Monday, February 18, 2019

Needed: Encouraging Parents and Children Living in Poverty to Value Education

More needs to be done to help those in poverty to become financially independent. Education is a major route to achieving this goal. Unfortunately, too many impoverished parents do not value schooling. These attitudes are intrinsically adopted by their children; they are unaware that this is occurring. Often, these students are the ones who become disciplinary problems; they attend school only because it is required. So, what can be done? Programs like Head-Start can help, but can it modify a student’s attitude toward education? Dedicated and caring teachers are essential. Some struggle to motivate their students by seeking to make learning rewarding. Some succeed by finding the “hook” that captivates their class. A more ideal solution is to find ways to to get students to value education before they enroll in school.

Value systems begin early in life and are often related to the values of the parents.
Consequently, we need to find a way to encourage parents to hold education in higher
esteem. They should be engaged in a program that stresses the long term advantages
of a good education. This means providing inducements for parents to learn the value of
education and, more importantly, transmit it to their offspring. Allied with this is getting
parents to play a more active interest in their child’s academic progress. When accomplished,
the student receives the message that education is important; and most children want to please
their parents.

Some programs can begin when the child is one year old. Invite parents to attend “seminars”
that include viewing videos of children who, through education, have succeeded in escaping
the poverty of their upbringing. Better yet, invite speakers to describe their transformation in
person. Getting parents to attend may need inducements such as free dinners, babysitting,
health care, and giving away prizes.

A second effort would be the use of parent surrogates who provide in-home, age-appropriate
educational games. Parents should be included where possible. An example of this is the
Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) where  an early-learning specialist visits pre-school
children twice a week to provide educational activities. Evaluations of this program have been
encouraging. (Click link below for more details.) Programs like PCHP need to be expanded to
all areas where the disadvantaged live.

All the activities described should promote a positive attitude toward learning. Hopefully,
this will provide an avenue of opportunity for future generations to break from the cycle of