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Family as first school



IT IS often said that “home is the first school and parents are the first teachers”. Home is the setting for an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. The families, particularly parents, play an important role in the development of moral values in children.

The parents teach the children behaviour, dress codes, customs, aspirations and so on. The minds of children develop in the major ways through the process of non-formal education at home. Children always observe and follow the behaviour of parents, both inside and outside the homes, little wonder the young family members inculcate the value system practised in the family.

  Last week, Wednesday to be precise, I visited one primary school in Awka Metropolis. On my arrival, I went straight to the headmistress’ office and because her secretary was not on seat at the moment, I knocked at her door and was allowed in, even though she was with a lady, who happened to be a parent of one of the pupils in primary 4. Although I was not included in their conversation, but what the headmistress was telling her caught my interest.

She was bitterly complaining to the poor mother about her daughter’s attitude in class. “Your daughter fights at every slightest provocation, she uses all sorts of foul languages even to the extent of calling other pupils harlots. In fact, your child has neither fear nor respect for anybody in this school. Please, I think it is better you take her to another school because very soon, she will end up corrupting other pupils in this school”. 

  I later met the woman outside when she was about leaving with her daughter and I wanted to find out why a kid of that age should behave in such manners. In the process of our discussion, I found out that the child’s father uses foul languages at home, beats the mum at any slightest provocation and regularly fights in their compound. Now, will it not be unrighteous to expect better behaviour from a child who is raised in such a home?

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  Speaking on the issue, Mrs Iwuchukwu Obioma, a mother of two primary school pupils said: “Parents are the major providers of their children’s education from birth through adolescence. They guide the development of their characters, mental health and also help form the foundation from which they will develop lifelong attitudes and interests. And because our homes are the primary environments in which our children’s potentials and personalities will take shape, it is important to make sure that we create a positive and open atmosphere that will not only support what goes on in the classroom, but will also instill the desire to learn.

  The family shapes the attitude of a child towards society and other people. It also helps in the psychological growth of the child and influences his or her ambitions and values. It is therefore a proven fact that a blissful and cheerful atmosphere in the family will develop love, tolerance and generosity.

If there is an environment of unhappiness at home, perhaps a situation where parents always fight, act in ways that depict frustration,  use foul languages or talk to each other or even other people without respect, their children are bound to act in like manners even in their schools. They are not definitely acting that way because they want to be bad, but because that is the only way they have learnt to act, whether that way is good or bad.

  Meanwhile, moral values are the intrinsic beliefs developed from the value systems of how we should behave in any given situation. They are the standards of good and evil, which govern an individual’s behaviour and choices. Owing to the fact that our homes are the first schools for our young ones, the importance of making our homes a breeding ground for good morals cannot be overemphasised.

Parents have to be careful of their utterances and their actions at home, especially around their children, because whatever they see their parents do or say in, whether good or bad is what they learn and that is what they will begin to say or do. However, they see their parents handle any situation is how they will handle such situation if they are faced with it tomorrow.

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  Then Mr Ezechuckwu Austin, a psychologist, said “The ages from birth to five are when a child’s brain absorbs so much information. These ages are when a lot of who the child will be, what kind of a person he or she will become, are instilled. All other ages, of course, form the child as well, but these first ages are so vital. They are just like little sponges absorbing all the information around them.

They watch everything their parents do. Even when they think the children are not paying attention, they are actually picking things up from the parents. They observe everything, from watching what the parents do, listening to the things they say, their mannerisms, how they react to situations down to their emotions. They are learning all this from the parents. It will form the basis for the future person they become.

  “Brain science has shown us how important those first years are, with 90% of brain development, in all areas of learning and growth, occurring. What happens in those early years, in the home, set the foundation for learning and growth for the rest of a person’s life. Thus, the legacy which we pass on to our off-springs surely reflects in their behaviour. Parents are the first teachers.

They actually feed the raw materials and fodder for the first learning and that is mirrored so effortlessly in his or her life’s circle. Therefore, it is important that parents be careful of what they do around these children at this tender stage of their lives because whatever they become tomorrow is as a result of those little guarded or unguarded actions of their parents when the children were still tender.”

  Mrs Adaeze Obiajulu, a mother and civil servant said, “education of children begins long before they are enrolled in schools; it starts at home where mothers and fathers and sometimes grandparents are their teachers in the socialisation process. It is within the family that character is developed and moral as well as behavioural attitudes are formed.

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It is also in the family that strong cultural values and norms such as love, compassion and filial piety are imparted and inculcated. The outcome of this education will ensure that children become good citizens of the nation. Children are like sponges–they model everything a parent does and incorporate what they see into their own lives.

  It is important that parents set the right examples for their children. Negative examples can be detrimental to a child’s development and can lead to bad behavior in the future. Antisocial children learn their behaviour from their parents.  Children also learn social skills which can be interpreted as everything from the basic polite “please” and “thank you” to speaking in front of crowds.

Children model their parents and learn from them. A parent’s reaction to stress affects the way a child reacts to stress, if a parent reacts negatively, a child will learn to react negatively as well. In addition, negative reactions to stress, such as yelling and lashing out, can scare a child. Children can learn to shut themselves down and may even think that they are the cause of the stress. If stress is handled positively, it helps children see that their parents’ love for them never changes, even when they are stressed out.

  So in conclusion, it is better for parents to live that kind of life they would want their children to live in the future because children pick everything they see their parents do.

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