What do parents need to know before taking their children to school?
By Eduardo Andere M.
What happens at home is much more important than what happens at school for the success of children in their studies and life.
Provided everything is ok at home, these are the factors that parents need to know when taking the children to school:
- At school, at any level, human interaction is much more important than facilities, pedagogy and technology.
- In early childhood and pre-school education, emphasis must be placed on social and emotional learning, especially through play, free and guided.
- In elementary school the transition between emotional learning and reading and writing should be smooth and following the stages of development for each child. Playing is still an important part of the curriculum, but it is not the only one and it diminishes with time.
- Any school of any pedagogy must diagnose children’s socioemotional and cognitive development. If a development gap is detected, the school must trigger an ad hoc action plan to address it. The idea is to reinforce instead of retaining and to guide rather than forcing. The goal should not be the child’s performance on a specific skill or knowledge, but on her/his overall progress. The curriculum should follow the child and not the other way around.
- The transition from elementary to middle school should be smooth and monitored. Bullying is at its highest in middle school. At this stage children stop being children and they gain a sense of security if they achieve control and power over peers. The children take advantage of the radical change of one teacher who takes care of them to ten teachers whose main function is teaching subjects. They are still children not adults. Treating them as adults generates a strong discontinuity in their brains. Therefore, it is advisable: a) A school with both sections (elementary and middle) under the same roof, where middle-school teachers teach fifth and sixth graders of elementary school and fifth and sixth grade teachers share activities with middle school students and teachers. Both are anchor and support. b) Teachers and parents should be very close to the children and their new friends to accompany and guide them, not limit them. Children monitored subtlety by the parents show better results in the school even when they complain about the monitoring.
- If young people arrive at high school without sufficient emotional development, it will take a delicate and enormous work to compensate for the deficiency.
- In high school there must be constant and close communication between parents and teachers and students. The beginning of adult life begins with the acceptance of the importance of study and the motivation for hard work. Just as in the early years, emphasis on socio-emotional development is most important, in high school, cognition gains traction.
- It is highly important to listen to young people regarding their interests and to constantly show them the cost/benefit appraisal of their decisions and actions.
- The worst combination for a child with lack of motivation, interest and engagement is parents that are both negligent (because they are too busy) and demanding (because they are too successful) at the same time. That is the poverty of abundance.
- In college, if everything worked well in the previous four stages, the new adults will enter this challenging stage with strong learning skills. Here the emphasis on cognitive development is even higher.
- Two final notes. Face-to-face education, at any level, yields higher results, ceteris paribus, than distance or partial scheme programs such as flipped or blended education. And finally, parents’ obsession hurrying children through their development stages is counter-productive. Children need to play and grow slowly. Playing is not just hanging around. Playing, especially for young children, is an ability to learn other abilities, for the rest of the life.
A different but similar version of this article was published by the newspaper Reforma on July 13, 2019. The author is a visiting scholar at NYU.