KUWAIT: REACH Education is an educational and achievement center catering to children with learning, behavioral and academic difficulties, along with providing advice on parenting and teaching skills. "When I decided to open a center for learning difficulties, parenting and teaching, and started working on it, I came up with everything, the name, colors, etc. I can close my eyes and be in my office right now," said Dr Abdulaziz Abal, founder of REACH Education, adding he did not expect to see a large number of cases.
"Parenting is not standardized in Kuwait," Dr Abal said. He bemoaned the strange ideas and wrong beliefs some parents and the community have, such as beating children for eating with their left hands or punishing them by burning them with cigarette butts. On the other hand, "Some couples come to me due to their deep sense of keenness, asking about the decisions and choices they can make for their unborn child," Abal said.
He believes that children are very confused by the contradictions they see at home, school and their environment. For example, pouncing on the child screaming and reprimanding him when he confesses that he's done something wrong, after assuring him that anything can be told to parents freely and openly. Another example is lying. "Don't lie to your mom and dad - but you can lie to other people. Or, you will be sent to hell if you lie - however, just in case someone asks, don't tell them we're going to Dubai, say that you are ill!" lamented Dr Abal.
School, too, is a pivotal influence that refines a child's behaviors and constitutes his personality. "Not all teachers have reached the stage to become tutors," Dr Abal remarked. "A good teacher strives in learning the latest education and illustration methods by attending courses to keep abreast of developments in this area. Beside, human beings are unique; they have different ways of learning, different circumstances, different characters and different personalities. A successful teacher is one who can adapt and know all these things and channel the information towards this unique person," he added.
"When you think of your child's wellbeing academically or socially, REACH is a place where both parents and teachers can get help. We provide educational and nutritional consultations. My wife works here too and my father provides psychological consultations. In addition, we have occupational therapy as we deal with ADHD, autism and learning disabilities and difficulties. Our team works very closely with the family and becomes part of it. Also, we provide support for the child by sending someone with him to school and sit in the classroom to take notes and work with the teacher if his case is unique and needs to be dealt with in a certain way," Dr Abal explained. "Private schools are cooperative in this regard. However, we do not know about public schools as we have never dealt with any," he added.
It is crucial to create an environment that encourages the child to learn at home and at school. Children learn by mistakes and imitation. More important is to give them space and time to notice and comprehend. "We have to let them get bored, encourage them to be curious and ask questions. What you want for your children is to go through life in the best way possible - to become not just successful, but happy and healthy too. These are the two things you want your kids to be most," stressed Abal. Dr Abal obtained his PhD in curriculum and instruction in 2012. He also works as an educational consultant and assistant professor of education at the American University of Kuwait.
By Athoob Al-Shuaibi