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05 Jan 2015

Masesi's Approach to Parenting: Involve Your Kids in Lifelong Learning

A healthy family makes a healthy society.

This is the greatest lesson Masesi Masilela has learned about parenting. Her approach to parenting, community, and life in general is both simple and beautiful – we do what we can, we reach out to and for help, and we never stop learning.

Masesi and her husband Lawrence moved to Canada from South Africa in 2008. With their two small children, they left all they had and all they knew to move to Saskatoon – in the middle of February no less!

“It was so cold!” Masesi recalls. “My husband is out of town often for work. So here I am – two young children, I know no one, and I find myself in the middle of a Canadian winter.”

What did Masesi do?

“I taught myself to drive!” she laughs. “Sometimes you do things because you just don’t have a choice, and later you look back and think ‘what was I thinking!?’”

Finding Herself in Community

Masesi was also quick to seek ways of getting into the community. Within two weeks of coming to Canada, she signed up for READ Saskatoon’s Romp 'n' READ class. What she found there was life-changing.

“When I went the very first time, I just thought ‘this is where I belong!’” she says, “My children found belonging, and I fit in with the other parents in the program.”

From the very start, the program offered her so much.

“The program was crucial for me to find out what this country is all about. It was the right place at the right time. My head was already spinning and it helped me find my footing.”

“I only knew Walmart!” she laughs, “People helped teach me about other places I could go, like the farmers' market, CHEP, and other community organisations. This was community coming around me and helping me find my way.”

Masesi has more than found her way. She was an active participant in READ Saskatoon programming as long as her children were young enough. Since they have outgrown some of the early programs, Masesi has begun volunteering at READ Saskatoon to help facilitate programs like Romp 'n' READ and Alphabet Soup. She even brings her two children along to help.

Involving Your Children

Masesi homeschools her children – son Mpumelelo who is 10 and daughter Sthandiwe who is 8 not only get their academic roots from their mother, but also important community involvement and life skills lessons.

“It’s the application of books and learning,” says Masesi, “How to cook. How to clean. How to interact with other people. I teach my children that we should be a pleasure to be around, and that in order to be a responsible adult, we need to learn these basic things about the world and about other people.”

Masesi’s children are heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the household. They not only help with cooking and cleaning, but are in charge of making grocery lists and doing the shopping.

“I come along, of course,” says Masesi, “I hold the debit card! But it is up to them to make a plan. And we stick to our list!”

The grocery list, Masesi believes, is crucial in helping teach your children how to be responsible. You don’t get things you don’t need, and don’t spend money you don’t have.

Finding Yourself in Learning

It is simple lessons like this that make Masesi’s approach to family, community and literacy so refreshing.

“Sometimes being a parent means getting out of your comfort zone. Do I really want to go out in the cold to throw snow balls? No! But in doing that simple activity, you give your children and yourself so much more than you could imagine. It reminds your children that you are more than just a mom who cooks and cleans, and it reminds yourself that you never stop learning.”

This family is one that extends beyond the boundaries of just parents and children. It is one that encapsulates the entire community. It is in this place that you will find your place in the world, where you will better understand your role in your own family, and get to better know yourself.

“When you get out into the community, you’ll find what you need,” says Masesi. “You find a sense of belonging when you are with other people. In the end, it is not what you do, and what they do, but what we all can do together that makes the world a better place.”

You Can’t Afford Not To Be Involved

Masesi believes that programs like those offered through READ Saskatoon are paramount in building this community.

“We need these programs. Everyone in our community needs these programs. Mothers, fathers, Canadian born, or immigrant families. These programs are here at our fingertips, but we need even more support for parents and families.”

“Please get involved!” Masesi urges, “You can’t afford not to. There is more to life than our own little space. Bringing community together in this way makes your family stronger. And we never stop learning. Ever!” 

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