The role of parents in the learning process

By: Tumpal Sujadi, Child Protection Officer INOVASI


Parents are a child’s first teacher. The active participation of parents in supporting the improvement of their child’s education both formally and informally is very important. In fact, the relationship between children and their parents is one of the foundational factors for a child’s growth and development, including their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. The better the quality of a child’s relationships with their parents, the better their growth and development.

In all partner districts, INOVASI engages with a variety of stakeholders, including parents and community. Last month in Probolinggo, East Java, INOVASI initiated a meeting with all parents of students from grades 1 to grade 6 in those partner schools implementing a multigrade pilot. The meeting was held from 5-7 March in Wonokerto 2, Sariwani 2, Ngadisari 2, and Sukapura 3 primary schools.

Some partner schools implementing the multigrade pilot are similar in nature, where the school population ranges from 40-60 students across grades 1 to 6. It is also common in these schools for children to miss school and instead accompany their parents to the fields or to the market for a few days at a time.

In addition to student absenteeism, there are other problems such as children spending too much time playing with their mobile phones so they forget to study, pray and other character building activities. In many cases, children have a mobile phone because their parents gave it to them, after seeing other children in the local community with mobile phones.

The parent meeting began with reflection. Participants were asked to recall how they interacted with their parents when they themselves were young. The participants were then asked to remember a childhood experience that felt unpleasant while interacting with other people both with peers or parents. And finally, attendees were asked to analyse and find a simple solution to the various problems that hinder their child’s learning process.

Through the use of a PDIA (problem driven iterative adaptation) approach, participants also discussed what the long term impact might be if children continued to skip school or use mobile phones excessively. What are the root causes of the problem? How should they solve the problem?

From the problem tree analysis process, participants realized that the problems were not resolved because they were not aware of any short-term and long-term impacts. They also had not thought of the root of the problem, so had not found a solution that addressed the true problem at hand.

After exploring the impact and cause of the problem, participants continued the discussion to find simple, practical solutions. Some solutions were discussed for the problem of mobile phone usage. These included making an agreement with the child regarding the child’s schedule—when to play, when to rest, when to study. Initially, participants thought that making a schedule was a parent’s duty. But, it turns out that when the child is not involved, the child will ignore the instructions. Agreement with the child is key, so they feel ownership of the schedule. This is very important in the paradigm shift, to think of children no longer as objects for instruction, but as subjects who can think for themselves.

Parents also showed commitment to managing their own time at home so they will be able to support and interact with their children. For example, they agreed to support their child  during the learning process, helping to teach them about various things such as literacy and numeracy through various daily activities.

Shopping is one example of an activity where parents can build a more productive engagement with their child and their learning. Through this activity, children are taught to write and read shopping lists that must be purchased, and know the counting process. They must work through how many items are purchased and calculate how much money is left (if any) and so on. They can also write and read cake recipes before making a cake.

Parents also discussed simple and practical solutions for student absenteeism at school. They committed to not inviting children to travel during school hours.

“After returning home from this activity, I want to be able to teach my children better,” said one Probolinggo parent.

The role of parents in the learning process