|Parents and Learning (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 36 p.)|
Children benefit from a parent/child relationship that is verbally rich and emotionally supportive.
Language development begins at birth and centres on the childs interactions with his or her parents. Several parent/child interactions are important in preparing the child to learn in school talking to the infant listening attentively to the child reading to children and listening to them read talking about what the parent and the child are reading storytelling daily conversation and letter wilting. It is difficult to separate verbal interactions from the emotional and affective bonds that accompany them. For that reason the parents expressions of affection are included with verbal activities as essential to the parent/child relationship. Also important is a constant demonstration by parents that learning is a natural part of life - joyful in its own right part of the family experience and especially exhilarating when encountered through discovery at such places as museums zoos and historical sites.
Do not all families talk about everyday events? Perhaps but there is great variation in the quality and quantity of that inter action. Is the underlying tone of the conversation positive supportive? Does the conversation flow in both directions - between parent and child? Do both parties listen as well as speak? As children grow older the time spent in conversation with parents may decline. Daily touchstone routines such as a relaxed dinnertime provide continued opportunity for family conversation.
A consistent emotional bond between parent and child seen in expressions of affection renders the child more psychologically equipped to meet the stresses and challenges of life outside the home especially in school. Affection is also a social lubricant for the family, cementing relationships and helping children develop positive attitudes about school and learning.
When families talk about books, newspapers, magazines and television programmes, childrens minds are treated to the delight of verbal inquiry. The drama of unfolding events and the clash of differing opinions open doors to intellectual pursuit for children. Curiosity is kept alive. Stimulating the childs desire to discover, to think through new situations and to vigorously exchange opinions, is fostered also by family visits to libraries, museums, zoos, historical sites and cultural events.
Vocabulary is the building block of thought and expression. All small children love to try new words. In some families, exploration with words is encouraged, in fact, it is an ongoing source of family pleasure. But some children are exposed to ridicule when they mispronounce or misuse a new word, their love for words may be extinguished, and they may feel constrained to cling to a limited vocabulary.
Parents can be taught, through role-playing techniques, to be good listeners with their children, to extend meagre daily dialogue into rich family conversation, and to play word games that promote an interest in vocabulary. They can also be encouraged to visit museums and other stimulating places and to engage their children in the excitement of discovery. Parents can even learn the importance of affectionate contact with their children, especially at times when the child may be tearful or anxious - when leaving the home in the morning and when going to sleep at night, for example.
Busy families can fall out of the habit of daily conversation. Asking parents to spend at least one minute each day in private conversation with each child, primarily listening to the child tell about his or her day without distraction from other family members or television, will demonstrate how rare and precious such moments can be. Sharing these experiences with other parents, in small-group settings, amplifies their impact.
Becher (1984), Kellaghan et al (1993), Rutter (1990)