JIS News

Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry-Wilson, has urged society to join parents in protecting the nation’s children and to teach them the right habits so that they can optimize their true potential.
“We have to rescue our children because we are all society’s keepers. We have to teach our children these lessons while they are young,” Mrs. Henry Wilson said as she addressed the graduation and prize giving ceremony of the Grace Christian Academy in Kingston on June 28.
She noted that early childhood research shows that children begin to learn certain patterns of behaviour, including anger, patience and love, from the time they are in the womb “so a child that grows up in a violent situation becomes a violent child, because they are being wired from they are young”.
“What we want to emphasise is that from this early age, you are forming the character of the child, and those sensitive windows determine whether the child has emotional self-control, whether they are able to think clearly; it will determine how many social skills they have, good manners, patience, respect for parents, respect for authority,” she said.
Urging teachers to move towards the values-based teaching being promulgated by the Ministry for the early childhood age group, the Education Minister noted that the lessons should not only include textbooks and teachers should encourage play, interaction, and self-expression.
In the meantime, she noted that emphasis is being placed on parenting classes for early childhood parents, in order to “get that synergy between the school and the home.”
The move, she said, will become a requirement under the national parenting policy being developed by the Early Childhood Commission, which will mandate that parents attend certain classes for their child to move into grade 1.
She invited parents to “sign on to those classes because where the parent understands the development stages of the child, they are apt to do much better in terms of parenting. We want to help the parents so that we can make sure that their children are optimizing, doing the best that they can.”
In the meantime, Mrs. Henry Wilson expressed concern about the high level of danger, violence and damage to which children are being exposed. “Unless we take hold of it and give them an environment where there is peace, we are going to grow up with a generation of children, who are going to be so aggressive that when we talk about violence, in 10 years time, it will make what is happening now pale in significance,” she warned. “We have to protect our children,” she stressed.
Citing auditory tests administered as part of the Grade 1 Inventory Test to determine a child’s readiness for formal learning, Mrs. Henry Wilson said the tests revealed that “our children’s hearing is declining.”
“There is too much noise,” she pointed out, noting that the noise from community dances could be a contributory factor. “None of us wants to impair the future of our children and so we have to ensure that a lot of this noise is abated, that the children will be able to get eight hours of rest, because healthy, well developed, well adjusted children are those that are going to do best in our system,” she stated.

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