An old Chinese proverb says that: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life.” This proverb points out the importance of education. There is perhaps no other subject that has greater importance than the education of children. This is the only way to shape the future. It is almost impossible to meet someone who would disagree with this point of view, yet there are many different approaches to education. Governments spend huge sums of money to build reliable and long-lasting training programs. Pedagogues are relentlessly working on this subject to find the best and most appropriate ways to educate children.
The human learning process begins with birth. The person who starts to understand their body, organs, environment, and the world in this first stage enhances their skills by practicing them within the limits of the capabilities that God has given. With the help of the senses, such as “hearing,” “seeing,” “touching,” and “smelling” the amount of knowledge proliferates rapidly. Every warning and message that reaches us is an important factor in helping learning, developing consciousness, and becoming aware of life. While the development of the intelligence and mental activity of children who lack sufficient warnings and messages becomes slower, the development of the ones who are overloaded is dispersed. It must be kept in mind that the fastest growing system in a child’s body during the first three years of life is the nervous system. Therefore, appropriate messages must be provided very early on, even from the very beginning of the pregnancy.
Messages that are received through the sense of hearing have a significant importance in child education. The mental development of children who have received ample and appropriate messages is more significant and positive. It is a well-known fact that even in the earliest stages of pregnancy the baby can distinguish the mother’s voice, and is relaxed via the sense of hearing; this sense starts to develop at the very beginning of pregnancy. Unfortunately, some parents turn the television or the radio on in the baby’s room, frequently letting them listen to it. However, what is best for the baby is to have suitable audio incentives that can be easily understood. On the other hand, to remain silent when with a baby for a long time will negatively affect the language learning process. A conversation between parents in a relaxed and gentle tone, talking about pleasant things, for example, a beautiful poem, the sound of someone reading the Qur’an, or the sound of the adhan coming from the minarets, are all useful messages for babies.
Messages received through the sense of sight are as important as those received through hearing. Humans recognize nature and themselves by seeing, touching, and trying. Although the visual capabilities of a baby develop in the womb, it takes some six months for sight to reach an appropriate level. Babies accept everything that they see during this time as training material. Everything that is seen has an important role in forming the baby’s personality. Parents must always be good models for their children, acting in commendable ways. It is a well-known fact that babies pay attention to their parents’ behavior. Since imitation is one of the earliest learning techniques; parents should remember to behave in a way that they want their children to behave. Helping each other, forgiveness, responsibility, hard-work, empathy, and correct behavior are qualities that parents should demonstrate. Seeing a parent working hard, reading, and praying will help the conscience of the child to develop. Fighting, noise, and angry words will negatively affect the development.
Messages sent through meta-communication are more effective. For example, in an advertisement of a certain product, the fact that people using that product are smiling is more important than the properties of the product. This is because such behavior attaches the message “you will be happier when you use it.” For children, living in a positive environment helps them to observe correct models. Since they use the very first form of learning-imitation-providing good examples of behavior is extremely important. In the learning process, sight is one of the most frequently used methods. Therefore, parents must display appropriate behavior to help their children to learn. Displaying correct behavior is more effective than explaining what correct behavior is.
The environment in which we live has a great importance in the education of children. The school that is chosen for children must be considered from different aspects. Most people never forget their first teacher; this is one of the milestones in our lives. The teacher starts to shape our personalities at an early age. Therefore, choosing the right teacher, someone who is not only capable, but is also virtuous and pleasant, is of great importance. The teacher’s style of dressing, way of talking, their reaction to stimulus and their behavior tells us more than the teacher can; these are also the most effective means of sending messages to our children.
The children’s group of friends is another environment that needs to be monitored carefully. Having the right friends positively affects the development of the personality of the child, while having inappropriate friends will have negative effects. Many parents cannot attain positive results, despite all their efforts in education, merely because they have forgotten the importance of the peer group on the child. Starting form the ages 6-7, the effect of friends increases gradually, peaking in the teenage years.
The effect of the media on children is indisputable, especially in today’s world. We can see violence, fear, and a lack of moral values in our children; these are all the effects of media. It is known that in cases where babies spend much time watching television these children fail to develop their linguistic skills and become withdrawn from society. The massive visual or audio input from television can cause significant problems in the psychological development of the child. Some parents allow their children to watch advertisements, as they are unaware of this fact. In child education, especially in the early stages, parents must be very careful to combat the inappropriate stimuli of the television and computer. During that period the baby needs the parents’ interest, love, conversation, and physical closeness more than they need the picture on the television or computer. Parents must remember that every stimulus during these stages has a long-lasting effect throughout the child’s life. Therefore, the stimuli given to the child must be appropriate.
As a drop of water can shape a rock by falling on it everyday, so to can appropriate or inappropriate messages shape the personality of a child over time. All the messages must be suitable to the age; they must contribute to the child’s development. They must be neither too difficult, nor incomplete and insufficient. They must be in close relation with environment. They must not contain opposing messages, and they must not impose fear or despair.
As a result, in the education of the child, parents, educators and teachers must provide appropriate, sufficient, and positive warnings and messages for children.
Appropriate Messages in Child Training
- Hasan Aydinli
- Category: Issue 47 (July - September 2004)
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