Young minds, big leaps...

Meenal Arora suggests how children can develop skills to be a part of community development since their infancy

Parents should let children explore their surroundings and allow them to make their own choices and let them embrace failures.

For ages, we have believed and seen parents as the first educators of their children after teachers. In fact, parental support has played a major role in driving a child’s learning and development, especially when it comes to helping them engage with society.

There is a slew of necessary community activities that takes place in every society, and parents should actively encourage their children to be their part from the very childhood days. After all, it is a great way of preparing them to face real-life situations apart from what they learn from books and, of course, the age-old classroom education.

Here’s how parents and teachers can teach children about community involvement and help them to be a part of it:

Allow them to be independent and resilient

Keeping a watch on children and limiting their independence are two different things. Parents should let children explore their surroundings and allow them to make their own choices and let them embrace failures. This would turn them into stronger individuals, especially during the times of adversities. That’s how they would learn to differentiate between the wrong and the right and be resilient enough to face the world even after falling. The best part is, they will start learning from their mistakes from their formative years, instead of learning in their adulthood. Helping children to be responsible at an early age is an effective way to nurture and ignite confidence in them for facing real-life challenges.

Ignite empathy and build a sense of kindness for others

Social skills also involve empathising with others, that is, to listen to people around, care about their feelings, and help them whenever it’s needed. Starting from saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, parents should encourage their children to volunteer in several societal activities and be part of social interactions to have a closer view of the world. Children should also be aware of the things in their surroundings to act upon. For instance, they should learn to respect service people like gatekeepers, policemen, etc, making them feel appreciated for their responsibilities.

Encourage transparency

Parents should develop a transparent home culture to help children freely discuss their personal as well as life problems. Best is to talk about issues during dinner when the entire family sits together. Whatever the child learned in school, what’s his/her perception about the society or any personal problem if s/he is facing, can be discussed during dinner time. This makes the child comfortable towards communicating, discussing and thinking about the problems, and eventually coming out with effective solutions.

Balance theoretical & practical knowledge

Half of the knowledge that a child gains is bookish and involves no practicalities. Thus, it’s the responsibility of both parents and teachers to explain such theories through real-life instances and help children understand better to be able to apply them in real life. Doing so will help them in understanding problems, and accordingly, devise solutions.

Do a quality check

It is important to check how a child learns things and the level of impact s/he is able to bring through his work, instead of just analysing the number of hours s/he spends on a particular task. Every child has a different grasping speed and educators should respect that. They should empathise with them despite their slow speed, and give them more time to understand things by themselves. A better understanding of the context will naturally nurture their quality of work, and help them bring effective results.

These are some of the effective ways to help children engage with society by volunteering in societal activities, and thus understand the world from an early age. How a child learns, sees the world, and eventually becomes a better human truly depends on his/her upbringing, and hence it is equally important to educate parents about the changing world. Moreover, this will ensure that their child undergoes the best learning experiences in their lifetime.

(The author is founder director, Shemford & Shemrock group of schools)

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