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May 02, 2019 Thursday 04:21:51 PM IST

Education Begins at Home

“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” - Carl Jung. 

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin

“ painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning, ...  by praise, but above all - by example.”- John Ruskin

Parents have a paramount role in the education of their children. Encouragement and support for learning while at home and involvement in their education at school are all very important. An effective partnership between parents, families and schools hold the key. For a child, the parent is his/ her first and continuing teacher. Engaging with parents is important for the success of imparting education by teachers as well. Research evidence shows thatparental involvement leads to good education, higher grades, advanced learning and lesser drop-outs from schools. In addition to educational achievements, parental involvement leads to good behaviour and better adaptation at school, greater involvement in school work, improved realisation of the value of education and a greater sense of personal competence and efficacy of learning. Development of better social skills in children is an added advantage.

Undoubtedly, a child’s education starts at home. Parents are thefirst teachers of the child; they also mould the child’s character. A good balance of education at school and home facilitates better learning. Parents have to inspire their children and have to travel with them in their educational journey. Most successful students tell the story of parental encouragement not only at home but also while they are at school.

According to the ecological systems theory of development, the development of a child takes place at home, school and in the community; whereby the child is at the centre and hence parents, schoolteachers, home, community, and peers have a greater impact on the academic performance of a student at school. Parental involvement in schooling is a very old phenomenon practised worldwide to improve the quality of education. It refers to a situation where parents are directly involved in theeducation of their children. The involvement can be by themselves orby the school and teachers. It involves giving assistance in the process of learning, helping the children with their homework, preparing school uniform, buying learning resources for the child, attending school activities that are relevant to school performance, paying school fees, encouraging the children to progress into higher education,communicating with children and school properly to have a healthy relationship with them and not just enquiring about the performance in schools.It’s from the parent that the child first learns the meaning and definition of religious gestures and symbols. The children observe as to how their parents respond to the society and later relate to the world by themselves.

The primary factors that contribute to the decision of a parent to become involved in the academic activities include role-construction, self-efficacy and invitations while at a second level, the available choices of involvement in activities also play a role. The changing structure of the family can affect parental involvement and the child’s achievement. According to Motsinger (1990), “having two parents will give a student a 200% better chance at success in school.” However, the illiterate parents may not be able to provide the support as expected. Socio economic class is also a concern in this regard.

According to Epstein, the first type of parental involvement is parenting which includes providing a home environment that fosters learning and also behavioural resources of the parent (positive attitude, caring and expectations). Home-school communication is Epstein’s second type of parental involvement that provide an opportunity for parents and teachers to discuss about the child and his relevant school and home atmosphere. The third type of parental involvement is volunteering, in classrooms, sporting events, concerts and in fund-raising activities.Parents of elementary school children are more likely to get involved with their children’s education with a tendency to withdraw themselves as the child progresses to secondary school. High school children, whose parents are actively involved with their schooling, have a higherrate of acquiring graduation.

Benefits of parental involvement

Parents should be involved in their children’s education as early as possible.The most effective form of parental involvement is engagement in the learning activities at home. Involvement of parents improves academic performance. It will also help the children to be ready to learn, more focused in their school work andactive. They learn to be punctual and persistent. They prevent themselves from bunking classes, and will be willing to take up responsibilities and organise plans to achieve them. The children will have an improved self-esteem andpositive social behaviour. Parents can also help in fostering a wide range of cognitive and effective activities. The children who feel supported by their parents are less likely to experience emotional distress, drug abuse, attempted suicide or disengagement from learning.

Barriers to parental involvement

Communication: Communication in schools, tend to be a one- sided power relationship from school to the family, often following a misconduct of the child.  The main barriers for an effective communication include the parent’s inability to assist learners with their schoolwork as well as language barriers. Parent whose mother tongue is different from the school’s medium of instruction or from that of the educators, they may feel inadequate and find it difficult to be involved with school related activities.

Multiple life-demands: Parents often find it difficult to balance and manage the multiple demands on their time and resources. Long and unpredictable work hours often prevent their involvement. The school functions are often held at hours that are inconvenient for them.  Other difficulties include transport difficulties and far distances to travel to the school. Unemployment among parents make them unable to provide books and other learning materials essential for the learner’s success. Parents’ level of education is another factor that discourages them from helping their children with schoolwork.

Socio-economic background: Parents living in poverty are less likely to be involved in school related activities than parents who come from a more middle class family. It is also true that schools in poor socio-economic communities may not be able to encourage parental involvement like those from more affluent communities. Hence schools should understand the community they serve to provide better service.

Effective parental involvement

Parents can be involved in their children's learning by becoming part of school boards, expressing concerns about their children's academic performance, getting themselves available during parents’ meetings, having regular follow-ups with children's subjectteachers in order to identify their strengths and deficiencies, listening to the child as they read at home, helping them in completing their homework, attending education workshops for parents, involving in children’s sports, arts and other extracurricular activities andproviding guidelines for schools.Encouraging a strong partnership between the home and the school is necessary.Teachers may make use of newsletters, report cards, memorandums, telephone calls, accessible internet software to parents, home visits, and parent-teacher conferences to improve the school- parent communication. How a child is treated at home is very important.

