Catherine Achen, a mother of a kindergarten goer says it is essential for parents to ensure they have a good relationship with their children’s teachers and care takers. “It is very hard to look after and teach young children so their teachers do a lot and need to be appreciated. For parents with young children, befriend the teachers so that they can look out for your child,” she says.

Sex education: For parents raising teenagers, it is vital that you talk to them about sex and not leave it to teachers or television. It is at this stage that they are inquisitive and their hormones are all the rage yet they do not know what to do about the changes their bodies are undergoing. Prossy Nantamba, a senior two student says her parents have never talked to her about sex so all she knows about it is from books and novels. “I think they presume I am not old enough but I know these things and they think I don’t,” she adds.

Inquiring if there are any changes: Another important thing that most parents do not do is finding out if there is anything new regarding the child’s learning for example if a new subject has been introduced or if the child’s teachers have been changed so as to make any necessary changes like buying text books necessary for a new subject.