This is the second of the series of three articles discussing about the new role that 21st century learning creates for parents. The previous article discussed how learning has changed from the past centuries and due to which the roles of students, teachers and parents in learning have also changed.
The 21st century learning has reformed the role of parents from being mere supporters to being active participants in their child’s learning, and this role was discussed previously.
There are some other key roles that parents are required to adopt in 21st century learning:
- Teachers or Nurturers: Parents need to be completely involved with their child’s physical, moral, intellectual, emotional and social development. To nurture this development, parents need to provide their children with an appropriate environment that promotes learning and develops the skills and values needed to become physically, psychologically and emotionally healthy adults.
- Communicators and Advisers: An effective two-way communication between the home and school should be established so that parents can keep track of their child’s learning and progress at school. They should also counsel their children on personal and educational issues by maintaining open communication.
- Learners and contributors: This role focuses on parents obtaining the necessary skills and knowledge that will assist them with their children's education and social development. Parents can contribute their knowledge and skills to the school by enriching the curriculum and providing services and support to students and teachers.
- Collaborators and Decision Makers: Parents should participate and collaborate with the school staff and teachers to help solve problems, make decisions and develop policies that make the school system more responsive to families.
The 21st century is marked by complexity and rapid change and parenting needs to respond accordingly. One thing that can never change is that parents are their child’s first and most important teachers. Children need their parents to be the wise teachers given the 21st century skills they need to develop. Parents need to realize that for their children to meet their visions of success as adults in the 21st century, they are going to need some pretty sophisticated skills, which are not limited to the technology skills needed at work. Today’s young people will need to be 21st century thinkers, able to recognize problems and opportunities, understand the complex and varied systems in which those problems and opportunities exist, weigh the pros and cons of potential solutions, and proceed wisely with enacting their decisions.
21st century learning brings with it a set of responsibilities for you and requires you to reform your role and understand the modern day learning needs of your child. Maria Chesley Fisk who is a parent involvement expert, author of Teach Your Kids to Think, co-founder of the home-school communication system, ParentSquare, and a realistic mom of two, in a ThinkParenting blog has offered tips on what being a parent you can do to prepare your children for the 21st century life. Here are some highlights:
- You need to affirm the importance of your role as a teacher to your child. Reflect and learn more about what and how you teach and help your child prepare for her future.
- You should make your child understand that there are no limits to learning and that it is a life-long process. Acquisition of knowledge and mere memorization no longer work now. The Internet allows very easy and rapid dissemination of information because of which children will always need to proficiently filter, interpret, and evaluate information.
- You should encourage your child to find opportunities for learning and self-improvement at home, at school, on the internet, and in the community. Help your child build analytical, creative, social & emotional, and practical thinking skills.
- You should focus on the communication skills of both you and your child. Today’s parents need to effectively express their thoughts and questions and also need to be effective in more modes of communications and with a larger variety of audiences.
- Help your child learn about cultures and languages across the globe. This will help them think globally and will enable them to bridge cultural differences that will serve them well in the future.
- Help your child develop 21st century attitudes by making him understand the value of hard work and that with it he can learn and improve in any area. He should believe that he can utilize resources and sincere effort to learn better and be successful.
- To ensure success for your child you don’t just have to be a supporter in his learning, but you need to be a learner yourself. This will help you to teach your child how to thoughtfully enter new situations, set goals, and draw on resources that help create and sustain positive change and learning.
With careful attention, we can help our 21st century children grow up to be confident, well-rounded individuals, empowered to learn and change as they need and desire, and ready to embrace or adapt to the change the 21st century will bring.
The next and last part of the series will discuss about more ways for parents to become involved and support their child’s learning in the modern century.