During the School Years
The work of the educated mother to develop cognitive and language skills of preschool children provides an advantage to children upon entry into school. But the influence of parent's, and especially mother's education level does not end there. In fact, a well-educated mother is a form of continuous support for children's educational success.
More highly educated parents know more about their child's school performance, about the schools and the schooling process, have more contact with the teachers, more often help their children negotiate the many demands of schools and are more likely to take action to manage their children's academic achievement.
Topics For Developing Parenting Programs as
Figure 10.1 presents topics developed by ABC'S Inc. staff that correspond to each of the effects that mother's education has in the four phases of parenting. The goal for an intergenerational, functional context literacy program is to develop a program that uses the parenting topics as content and develops methods for improving the mother's literacy skills while mastering the parenting content.
A Learner-Centered, Participatory Method for Developing a Parenting Program. One of the findings of the WOW intergenerational literacy research project was that mothers involved in the research program spontaneously became interested in their effects upon their children's education (see chapter 1). The mothers who participated in filling-out questionnaires read sections asking questions about how often they read to their children, how often they participated in school activities, etc. While doing this, many expressed surprised to learn that they could be doing things to improve their children's pre-school and in-school learning and achievement.
Members of the WWFN reported that many mothers began coming up with ideas for how they could become better teachers for their children. This suggested to ABC'S Inc. that a low-cost approach to the development of a parenting program would involve the mothers in their education and training courses to reflect on the ideas presented in Figure 10.1 and to develop their own ideas about how they might improve their own literacy, mathematics and other skills while also learning more about and going about helping their children learn more.
ABC'S Inc. could provide resources, such as guidance in using libraries and bookstores for finding useful resource materials. They could also invite specialists from universities and family literacy programs to speak to their clients. Cameras for making picture books, paper for drawing sketches and for children to "scribble-write" or to print and write on could be provided by ABC'S Inc. But the mothers themselves could develop the materials that they would use to interact with their children and their children's schools.
By using this learner-centered, participatory approach, an intergenerational literacy program can be developed inexpensively. Of course, such programs can also be developed that focus on the role of the father in bringing up children.
By engaging in the education of parents, we increase the educability of children. This is just one of the reasons we need to find ways to reach a larger number of youth and adults with functional context education.