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Enhancing The Effectiveness Of Parent Education

Entering primary school is an important childhood milestone, marking the beginning of a child’s formal education. ‘Parent engagement’ means, being positively involved and active in your child’s learning. Effective parent and family engagement in education is not just participation in school meetings and school organised activities, but it is actively engaging with your child’s learning, both at  home  and at school. When schools and families work together, children do better and stay in school longer. Parent engagements are also important because it is associated with improvements across a range of indicators like better education outcomes, enhanced engagement with school work, more regular school attendance, better behaviour, and increased social skills.

One of the most effective ways parents and families can help children to do better at school is to make sure, they go to school every day. School attendance has a major influence on educational outcomes. The first institution of a child where he learns is his home. A child spends most of his time with his parents and learns from his parents and the environment provided to him by his parents at home. In school, the parent’s personal experience with education probably is most important and every parent’s concern being ‘is my child getting proper education to compete and thrive in our world?’ Most parents have an opinion on what is right and even more vocalized, what is wrong with the school system.

What complicates this thought further is  the fact that most of us were educated   by teachers who engaged in 20th century pedagogy and methodology and since we are now almost halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, we need to get parents up there by educating them about the education of their children. For example: a teacher cannot be judged by the amount of homework assigned, quiet and complicated kids are not necessarily signs of students engaged in learning, the teacher’s content expertise should no longer be the controlling or limiting factor in a student’s education, all learning is not limited to the classroom and perhaps we also do not need rows of desks to ensure attention.

My institutional view of non-participating parents remains based on a model that states “Those who need to come, don’t come.” More often than not, a parent’s own school experience may create obstacles in involvement. I once heard a parent say, “They expect me to go to school so they can tell me that my kid is an underperformer. They have been telling me that for past three years, so why should I go and hear it again?” This father’s experiences created mistrust and prevented him from participating more fully in his son’s education.

Parents who have dropped out of school do not feel confident in school  settings. The need to support their families or care for siblings at home, these parents’ limited schooling makes it difficult for them to help their children with homework beyond the pre-school. For some parents, this situation is compounded by language barriers and lack of written literacy skills. Time constraints are also a primary obstacle for parents whose work doesn’t allow them the autonomy and flexibility of professional positions. Parents who don’t speak fluent English often feel inadequate in school contexts.

Today, educators are doing many things that are not in the education experiences of parents and sometimes teachers too. Parents need to be educated about these new dynamics. Age may produce wisdom, but relevance needs to be worked on every day. And there is a need to work hard to keep parents in the loop of what is happening in the school.

The following may help to become an effective parent.

 Being a good role model. Children learn a great deal about how to act by watching their parents. Children, especially young ones, think their parents are more or less infallible. They see their parents as being supremely intelligent and powerful- basically incapable of making bad decisions. Do your best to live up to this idealized image. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of your child, think about the example you’re setting. Embody the traits you wish to cultivate in your child: respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, tolerance, and many more. Do things for other people without expecting a reward. Above all, treat your children the way you expect other people to treat you.

Children also look for role models at school, among their friends, and in the media. Some of these things you can control, others, and you cannot. Know that, though your child may have multiple role models, you have  a unique privilege in that you are a near- constant presence in his or her life. Make the most of the privilege.

communication a priority. Though your children should obey you, you can’t expect them to do everything you demand simply because you, as a parent, “say so.” Children want and deserve explanations as much as adults do. Parents who (at the very least) attempt to calmly reason with their children give them a chance to see why certain rules and restrictions are good for them. Make your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it to your child, express your feeling about it, and invite your child to discuss solutions with you. Be sure your child understands the consequences of his or her actions.

Being flexible and willing to adjust your parenting style. If you frequently feel “let down” by your child’s behaviour, honestly assess your expectations. Are you expecting reasonable things from your child? Is your child capable of doing these things? Conversely, is your child more capable than you expect him or her to be-in other words, is s/he not being challenged? Don’t be afraid to change your parenting goals, provided you keep your values consistent and sensitively explain your motives to your child.

As your child ages, she changes. Over time, you will have to change your parenting style-sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly. Be ready and willing to face this change-just because your child isn’t always a cute little baby doesn’t mean s/he is less deserving of love and respect.

Showing   that   your    love   is unconditional. As an effective parent, you are responsible for guiding your child with a loving, corrective influence. Just as you are imperfect, so is your child. How you acknowledge this imperfection and express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in the world. When you  have to confront your child about a mistake, avoid excessive blaming, criticizing, or fault- finding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even when you are disciplining your something new. Make sure he or she knows that, although you want and expect better, your love is available, no matter what.

In our continually changing society the opportunity for schools to contribute to the well- being of children and families is being increasingly recognised. When schools take steps to motivate parental involvement, they support parents’ effectiveness in helping their children learn. Similarly, when school systems attempt to promote teacher and Principal contributions to effective parental involvement, they support schools’ effectiveness in educating children. Parental engagement is a critical factor associated with children’s positive educational attainment. Schools can also use parent expertise to contribute ‘intellectually’ to the development of the lessons.

Too often, the social, economic, cultural practices  of  parents  are   represented   as serious problems rather than valued knowledge. Instead of operating on the assumption that absence translates into non-caring, schools must focus on ways to draw parents into the schools, which would perhaps aid the schools functioning too.

About the Author /

In my role as a teacher and a parent, it was not until I began talking to parents from different backgrounds that I was forced to examine my own deeply seated assumptions about parental involvement in their child’s education. My perspective holds strong that children who do not succeed in school have parents who do not get involved in school activities or support school goals at home,” says Ms Geeta Karunakaran, the founder Principal of Paul George Global School, Delhi. In this article to MENTOR, Ms. Geeta shares her thoughts and views on how important it is for parents to be active participants in schools. Ms. Karunakaran has had teaching experience for 22 years and has also served as a professional trainer.

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