Mdm Fathima (pictured here with her family) is the chairperson for the St Andrew's Junior School Rugby Parents Group.
Do you stand by and watch when you see groups of boys pushing, shoving, grabbing one another's thighs and pulling at each other's shorts?
Of course! And it would be even better if you cheer them on with gusto too, especially if it's happening during a scrum in a rugby game.
That's what the St Andrew's Junior School Rugby Parents Group (RPG) did this year with an annual RPG Cup tournament, held to coincide with the Primary One registration exercise. Having an RPG Cup taps into the St Andrew's family of schools' long and proud tradition in rugby. Just as the hookers for each side win the ball during the put-in, the rugby tournament has won the hearts of the young boys as they watch their big brothers duke it out.
But it's not all about punts and passes on the pitch.
While the boys were sweating it out in the rugby matches, the Parent Support Groups (PSGs) from St Andrew's Village were busy on the sidelines telling other parents about the school and raising funds for the needy rugby boys by selling food. Mdm Fathima Mohietheen, the chairperson for the St Andrew's Junior School RPG, beams as she recalls the enthusiastic response they received. "The big show with a big bang was a huge success! Since then, the RPG Cup tournament has become an annual event."
Forging a closer bond
Mdm Fathima has a son each in St Andrew's Junior School and St Andrew's Secondary School, and she is an active member of the PSGs at both schools. Being the "big mamma" to boys (not just her sons) in two different schools has given her a better understanding of their psyche. She says, "In the junior school, we are handling kids and we have to be very sensitive to their feelings, treating all the children like our own. In the secondary school, these young teenagers want to be treated like adults."
Through PSG activities, Mdm Fathima (seen here with her family) has developed a closer bond with her sons.
A closer bond with their children is just one of the benefits parents gain from being involved in PSGs. Parents can also partner with the schools to support their children's learning more effectively, and being involved in PSGs facilitates and promotes interaction among members of the Parent-Teacher Association.
Keeping involvement flexible
Welcoming more parents to help in any way they can, Mdm Fathima stresses that parents have the freedom to decide on their level of engagement. As a working mother herself, she understands that the lack of time is the main obstacle to more parents being involved in PSGs. "Perhaps parents may want to come forward on an ad-hoc basis where they can assist when they have the time."
At St Andrew's Junior School, they've found a way to circumvent that obstacle - forget about having to attend long, dreary meetings! Instead, the RPG relies on email to communicate with parents. Mdm Fathima says, "We email information about all the activities to the parents." This allows them to pick and choose activities that fit their schedules. Using email also allows all the parents to keep in touch constantly.
Lest one thinks that PSG involvement is all work and no play, Mdm Fathima reveals yet another great enticing bonus for parents who get involved. "At the end of the year, we enjoy ourselves at the Season closing gathering where all the boys from the St Andrew's Village - junior, secondary and junior college levels - get together for a barbecue." It's an irresistible combo: food, fun games and good company. And Mdm Fathima makes a good case for parents to get involved. "At the end of the day, parental involvement makes their children's education a more meaningful journey."