Devyani Mungal, Founder the Sanskriti Group of Schools, Pune
The old adage which professed, “It takes a village to raise a child” is still relevant in the modern world. The challenge is that there has been rapid fraying of the supportive social structure which existed earlier. There is no support of large, extended families which provided a safety net for young parents and children to grow and blossom into healthy, well-rounded individuals.
In the absence of a safe, nurturing neighbourhood there is a sudden void that has been created. It is imperative that schools step forward to ensure that they take care of the well-being of all its three stakeholders, parents, children and educators. Schools have a significant responsibility to plan and create safe and secure spaces in their premises and provide ample opportunities for engagement, free expression, experimentation and collaboration of the children, parents and educators.
The primary role of schools earlier was to impart education, while the emotional, behavioural and social well-being needs were fulfilled by families, neighbourhoods, communities which were interwoven strongly in the fabric of society. In modern times parents are often working in bustling towns and cities, far from the places they grew up in. They are juggling many responsibilities of their career, of being good providers and parents. They are constantly anxious about their jobs, families and want to provide the best education to their children.
The school must provide children, parents and educators opportunities where they work together with their children and friends. These opportunities could be- working on collaborative science projects, creative activities like music, dance, art, pottery etc. or they could synergise with children and educators to write scripts for dramas and engage in games and sports in the schools.
Schools have the wherewithal to gently guide the children, parents and educators to learn through hands on experiences. Opportunities can be created by the educators for children and parents to learn how to discuss, express freely, have different opinions, and respect the differences of opinions. Spaces and platform can be created to resolve differences and handle emotions like sadness, joy, anger, frustration, and disappointment.
Schools must be the bridges that help to build a better rapport among parents, children and educators. The parents and teachers can together ensure that our children are resilient and do not give up at the sight of the smallest challenge, hurdle or adversity. They must not give up easily and learn that life will not always move according to their wishes, plans or desires.
The children will often model the behaviour that they see not what they are preached. The conduct, responses of the adults and the way they handle their emotions in different situations will be a precursor of how they navigate their lives. A healthy parent teacher collaboration will help the children to learn the right skill of communication – what to say, where to say, how to say it and moreover learn to be good listeners.
The parents and the teachers need to recognise and accept the current ideological confusion and obsession with gadgets among children as well as adults. This has many pitfalls. Children are in the care of digital nannies and are living in a virtual world far from reality. They are often exposed to content unsuitable for their age, experience cyber bullying and are playing online games where they are exposed to mindless violence that they gradually start accepting as normal. Today we have a young generation that proclaims itself to be Gen Z, but these children are extremely vulnerable.
With a strong parent teacher collaboration, the children can be guided counselled and motivated. They can be helped to learn the attitude to attempt, adapt to changes and not give up easily in the face of failure.
It is essential that apart from following a curriculum and teaching a syllabus, the parents and the educators need to pause and introspect as to what is the need of the hour. The questions that we need to ask ourselves is – “Are we preparing the children to just pass the exams or imparting them lessons that will help them in their lives? Are marks the sole criteria of success or children should learn to adapt accommodate be resilient and happy?” Both parents and educators need to be sensitive and watchful about any changes that they see in a child’s attitude, behaviour and performance. Both, parents and teachers must work together to win the confidence of the child, so that he or she does not hesitate to express his or her concerns, anxieties and challenges. The child needs to know that he or she is accepted just the way he or she is. The child must trust his parents and educators and must know that he or she has their unconditional support.
For schools, educators and parents to make a difference in each child’s life, it is very essential that there is strong partnership and collaboration between the parents and teachers to ensure the emotional well-being of children. The educators and parents can make a difference in each child’s life. We need to accept and acknowledge the fact that we are preparing our children to thrive and succeed in life outside the safe boundaries of their homes and schools.