As the kids were marched off to their first day of school on Wednesday, 11 January 2017, perhaps the most significant experiences, were those starting for the first time, and those going into high school for the first time.
As children embark on their journey to school, I believe that parents should also embark on their first journey, not necessarily to school, but to learn.
Having my own baby, firstborn baby boy, I have learned so much from him. The most critical finding or experience I’ve learned is that he models and copies everything that not only his mother and I do, but also what others do. But as more time we (both parents) spend with him, the more we shape his behaviour and how he views the world.
If someone had told me that we have an immediate impact on our children from the moment they are born, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Where school starts, you finish
The school can only do much. That much is given or provided to every other kid in the classroom. The question is; what are you doing to add value beyond the classroom? School is not (at least it shouldn’t be) where we send our kids so that they are not left at home to do anything. School is not a place where a teacher takes the role of a parent for time, whilst we get to do what we want to do. School provides knowledge that is deemed to be relevant and necessary – whether this is true is debatable. The point is; school will not teach or impart essential skills for life.
While school prepares them for the working or business work, it is our duty as parents to prepare them for life. To teach them valuable lessons. To teach them how to navigate through life, to equip them with the necessary skills that will build them. This is critical.
A skillful world
We live in a world of skill. A world of doing. Those who can think and do have an advantage over those who can do only or think only. In today’s world, you need some type of skill to progress, to achieve something, to play an active role in society.
Some children will have a natural knack to do or get into certain things that will empower and upskill them, and others don’t and will, therefore, need a little push to see those opportunities or to think in a certain way.
Particularly to black parents, we need to ensure that our kids realise that the world is not just made of school, but that school is part of the world. Meaning, there are other things outside of school. We need to encourage our kids to explore, to engage and be involved in other things that will heighten thinking and broaden perspectives.
You can only teach what you know
Your ability to succeed is limited to what you both know and don’t know. Access to information is probably the biggest currencies. If our kids and this starts from when they are babies, learn from us just by looking, if we actively coached, encouraged and showed them how to do things, we would accelerate their growth in terms of mindset.
Using myself as an example, at this point, the only thing that is a skill of value is me being a strategist or strategic planner, and can I really teach that to my son? I’m sure I can, but what will that mean for him? This has made me realise how much my lack of skills in other areas is actually doing my son a disservice. What will I teach him? What will I show him to do and how?
So, I have decided that I will embark on a journey to acquire a couple of skills that I will, therefore, transfer to him. At the moment, I’m not sure what those skills will be, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano. Being able to teach my son to play the piano is an absolute more than enough reason to start learning.
Especially as men, we need to be heroes and inspirations to our kids. To all parents out there, whatever skill you think you have, do not take it lightly, impart it onto your kids so that they can be empowered.
If you don’t know anything, you can’t teach anything. As your children go to school, I urge and encourage you to embark on a skills acquisition mission. At the end of the year, when your child comes back with that report card to show how they have done over the year, what will you show them?
Writer: Bogosi Motshegwa