Educating children

September 15th, 2011 @   -  No Comments

Not all knowledge and information are equal. Education must be beneficial and comprehensive in that it will help us improve this world and help fellow human beings. That is why the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to pray “O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from the knowledge which does not benefit” (Sahih Muslim, Book 35, Hadith 6568).

We should train our children to think about education, not just as a means of getting a job but as a means of producing something that will benefit humanity. When we develop this attitude, a passion for knowledge will also develop, because we will no longer follow the everyday mundane routine merely to get a paycheck, but we will work for something higher than that.

Here are a few suggestions to help your child attain the best education:

Enjoy the learning process

For children to develop the right attitude towards education from an early age, their education should not be focused exclusively on the grades they receive but on the process of learning itself, which should be fun and stimulating. Yet learning is sometimes a traumatic experience for children. Some children develop psychosomatic symptoms before going to school in the morning where they complain about their stomach hurting or having a headache just so they can skip school. This has to be questioned. Why is it accepted as a fact of life that schooling has to be miserable for most children? Our children spend most of their childhood and adolescent years being “educated” so why can’t we make this into a much more pleasurable and useful experience? These same children who try to get out of going to school can become the adults who hate Mondays and can’t wait for the weekend to come because they do not enjoy their work.

Hands-on learning

One of the things parents can do to provide a more stimulating learning environment is to provide more opportunities of hands-on learning that allows all the senses to operate at their peak. For example, if there is a broken appliance in the house, rather than throwing it away allow your children to disassemble it and see how the parts work.

Welcoming failure

Allow children to make mistakes and be wrong. This capacity allows them to be free of the fear of failing which prevents many people from achieving the best they can. It is much safer to be a follower than an innovator since the latter involves more risks and making mistakes before succeeding. In the current school system, children are penalized for making mistakes and are led to believe that they don’t have much potential.  That failure is documented on a piece of paper that goes to affect the child’s view of himself/herself. The child may therefore start defining himself as a failure. Children need to understand that we learn lessons from failure, sometimes the most important lessons, and we can improve on them so we can succeed. But if children develop a fear of failure they are less likely to be innovative in the future.  So rather than reprimanding children for making a mistake which makes learning a traumatic experience for them, analyze with them their mistakes and help them discover how they can improve in the future.

Don’t rely solely on schools for your child’s education

The deficits in the way children are educated and the content of their education in schools can be improved upon by parents. As a parent, you do not have to rely solely on the school to educate your child. Research has shown that children who start at the same level develop their knowledge and skills at different rates depending on how much their parents invest in their child’s education outside of school. Children who spend time learning outside of school, for example, during the summer vacation, are much more likely to surpass children whose learning is limited to the school.

Learning can occur everywhere and all the time

Learning does not take place only through books; learning can take place during play-time, while you’re taking a walk down a street, during a camping trip and so on. It is about diversifying children’s learning experiences outside of school and taking every opportunity in everyday life to teach children useful information and allow them to develop their skills. It is about bringing forth a comprehensive form of education that allows children to tie in the abstract concepts that they learn with everyday experiences and to develop a wider imagination that nourishes their creativity.

Parents must play a bigger role in their children’s education and should not rely solely on schools. Every child can succeed if they are given an opportunity to learn in the right environments that allow them to develop their talents and grow to benefit others.

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