Keeping Students Engaged

July 20, 2020

Today, I had to take away my daughter’s mobile phone and her laptop. Since most of the schools adopted online classes, parents have been forced to buy mobile phones and laptops for their children and make sure that they have access to the Internet. All that sounds good, especially to those that can avail these items. However, there are teenagers that have never owned a mobile phone, and generally, they won’t until they can finish school and begin working. Monitoring what the children are doing online can be tricky for parents.  Half the time the students will put passwords on these gadgets, even those that are borrowed from their parents and relatives. There has been an increase in cyber bulling amongst the teenagers who have a lot of time on their hands now that even online classes have come to an end until September.

Finding ways to keep the students engaged in meaningful activities is becoming a challenge for most parents.  The children are tired of staying at home, the parents are tired of having them at home, and the cost of keeping them home is high.

We have been following up with some of these teenagers during the week, talking to them and looking for ways to keep them occupied. Without proper direction a lot of harm will befall these children. When asked how they are spending their time away from school, the majority say they watch TV all day, play video games, listen to music and watch movies on YouTube. Very few of them care to assist with house chores; they let their mothers and domestic workers do most of the work.

By taking away my daughter’s gadgets, I was demonstrating to her the need to stay occupied doing meaningful chores. She now has to clean her room, wash her clothes, make her bed and help out in the kitchen. She has been waking up at midday and will laze around the house doing nothing that contributes to her well-being or that of the household. As a result, she has gained a lot of weight and become lazy. One routine I have asked her to adopt will include walking the dogs every evening as part of her exercise. She will also prepare simple meals and when she is allowed to be on her phone, it will be for a limited amount of time. This might sound harsh, but if I don’t take charge of the situation now, it will only get worse. I am preparing her for a world that will not be kind to her; the sooner she learns this the better.

Today on the news I heard parents suggesting that the children should once again be brought up by the community as was the case in our times, from a discipline point-of-view. Parents are realizing once again that raising a child, especially in the African context, needs to be a combined effort.

We will continue to engage with those teenagers that are within our reach while observing the social distancing measures.  We will engage the girls in meaningful activities that will help them personally and also keep them physically fit. Some of the ways we intend to do this is by forming book clubs and discussion groups in small numbers for safety. This can be done after activities like mountain climbing and going on hikes. The outdoors creates a lot relaxation and one is able to interact with the teenagers on a more fruitful level.

We, as the community, need to lend a hand to these teenagers and become part of their lives. They need a lot of love and support, patience and understanding.  We will assemble the teenagers and come up with fun and healthy activities to keep them occupied even as we mentor them and teach them life skills.

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