Parenting in education

Parenting in education

Parenting in education

More than ever before societies across the world are realising the importance of parenting in education.

 ‘Parenting,’ observes Amanda Ripley, author of the recently published remarkable book The Smartest Kids in the World, ‘like drive and diligence, was often ignored in international studies of education ... More involved families had children with higher grades, better test scores, improved behaviour. 

Indians continue to take pride in ‘family culture’ as opposed to, according to them, a near absence of that culture in the west. Like charity, education begins at home. if education begins at home, what needs to be done? No family is ideal, no parents are worth deification, no child is perfect. With all possible human shortcomings what can parents do to provide a conducive atmosphere for their children to develop as educated individuals? Research suggests that it is not school curriculum, or state spending, family splurging or government control that matters in a child’s development. 

The fundamental difference, it appears, is psychological. In other words, parental conduct at home mattered more than anything else. For instance, it is universally acknowledged that parents reading to young children (the genius of most geniuses is often attributed to their mothers reading them bed-time stories) had them performing better than parents who did no reading. 

Ripley observes in her book that ‘.. at least one high-impact form of parental involvement did not actually involve kids or schools at all. If parents simply read for pleasure at home on their own, their children were more likely to enjoy reading, too. Kids could see what parents valued, and it mattered more than what parents said.

 Involvement in what their children did is also important, researchers point out. For instance, making serious inquiries about what their children are reading often had greater positive impact than merely congratulating the child for finishing a book. A simple phone call from otherwise busy parents inquiring their child’s daily schedule/homework went a long way in impacting their children’s work ethics. 
Make or break

Indian parents give the impression that they are willing to go to great lengths and make immense “sacrifices” for their children’s prospects. 

What they mean is that they are willing to splurge more than required even for basic qualification. For aspiring engineers, doctors and scientists a high-school/PUC education in a ‘reputed’ institution costs no less than a lakh (excluding private tuitions which can cost another lakh or so). But is this a mere impression of sacrifice? I have no doubt that young parents (with pre-teen children) are spending more time with their children shopping, watching cricket, eating out etc. than their parents did. 

They are also undoubtedly more “friendly” with their children than their parents were, or could dream of, with them. But how involved are they in their child’s life? What do they know about their child’s likes and dislikes, their friends, their interests, their books, their sources of information among other things? 

Do they even care to ask their children how they spent their day in school, and what they learnt? Do they know what teachers teaches which subject and how much is being learnt? What value system are they imparting to their children by their actions (parking in the wrong place, or bribing a cop, or cheating on tax and then making excuses)? 

How do parents spend their leisure? Do they spend time reading books and involving family in intelligent conversations on daily topics? Do they care to plan their children’s vacation or leave it for someone else to do, or even worse, leave the children to waste it in frivolous activities? Parental involvement and example matter not mere camaraderie and advice. Barbara Bush, former American President George Bush Sr’s wife reminded her fellow citizens that much of what happens in the White House begins with what happens in your house. 

How true! How involved are you as a parent? What example are you setting for your children? Are you willing to learn to be a parent? Are you willing to delay becoming a parent until you have learnt the basics of parenting? In the current socio-cultural milieu parenting, perhaps, is the most challenging task one can undertake. Parents can make or break lives.

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