Parents are enjoying a revival of respect from authorities as significant contributors to their children’s learning. For many years parents suffered from low self-esteem and lack of confidence in their ability to teach their children.
Much of this was promoted by well-intentioned educators. Fortunately, this is changing, thanks to current research. The experts are now proclaiming what many people intuitively knew all along — that parents are the most significant people in their children’s lives.
It has been assumed by some people that the way children are educated is through contact with a professional in a classroom or a center. Burton White of Harvard says that is not the way it is going to happen, nor is it the way it should happen.
The way it is going to happen, he says, “is through the family as the first educational system rather than through a developmental daycare center.” He adds that mothers need not necessarily have even a high school diploma, let alone a college education in order to do a good job with their children. Neither do they need very substantial financial assets.
Also when their children get older, in their preteen years, the parents are crucial to help them become independent. Do you still remember the time that your dad took training wheels off your bike for the first time? Well, I remember very well that I was filled with a mix of excitement, adrenalin, and some fear when that happened. I started slowly as I wobbled down our street while my dad jogged along beside me and my bike. I remember very well that I kept looking to make sure he would be there in case something went wrong. He was there and I felt really reassured. That’s the parent role, isn’t it?
Jerome Kagan, Harvard, says that we worry young mothers too much. We should be telling them they are doing a fine job. They should actually have had a mentor to stimulate them in their preteen years. James Coleman, in a national study of thousands of school children, discovered that the home is the most important determinant of school learning. Many leading psychologists support this notion. David Elkind, Meredith Robinson, and others suggest that the home and warm, loving parents are superior to the best classroom setting for the nurturing and teaching of children.
International studies in twenty-nine countries have confirmed that the home environment accounts for more student variation in learning than any other factor including curriculum and quality of instruction. There is no data anywhere suggesting that institutional rearing of small children is better than or even as good as a good home. When they get older, they need to be able to develop a positive self-image which will later in their lives prove to be crucial. Parents clearly hold the major key to their children’s learning. Even the University of Chicago’s Benjamin Bloom now admits this.
Parents are the best teachers of their children for many reasons. A major one is simply because they are the parents, and as such, enjoy a special, unique bonding with their children. This bond results in a strong sense of trust which in turn promotes a healthy self-concept. This sense of one’s worth is absolutely necessary for achievement in all areas. Parents are crucial to this process. Also, preteens have so many important questions and their parents are usually good listeners and readers.
The roots of self-esteem are firmly linked to early experiences and relationships in the home. The home was meant to be the primary channel for educating and training the next generation. Fran Nolan, elementary supervisor for the State University of New York says, “Education isn’t books and charts and tests nearly so much as it is meaningful living, and no one can provide it better than good parents.” When the children are young, you may not need to worry that much but when they reach their preteen ages, you may want to read more about how to see if and when you need to start worrying, perhaps. Parents, YOU are the best teachers of your own children! And don’t you forget it, you’ve got the choice and you can make the difference.