In honor of Mother’s Day, BlackEnterprise.com spoke with Roseline Ekeh (pronounced a-YAY-kay), the mother of Harold Ekeh who splashed across media outlets earlier this spring after learning he had been accepted into all eight schools in the Ivy League.
After meeting young Ekeh and being impressed with his kindness and confidence as well as his intelligence, I had to ask his mother–how did she raise such a son?
But first a little background. Roseline Ekeh and her husband and four sons (their fifth son was born here) came to the U.S. from Lagos, Nigeria, when Harold, the oldest, was 8. Although the family spoke English, their accents were so strong that it was difficult for Americans to understand them. “Even in the church, people did not want to talk to us,” Roseline said. “Someone asked me, ‘Do you speak English in your country?’ I answered, ‘But what am I speaking?’”
She and her husband persevered, however, setting an example for their children not to give up. When Harold was little, other children at the playground did not want to play with him because they couldn’t understand him. “But he did not give up. He did not isolate himself. He kept going out to the playground,” Ekeh says.
The family moved to Elmont, New York, on the advice of a friend who recommended the town’s schools. “We were looking for high performance,” Ekeh says.
It looks as if they’ve found it.
10 Ways to Raise Your Child to Excel in the Words of Roseline Ekeh:
- Your children learn by watching you, so set a good example.
- The family that prays together stays together. We keep our children busy with the things of the Lord. Harold is a drummer in the church. Another son plays guitar. Another is in charge of displaying the songs. They are in the choir.
- We taught them to love God and to love man, to help others and to be kind. We taught them to smile. Your smile can change the mood of a person.
- We taught them to give back to the community. Harold has been tutoring younger children since he was in elementary school.
- We taught them that America is a blessed country, and to be a problem solver and to help solve its problems.
- Support what your children love to do. Encourage them. See what your child has a passion for and support it.
- Do not give them everything they want. Most of what they want is unnecessary. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Will the toy they want take up their time? Then don’t give it to them.
- Prioritize your time.
- Each child has chores.
- Know your children’s friends. Encourage them to bring their friends to your house and to discuss their studies.