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February 21, 2018 Wednesday 05:28:02 PM IST

FAMILY:A LEARNING ECOSYSTEM

Lifestyle

Contemporary research into the  process of education points to a broad spectrum and interplay of related subjects such as cognitive learning, psychological development, personality, physical and mental development, learning and learning technology, speech, language and linguistic neuroplasticity, social interaction, emotional intelligence and so on. Not only is education interdisciplinary, it is also essentially a collaborative endeavour.

 

In a win-win format, all stakeholders, namely, students, parents, teachers, and community cooperate and collaborate in the educative process, the fundamental aimof which is to bring out the best in every child, both academic excellence and character formation in a holistic and age-specific manner.

 


The importance of parental involvement in children’s education, especially at the primary level, is the focus of our attention.

 

Parental involvement assures children that education is not a lonely affair and that it is a collaborative endeavour among the student, the family, the school, and the community. In the initial phase, the active involvement of parents is crucial for the little learners to take up the hazardous and adventurous journey called education in an enjoyable manner. In this sense parents are the cornerstones. It is the parents who meaningfully connect the two seemingly disparate worlds of school and home. Besides, parents can and must engage in activities with their child, activities that intellectually stimulate and lead to priming the child’s brain with curiosity and kindling their love for learning.

 


At the early stage of education what is highly effective in the learning process is targeted involvement, such as active participation by the parents in the development of the child’s literacy and reading skills, ability to sight words, and letter-sound recognition skills, among other skills. Parental involvement at the primary level seems so effective and far-reaching that it pays dividends in the long term, at the high school level and beyond.

 

Although academic achievement and classroom activities take centrestage, we must consider what happens before and after classroom, that is, what happens at home. Parents’ involvement has been credited with academic achievement along with social, behavioural, and emotional development, although the former is the prime focus of the attention and anguish of most parents.

 


The most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status but the extent to which that student’s family is able toget involved in a meaningful and effective way in his/her process of education. This can be achieved in three ways: 1) By creating a home environment that encourages learning; 2) Expressing optimum (not unrealistic) expectations for their children’s achievement (immediate goal) and future careers; 3) By getting involved in the children’s education at school and in the community. Parental activities that are effectively planned and well implemented result in substantial benefits for children, parents, educators, and the school (Henderson & Berla, 1994).

 

The road blocks to effective parental involvement are many. Some of the more common responses are: “Due to demanding schedule, no time to spare”, “Uncomfortable communicating with school officials”, “We lack the know-how and resources to help children”, “They (school) don’t understand our problems”, “Children are overwhelmed with extra-curricular activities” and so on. However, more serious concerns emerge from the family’s own inner dynamics, such as marital conflict, the differing values and attitudes the two parents hold regarding education, and the aspirations they nurture for their children.

 


Giving time and attention to children’s education should be of utmost priority for all parents. Parents act as learning coaches through guidance and reminders and help organise their children’s time besides supporting their desires to learn new things in and out of school.

 

Though the role of parents in their children’s learning evolves as the children grow, one thing remains constant: we are our children’s learning models.

 


Our attitudes about education can inspire theirs and show them how to take charge of their own journey of education. The family, for sure, is an evolving learning ecosystem.


Psy. Dr. Jose Cletus Plackal

Licensed clinical psychologist, BET-MRT, Jeevas Centre, Aluva, Kerala.

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