All too frequently our society expects educators to assume the complete responsibility for a child’s education. This may include not only the academic subjects – such as reading, writing, and arithmetic – but also social skills, moral values and even such things as responsibility and development of self-discipline.
Many researchers in education believe that approximately 50 percent of a child’s mental ability is developed by age 5. Parents can be of tremendous help to teachers before the child ever goes to school by providing enriching experiences at home and by teaching proper manners and social skills to the child.
Expecting Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers to do all the work is a real cop-out by parents. To make matters even worse, many children watch as much as seven hours of television a day and are exposed to material that is definitely unhealthy for normal psychological development.
Reading to a child, playing educational games, even tossing a ball around in the back yard are developmental skills that provide the proper environment for a preschooler. Exploring the marvels of a dandelion in its parachutes or a roly-poly crawling on a child’s hand provide opportunities for stimulating parent-child discussions. Telling a child a story while sitting in the back yard on a summer night creates lasting positive memories.
Experiences like these help the creative potential within the child to bloom. They surround the two of you with the special essence of a parent-child relationship that is found in healthy families. This unique and special relationship lays the groundwork for the openness in communication that is necessary for a parent and adolescent to get through the stormier and often difficult period of the teen years. No amount of money or acquisition of material things can replace the feelings that are created between a parent and child in the quiet moments where feelings transcend any spoken word.
To continue the special relationship after a child enters school; parents can do many things to help the educational process.
- Show a strong interest in your child’s academic studies. Go over homework assignments in a very positive and nurturing manner. Talk about the things that your child is studying and show a true interest in these subjects. Get out the family encyclopedia and read a little further with your child. Encourage a definite time for study. This is the basis for good study skills.
- Take an active part in school activities, such as carnivals, class parties and field trips. Children notice if their parents are interested in their school. If permitted, go to school and have lunch with your child. This goes a long way in making them feel special.
Attend PTA meetings and take an active part in a child’s homeroom. This serves to establish lines of home and school communication. Having a teachers’ appreciation dinner can certainly let the school know how parents feel about teachers.
Participating in parent-teacher conferences is imperative. If problems arise between conferences, parents should request a time to talk with school personnel as soon as possible after a problem occurs.
- If your child is not doing well in school, show a willingness to develop a plan with the teachers and other school personnel. They are specialists in education and, with your help, may effect a positive change in your child. Sometimes a tutor or outside help may be necessary, but simply spending more time with your child in certain academic subjects will help remedy many difficulties.
- Be positive in talking about your child’s school, his teachers and principal. Let the child know that “you” value the efforts of the school personnel and back them in their efforts.
- Develop a network of communication with other parents at your child’s school to assess their views on what could be done to help the educational process.
- During the summer encourage your child to read and continue some educational activity. Many libraries or junior colleges have summer programs for children. Books are available to help parents plan summertime activities for a child’s educational well-being. Summer is a wonderful time for exploring special interests.
Education is a life-long process which begins in the home with the parents as the first teacher. Cooperating with other teachers as the child develops and matures broadens the educational process and bond relationships already established. Working with others in a positive manner enhances the parent’s goal of developing a child’s potential. Parent-teacher co-operation is a highly desirable parenting skill.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright 1984