Ways you can help your child develop holistically
Parenting should be a subject of academic studies. It is a challenging yet gratifying experience. The most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents for our experiences during childhood make us the adults we become.
It’s a chance for you to give your children an enriching experience. When a child starts school, parents need to be equally focused from day one and involved in the child’s school system. You should be interested in understanding the new thing your child learnt today.
There is thirty years of research showing that parents’ involvement in their children’s education has a significant impact on children’s academic and developmental goals. But how parents are involved matters - and the involvement that makes the biggest difference to students’ chances for success in school isn’t what many would expect.
Researchers divide parent involvement into two basic categories:
* Home-based activities and attitudes such as having high expectations, talking together about school, building work habits and a positive approach to learning or reading together.
* School-based activities could involve communicating with teachers, attending meetings about your child, volunteering in the classroom or school council work.
A review of the research shows that it is the home-based activities and attitudes that are more closely linked to students’ academic achievement.
First and foremost, parents should cultivate the habit of reading in their children from young. As Albert Einstein says, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales.” I can’t think of a truer statement.
Reading helps children develop their imagination and creativity. Nothing else can help your child develop his personality holistically as much as reading. Children tend to imitate and pick up habits of their elders at home. If they see their parents as enthusiastic readers, it’s more likely they will inculcate this habit too. Make sure that your home has lots of reading materials that are appropriate for your child. Keep books, magazines and newspapers in the house.
Reading materials don’t have to be new or expensive. Ask family members and friends to consider giving your child books and magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions.
Encourage your child to be involved in some sort of community service. It makes children more humane. It makes them aware of the ground realities. It makes them be grateful for what they have. Children can be involved with various NGOs like Teach for India, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kriti, Hope, etc. Watch out for opportunities for the whole family to join a park cleanup, collect food for the hungry, or simply to help an elderly with chores. Doing things together for others helps students practice cooperation and caring, skills they will need to be successful in school and on the job.
Encourage them to work part time. During summer break/winter break they will learn a great deal if they join an internship. They should look out for internships in fields they’re interested in. This will provide them with a lot of exposure. It will help them in having a professional experience.
Take out time for your children to watch intriguing movies from an early childhood. It could be movies like Interstellar, Imitation Games, Schindler’s list, Forrest Gump, Life of Pi, Dead Poet’s Society, etc. Take out time every weekend and spend it as a family doing interesting activities. Watching compelling movies can make learning fun. These experiences go a long way in developing a child.
Children shouldn’t take parents for granted. Do not let them have everything they ask for easily. Make a reward system so that they realise the value of gifts that you buy for them.
One’s character is as important as intellect. Children should learn to be humble. This is the most important trait parents need to focus on. This starts right at home with their help who diligently work for them. Most children don’t even acknowledge or say thank you to their help. You need to inculcate the habit of saying simple things like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Believe you me, these make a world of a difference in developing a child’s personality.
Children should become responsible. Taking responsibility and working independently are important qualities for success at school and beyond.
Here are some suggestions for helping your child to develop these qualities:
Establish rules. Every home needs reasonable rules that children know and can depend on. Have your child help you to set rules, then make sure that you enforce the rules consistently. Make it clear to your child that they have to take responsibility for what they do, both at home and school.
Learning begins in the home and children are like sponges. Children pick up on and emulate the attitudes that are presented day in and day out at home, so making sure to emphasise the value of education as a family is extremely important.
(Rohan Ganeriwala is the co-founder of Collegify, a college consulting firm for study abroad. Views expressed here are personal.)