‘Strengthen parent-teacher partnership’

EDUCATION plays an important role in developing one’s knowledge and skills like problem-solving, language and socio-emotional competence.

To provide children with the opportunity to learn in a supportive, creative and safe environment, a solid foundation of support from various entities – teachers, institutions, parents and community – is required.

During their formative years, children look up to adults to help them learn and navigate the works and ways of the world.

Albert Bandura’s social learning theory states that children emulate the actions and behaviours of adults to whom they most relate.

Parents are in fact their children’s first teachers and role models during their preschool years.

Many academics recognise the critical significance of strong positive relationships between parents and schools in children’s growth and education.

New and young parents may, however, find it daunting to guide and teach their children outside of the classroom environment.

Observations during our recent Early Childhood Education Festival tell us that parents are excited to be involved in their children’s academic and personal development, but sometimes simply do not have the proper resources or know-how.

To this effect, early childhood educators and institutions have the responsibility to offer adequate support and guidance not only for student learning, but also for parents to aid their children’s academic progress.

Studies have shown that parental participation works best when it is perceived as a collaborative effort between educators and parents.

It’s important for educators to understand that unlike teachers, whose influence on a child is relatively limited, parents maintain a lifelong commitment to their children.

That said, it is important for various stakeholders within this segment, including policymakers and education institutions, to enhance programmes and modules that can cater to the new demands in early childhood care and education.

The knowledge, skills and attitudes that have been nurtured in the early years classroom need to be extended to the home environment.

Without a continuum, it will be a challenge to sustain the learning and development that children have acquired from their classrooms.

Parents have knowledge of their children’s likes and dislikes, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and personality traits – all necessary information for teachers to make informed judgements and decisions when it comes to their students’ learning needs.

Therefore, beyond just designing a curriculum that prepares future early childhood educators with the required traits and skills to teach students, it is imperative to consider educational content that can equip soon-to-be-teachers with the skills and resilience to support parents in their role as “teachers at home”.

Bridging the gap between the home and school environment requires parent-teacher communication on their expectations of the child’s learning and development, and keeping track on the child’s progress, on top of working together in supporting and extending the child’s development and learning from the classroom to home environment.

To get the ball rolling, education institutions can start by providing platforms where both teachers and parents can develop and refine their skills on best practices, and case examples to support children’s learning and holistic development.

Nurul Iman Arshad is a senior lecturer at the Taylor’s College School of Pre-University Studies. She completed her MA in Early Childhood studies at the University of East London and has nine years of experience teaching early childhood education (ECE) at the tertiary level. She has worked on a few research studies on ECE. As the Diploma in ECE programme director, she aims to incorporate more experiential learning which will bring together ideas and innovations from diverse stakeholders working with young children and families. She is also keen to collaborate with ECE industry partners on small-scale projects which can bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and real-world practice. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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