Sometimes we need a helping hand

Home-based schooling is imposed upon most households during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What is home-based schooling? Home-based schooling is the process of educating children at home. Whether we like it or not, we are in the business of conducting some version of home-based schooling, and there is no right nor wrong way to get this done. Let us ‘wing it’, or rather let us give it our best effort and hope we get some great results.

Home-based schooling is difficult for many parents and more so for those parents who are illiterate. An illiterate person is not able to read and write. Therefore, home-based schooling becomes more difficult if not impossible. Many households are not equipped to accommodate home-based schooling. For many of us, the house has no space to accommodate a learner-friendly area. There are many variables that are not in place and we feel that we are going to get this home-schooling thing very wrong.

The sudden arrival of COVID-19 caught school administrators in a state of unpreparedness. I therefore suggest that school administrators add an extra layer of support for those of parents who are deemed to be illiterate.

My suggestions are:

  • Set up a hotline to assist parents who are not able to read and write.
  • Provide classroom/subject teachers with resources to assist parents who are unable to read and write.
  • Activate a feedback mechanism so that students needing ‘special’ assistance will be able to access such assistance.
  • Identify older students/monitors who are willing to provide on-line peer support and incentivize this service.
  • Identify parents in need of greater support and arrange to drop off materials at those homes that are less endowed with reading and technological resources.
  • Devise some protocol to relate to parents so that illiterate parents will not be embarrassed to access the support that school provides.

Stay safe

Talk soon


Invite your child’s friends to spend time with your family

Yes, each family has the responsibility to send children, who learn to honor and respect everyone, to school. In so doing, obeying school rules will become one of those things that will come naturally. The world of work awaits your children and that world is governed by rules. Our children must learn that reality and know that non-conformance to company rules will come with consequences. Similarly, non-conformance to school rules will come with a price.

There are many things that all parents could do to contribute to making schools safer. Today, I will suggest a few simple activities that any parent could try to implement at home.  

  • Engage your children in conversations about issues that concern them. Ask questions. Allow your children to ask questions. Get their opinions. Ask them to suggest solutions that would benefit themselves and others. Always ask the ‘What if?’ question.
  • Set simple, easy to follow, rules at home. Help your children to obey them. Provide guidance and love when your children disobey. Do not be severe and excessive in correcting your children.
  • Become friends of your children. You will be better able to detect warning signs, if you are your child’s best friend.
  • Know your children’s friends. Invite them to your home or to share fun activities together at the neighborhood space. You do not need much to entertain children. They will enjoy lemonade and cookies in a safe-play environment.
  • Become actively involved in your local Parents’ Teachers Association (PTA). This is your opportunity learn about school activities. This is your opportunity to volunteer and be involved in school activities.
  • Get professional help if your child displays anti-social behavior that overwhelms you. You may be surprised to learn there are many resources in your school neighborhood that are accessible to you. There are many persons who have had similar experiences; many of whom would like to help you. Yes, there are may persons who will help you. Remember, early intervention is often better than waiting until it may be too late.

Parents/Guardians are first teachers and role models. Our children learn so much from us.  We all want our children to be safe at school. They can be safe when we contribute by doing our part at home and by making our homes safe, happy spaces to grow our children. Whenever we all succeed at doing this, we will contribute by sending well-adjusted, happy children to school.

Talk soon


Retiring without regrets

What? Is retiring without regrets even possible? Yes, it is. Below are a few suggestions from my limited experience.

Plan ahead and get professional financial advice. You may not have all the savings you need, but you may have enough savings to make sensible investment decisions that will allow you to continue earning.

Do not plan to work for money, but if you must, embrace it. I know this may not go down well with some readers. However, what I mean is that if you prepare well for retirement with the mind-set of not working for money and if you extend yourself to work smartly while you continue in your full time employment, paid work may not become an absolute necessity after you retire.

Do not leave the work force too early. The last years of full-time employment are often when you network with seasoned professionals. Build on those networks and you will find that during retirement, the persons in your network remain your friends.

