May 18, 2024

Look Out For Candidates

This article was first published in New Vision Newspaper in October 2022

Bob G. Kisiki

Senior Four candidates started writing exams this week, and Primary Seven and Senior Six learners will sit theirs in less than a month’s time.

The pressure is mounting; not just for the candidates themselves, but also for their teachers (who are also being indirectly tested) and the parents.

Oh, the panic and anxiety for a candidate’s parent! Will my child excel? If they do not, where do I take them for the next level (S1 for the P7 candidates; S5 for the O’level students and university for the S6 candidates)? Aren’t they too old for this class already?

We should not forget that this is the cohort with children who were caught up in either candidate or pre-candidate classes – P6, S3 and S5. When the COVID-19 horror happened, these children got stuck in their classes for two years!

Those in P7 would have been in S1 now; the S4 candidates would be in S5 already, while those winding up with S6 would be at university. Sadly, it’s not the case! So, this, coupled with the fact that many of their compatriots dropped off along the way, makes them a rather peculiar cohort.

These children must be wondering; should I not pass, what next? Would those who do not proceed to the next level feel comfortable repeating whichever class they are in now?

How much time will they have lost, altogether? These are the reasons these children are anxious, and anxiety is as dreadful a disease as any other.

Candidate class students and all pupils need reassurance. They need to be told that it is going to be well. And no, we should not tell them it’s okay even if they failed. If they hear such pronouncements, they will begin to feel that there’s a high chance that they will actually fail.

They begin to give up and give in. They say to themselves “if mummy thinks I could fail, then, I am not that good enough. Instead, we should tell them they can, and will. Infuse them with confidence and enthusiasm. Root for them. Be their biggest cheerleader. Make them wait for the exams not with trepidation, but with eagerness.

It’s okay to think that the teacher will encourage your children to go for the kill. Sadly, teachers are under so much pressure from the school directors, founding bodies and heads, to make great grades.

That means the only person who can do it is you, the parent. If the child is in a boarding school, secure permission from the school administration to drop by someday and see your child.

Sit them down in a relatively free and comfortable environment and talk with them like peers. Tell them what you have to tell them.

If you can talk to a specific teacher, warden, or senior lady/man, do. These are people who sometimes understand our children better than we do; they will know how to deal with different children.

Ask them to keep an eye on your child, so they can guide them throughout the exam period. Left to their own devices, these children could choose to throw in the towel, which will be detrimental.

The writer is a parenting counsellor and teacher

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