Aside from preschools, kiddie gyms, and tutorial centers, hubs for enrichment classes have been mushrooming everywhere in the past few years. It seems as if there has been an ongoing trend to keep the young ones busy or even a “pressure” to utilize every waking moment into a learning experience.
At the back of almost every parent’s mind, there is a lingering fear of getting “left behind” in terms of their child’s knowledge and skills. And so to keep up, parents seek far and wide to find the perfect place for their child’s development. “What does this program offer? Who is teaching this class? How many sessions can my child attend?” However, in the hustle and bustle of the hunt, parents often forget that they need not look far, for the best place to start learning is closer than they actually think – the home.
The Potential of the Home The idea of home is easily and commonly misconstrued as simply a place for board and lodging (and maybe for a bit of leisure and recreation) and that development of skills is a responsibility to be handled by the school. However, this conservative chicken-egg debate in determining who has topmost priority in a child’s learning and development is hardly necessary. In fact, the new perspective is to accept that these two complement each other and aid the child in maximizing his potential. Parents and child experts these days tell us that there is a need for everyone to steer away from this old-fashioned belief. Both have equally important roles to play, but what makes the home special and suitable for early learning is the idea of the family.
In her book The Filipino Family, Belen Medina (2001) shares that the family is a basic institution of society for it is the first social group which an individual is exposed to, as well as the group he most spends time with in his lifetime. Because of the deep and ongoing contact among its members, the family experiences shared make a lasting impression on an individual. For a child then, the home (through experiences and interactions) becomes a primary mover in his growing years.
Teacher Maricar Gustilo-de Ocampo, an Education Consultant from POTENCIA, Inc. and a faculty member of the College of Education in De La Salle University-Manila, strongly emphasizes the importance of the home and interactions that take place in it for a child. “I believe that the first learning environment of a child is in his home. It may be a castle, shanty, apartment or condo but the place where the child has interactions with his parents and important adults is very important,” she says. Urie Bronfenbrener, an American Psychologist, views the growing child as developing within a complex system of relationships found in different layers of his environment. The home, which is one of the most immediate environments surrounding the child, then makes a good breeding ground for a his physical, social, emotional and cognitive growth. Through the child’s meaningful interactions with people and the activities he engages in, a child’s strengths are developed. “I believe that schools are important for learning both for academic and social needs. But the home environment can provide both if the family has made the full commitment to educate and care for their child in the home,” Mrs. Gustilo-de Ocampo further stresses.