Don’t set rigid retirement goals. My experience has been that some of these goals are soon dumped as grand children beckon, wedding anniversaries and university graduations across the oceans beckon and that cruise/vacation also beckons. And guess what, you make quick and sensible travel decisions and… you are gone.

Make a list of activities you always enjoy. As a teenager, I worked at the public library. I used to prepare for the tiny tots’ story hour, using my artistic skills to prepare Micky and Minnie Mouse posters, and share in reading those hilarious stories that made the tiny tots giggle. Today in retirement, I accompany my son and my grandchildren to the public library carrying an over sized bag and hauling home 15 or more books for our reading pleasure, every three weeks.

Use the same skills you used in the corporate world to make your life plans. So, you were managing the company’s strategic planning process. You were evaluating business processes. Why not use those skills in your personal life? Why not apply those skills by volunteering to help at a project in your community.

Enjoy retirement

Talk soon


Adjusting to a new (school) regime after migration

So, you are a new resident in this developed country, settling in your new neighborhood, your new home, and you have mixed feelings about the education system.

Someone once said that the grass is greener on the other side. Another person said that if you water the grass where you are, it will become greener than the other side. Yet another person said that the greener grass on the other side is fake grass.

Now that you migrated and you are experiencing the other side, is the grass greener on that side?  You do not need to respond. That was meant to be a rhetorical question to get you to reflect.

Several of my friends have many issues with the education systems on the ‘so called’ greener sides. In one regime, the children are given little or no homework. Why? Parents work long hours and they request that less homework be assigned because they are unable to supervise or to help the children with homework.

In another regime, parents’ interaction with teachers is close to nil because it is simply not facilitated nor encouraged. If you are a West Indian immigrant and this is your experience, I know you are strategizing to initiate some change in this school regime.

I am an experienced West Indian educator, and I like examining differences in school systems and although this is not a scholarly article, please bear with me as I share some differences in two school systems. The information below was gleaned from conversations with my friends who migrated. It is shared as a reality check. My recommendation is that a new resident should not compare education systems but should quickly try to understand the new system and adapt strategies to make the transition manageable.

New school system Former school system
Ranked among top five school systems in the world No rank – underdeveloped school system
Little or no homework Lots of homework
Projects done at school Projects are part of homework
Few exams Lots of exams and tests
Few contacts with homeroom teachers. Communication often done electronically, e.g., Google Drive. Easy to contact homeroom teacher. A parent may even visit school without an appointment.
Job market requires formal certification. Lots of job opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers. Job market requires formal certification. Skilled workers have few opportunities and often migrate to search for jobs. Unskilled workers lack opportunities
Skills based Not skills based

My friends should not board the next available flights and return to their countries of birth. I humbly suggest that they do some more research, adjust their mindset, and enjoy the new experiences along the journey so that they will help their children to achieve excellent education outcomes in the new education system. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Talk soon…….


So…..I learned to love caterpillars

Why? I love to see the green and yellow butterflies in my garden.  If we kill ‘annoying’ caterpillars, we will see fewer butterflies in our gardens.

You may kill a caterpillar because the caterpillar killed your scotch bonnet pepper tree.  However we do need these ‘annoying’ caterpillars. Whenever you are tempted to kill a caterpillar, do pause and give some thought to the life cycle of the butterfly, and gently remove it to another section of your garden.

As a child, I would kill every caterpillar in my father’s garden. Today, I am wiser. I remember that the creation includes a web of interconnected parts, interconnected insects and animals. Adult butterflies and caterpillars are important sources of food for bats and birds. Butterflies feed on nectar from flowers and help to pollinate plants. Plants rely on these butterflies that are pollinators for reproduction.

Butterflies eat weedy plants and whenever butterflies are in abundance in our garden it means that we are existing in healthy environment, healthy ecosystem, free from pesticides.

So, if you want to enjoy butterflies in your garden, do not kill those ‘annoying’ caterpillars.