Back To School Guide
Getting your child ready to face the new academic year can be challenging. Let diGJamaica help you and your child make a smooth transition from summer frolic to academic pursuit.
The Gleaner's Back to School Shopping Feature
Choosing the right school
The following information was provided by the Ministry of Education. Click here for other helpful back-to-school tips from the Ministry.
There are several things to consider when selecting the right school. Jamaica has hundreds of schools at the Primary and Secondary level. Most schools are owned and operated by the Government but there are several privately owned schools that are operated by churches or private organizations. The Ministry of Education has provided a few things parents should consider when selecting a school.
Know your child
Try to understand what are your child’s interests before selecting a school. If your child enjoys sports and outdoors matching him/her with a strong sports programme would be better than placing him/her at a school that focuses on the arts or science.
Know the school
Do your homework and find out the type of curriculum offered by the schools and the teaching methods and philosophy that are used. Find out about the facilities and infrastructure of the school, the availability of science labs, libraries, nurse’s station, etc.
Make sure the school is registered
Whether the school is private or independent, make sure it is registered with the Ministry of Education and abides by the rules in the Education Act.
Make a reasonable assessment of the cost of travel to and from school. If a school in your community offers a curriculum that suits your child, then it would be better if your child attends that school. If not travelling costs have to be factored into your budget.
If your child is attending a school out of your community, then, accommodation arrangements must be made. Only let your child live with persons whom you trust, like family or friends, and make sure to maintain family ties in spite of the distance
Do not choose a school based on the influence of other parents and what they have heard from the media. Do your own investigations and choose an institution that is in the best interest of your child.
No matter which school your child attends they will need you to get involved in his/her education and encourage them along the way. Make the time to help your child with assignments, meet his/her teachers and participate in a Parents’ Teacher’s Association. If there is none at your child’s school, start one!
Connect with the National Parent Teacher’s Association on Facebook and Twitter
Address Suite B, 7 Oxford Park Ave, Kingston Jamaica
Phone 1 (876) 929-4022
Moving on up! Transitioning from primary to secondary school
Most schools require that your child do a medical examination before going back to school. However there are several other issues relating to your child’s health that should be in place to make sure that they have the best start possible. Here is a checklist…
Make sure your child has had all required immunizations
Get your child’s vision checked before school starts so that it can be determined if glasses or contacts are needed
Notify the principal's office, the school nurse, and your child's teachers about any health problems or medications that your child takes
Ensure that the school has a plan to handle emergencies
Review your child’s food allergies. If your child has any allergic reactions to certain medications you could put a list of those allergies in a waterproof case in your child’s backpack
Get a dental exam to make sure your child’s pearly whites are safe and sound
Make sure your health insurance is up to date and your child’s health card is in a safe place
Make a list of emergency contacts, other than yourself, that respond in case of an emergency and alert the school and the school nurse
Play it safe: Safety tips
One of the main duties of parenting is to keep your child safe. However parents are physically unable to protect their children in every situation. Here are some guidelines that parents should follow to keep their children safe during this academic year.
Parents must teach children their full names, i.e., the parents’ names and the child’s own name. Make a special effort not to use pet names, as this may confuse your child.
Teach children the name of their street and full address.
Teach them the route to and from school.
Have a specific person or persons pick up your child. Someone you both know and trust. Introduce these persons to your child’s teacher. If someone else other than these persons is to pick up your child, inform the child and his or her teacher.
Write emergency information in the child’s bag and in certain books, including your contact numbers, address and any other important details; for example, the child’s allergies or special illness.
Develop a good relationship with the child’s teacher, and discuss these details with him or her, so that they will know exactly what you want them to do in case of an emergency.
Teach your child safety tips such as safe routes, the road code, i.e., how to cross the street using the pedestrian crossing, not running across the road, walking and facing oncoming traffic, not playing in the road, etc.
Teach your child who they can trust to ask for assistance. Help them to develop a healthy perspective of and a good relationship with the police.
If your child is going to be walking to school or using public transport here are a few road safety tips from The Gleaner http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110910/news/news92.html
Rules for home and family
The summer is over and so is the free-for-all or in Jamaican creole, ‘yu free paper bun’. To help your child make the adjustment from summer frolic to the rigeurs of study here are a few ground rules that need to be tackled, preferably before the start of school:
- Establish a firm bedtime before school starts
- Determine where and when your child will do homework
- Create a balance between homework and free time
- Set rules for the time spent on TV, video games and non-academic computer use
- Help your child create a study schedule and stick to it
- Encourage participation in extra-curricular activities but make sure the child is not overwhelmed or study time is compromised
- If your child is required to do chores a chores chart will help him/her balance school work, chores and free time
Other resources on diGJamaica
Ministry of Education website. http://www.moec.gov.jm/ Accessed August 24, 2012
"Back-to-school checklist" on Schoolfamily.com. http://www.schoolfamily.com/school-family-articles/article/762-back-to-school-checklist. Accessed August 24, 2012
"Back to School: Medical Preparations for Kids of All Ages" on i Village. http://www.ivillage.com/back-school-medical-preparations-kids-all-ages/6-a-128829. Accessed August 24, 2012