Recommendations for parents

1.      Parents as role-models: Parents should be able to inspire their children, realising the fact that they are the first teachers of their children. Show them how exciting and meaningful a school life can be if they give out their best. Inspiration, friendly guidance and help are the essential tools.

2.    Reading together:  This will give them support and confidence. Reading the lessons together is one of the best ways to be close with the child’s learning at school. This not only improves their vocabulary but instils interest in them to read more. It is also a good idea to visit the library together and share quality books to help them get additional knowledge than classroom lessons.

3.    Overseeing the child: Parents should keep an eye on the child’s activity in school and home. Their general habits are closely linked to how they perform in their studies. Help them to be more organised with their daily routine and find enough time for the lessons.

4.    No over work: Children should not be burdened with too much studies at home. Balancing the time between lessons, play time and rest is important to have a quality student life.

5.     Congenial atmosphere: Children should be provided with a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere at home.  It is best to avoid discussing family problems or conflicts in the presence of children. Both father and mother have a responsibility in this.

6.    Healthy criticism: If the child is not performing well or giving less importance to studies, correct them at the beginning itself.Parents should always avoid derogatory or abusive words. Make the child understand what is right and wrong rather than simply blaming them. The children should be given peace of mind and any criticism should only be healthy and constructive.

7.     Home assignments: Helping children with home work and other assignments will increase their morale. But parents should not take over children’s work. Do lessons together and help them with tips and guidance in doing the assignments better.

8.    Preparing for examination: When it is their exam time, don’t leave them alone with their lessons. Help them to prepare for the tests with good guidance and support. Giving sample tests at home and helping them with learning subjects which are difficult, are very helpful.

9.    Motivation and rewards:  When children perform very well, parents can give them useful rewards. But flooding them with rewards for ordinary performance might be harmful, as it may destroy the ‘killer instinct’ to perform excellently, especially in very bright students.

10.            Educational trips: Trips with parents can be very useful, especially to places or areas of the child’s interest. Occasional trips to museums and zoos would also help them to interact with the nature and learn new things.

11.   Parent-Teacher meetings: They are very important. Keeping a good interaction with child’s teachers will be very useful in planning child’s studies better.

12. Time for children: Parents should set apart time for their children, even if they are very busy with their own professional work. Children should not be left lonely at home. Eat together and play with them during free-time and go for occasional leisure trips to free up their mind.

13.Monitor learning:Monitoring at home is very important. Instead of forcing children to learn, affectionate guidance is most suitable. Parents should know what the child is doing and not doing. Have a check on their leisure time, especially if their performance is poor.

14.Prioritise child’s learning: Children should be encouraged to attend classes regularly and they should not be held back to attend other events at home. Study life is an important phase of a kid and parents should give enough importance to it when deciding on other matters. Make it a priority and avoid unnecessary trips or functions that can affect their study schedule.

15. Sharing with children:It is good to share some of our own school life experiences with children. This can include positive and negative experiences to help them understand the importance of learning. Also inspire them with your success stories to teach them about the importance of hard work and how it pays you back.

16.Learning as a joyful experience: Make learning a pleasurable activity by devising interesting ways. Utilize travelling time and playing time to help them memorize and revise the difficult subject areas with some quizzes, debates, tricks, etc.

17. Talking with children: Spend enough time every day to talk to your child even if you have tight schedules. Learn from them about their concerns or doubts about any happenings in and out of school. Make sure that they are not worried about any thoughts or scary things and give them moral support for the problems they are facing.

18.Active learning:It has to be encouraged. It is different from sedentary learning. Parents can take initiatives to help children form a good friends’ circle and organize interesting activities. This helps them to see learning as lively and help them in forming good peer relationships.

19. Relaxation:In addition to the busy study schedule and play time, make sure that they are getting proper rest at the end of the day. Help them to relax with a good night’s sleep and proper food. Take effort to know your child’s areas of interests and include them in the holiday time to give them a good relief from the stress of studies.

20.          Parent as friend to the child: Children should see their parents as good and intimate friends. Encouraging children to share their experiences, their joys, frustrations and difficulties will help not only education but also strengthen child-parent relationships. The child should be told, the parent will be extending a helping hand whatever be the mistake or in the worst circumstances. This will strengthen their character and promote positive personality growth and development.


Besides school learning, parent’s active role during their study life can help them to grow up with better social skills and improved behaviour. Students with good support from home have achieved better grades at school and grown up with a higher self-esteem. Ideal or good parental involvement is characterised by building up trust, spending sufficient time with the children and being able to go down to their developmental level in order to talk to them about life and perceive things from the children’s point of view. This requires a certain amount of sacrifice on the part of the parent!

Prof Roy Abraham Kallivayalil & Dr Soumya P Thomas

*Prof. Roy Abraham Kallivayalil MD,DPM
Secretary General, World Psychiatric Association   
Professor & Head, Dept of Psychiatry

Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences,  

Tiruvalla, Kerala- 689 101, India


**Dr Soumya P Thomas MD

Senior Resident

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