Thursday 21 February, 2019

Maverick Seminar prepare children, parents for high school transition

Dr. Patrece Charles, counselling psychologist of the Phoenix Counselling Centre, has the rapt attention of the children attendees at the recent workshop on transitioning from primary to high school held at the Rex Nettleford Multi-Purpose Hall.

Dr. Patrece Charles, counselling psychologist of the Phoenix Counselling Centre, has the rapt attention of the children attendees at the recent workshop on transitioning from primary to high school held at the Rex Nettleford Multi-Purpose Hall.

Scores of students, parents and teachers from across the island participated in Maverick Communications Limited’s (MCL) second Parenting Workshop, held last weekend and left more ready than ever to take on the new school year.

Under the theme, ‘Ready-up Children, Parents & Teachers: Transitioning from Primary to High School’, the seminar had one objective, allay fears and mixed-negative attitudes related to moving onto secondary education. The workshop targeted students who recently sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), grades 6 and 7 teachers from both primary and secondary schools respectively, as well as parents and caregivers. The feedback from guests was nothing but favourable.

“I learned how to survive in high school,” said Amala Dixon, who recently graduated from Immaculate Preparatory School and who will be joining other first-formers at Campion College come September. Along with her, close to 30 others expressed appreciation for the presentation done by Dr Patrece Charles, Child Counselling Psychologist and CEO of the Phoenix Counselling Centre, who explained the high school landscape, how to traverse “big school” and how to be successful. Dr. Charles touched on topics like bullying, how to master academics and the importance of respecting teachers and school rules.

Teachers were also impressed by the workshop, and particularly by their facilitator, Dr Leahcim Semaj, Transformation Psychologist who spoke to the fact that students develop at different rates. The score of teachers exchanged experiences from their various institutions and keenly took notes as Semaj helped them understand how best to care for the individual needs of each student leaving primary school and those entering high school. Samuel Morrison from the May Pen Primary School said he enjoyed the session.

“It was exceptional. Dr Semaj was quite inspirational. He reminded us as teachers what it is that we need to do to get to the students and how we need to bring parents on board so that we can better empower the students and parents for a successful tomorrow,” he said, adding, “There are many things that I got from the experience, but there’s this one thing I wanted to carry back to my workplace to share with teachers that says ‘In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves. That is what makes them successful human beings.’ ” 

A section of the large audience that attended Maverick Communications Limited's workshop on transitioning from primary to high school. The gathering saw a mixed audience of children, parents and teachers benefiting from expert facilitators: Drs. Patrece Charles, counselling psychologist and Leachim Semaj, transformational specialist  along with Ms. Kaysia Kerr executive director, National Parenting Support Commission.

Having staged a successful parenting workshop last October, MCL saw a need. With the goal of enhancing parents’ skills to better support their children, the workshop also sought to provide parents with the tools required to alleviate their children’s anxiety.  Actionable strategies were also provided for parents to survive this daunting primary to secondary transition.  Given too, that transition at this stage not only speaks to moving onto high school but so too, puberty, a corresponding stage of physical development.  It is already understood that there are the challenges associated with that phase of a child’s development for which parents must be ready to shift their parenting styles.

Kaysia Kerr, Executive Director, National Parenting Support Commission shared insights, tips and encouragement with the parents present. Several mommies and daddies also engaged Kerr in discussions and about child rearing and how to best cope with the challenges that will come with teen years and adolescence. Some 65 parents listened intently as they shared their own experiences in high school, the fears they had and how they plan to now help their children. 

“She opened up some of what to expect at the high school level and some of the challenges, but not just the bad things but also the good things that will be happening and how to approach them,” said Stacy-Ann Byrosingh-Zodge whose son will be taking the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exam next year. Also a teacher at St. Andrew High School for Girls, Byrosingh-Zodge explained that she knows the difficulty children experience in making a smooth transition to high school.  “He’s attending a very small school, so I know it would be an even bigger challenge moving into the high school,” she said of her son.

The session held at the Rex Nettleford Multi-purpose Room, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, concluded with panel discussion with all the presenters, where even more insights and recommendations were given to the combined group.

“We are beyond proud to have put on this seminar and look forward to doing more engagements like these in the future,” said Melody Cammock-Gayle, CEO, MCL. “We are in full support of aiding both parents and child development through sessions like these and are poised to help parents and teachers get involved in the lives of the nation’s future leaders. We are thankful to our sponsors and all who came out to make this session a thrilling success for all.”

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