A parent, having just recently witnessed her son’s graduation, expressed grave concerns. While proud to see him dressed up to celebrate the next educational phase of his life, she spoke of his consistent acts of bad behaviour in school, his irregular attendance and his overall poor academic performance. I could sense that her frustration overshadowed her joy.  She further expressed her fear for what she feels will be next in his academic journey. The bottom line is she believes her son will never catch up academically, his frustration with school will increase and, as she put it, she feels he’ll get “caught up”. My heart ached for her because I’ve heard this story more times than I have hairs on my head. 

School is out. Summer is here. It is hot. Those three key ingredients will ultimately be a recipe for disaster for any young person who is not actively engaged in constructive activities until school resumes. This mother’s son, if left to his own devices for the summer, is highly likely to get himself into big trouble. To her I suggested that which I would suggest to all mothers: Find a programme for your child that can offer academic support mixed with a bit of fun. And if you are not able to do so, at the very least send them to a camp where they can be supervised. If your son or daughter is an adolescent or teen for which there are limited programmes, find a place of employment that will allow them to work shadow. No, they will not necessarily get paid, and we know that many young people will refuse to work without being paid, but they will have work experience which may ultimately help them in deciding what they wish to do with their future. Most importantly, they’ll be supervised and if they’re really lucky, they’ll be in the cool air all day. Leaving any child home alone can become the fire to the cloth soaked in gasoline.  

As a single mother, I would seek out adults for my sons to work shadow during the summer holidays. For the oldest son, one work shadow experience helped change his mind about what he thought he wanted to do when he realized it entailed a lot more than he originally thought.  For the youngest son, his working experience began on Monday and as a mother I am overjoyed and relieved to know that a major company has undertaken to give him an opportunity to learn about what they do islandwide while he benefits from learning from skilled tradesmen. 

Sometimes as parents we are required to go the extra mile to make sure our children are adequately supervised. Idle hands are a devil’s workshop. Although cost is involved, be sure to find a tutor for your child to keep basic skills sharp so that come September your child is ready to start the school year with a bang. Many people start the tutoring in August. Send me an email and I can put you in touch with some dynamic tutors! Let’s keep our children safe this summer so that they do not get entangled in mischief. And to the frustrated mother, and all other parents walking in her shoes, I encourage you to keep very close tabs on your child over the summer holiday. n

Shawnette Somner is a mother and educator. Email: ss911@myhome.bm