The important role of parents in children's education
What started as an enterprise to start a CBSE school in Tiruvallur in 1996 soon transformed into a Parent Education programme. N.C.Sridharan and Radha Sridharan share their experience with The Hindu Education Plus on how the family background is vital to children's education.
Every parent wants their child to study and do well in life. But they don't know how to do it. Many parents still believe that the schools should take total responsibility for their ward's education.
We are trying to prove that it is the parents who decide their ward's education and schools play only a supportive role. We started in 1995-96 with no land or building and without any knowledge of the problems and challenges involved in starting, running and sustaining a good CBSE school with 225 students. Over the last 15 years, the strength of the school has increased to 2,300 students.
Nearly 75 per cent of the children belong to parents who are not educated beyond school final-level. Nearly 50-60 per cent of the parents have not studied beyond middle school. Nearly 20-25 per cent of the parents are uneducated in the primarily agriculture-oriented village.
The parents did not have the soft skills required to supplement the efforts taken by the school to impart proper education. Parents wanted their children to speak in English, but they could not fluently communicate in English with their children or with the school. They were used to punishing their children and were not aware of their own role in the process of education and teaching.
We realised that our issue was not to teach the children, but to give them the right environment and upbringing in their houses. We decided to shift our focus from the children in the school to the parents in their homes. We realised Parents' Education is not school or collegiate education but “Parental Education.” The objective is to educate the parents on their role as responsible role models to mentor their children, so that they imbibe a rich and healthy mindset.
We started a monthly newsletter in Tamil called Vaaname Ellai (Sky is the limit) containing articles, titbits, anecdotes, experiences, questions and answers in relation to education and child development.
This newsletter was subsequently converted into a registered monthly magazine which is given to each parent to create an awareness on the importance of parental education in the context of a highly competitive external environment.
We produced a DVD under the title Entha Kuzhanthiyum Nalla Kuzhanthaithan (Every child is a gifted child) in which is explained issues faced by parents such as: how to make children speak in English, how to develop the reading habit in children, the problem of children violence, how to improve memory, how to develop good and healthy values, problem of dyslexia and learning difficulties. An SMS campaign was started with messages on various critical issues facing parents while bringing up their children. Nearly 750 SMS messages are being sent every day to the parents.
We attended the early learning programme of Dr. Glenn Doman of Philadelphia of USA. We offered this programme free of cost to the parents living in and around Tiruvallur on how to use the visual and auditory pathways of their children by using flash cards. We conducted a Spoken English Programme for parents through trained English teachers and awarded certificates.
We conduct Parents' Education meetings in which parents meet and exchange their experiences. We discuss various issues of Parents' Education and children upbringing from 6.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. We write at least one book in Tamil every year containing ideas for tapping the potential of their children and give them to parents.
We started an Institute for Personality Development last year and various issues of personality are taken up for discussion for three hours each week. We have been conducting yoga and meditation classes for children as well as for parents on all Saturdays and Sundays from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. for the past seven to eight years. Around 300 people attend this programme. We give yoga certificates spread over four levels. In these yoga classes, parents and their wards jointly explore the power of meditation and mental discipline. This brings the parent, the school and the child under one common theme: mind control.On Sundays, we counsel parents who have children with learning difficulties, free of cost.
We have been visiting various schools across India with the message that parents decide the quality of their children's education and not the teachers and school alone.
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