The education establishment promises to make diamonds out of our unpolished children. The best future is guaranteed for the child to get him/her enrolled in a school/app. In the midst of all these cacophonies, a parent might want to consider setting up a successful learning environment at home for children. If at all, I want to share our beliefs for making one for our unschooled twin daughters.
Children Learn, On Their Own
The underlying principle of the Indian education system is didactic – Children are to be taught. The education establishment carries the responsibility of teaching the children. The assumption being that the children are no good if left to their own. We, parents, have also subscribed to these assumptions and executions.
The history of human civilization shows that schools are of a recent origin. Forget it, irrelevant in today’s times. There are self-taught women and men irrespective of going to schools. Forget them, unrelated to our context. Children miss out on their childhood and being children, having fun for the sake of schooling. Forget it, the lure of cracking entrance exams is more enticing. Forget all these.
Who is the most curious person you ever met? Who is the person most open to picking up learning from any and every experience? The person who wants to experiment with stuff and doesn’t lose courage despite failing? Your own child, previous to his/her schooling, that is. The children get much less credit, rather no credit, than they deserve for their learning.
The children have the capability to learn wherever/whenever/however/forever. They have no desire to remain untaught; rather have the potential to be self-taught. They can well carry the responsibility of teaching themselves, should there be an expectation, should there be an enabling environment. They have the willpower and the application to self-learn.
Children can and will learn, on their own. This is the first belief for a successful learning environment at home for children.
Parents Teach, On Their Own
We, the adults, are world conquerors, super-achievers, supremely confident. We are the proud products that the world looks up to, of the education establishment. However, when it comes to our children, we are nowhere up to the mark. We are better off handing over our children to the education establishment at the earliest.
I am expected to do anything and everything, but not expected to teach my children. I am taught to do anything and everything, but not taught to teach my children. How is this possible? I am not able to get the irony. I am made to think that teaching children is the most complex of all tasks and it is better not done myself.
Well, the most important aspect of learning is questions and not answers. What’s important is that the child’s curiosity and inquisitiveness gets an open environment. What’s important is that the child gets secure and positive surroundings to question, try out and fail. Learning will emerge as a by-product of this meaningful learning environment with parent’s involvement.
Parents and children are most comfortable with each other. They are better off teaching each other and growing up together. Apart from rocket science, there isn’t anything that a child can’t and won’t pick from the parent. A parent’s word carries the most weight for the child to focus on, get motivated and learn along with.
Parents can and will teach, on their own. This is the second belief for a successful learning environment at home for children.
Assessment Is Redundant
The children learn and the parents teach. But, who will validate? Who will certify that the child has learnt and is learning? As always, the education establishment carries all the aces here. We are made to believe that unless the child is assessed i.e. the rote exams, there is no learning happened.
If Covid-19 has done any good, it is to take up the veil of utterly unneeded school and board exams. The exams are cancelled for the last two years. Last heard the children are doing well without the assessment. If the pandemic can allow the children to learn well, without the exams, the parents can as well do that task.
Children do not need a mark sheet to tell them that they are literate. They can read a book and do their math of counting and sharing. They can make an adult go speechless with their questions and can go on a nature walk themselves. The children are hands-on, open to experiences and have empathy for nature and fellow beings. That’s enough proof that they are learning.
Assessment is redundant, over-rated and uncalled for. This is the third belief for a successful learning environment at home for children.
Time Spent With Children Is Time Well-Spent/Well-Invested
The modern world has instilled in us that adults are better off working – professionally and domestically rather than spending time with children and teaching them. Adults have to earn money and resources to invest in their children. But, they cannot invest themselves – their own time and efforts. We work so damn hard for the sake of our children, but not with our children.
This, in fact, is a larger theme than parenting. For it affects every adult’s life and what s/he perceives it to be – a rat race/going around in circles or pursuit of self. Leaving the scope for a later time.
I can invest in my child – time and efforts, directly, not just through money. This is the fourth belief for a successful learning environment at home for children.
A Successful Learning Environment At Home
To be honest, it doesn’t matter, successful or not, it is a term open to personal interpretations and a lot of other factors. But, the journey of the learning environment at home for children is surely enriching and constructive for all the participants. This topsy-turvy ride is laden with many self-doubts and I have shared my beliefs that keep us going with our unschooled twin daughters.
What are your views on the subject?
PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.