PARENTING AND EARLY EDUCATION

One of the primary tasks Parents engage with their child is through the process of Education. Education seems to be the foundation upon which adult life is lived. Starting from Preschool, through schools and colleges, this encompasses a period of 15 to 20 years of life!

Challenges on the Changed World

Education was perceived to be the gateway for employment and avocation. However, there has been a rapid technological advancement wherein the way we live personally or professionally   has changed rapidly. Things which were used for a life time now are used and thrown within years – be they watches, vessels or mobile phones! Professional competencies become redundant in a few years. Ask a software engineer or a professional in the digital world and they will vouch that knowledge changes by the year  if not a month!

Future is uncertain and education today is unable to guarantee security of job or income. 15 to 20 years of toiling for the child and parents through the system spending at least 30 to 40 Lakh rupees with no certainty in the end ? The value of educational qualification has become a few alphabets in the ‘degree certificate’.

Understanding Education – what is it?

  • Simply defined, Education is the ‘Facilitation of Learning’.
  • Parents and teachers, as do physical infrastructure like buildings, boards, computers and other facilities could also facilitate learning
  • Learning does not happen because of teaching. It is not the end product of teaching!
  • By facilitation, learning happens automatically. Thus, each child learns differently in the same class or through the same teacher. Learning, therefore, is an occurrence!
  • Learning happens all though life. Being a learner is the key to adapting to the changing world !

 Education Mantra

Understood in this dynamic perspective, parenting and education take on a very different dimension. Parents are facilitators in the process of Education along with schools and teachers. Making a child a learner and remaining curious and creative is the Mantra in Parenting!

When does Educating and Parenting begin?

  • Parenting and Educating begin well before birth.  
  • A child developing in the womb of a pregnant mother is a learner. The learning process begins as life develops through combining energies. As an egg/ovum and as sperms – imprints and blueprints of future life are being made! Thus, there is learning even at the preconception stage of life!
  • In the course of Infancy 9 ( age upto 3 years)  when the child appears to be growing from lying down/sleeping to becoming a crawler, toddler, walker-talker and the like , the child learns.

A Children begin to learn in preschools and schools only thereafter !

Learning in the womb – fact or fiction?

In the last 3 to 4 decades there has been a trend of Modern Sciences scaling new heights. Preceding that the prevailing medical knowledge stated that a baby/foetus growing in the womb is still a life under construction (work-in-progress) and hence is not sentient like a human being. However, recent advancements in Prenatal and Perinatal Sciences brought in the knowledge that a baby in the womb is sentient, live and learning.

This has now reached a level where there is a change in the direction of public discourse and conversations. In May 2018 – World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, UNICEF and other prominent organizations have given a clarion call in a publication titled “Nurturing Care Framework”. The documents states the following :

  • “What is one of the best ways a country can boost shared prosperity, promote inclusive economic growth, expand equitable opportunity, and end extreme poverty? The answer is simple: Invest in early childhood development.
  •  We now understand that the period from pregnancy to age 3 is the most critical, when the brain grows faster than at any other time. Window of opportunity to lay a foundation of health and wellbeing whose benefits last a lifetime – and carry into the next generation.
  • And investing in ECD is cost effective. For every $1 spent on early childhood development interventions, the return on investment can be as high as $13”

These words confirm that the world of science (and economics) has awakened to the huge possibilities of working with a life through the stages of being an Embryo, Foetus and an Infant. For good reasons – to improve well-being and derive lifetime benefits which can also pass on to future generations. 48 countries of the world, including India, are signatories to these. The world now needs to act on these statements. The awareness has to spread in the Medical, Educational and Social Fields so that in percolates down to every household, present and future parents.    

Golden Period of Life – Parenting and Educational Foundation

The early life days encompassing the periods of Pregnancy, Infancy and Preconception ( about 3 to 4 months preceding conception) is increasingly being recognized as the Golden Period.  This period is understood to create the foundational templates needed in later life – as a child, teenager and adult.

The Nurturing Care Framework document mentioned above also states the following:

  • “Over the last three decades, scientific findings from a range of disciplines have converged. They prove that, during pregnancy and the first three years after birth, we lay down critical elements of our health, well-being and productivity, which will last throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood
  • By age 2, massive numbers of neuronal connections have been made in response to interactions with the environment, and especially interactions with caregivers.
  • This rapid brain development is driven by a genetic pattern established over hundreds of thousands of years, but it is steered by the young child’s experiences.
  • The foetus first begins to experience the world through touch. Then, later in pregnancy, come taste, sound, smell and sight. After birth, it is these senses that enable the developing child to learn from their surroundings and to adapt, physiologically and psychologically.
  • This early adaptive learning is what makes the period from pregnancy to age 3 critical, and it modifies the way genes are expressed.  These epigenetic processes occur throughout life, but in this period, they create blueprints for future adaptations to the environment.”

It can be seen that the foundation of life is built in the earliest period of life when a baby or infant is sentient learns to build its life templates and principles for living.  Subsequently, this manifests as health, behaviour, attitudes, temperaments, intelligence and learning potential. Hence Education and Parenting has to begin in the womb. 

Subsequent Education

Education through Childhood happens as a child develops its Active and Passive Mind. The Child’s curiosity knowns no limits and uses all faculties through the sense organs to develop its skills and knowledge. As the mind develops, the Individuality of a child firms up to the age of Adolescence. Thereafter the Personality of a child takes shape and assert its independent existence as a human being. As an adult it begins to transact with the world outside and makes it presence felt as a consumer-contributor.

It must be recognised that the foundation and subsequent education together make a person live in the world and undertake actions or react.

In conclusion, Parenting has to be nuanced to the needs and the age of the child. The Education has to similarly be relevant. When Parenting and Educational needs converge, the prospects of a more holistic, harmonized and fulfilling life for the child and parents becomes possible.