Teachers and Step Families

10 February 2015 03:08 pm Family 1 By Sirohmi Gunesekera

Mali braced herself and told her new teacher that she did not have a mother but only a stepmother. The teacher was taken aback but took it in her stride and smiled and told Mali that she was lucky to have a Mum at home.  “It doesn’t matter that she is not your own mother. Just welcome her and try not to be too difficult.” advised the kind teacher.

Broken homes

Teachers can influence a child in many ways. There are some text books which have wisely included a reference to a step father or mother and to a half brother so that children from broken homes can feel more comfortable. The nuclear unit of the family is still the first nurturing ground for a child and it is time that the authorities broadened out the concept to include a divorce, a second or third marriage and half brothers and sisters. A teacher is a second mother or father to a child for he spends a good part of his time in school. A teacher should therefore be careful to warmly include all kinds of children into the school family and should not lay down the law regarding calling a stepfather by his name or simply “Daddy”. That decision should come from the family unit itself and it all depends on how well the new family members adjust to each other. BRB9H5 Teacher and school children looking at plant seedlings in classroom

Time

It takes time for a new teacher to get to know her students and there may be some children who do not have a father as he may have gone away or died in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict. Perhaps the teacher could take a little time off to relate a story about a mother struggling alone and about the welcome arrival of a stepfather. She should not draw conclusions but leave the question open so the students can respond warmly to the situation and make each child feel loved and wanted. It is important for the teacher to meet the parent and interact and the parent must also be frank and inform the teacher about the stepmother so the teacher can adjust and fit the child into the new equation. The teacher should be trained not to have prejudices and in her position as class teacher, she should be broadminded and welcome every child into the classroom family.

Extra kind

A teacher must go out of her way and be extra kind if she senses that a student feels the lack of a parent or even of a sibling. But she must also maintain a sense of balance and make all the children in her class want to learn irrespective of the family situation. Children adjust and adults must do what they can to make the child’s school career carefree. A child can be rewarded for doing the class exercise well and be given a star. Another star can be earned for Good Behaviour or Helping Another Child. Gradually, a child who fares well in school can be made to forget the family situation and its shortcomings. “The future lies before you, like a path of untrodden  snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every mark will show.” Is a verse from an autograph album and each child in the class should be given the freedom to make his or her school career an illustrious one. Family 3 (All names are fictitious,Images Courtesy Internet)  

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