Family and Community Influences on Competence among Students in Bahamian School

The Bahamas population comprises of more than 97% of literate people above 15 years of age, which is attributed to government’s policy on compulsory education for children between the ages of 5 and 16 years. It is only few isolated cases of illiterate people. There are government and private schools in Bahamas. After completion of secondary education at the age of 16 years, people can choose to join various tertiary institutions in the country for advanced education (Strand 2008). The learning environment usually has a great impact on accomplishment or educational goals in the country. Students usually adopt the culture of the learning environment. The actions of the community are therefore influential in regard to performance in schools. There is need for community participation in promoting education, which the government advocates, as well as the cooperation of parents in helping the students to achieve in school.

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When students are exposed to a hostile environment at home or within the community their performance declines. Lack of parental support may also lead to stress and poor performance. The community needs to serve as a good example to students, which generates enthusiasm for them to learn to accomplish what successful people have accomplished in the community. A community without a culture of promoting education may not accomplish the development needs in the contemporary society, which needs continuous learning and technological advancement to remain competitive and self sufficient. Schools are meant to help the children to develop both intellectually and socially. These are the basis for a competent society in regard to solving problems affecting it as well as maintaining self sufficiency. This essay is a critique of how family and community conditions enhance or hinder the ability of schools to produce socially and academically competent students in Bahamian schools. It focuses on the concept of environmental impact.

Absenteeism

Attending classes continuously for more than 10 years with short breaks is usually a long process that requires endurance and determination. In the initial stages when children begin attending school, they usually do not understand the meaning of education. Many of them view school as a place that enables parents to get rid of them for many hours in a day. Unless the parents generate understanding amongst their children regarding the importance of attending school, teachers may be unable to model the students to be enthusiastic about learning new things every day. Parents need to prepare their children sufficiently for school. This helps in getting rid of thoughts of absenteeism, which is a major drawback towards the accomplishment of educational goals. Chris (2007) observes that absenteeism often culminates in high dropout rates among students.

More over, the students who have the problem of persistent absenteeism usually develop in to unreliable individuals since they always tend to find a reason to justify their reason for being absent. Such students end up becoming liars to the teachers, and they are likely to fail in education. The main issue of focus in such cases is the child’s parents. They need to keep track of their child’s movements especially when they discover the development of this chronic absenteeism. The family environment may hinder the child’s achievement in school if parents do not link with teachers to establish the cause of emerging issues in the children such as absenteeism. The problem of absenteeism can also be escalated by the community. In most cases, the student may fail to attend school and fail to report back home. The teacher and the parent remain convinced that the child is under the care of the other. When the child hangs around within the community without the parent’s knowledge, members of the community need to take responsible action and report the issue to school or to the parents. If the community holds education in high regard, it is possible for the students to appreciate being in school. This is significant in improving attendance in school as well as reducing persistent absenteeism (Chris 2007).

Maintaining Discipline

In the contemporary society, people have become modernized to the extent that they do not care much regarding other people’s children. However, this development usually originates from the parents who have tended to disregard the conventional bringing up of children whereby a grown up could discipline through standard caning of another person’s child. In the post-modern period, parents may even file a legal complaint for disciplining a child regardless of the offence committed. In Bahamas, teachers are restricted from administering physical punishment to students and as Bonimy (2008) reported; only head masters are allowed to administer corporal punishment in schools. This is an indication that even members of the community are not allowed to administer punishment to other people’s children. The community may therefore have the potential to deal with absenteeism, but it can play a major role in informing parents or teachers regarding the behavior of a student.

Link between Teachers, Parents and the Community in General

Parents on the other hand need to be open to positive criticism of their children by community members and teachers. They need not look at the community members as disillusioned people who have no business in ones own child. Parents need to allow the child to fully belong to the community so that bringing up and educating the child becomes everybody’s affair. It might help in developing a useful link among teachers, parents and the community in general. The success of a child also needs to be appreciated by the three vital components in the educational system. Parents need to be in the fore front in regard to appreciating the achievement of their own children, and also play a role as part of the community to appreciate the accomplishments of other people’s children. In the contemporary society, education seems to be a form of competition rather than collaboration in the community to accomplish a shared vision. For example, different children compete against each other without the community or parents joining efforts to establish what causes the difference in performance. This would be an important avenue for the parents of the poorly performing children to understand ways of improving their performance. Competing in school should only be understood as a motivator for the children to work harder (Clark, 1997).

