Can we help our children?
If you want the best education for your child, look in the mirror.
Like most parents whose children attend government schools, I shudder at some of Annual National Assessment results which were released earlier this week.

Of the children in Grade 6 – my child’s age group - the national average performance in languages was 28%, and for mathematics 30%.

It concerns me greatly to think of all those boys and girls whose future prospects are narrowing in front of them with every year that goes by.

Something needs to be done on a national level to help our education system change course. Do I know what it is? I do not. But, as one News24 comment pointed out, there are more successful examples already in place in our system, and surely that would be a good place to start looking.

It would seem to make sense to analyse the systems and skills that are working in the more successful provinces, cities and schools – and use that analysis to improve the other areas.

Parents act now

What I do know, is that parents of this year’s Grade 6s might be wasting their time by being up in arms and grumbling about inadequate teaching or failures in the curriculum.

No matter what changes our Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga may have up her sleeve, they are surely going to be too late for my son’s peers in schools around the country. By her own admission, these changes don’t take effect immediately:  ‘While there is no quick fix, we are confident that our interventions will bear fruit in the years to come...’

I do hope that she has some radical plans in place, but waiting around for educational fruit to ripen be damned. Our children are struggling now.

As parents, we do need to take the splinter out of our own eyes, and we need to do it today. We need to admit that we are sometimes lazy or distracted when it comes to spending time with our children on basic literacy and numeracy. If you’re reading this, you don’t have the excuse of being illiterate yourself.

No-one is asking you to do a 500-word essay on The Great Gatsby. But have you read your child’s setwork?

Honestly now. Honestly.

When did you last read to or with your child?
When did you last chat to your child about a book you enjoyed?
When did you last look at your child’s maths book and ask him or her to explain it to you?
Have you asked your child what schoolwork he or she enjoys and what is tricky to understand?

Chances are if you’ve done all of this in the last few weeks, you know how your child is doing, and you’ve picked up any difficulties. You are well placed to get help from the teacher, and if the teacher is unwilling, to speak to the principal or your local education department.

We don’t have to accept an inadequate education system. Work does need to be done there. But our children deserve, above all, our whole-hearted support and interest.

Let’s start there.

Where do you think we should start in getting basic and numeracy scores up to scratch?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Read more by Adele Hamilton

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