Regardless of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, parents the world over have the following traits in common:
1. They love their children2. They want the best for their children3. They learn how to parent from their own parents4. They can learn new ways of parenting.
Research has shown us that nurturing parent-child relationships and parental participation in child related activities relate to positive outcomes in early childhood, which tend to strongly impact future development and achievement.
The Ministry of Education takes parenting very seriously. Although we recognize it as an essentially private process, it is everyone’s business because negative parenting can and does have a negative impact on our national development. For the past two years we have been working to develop a National Parenting Policy which has as its vision:
“Every parent in Jamaica – by birth, adoption or guardianship – recognizes and accepts their duty to ensure that the rights of the child are always upheld, the best interest of the child is always promoted and the child is always loved and provided with opportunities and resources, within a safe, caring and nurturing environment, to achieve his/her full potential and ultimate fulfilment.”
Soon expected to be ratified by Cabinet, the Policy will enable the establishment of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), the agency with responsibility for implementing the action points within the Policy. The Ministry of Education recognizes that parents are teachers too, and not just any teachers but in many instances our children’s first and most invaluable teachers. We must find ways to better support them and assist them in their responsibilities. Overall the NPSC will strengthen the institutional framework around parenting and offer increased access to parenting information and support services. The NPSC will also raise awareness of parenting issues by mounting a national parenting education campaign, better co-ordinating existing parenting programmes and developing standards for program content, as well as leveraging support for new ones based on identified needs. The NPSC will aim to ensure that at no point will any Jamaican parents say they did not know where to go to get help.
During this Parent Month, being staged under the theme – Parent the Right Way – Read with Your Child Every Day – we are asking all of our schools, libraries, churches and civic organizations to stress the importance of family literacy. We encourage you to stage family literacy events inviting parents to sit with their children and explore a book together.
We are asking you to encourage families to join the Library Service and make visits to the local library a regular family event. We are asking you to find creative ways to increase the amount of print material available at school and in the community – maybe do a project where inspirational words are printed on walkways. Model reading in school, ensure that parents model reading at home. Create word trees by writing vocabulary words from stories on card paper and hanging them from trees in your yard. At school create class books where each child makes up a line of a story and illustrates their words. Have students read their stories to the other classes. Dedicate a specific time each day or each week to have all members of school staff “drop everything and read.” Most importantly share creative reading ideas with parents so that they too can make reading fun for their children at home.
It cannot be overstated how critical literacy is to personal and national development. During this month, let us seize the opportunity to bring our parents into the fold and encourage them to make reading a priority in their homes. On Saturday November 28th, 2009, the Jamaica Library Service will hold its annual Reading Fair, we are encouraging Jamaican families to help us make that the National Family Reading Day by making a concerted effort to read with their children.
We look forward to hearing of the creative ways our schools and libraries are able to realize this parent month’s theme and to sharing these best practices throughout our system. Let’s keep in mind the saying – “today a reader, tomorrow a leader” – and work hard to unlock the potential within each and every one of our students AND their families.

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