Mentorship

Mentorship for the students needs to come from the community. The conception of parents and the community regarding education is also important for the achievements of the children in education. Hobart et al. (2005) observe that mentors are significant for the student to remain competent in education. When the student is exposed to difficult tasks in education, there is usually a tendency to give up especially when facts seem to be vague. For example, a student working on a stressful science or mathematics subject may wonder in regard to their application in life. A mentor helps the students to understand why it is important to keep on working hard to understand concepts, even the ones that seem difficult to understand. The student develops the desire to see the application of concepts later in life. Mentorship programs in many Bahamas’ schools helps in keeping students active in schools. Without mentorship, there is a high possibility of school drop outs.

Parent’s Involvement in Assessing the Student’s Work

Earlier research indicates that the family plays a critical role in motivating students to accomplish high grades. This is because parents who are concerned about their children’s performance in school continuously request to view results of the regular exercises they do in school, and assist them where they are unable to understand. The parent plays a significant role in the child’s performance due to the fact that in class, the teacher deals with a large group of children and may be unable to identify the special needs of each student except during exams. Reviewing the student’s work gives the parent an opportunity to deal with the child as an individual; hence he/she can realize the weaknesses of the child. The child is also capable of completing assignments due to the motivation by the parent. In many situations, when the students are left to work on their own, they are likely to abandon the work when they are unable to identify a solution. Completion of tasks under the guidance of parents makes them understand concepts better. The parent is also informed regarding the child’s attendance by assessing the notes taken from various lessons. A child who constantly interacts with the parent is likely to be well behaved in school, as well as developing positive outlook in regard to his/her relationship with others at school (Rigby 2005). Such positive attitude is important for intellectual development of the child, hence improved performance.

Accessibility of School

Accessibility of the school is significant for the effective performance of children. The parents play a vital role in ensuring that transport is available, which is important in avoidance of lateness in schools. Lateness is one of the factors that Lindon (2003) observed contributes to truancy and high drop out rates amongst children who do not sleep in school. It is usually a problem that many students are unable to solve by themselves. This is because it may originate from environmental factors and the daily encounters by the children as they move to and from school. When students arrive late in school and receive punishment persistently, they might shun from entering the school compound fearing the consequences of lateness. Failure to attend school results in further punishment, which leads to thoughts of dropping out. The parent needs to understand the factors that might cause lateness in the child and find a solution, which may include facilitating them with better means of transport, waking them up earlier, and ensuring that they sleep early to avoid extending the morning hours in sleep.

Student’s Wellbeing

It is also important for the parents to understand that they are part of the child’s environment that may hinder or facilitate learning. This knowledge is helpful in the avoidance of a stressful environment that may lead to poor understanding capability of the children. They need to be shown understanding at home so that they can develop confidence and self-esteem when relating with other students. Children who are stressed at home usually develop a negative attitude towards life as well as other people. They tend to feel inferior and may not perform well in class. The cooperation of parents in solving problems affecting the children motivates them to learn and accomplish as much as they can. Whenever such children encounter problems, their performance can not be affected since they always have in mind that the parents will help them out (Rigby 2005).

Parents need to promote a family environment in which the children are trained to respect each other. They should be able to maintain a harmonious relationship amongst the children and avoid prejudice while dealing with them. In circumstances where children are discriminated against, they are likely to suffer from inferiority. It is also important to determine whether children are facing oppression or discrimination in school that might lead to stress related problems, which may hamper their ability to learn. Children who have been deprived of basic facilities may not perform well in school due to stress that hampers their understanding capability (David 2005). For example, children who report to school on daily basis need to be taken care of through ensuring that they are well fed. Breakfast means a lot to their level of concentration in school. The parents need to ensure that they take breakfast, and that hygiene is observed in all the meals taken. This helps in preventing hygienic diseases as well as malnutrition due to poor feeding habits. Children who take nutritious food have better participation in school and are able to perform class work effectively.

The family set up may influence the performance of a child in school. Children who are affected by domestic violence may be unable to have enough sleep, which may inhibit the performance of the children in school. Parents need to ensure that disputes are solved in the absence of children to avoid stressing them. They should not be exposed to the suffering of parents or be allowed to compare themselves with other children who have what they lack. The socio-economic aspect of the family may be an important determinant of the availability of essential facilities to make learning possible. Children need to be understood and motivated to continue even when parents undergo difficult times. The parents who are capable of demonstrating concern for their children’s needs even when they are undergoing difficult times generate enthusiasm in their children, which motivates them to learn. In other words, parents need to show them that they are not the problem (McMillan and Schumacher 2009).

