At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents. – Jane D. Hull
I was on Radio One on Tuesday, March 27 and I find that part of the work I do enriching because I get to really touch the pulse of what the people think about current issues (national, across the continent of Africa and globally). I wasn’t disappointed at all.
One of the callers desired to know what “experts” like myself recommend for parents to do to aid their children to be more equipped for the 21st century, and what the future of the work that we spoke about on the show could be (especially with regard to STEM education). I could hear the palpable need of this parent; one who desired nothing but the best for the child but felt overwhelmed about how to begin.
This is something that truly needs to be addressed squarely. Now let me clarify things: There is no magic pill or one simple solution. Whatever would be done entails hard work, perseverance and time. I know this runs counter to what popular culture dictates this day – magic fixes, miracles and quick solutions. To work on the mind of our children for long term solutions requires dedication and determination.
What is critical are ways of equipping and training parents to do the important work of developing and supporting their children. This invoves ingenious ways of helping parents to be more involved in the muddled, wonderful process of aiding their children to learn and grow.
Education is a big assortment of people trying to assist our children in learning. There is a lot of bureaucracy and control over the actual schooling process that it is hard to cut through to the real users of it.
My advice is that we should get back to the fundamentals of what the users need: We should remember the end user of education are the children and the target customers are their parents. We need to help them with key skills like reading and maths. The number of children with less than average skills in reading and numeracy is staggering. Enabling parents to double down on vocabulary and numerical hacks to mitigate children from tripping over word usage and maths phobias is crucial. This resonates with me strongly as my parents never left reading or numeracy to just my teachers at school. I can vividly recall BOTH my parents reading to me, working with me on decimals, fractions and percents. My parents were very intricately involved in all of my academic pursuits ALL of my life (till date my mom doesn’t relent on proof reading my articles that are submitted for publications!)
Here are my rock solid, time tested tips:
(1) Be with your child while he or she does homework. Just being there helps them fight frustration and anxiety. Discussing their work with you enables them focus better and get excited when you both find the topic exciting.
(2) Be a good role model: Read and read all the time for them to see and imbibe this. Also read to them when they are young, as much as possible. Literacy is key to everything, as being able to read and comprehend content is a deal breaker for life.
(3) Talk to them about school: While this is actually not as simple as it sounds, yet it is worth it. Getting involved in the learning of our children and wards means having knowledge about what goes on at school with them, while remembering that they actually spend more time at school than with you – this is a huge part of their lives. It will behoove on the parent to find out the details about their life at school; to find out what subjects the child likes and dislikes; to find out what’s difficult in class, and talk about ways of making school easier and more interesting; and to find out what they love and loathe about their school. No details is too small to know. The parent should endeaviur to make connections to how they were at their age.
(4) Get connected to their school: No matter how busy the parent is, they should stay in touch with their children’s schools; get to know their teachers personally, have the numbers of the teachers, communicate with the principals, and ensure that one attends their school events, as much you possible. Teachers and school staff always appreciate involved parents.
There are many powerful advantages of parents ensuring that they are empowered to work alongside their children on their learning journey.
The key is to keep iterating towards better solutions, celebrating victories achieved towards ensuring that children are fully engaged in their learning and strive towards future-readiness.
There is nothing as exciting as when enlightenment dawns upon a child as they ponder on a new concept. There is the need to carry parents along as we transform education.
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.