Synergy between home and school- sustaining the environment that helps children succeed.
This idea builds on the importance of creating order and structure and an environment that fosters learning early in life. In many low income communities in Africa, parents tend to see education (embodied by schools and teachers) as the gateway to a better future for their children. Consequently, the importance of their role as parents going beyond providing the means for their children to get an education is all too often lost on them. Schools succeed not just because different subjects are taught but because there is order and structure and a learning environment that encourages creativity, curiosity and dreaming. Teachers and parents can work together to ensure that the benefits gained from these need not end at school.
An environment where there is order and structure offers children the following benefits:
* Provides a certain degree of stability in life (and this can be gained through routines)
* Helps in the development of self discipline
* Builds an understanding of boundaries and limits and helps children develop self control
These are traits that are needed to succeed in life. Also children need to be encouraged to dream and to be curious. Curiosity stimulates learning and being allowed and encouraged to dream leaves the door to possibilities open.
A synergy between schools and parents to sustain such an environment would be helpful. Mothers are usually the first teachers of their children and in these communities, tend to spend the most time with them.
What if they were educated in various ways about the benefits of order and structure, routines and the importance of encouraging their children to be curious, to read and to dream. Even young children can be encouraged to believe in themselves and in possibilities.
DETAILS: How it would work
The idea is to create a forum where parents and teachers in the community meet up (perhaps twice monthly) to have these discussions and to learn more about early child development. Tools that can be used include:
1. Storytelling: In many African communities, storytelling is deeply appreciated and when done creatively, it can be a powerful tool to connect with parents and pass the message across. Inspirational stories can encourage parents who themselves have stopped believing and dreaming.
2. Pamphlets: Simple to understand pamphlets with pictures could also be used.
3. Movies: Short inspirational films could help keep hope alive and point to possibilities
Why it might succeed:
1. In communities like these, teachers to a certain degree have a high level of influence. Due to the fact that education is seen as an agent of change and a way out of poverty, they are in most cases higly regarded.
2.Outside the home and influence of a child's immediate family, children who go to school spend most of their time with their teachers and bond with them. Again, this places the teacher in a position of influence.
3. The role of mothers is crucial and in many communities they are the ones who easily spread the word. Working with them could be a huge advantage.
4. When parents and teachers work together, the community gets involved and this has its advantages:
i. Making it a community effort will motivate all parties to continue with the endeavor while igniting the interest of more people.
ii. A community helps with accountability
iii. The community builds an environment where participants feel a sense of belonging and can be open with one another.(They can ask questions, get feedback and share their own experiences)
Parents would basically have a support system.
5. It would neither be expensive nor complicated to start.
6. It could be easy to monitor and evaluate- primarily through attendance and feedback from parents.
7. Children seeing their parents getting involved with their school and their teachers, get positive rienforcement about education and learning.
Quesions for the community:
1. How can parents who feel disillusioned or discouraged be taught to dream again?
Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?
Children in low income communities in Africa who are of school going age.
How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?
This idea would be tested in 2 ways:
1. Attendance rates( to give an indication of interest and commitment)
2. Feedback from parents and teachers on strengths and weaknesses of the program, their perception of its benefits
What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?
1. Feedback from the OpenIDEO community
2. Help from experts- (designers and educators) with the design and content of posters, pamphlets and other educational materials
3. Help from experts at IDEO to make the design process Human Centered
Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?
Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.