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My daughter comes home with a badge pinned to her school uniform: DEPUTY, it says in proud capital letters.
“I’m a deputy teacher”, she tells me. “Miss Jamieson* moved me to sit next to Jack and Max because they don’t behave and I do. It’s mostly the boys who don’t behave so we need to model good behaviour for them.”
She’s not wrong: it is the boys. “Boys will be boys”, they are told. It is the boys who talk during quiet time, wrestle when it comes time for silent reading, tear the art supplies and shout out at assembly. The girls’ learning is interrupted again and again while the teacher deals with their male companions. They are asked to change seats to calm the boys. They are asked to lay down their advanced reading books to help their male friends catch up.
Meanwhile, my daughter is proud of her role as gatekeeper. She stops what she’s doing to shush the boys when they get rowdy. She reports to me after school that Jack is sounding out longer words now, but she’s worried because Max had to sit in the quiet corner and maybe the teacher will take her coveted title away.
It’s that time again; harassed parents across the country are scrambling to buy new shoes for their children as they begin a new school year. My children are particularly difficult to buy for as they both have narrow heels, and have to have properly fitted shoes or risk stepping out of them every time they walk.
This year I tried something different with my eldest child, who’s 7. I’d already had to buy her new trainers earlier in the holidays (it turns out that trainers don’t survive a thorough dunking in mud followed by a good long paddle in the sea. Who knew?) so when I was asked by Start-Rite if my daughter would like to try a pair of their shoes I was over the moon.
In developing countries, the longer girls stay in school, the rosier their future. When girls are educated, they tend to marry later and have fewer children, which improves their chances of surviving childbirth. They are more likely to be able to work, and generate income for their families, and their children are healthier, and more likely to go to school. The knock-on effects of longer schooling for girls is felt by the entire community.
The recently released results of a Kenyan study on menstrual cups and girls’ education show just one of many ways to help girls stay in school.
No, don’t worry. I’m not going to advise you to throw a First Period Party for your daughter. I can only imagine the sheer horror that my daughter would greet this suggestion. It is probably up there with ‘Mum-dancing with my guidance teacher at the school disco in an effort to get all the kids to dance’ on the 1 – 100 scale of embarrassment.
Talking to kids about sex is an important part of parenting, and a part of this is talking to girls about getting their first period. One of the best ways to help your daughter prepare, is to make a First Period Kit.
We are huge fans of YouTube, and the educational benefits for kids. Here’s a great way to spend an afternoon – take one of our #12women books, and search YouTube.
Obviously, you won’t find interviews with Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, because VikingTube didn’t exist, but there are fascinating stories out there, waiting to be discovered. We’ve compiled a child friendly playlist here.
Watch this inspiring interview with Mae Jamison, first female astronaut of colour