By Aneerah Ali, Esq.
Asalaam u alaikum
As the season is changing, Subhanallah, two important events are coming up. The first is the start of a new school year and the second is the coming of Ramadan, Inshallah. I would like to address all of you sisters in particular about the dynamic of children in regards to these two events.
As the start of a new school is upon us in the vey near future, Inshallah and you are are engrossed in hustle and bustle of back to school sales, supplies, uniforms, shoes, etc. stop and make a solemn promise to yourself. Make a promise to yourself that you will be as involved with your childâ€™s education as possible and that you will give room for your child to grow.
I am sure that for most of you this will just be a reminder, but please pay heed to what I say as I have a lot in common with your children. I am also a product of Muslim, immigrant parents, who came to this country seeking a better life and better future, for their children. And maybe I can offer you some pointers that you may not have thought of before.
It is of upmost importance that you speak you remain aware of all that is happening at school. Most of your schols will have Open Houses, not only should you attend them but you need think about the issues that are important to you and about which you want more information about, so that when you attend the Open House you will be able to make sure that your issues are addressed.
Make it a point to go and introduce youself to your childâ€™s teacher, make sure you have an e-mail address or phone number you can reach her/him at. Make the teacher aware of any concerns or special issues that they may need to be aware of regarding your child. And then throughout the year from time to time, drop in and say hello. It will let the teache know that you are a concened parent and it will affect the attention that is paid to your child and in turn it will help your childâ€™s peformance.
Everyday check to see if there are any notes that have been sent home, and then post the ones that need to returned in an area where you can see it and remember to send them back. Also check to see if there is any homework, and either sit next tot your child while they complete the assignment and check it, if there are in lower grades, or if they are older make sure toask them if they have completed the assignments, and from time to time ask to see the work they are doing.
Make it a point to find sometime daily, if possible, to sit and speak to yor child. Do not make it inot something that is official or an uncomfortable exercise. Rather find a time, when you are all relaxed and make it warm and inviting. And the most important thing is that when your children talk, you must listen. Make them comfortable to come to you and talk about whatever is going on in their life and remind them always that no matter what kind of trouble or situation they may ever find themselves, they should know that they can always come to you. Furthermore, make sure, that you do not put their experiences or their place in life down. Do not compare their life with your childhood, and prepare yourself to hear some shocking stuff, occassionally, but do not show your shock to yor child. You should let them express themselves and then gently and calmly guide them towards what is right and what is wrong.
Find some extracurriclar activity for your child, but make sure it is something that they enjoy. Do not push or pressure them into something that you enjoy, rather focus on their interests. One suggestion is that if your children are young, under nine you can try different things at different times, so that they can try everything and then decide what they want to do.
Lastly I want to mention something that is extremely imprtant but too often neglected. And that is the school PTO OR PTA. Make it a point to get involved at school, in some way or the other. In public schools you want to participate so that people will get to know you and and respect your ways. If you sit at home, and never get involved, no one will know you or your children and subsequently your child is more likely to suffer, because then they will continue to remain unusual to others and are more likely to develop complexes. In these times when Muslims are being portrayed negatively in the media, it is even more important that you get involved and become visible. So that when you meet people, and work with them they will come to know you, and they will see that you are very nice and good people, and in addition it will give them a better impression about Muslims.
If your child attends private school, you have even more at stake. You have to recognize that our Islamic schools are new and young compared to other private schools. Catholic and Parochial schools have been in existence for decades, it is unfair to compare our Islamic schools with them. Every new thing must go through its course to reach its best, similarly our slamic schools will go through their natural process, and what will decide their success? Not the teachers, or the principal, or the school board. It will depend upon all the parents. We can not sit back and think we have paid our childâ€™s tuition and thereore, we have done our job and there is no need to do anything further. You are leading our schools towards failure if you think that way. Me, you, we are the ones who need these Islamic schools, we are the ones who have work to make sure that they become successful. So when an asisstant teacher is not hired due to lack of funds, it is us the parents who have to step up and go into the school and help out. It is us who have to arrange carpools for trips, because buses can not be chartered. It is us who have to cook and organize lunches. Because remember, you are not only doing it for the benefit of your child, but also for the coming generations, and above all for the betterment of the Muslim ummah in order to achieve good deeds and make our Lord, our Creator, happy with us. Inshallah