It is generally said the “every good parent desires that their child be better than them”. Merely desiring success for your child alone, however, does not guarantee that s/he will be successful. There are principles that guide success of the child, and practical roles for parents to play in helping their child succeed in a competitive world. These equip the child with necessary moral virtues, emotional intelligence, self-mastery, values and other life skills that will build the child’s capacity for excellence. They place the child on a pedestal of sustainable success in a competitive world, with the potential to lead among their peers. Based on the the rising poverty in demographic (human) resources and declining life outcomes of younger generations in developing societies, the Institute for Work and Family Integration (IWFI) has conducted studies and carried out interventions towards understanding the problem, advocating and making a change through parental involvement in the education of the child. This article focuses on the role of parents in the pursuit of the child’s success in today’s world.
Parents are the primary teachers of the child. They are the first adults, role models and mentors that the child encounters in life. The child, during the first periods of life, is highly “fertile” to receive, internalize and nurture whatever values or knowledge that are introduced to him/her. Such formative years are equally strategic predictors of the success of the child.
The reality today, however, is that many parents are unable to optimize the opportunities that they have in helping their child succeed, during and after the formative years. This can be attributed to different factor:
- Ignorance or nonchalance to parenting and quality upbringing of the child; and indifference to the child’s life outcomes
- Inadequate knowledge about quality parenting and how to be effectively involved in the
- Parental unavailability, or lack of priority for quality parenting
Not only do these inhibit the success of children, they also contribute to the causes of problems such as truancy, low academic performance, bullying, drug abuse, poor leadership capacity, crimes and deaths. The story of many developed countries, including Nigeria, has not been different from these realities which threaten a viable and sustainable future. Although the situation demands concerted efforts towards addressing the problems, little is being done in Nigeria.
Many developed countries of the world, in the bid to address these problems, had introduced strategies for making and helping parents participate in the formation of their child, using policy and legal instruments. Research as well as examples from many developed countries demonstrates that synergy between certain stakeholders and factors facilitate the delivery of quality and holistic education, forming them as functional citizens and potentially virtuous leaders of their country. Holistic education equips students with comprehensive knowledge and skills to compete with their peers globally, and to be able to operate optimally in every domain of their life
Over the past 12 years, IWFI, through research, sensitization and training has adapted and deployed a model for holistic education for secondary schools on the Island of Lagos, Nigeria. The programme had focused mainly on teachers and parents, mobilizing schools and families to be able to collaborate in the holistic education of the child. As posited by the Texas Education Authority (2009), family, school, and the community possess the required resources that can help the child succeed. A 2019 survey revealed that IWFI’s intervention improved students’ openness to mentorship (15%); time management behaviour by 61.1%; self-mastery by 29.2%. Additionally, the intervention improved teachers’ ability to inculcate cultural values and engage parents and students by 25%.
Parents and teachers in many of the target schools further revealed highly zealous desire of parents and teachers to help their children or students succeed. However, a generally low level of knowledge and understanding was observed in terms of approach and strategy to achieve. Thus, parents and teachers tend to have basic value for the success of their children, which, could be properly developed with sensitization and eventual intervention. Parents, teachers and communities can, and they should help young society members succeed. We can help them partner to help their children and students to succeed.
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