[PART I] The silver bullet

The role of parental engagement in education is slowly assuming greater importance
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Parent engagement in schools is defined as parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents.

Parent engagement in schools is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage parents in meaningful ways, and parents are committed to actively supporting their children and adolescents in terms of learning and development.

This relationship between schools and parents cuts across and reinforces children’s health and learning in multiple settings—at home, in school, in out-of-school programs, and in the community.

Research shows that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to better value orientation student behaviour, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. Parent engagement also makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy anti-social behaviours.

Parent Engagement is therefore an on-going process that increases active participation, communication, and collaboration between parents, schools, and communities with the goal of ensuring holistic development of the students as well as student achievement and success. Education is a triploid process; the school is a structured space for guided learning and partnership in education a perennial theme.

However, in recent times, the role of parental engagement in education is slowly assuming greater importance. Four factors can be attributed to this development.

The first factor is related to the realisation that education is an integral activity that cannot be left merely to the few hours when the child sits on the school benches and that school activities need to be supplemented by the educational activities at home and elsewhere in the midst of life.

At a deeper level, this underlines the organic relationship between the school and the home, between the school and the society, between the teacher and the parents, between the teacher and the pupil and between the parents and the child. It also underlines the deepest truth of education, namely that education is preparation for life and life is the greatest teacher of life, and therefore all education should be life-oriented and all life should be education-oriented.

The central factor remains ‘learning’, whether it is at school or at home. Studies have proved that a child learns 85 % outside of the school as compared to 15% at school which clearly destroys the myth that a school is the sole avenue for a child to learn.

The second factor is related to unprecedented explosion of knowledge which impels educationists, teachers and parents to swim together in the timed of increasing information so as to render threefold help to the child: first, to distinguish between the essential and the unessential, the basic and the peripheral, the useful and the not so useful; secondly, to build new courses of education, new curricula and new teaching-learning materials whereby frontiers of knowledge are brought nearer to the doors of children as meaningfully and as expeditiously as possible and thirdly, to employ with deep concern the required skills to reduce the load of books as also of the thorny problems of home work on the minds of children.

The third factor is the increasing awareness that academic studies do not by themselves ensure what is expected in life situations, in employment markets and in terms of ultimate fulfilment of human seeking and endeavour. The holistic development of child is now increasingly recognised as the essential ingredient of education and oblige the schools to expand the scope of their activities.

We must ensure a fine dressing of the human personality by adequate nourishment of his mind and psyche, through an integrated approach to ethics and values, harmonising and humanising the individual at the same time providing adequate scope for creativity and pursuit of excellence.

Educationists and educational administrators are also obliged to be awakened to devise education on a vaster canvass to devise also complex and flexible timetables, to revise the prescribed syllabi and to look for larger and larger resources in terms of finances and competent professional power.

The fourth factor is related to the increasing awareness of importance of education in terms of social and cultural development and even in respect of deepest questions connected with human survival and human fulfilment at the global level. As a result, development of a lifelong learning society has come to be envisaged as an essential goal.

Not only child-centred education, but even child centred life of the society and of the world must be advocated. It is also being realised that formal education should be a part of the non-formal and informal education, which in turn should fill the fabrics of social life.

The totality of the environment should be so designed that education becomes the life-breath not only of children but of all, and adults too are being counselled to retain the freshness of a child’s curiosity and the child’s spontaneous drive to learn and to learn faster and faster. This necessitates partnership in education of all sectors of life and of all members of society.

The role of the teacher in the school is undergone a sea change, and learning takes place through the three instruments - instruction, example and influence. The role of the teacher is valuable as is the example set for imbibing. Greater still is the power of influence – a power that emanates from the soul and gets imparted to the soul of the student.

What is true of the teacher is also true of the parents. The role of the teacher has to be supplemented, aided and enriched by parents and vice versa. Fundamentally children learn first and foremost from the parents and modern parents have special problems because of changes in life styles.

The old system of joint family has broken down and been replaced with nuclear families, where both parents are often required to work on a full-time basis. The difficulties are further aggravated when external influences from the crèche, caretakers; and the use of unrestricted technology are out of their control.

How are parents to participate in the education of their children? In what way are they to perform the task of partnership with the teachers of their children? As teachers, parents have also to utilise the three instruments of instruction, example and influence.

Parents have to set healthy examples of harmony at home as well as involve and engage in the process of the development of the child in the areas of academic development, artistic development, character development and therefore in their holistic development.

Dr. Farooq Ahmad Wasil, a published author, and an educationist, is Consultant and Advisor to TSPL (Thinksite Services Private Limited). He has over 3 decades of experience in the field of education Management – setting up, operating and managing schools.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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