The Masakhane team has been working with grade 6-9 learners throughout lockdown via hybrid learning; using sms, whatsapp, phone calls and physical work collection. A big goal for the team throughout the lockdown period was encouraging parents and caregivers to engage with their children’s learning. Maria and Sinovuyo, the Masakhane Maths and English teachers decided that once it was possible to have in-person interactions, they would like to host a Parent Day to invite parents into a conversation about involvement in their child's school life.
Last week Saturday the team was able to host their event and it was a huge success!
In thinking about how to present this information, Sinovuyo shared, “We were sort of struggling with our presentation, thinking about how we could present this information in a way that is going to resonate with everyone. We just knew that a Powerpoint was not going to work! In the brainstorming session we researched what information we wanted to convey but we were looking for the right channel. And then we thought, we use a lot of plays at Masakhane, why don’t we use the same structure to inform the parents?”
So, in preparation for the day, the team prepared five short skits that they performed for the parents as conversation starters around the role parents and caregivers can play in supporting children with their school work.
After each performance there was an opportunity for parents to engage with the content and share their thoughts and questions with one another.
The themes from the five plays were:
Buza Umtwana! Ask your Child
Everyone noted the importance of a caregiver being keen and showing interest in a child's life and asking the child probing questions to find out about their school life.
Mncedise ngomsebenzi wesikolo! Help them with their school work
Here the conversation was around strategies for helping children with their school work, even if as a start its paging through the child's book with them.
Yakha ubuhlobo netishala zakhe! Build relationships with their teachers
All the parents agreed, though making the first step into forming these parent-teacher relationships can be intimidating, they were extremely rewarding in the end.
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Thetha ngendlela ekhuthazayo nomntwana wakho ngento zesikolo! Speak in encouraging ways with your child regarding school things.
Here some parents admitted it was easy for them to be encouraging when a child was doing well at school and harder for them when the child struggles as they usually assume it's because the child is not serious or working hard enough.
Ndingamnceda njani umntwana wam wesikolo ndingakwazi kufunda nje? How can I help my child with school when I don’t know how to read?
Here we explored options for parents who are illiterate but still want to assist their children and help them succeed at school.
Sinovuyo explained, “Some parents said they usually count the ticks in their child’s book to see how well they have done. A strategy that we shared in the play was that you can ask your child to read for you. Even if you don’t understand the language, you can ask them to explain the story to you. And we hope that all the other plays stressed that you do not need to know how to read to engage with your child’s school work. You can still ask them about their day, encourage them and keep in contact with their teachers. In all of these ways, you can still contribute to your child’s schooling.”
While the plays were informative and entertaining, the catering almost stole the show! One tatomkhulu - grandfather - who came for his grand-daughter said he would make sure to fill her mother in on all that he had learnt...but that she really missed out on the food!
Next year increasing parent engagement remains a big goal for Axium. Masakhane will be having more gatherings like this as they attempt to give kids the holistic care they deserve!