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Tell tale signs you need to change your child’s school

Pick one of your child’s books, check his or her handwriting. Compare it with the handwriting in their previous class. If there is no significant change, don’t worry too much. If the handwriting is significantly better, go out and treat yourself.

If it is significantly worse, watch out. Something bad, even horrific may be happening to your child in school. Find out. This is according to Ian Wairua, a lecturer at Strathmore University and researcher in educational information systems.

Based on a number of studies showing the relationship between child abuse and behavioural disorders, changes in handwriting can indicate what psychiatrists and developmental psychologists call Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Wairua tells parents to be wary if the handwriting of their child of between the age of 11 and 12, basically Class Five and Six becomes terrible over time. It could be a sign that your child is experiencing things that are destabilising his mental state such as bullying in school, hard time with teachers, harassment, among others.

“In lower classes, the child may be too young to have a handwriting that is truly personal,” he says. He says when you notice that your child’s handwriting has become worse, especially those between 11 and 12 years, you should consider changing your child’s school.

But handwriting is not the only thing to be keen at for you to know it’s time to transfer your child to another school. Wairua notes that seemingly simple things such as the state of the toilet should influence your decision, “If a school cannot take care of its toilets, they cannot take care of your child.

Constantly clean toilets require a culture of attention to detail and daily care. What higher culture and values can they have and claim to instil if these two, order and cleanliness, are missing?” he poses.

Corporal punishment, bullying, less emphasis on the school’s culture and uniqueness, little attention to extracurricular activities, poor communication with parents should top your list of reasons why you should transfer your child to a better school. But here are more pointers  that it is time for a school switch.

Big ticks vs small ticks 

Check how the teacher marks your child’s work. Good teachers check work in detail, they tend to put small ticks per question or assignment.

This indicates attention to your child as an individual and a willingness to help him learn. However, you should be worried if the teacher gives your child huge general ticks.

Huge ticks indicate that the teacher is lazy or is looking for general standard phrases. It also indicates either the teacher is overworked or unprofessional. “Maybe, your child’s work is never even checked, so consider changing schools,” he tells parents.

Teacher Catherine, then Jane, then Dorothy, Joyce…

Your daughter comes home crying, “Mum, teacher Catherine has left. We have a new teacher, teacher Jane. Mum, I want teacher Catherine.”  “This happens mostly in private schools.

Since they are commercial ventures, it’s common to find the owner has no knowledge of educational management. Overworking, underpaying, even dictating professional teaching and learning activities.

The result is a high turnover of teachers,” Wairua states. “Your child needs stability, this means, the same teacher for a minimum length of time for proper learning,” he adds.

Values

In the early years, the teacher is a god. What he says and does is final. Everything is aped religiously including mannerisms and pronunciation. The teacher’s edicts are unquestionable.

For example, some individuals from certain communities pronounce Fish as ‘Feich’, while other pronounce Standard  Six as Standardi Six.

“The influence of the teacher as a mentor remains throughout the school life of your child. It’s not just the subject content, it’s a lot of other things copied almost unconsciously including ways of thinking and personal values.

Children, without even realising it, pick up values from adults by observing them. Therefore, watch the values your child is picking and if you are not satisfied, change school.

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