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Beyond the Classroom Walls: Why Parents Hold the Key as the Greatest Teachers

Parents are undeniably the first teachers in a child’s life, and their influence is unmatched. From the moment a child is born, they look up to their parents for guidance, support, and education. Read more to discover how you have helped shape your child’s personality—consciously or instinctively.

Home: The social laboratory of younglings.

While schoolteachers undoubtedly impact a child’s education, parents play an equally important role but are often underappreciated as “teachers”. Parents are the first and most influential teachers in a child’s life. They play a vital role in shaping their child’s personality, values, skills, and knowledge. First and foremost, parents are the ones who introduce their children to language and communication skills. Babies learn to speak by imitating the words and phrases they hear from their parents. From simple baby talk to more complex conversations, parents are instrumental in developing their child’s language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension abilities. Regardless of a child’s future educational experiences, these early language skills lay the foundation for their cognitive development.

Furthermore, parents play a crucial role in teaching fundamental life skills. From potty training to tying shoelaces, parents are responsible for teaching their children basic skills they will use throughout their lives. You have the opportunity to teach your child valuable life skills, such as decision-making and problem-solving, which are essential for success in both personal and professional contexts. Moreover, parents help cultivate habits such as reading, hygiene, and time management. These essential life skills are not only crucial for a child’s intellectual development but also for their future success in school and beyond.

In addition to academic and practical skills, parents serve as role models and influence their children’s behaviour and attitudes. Children observe their parents’ actions and incorporate them into their own lives. Parents who display kindness, respect, and honesty in their interactions set an example for their children to follow. Similarly, parents prioritising education and demonstrating a love for learning instil a solid educational foundation and a motivation to excel in their child’s mind.

Moreover, parents are responsible for providing a nurturing and supportive environment at home. They create a safe space where a child feels loved, valued, and encouraged. Younglings feel safe with their parents to explore the limits of social boundaries, especially with behaviours. At best, you will talk to them about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and at worst, you “teach them a lesson” using some form of negative reinforcement like grounding, anger, and sometimes, unfortunately, aggression. You will certainly not abandon your child or murder them for bad behaviour. Don’t you think children know that after spending the first 2-3 years of their liver, 24/7, with you? Of course they do! This is why every child behaves differently at home than at school or on play dates. For them, home is a safe environment where all the social experimentation happens, ultimately shaping their emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development. This positive environment boosts a child’s confidence and self-esteem, directly affecting academic performance. When children feel supported by their parents, they are more likely to take risks, embrace challenges, and excel academically.

Last but not least, parents are the primary source of moral and ethical guidance for their children. They teach their offspring the difference between right and wrong, the importance of honesty, and the significance of kindness towards others. These ethical teachings shape a child’s character and influence their decision-making skills. The lessons learned from parents profoundly impact the child’s ability to navigate life’s challenges and make responsible choices.

Advantages and limitations of parents as teachers.

Parents as teachers have many advantages over formal educators. First, parents know their children better than anyone else. They can tailor their teaching methods and content to suit their child’s interests, abilities, and learning styles. They can also monitor their child’s progress and provide immediate feedback and encouragement. Second, parents can teach their children anytime and anywhere. They can use everyday situations and experiences as learning opportunities and make learning fun and meaningful. They can also expose their child to various topics and activities that may not be covered in school. Third, parents can foster a positive attitude towards learning in their children. They can model curiosity, creativity, and lifelong learning. They can also instil values such as respect, responsibility, honesty, and perseverance in their child.

However, parents as teachers also face some challenges and limitations. First, parents may not have the necessary knowledge or skills to teach certain subjects or topics. They may need help from other sources such as books, websites, or experts. They may also need to update their knowledge and skills to keep up with the changing world. Second, parents may not have enough time or resources to teach their children effectively. They may have to balance work and family responsibilities and cope with stress and fatigue. They may also have to deal with financial constraints or lack of access to quality educational materials or facilities. Third, parents may encounter difficulties in maintaining a healthy relationship with their children. They may have to deal with conflicts, disagreements, or behavioural issues. They may also have to respect their child’s autonomy and individuality and avoid imposing their own expectations or preferences on their child.

Seven tips for helping your child’s cognitive growth at home.

1. Earn their trust

Communicate openly and respectfully with your child, fostering a trusting and loving bond.

2. Foster a love of learning.

Encourage your child to explore their interests, reading to them, and maintaining a positive attitude towards education. Parents are natural motivators, so constantly encourage your child to aim high, work hard, and pursue their dreams. Celebrate their child’s successes, no matter how small; praise their effort even if it does not produce the desired outcome; provide constructive feedback to help them improve. Your words of encouragement and support catalyse a child’s motivation and eagerness to learn.

3. Be involved in their schoolwork.

Parents are the first to recognise and address their child’s developmental challenges or learning difficulties. You can support your child in difficult academic subjects by providing additional resources and assistance. Help with homework, engage in educational activities, and communicate with teachers to ensure their academic success. Parents provide valuable support and encouragement, nurturing a child’s curiosity and eagerness to learn. This proactive approach by parents ensures that their child receives the necessary assistance to thrive academically.

4. Encourage reading and writing skills.

Reading and writing are essential skills for academic and social success. Help your kids improve their reading and writing skills by exposing them to a variety of texts, such as books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. Encourage them to read for pleasure and interest, not just for school assignments. You can also help your kids practice their writing skills by asking them to write letters, emails, stories, essays, etc.

5. Support extracurricular activities and hobbies.

Extracurricular activities and hobbies are beneficial for children’s academic and social development. They can help children explore their interests, talents, or passions, develop new skills or abilities, make friends, build confidence, and have fun. Support your child’s extracurricular activities and hobbies by assisting them to find suitable opportunities, such as clubs, teams, classes, camps, etc.

6. Teach social and emotional skills.

Social and emotional skills are important for kids’ academic and social well-being. They can help them communicate effectively, cooperate with others, manage their emotions, cope with stress, and resolve conflicts. Teach your kids social and emotional skills by modelling them, such as being respectful, empathetic, calm, and assertive. Also, talk to your kids about their feelings, thoughts, and experiences and listen to them attentively and empathetically. Help them identify and express their emotions appropriately and deal with difficult situations positively.

7. Seek support from experts or books written by experts.

Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as educators and seek support from other sources when necessary. Two of our favourite books are Whole Brain Child by Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

To commemorate parents' role in nurturing young minds, Koios Institute, in collaboration with Lions Club International (Ranipool Chapter), celebrated Teachers Day on the 7th of September 2023. Our theme this year was “Celebrating Parents—Our First Teachers.” Parents and children painted their favourite memories with their respective parents. Check out the photos from the event below.


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