Parents — First Teachers, Lifelong Learning Companions

STEMpedia
STEMpedia
Aug 26, 2018 · 6 min read

Among the long list of responsibilities that parents have towards their children to ensure their overall development, is one that takes the top spot: education. The good part: parents today do realize its importance. The not so good part: the realization isn’t 100% correct (and complete).

Education: What Purpose Does It Serve?

For years, education has been looked at as the means to land in a job; nothing more than that. It is true that education is paramount to become financially sound and independent, but this isn’t the only purpose that it serves; neither is it the open sesame to the world of working people. Right from pre-school, to primary, to the middle, to high school, and then finally college; education plays a critical role at every stage in making a person world-ready, be it in terms of career, self-development, or development of the society. In other words, education makes sense only if it is holistic.

Education is not solely about earning a great living. It means living a great life.

- Brad Henry, American lawyer and politician

There are two aspects of a child’s life that determine and affect his or her educational development: parents and teachers. Parents are the first teachers of their children until they start going to school. However, even after that, they do play a critical role. What the child learns at school is taken care of by the teachers. But after that, making sure that whatever he or she receives at school stays even after school hours is where parents’ involvement matters. According to a study by a Ph.D. student at the Carson Newman-University the involvement of parents in their children’s education has a positive effect on their achievements; the more they are involved, the better the child performs.

There is, however, more to this performance than meets the eye. These achievements matter only if they have a deeper impact on children’s life than just scoring good marks. This where the problem lies. Students view studying as a chore that is to be done only for clearing the exams and advancing to a higher level, it being the next standard in school and semester in college. While this surface level learning does help them get through exams, it does not help them much in relating to the knowledge that they ‘acquire’ and understand it deeply.

To better understand the subject at hand one must feel more connected with what one is learning; the best way to do it is learning by doing. When learning becomes substantial the child is able to better correlate what he or she learns with the real world. This, in turn, makes the concept clearer and as a result, they stick for a longer duration.

How to Make Learning Substantial?

Learning instinctively becomes tangible when one performs activities, experiments with things both old and new, and makes projects on his or her own. When children perform an activity with their own hands and see the magic happen before their eyes it not only helps them visualize whatever they’re learning but also plants the seed of curiosity in them which stays in their minds forever. It has the potential to grow into the tree of abundant knowledge if parents encourage children to sail through the ocean of knowledge in the ship of experiential learning.

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.

- Richard Branson, British business magnate, author, and philanthropist

Education in the 21st-Century

The world has witnessed enormous development, especially in the field of technology, in the last few decades; this development has been exponential since the advent of the digital age, as is evident from the image shown below:

Image courtesy: www.thegenissworks.com (Peter Fisk)

This rate, as can be seen, is only going to rise in the coming years. This makes it even more essential for the youth of today to dedicate a considerable amount of time to learning about the new technologies that keep emerging so that they can be at par with the advancing world and develop skills that help them actively contribute towards its amelioration.

How to Become a Part of the Digital Revolution?

This is where STEM, an intelligently crafted amalgamation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, comes into the picture. Why particularly these four? Because these disciplines help the economy to thrive and ensure a healthy society. It was introduced to the world because its need was felt to encourage the youth scratch beyond the surface and develop skills such as curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and innovativeness that would make them ready for the challenges in the near future.

But youngsters cannot do it all by themselves; they need guidance and support. This is where parents come in. Being the first teachers in their child’s life, they get the chance to decide and mold his or her learning experience and introduce STEM subjects at an early age. Children are innately curious and full of enthusiasm; they’re always eager to learn new things, figure out how they work, and why do they work the way do. But if their inquisitive needs aren’t met, their curiosity, their will and passion to learn new things and explore the unexplored soon dies and all they are left with are surface level learning and short term goals; goals such as passing the school exams, clearing college exams, get a degree and land in a job.

For their children to have holistic development and for them to be on par with the world, it becomes obligatory for parents to introduce them to STEM at the very beginning of their learning journey. The best way to do this is perhaps actively participating in their learning experiences. Activities performed together which encourage experiential learning to contribute a lot in developing the right skills and making children ‘well-educated’. Asking children what they learned at school, helping them with their homework, reading and exploring new concepts together, performing activities and experiments, making projects, and going out on educational field trips are some of the ways in which parents can become actively involved in the learning experience. This not only helps children become open and enjoy what they do but also strengthens the bond that they share with their parent on the go as they prepare themselves for the future.

In a Nutshell

Parents play a crucial role in the educational journey of their children. With the advent of the digital age, as the world shifts to a completely different scenario, it has become all the more important for them to become more actively involved and encourage their children to explore the unexplored through hands-on learning. As they do so, not only will they relate to the knowledge they acquire and their surroundings but also inculcate the skills that are imperative to keep up with the world and be ready to face the challenges it throws head on.

STEMpedia

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