This is the final part of the series of three articles discussing about the new role that 21st century learning creates for parents. The previous part highlighted the key roles that parents are required to take up to help with their child’s learning in the modern century and also discussed some things that they can do to prepare their children for 21st century lives.
Parents are a child’s first teacher and serve as a model for behavior and provide guidance and support that build a child’s self-esteem and enhances learning. Schools undoubtedly take a lot of responsibility for preparing students for their futures; they obviously can’t do it alone. Parents don’t want them to do it alone and they want to be equal contributors in their child’s success. Parental involvement and support are most vital to a child’s education. Earlier parental involvement wasn’t given much importance but in this modern century the roles of parents in their child’s learning have emerged. In looking towards the future, parents can contribute a lot in preparing their children for the 21st century.
The book, ‘Preparing Students for the 21st Century’ by Donna Uchida, Marvin Cetron, Floretta McKenzie, brings insights from leaders in education, business and government on what students need now to lead successful lives in the future. In a section it highlights the significance of parental involvement and provides suggestions on how parents must contribute towards their child’s learning to prepare them for the 21st century. Some of the highlights from the section are:
- Parents should work collaboratively with teachers and the school and visit and communicate with the school regularly. When parents work closely with their child’s teacher and the school, the child is the winner. Depending on their level of involvement, parents gain self confidence in parenting, develop an understanding of their home as a learning environment, an understanding of school programs and services, and develop increased comfort in communicating with the school to work towards policies that affect their child’s education.
As a result of this, children gain respect for their parents, understand that school is important and develop confidence in doing their school work. Teachers and school systems gain a respect and appreciation of a parent’s time, a common base knowledge for communicating about a student’s progress and shortcomings at school and a feeling of parental support for programs.
- Parents should be collaborators and problem-solvers. They should supplement what students learn in school by encouraging and rewarding achievements, providing enrichment activities, enforcing policies about bedtime and homework and helping schools solve a child’s problems as they arise. They should also attend events and stay informed on their child’s school life.
- Parents should offer constant support, take out more time and put in efforts to help their child with his learning. They can also serve as tutors and volunteers in their child’s school, work closely with the parent-teacher group and may belong to the parent support network.
- At the highest level of involvement, parents can be advisers and co-decision makers. They can do so by becoming a part of the school board, school council or a decision-making group.
- They should take an active interest in their child’s school work. A parent’s attitude towards education and school can have profound impact on student achievement. When parents ask about and check their child’s school work, when they discuss their child’s likes and dislikes and show that they care about school, they send a very powerful message that school is important and it should be valued.
- They should provide a rich and stable home-learning environment by providing learning opportunities at home. They can provide more reading materials to make children better readers and can set a good example of reading often themselves.
- The concept of life-long learning should be modeled and valued. Parents should encourage inquiry, questioning and experimentation. They can send the message that one should never stop learning by continuing to take classes in adulthood. They can support education verbally and through their actions.
- They should read to and with children. By reading aloud, parents can introduce children to literature. They should model the importance of reading throughout life. The more types of reading materials at home will increase a child’s reading proficiency.
- Parents should monitor homework completion and provide guidance towards goals. If parents show interest in their child’s learning, then the child is more likely to develop a good attitude toward learning that will lead to academic success. Parents can help children by making homework a priority and provide a quiet place where children can study. They should also teach their child how to set and achieve goals which will help them build confidence and self-esteem. Children who are allowed to become involved in their own scheduling and goal setting become more self-reliant and often more enthusiastic about studying.
21st century learning creates a lot of new roles for parents and from being mere supporters, parents are required to become partners in their child’s learning. Earlier also we had published an article that further provides insights into the role of parents in 21st century learning and guides you on how you can successfully fulfill your duties of being a modern parent of children studying in and around technology.
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