Performance Standards

Families can improve the performance of students by setting up performance standards at home. For example children learn better through practice. Ensuring that they use the correct language while communicating at home makes it possible for them to write it correctly in school. If the parents or community use the wrong language, the children are bound to emulate their seniors as well as family members and may never learn to use the correct language even in school. Their developing mind may be confused since what they learn in school is different from what is applied in communication within the society. Family principles are significant in modeling the behavior of children. For example, punctuality in the family means a lot to the behavior of children in school. If things run according to schedule at home and the children are taught to ensure that it is followed, it is easy for them to follow the school’s schedule. They should be capable of setting their own schedule and performance standards from the knowledge that they acquire from this practice in the family (Hobart et al. 2005). On the other hand, a community that operates in an organized manner helps in maintaining high level of organization of its members. Organizers of community functions need to demonstrate high level of organization to be emulated by learners.

Morals

Promoting good morals and ethical principles is important for effective performance amongst children in school. The manner in which parents teach their children to relate with others determines the level of performance in school. For example, if a child has been taught to respect his/her seniors at home, it would be possible to respect teachers in school. Parents also need to educate their children regarding aggressive behavior and the use of abusive language. This enables them to relate with other students without engaging in violent activities. Such students are likely to perform effectively. It is important for the parents to inform the children regarding the dangers of using drugs. Children meet with many students from different families, which present a threat of accessing drugs from the children who come from families that engage in substance abuse (Lindon 2003). With prior information regarding such encounters, students are capable of escaping the trap of being influenced in to taking them. The community can also positively influence the behavior of children by failing to tolerate unethical behavior and the abuse of drugs especially near schools. This is possible because the people who engage in these acts are usually members of the same community. It has been possible to prevent access of drugs in Bahamas’ schools through the cooperation of the community and the government in fighting against drug abuse.

Opportunities in the Community

There are many opportunities for learning in the communities surrounding schools. If awareness is created among the students regarding these opportunities, educational goals can be accomplished. For example, when students are involved in community activities where they offer services during vacations, they have a chance of interacting with professionals who motivate them to become responsible members of the society. Developing a sense of social responsibility among the students facilitates learning since they become responsible in school thereby increasing their capacity to learn. The community needs to accept student participation in voluntary activities such as environmental conservation, caring for people with special needs in the community and participating in public forums. These are avenues whereby students can acquire diverse knowledge. This knowledge gives them an idea of what it is like to be a professional, and the areas in which they can put more effort in school focusing on a particular career (Clark, 1997).

The community can also offer chances for students to participate in community driven events such as talent shows, cultural events and art among other events whereby people from diverse backgrounds demonstrate their uniqueness. When students are given such an opportunity, they are motivated to be inventive in developing fascinating shows. They are able to discover their talents in such events, which are useful in determining the careers to choose. On the other hand, students are provided with an opportunity to observe the application of talents and knowledge in real life. Students in Bahamas have a chance to participate in community activities where they interact with people who have diverse talents. Apart from accomplishing educational goals, extra curricular activities help in the development of the students socially. They acquire interpersonal skills that help them to express themselves to other people, which is useful in life especially after completion of studies.

Conclusion

Families and communities may positively or negatively influence the performance of children in school. Community and family members need to cooperate in ensuring that there is a high level of attendance amongst students. They should also act as role models for the children. This is significant in promoting good morals and ethical behavior among the children. Parents need to ensure that the children are provided with the necessary support to facilitate the performance of children. The community and parents in Bahamas have been successful in maintaining high levels of enrollment of children in schools in line with the government policy. Mentorship programs have been significant in the maintenance of students in schools. Participation of students in community activities as volunteers gives them a chance to interact with professionals, thereby motivating them to work harder. They learn to become responsible in all aspects of life. They also discover their talents when they are given the opportunity to perform in communal events. The school drop out rate in Bahamas is low. However, there is need for more cooperation between parents, teachers and the community in general, so that success amongst children in education can be accomplished.

 

References

Bonimy J. (2008). Turnquest supports corporal punishment: Says he did not know teachers still “beat students”, Nassau Guardian.

Chris B. (2007). Child Protection; an Introduction, Sage Publications.

Clark, T. E. (1997). Designing and Implementing an Integrated Curriculum: A Student-Centered Approach, Holistic Education Press.

David H. (2005). Child Abuse and Neglect: Attachment Development & Intervention, Palgrave Macmillan.

Hobart C., Frankel J. and Walker M. (2005). Good Practice in Child Protection 2nd Edition, Nelson Thornes.

Lindon J. (2003). Child Protection, Hodder Arnold.

McMillan J. and Schumacher S. (2009). Research in Education: Evidence-Based Inquiry, Pearson Education.

Rigby K. (2005). Bullying in schools and the National Safe Schools Framework. Teacher: The National Education Magazine, Vol. 6(1) pp 20–22

Strand D. (2008). Going to School in the Bahamas. Faces: People, Places, and Cultures. High School Journal, Vol. 31(1) pp 1-13.

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