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Develop family as the first school

(Excerpt from the book Creative Learning by Vijoy Prakash)

Family is said to be the first school, but we have done little to develop it as the first school. Swami Dayanand had identified father, mother and teacher to be the three pillars of education of a child. In Satpatha Brahman it was said,

matriman pitrimanaachryavan purusho ved
(A man is knowledgeable, if he is under the guidance of  learned mother, father, and teacher.)

Unless all pillars are equally strong, the child cannot be said to be properly educated. Today couples get married. They also have children. But, they are never trained in the methods of rearing the children. They are never told how they should steer the child in the elementary stages of learning. It has now been established that about 90% of the development of brain take place before the end of 5 years. Since couples do not know how to take care of the child, they depend mainly upon hit and trial methods. Thus, children may not attain full development of brain as per their own potential.  As such, they are not fully prepared to take advantage of the learning system, when they enter the school system.


Traditionally under joint family system, old people used to take care of the siblings. As many families lived together, collective wisdom of the family met this requirement. Even if one of the family members was academically good, s/he used to take care of all children of the family. If one member knew painting, everybody would be initiated into painting. If one were a good storyteller or singer, s/he would keep children engaged in stories and songs. This way, children could learn many things from their family members.

Now in a nuclear family set up, this privilege is not available to a child. Further, parents are not exposed to such learning techniques, which can be helpful in the proper development of the child. If the initial period of life is so important as to cover most of the learning in life, how can it in left to chance? There is an urgent need to develop programmes for training young couples at the time of marriage or immediately thereafter, so that children may get adequate attention and facility for learning right from the time of their birth.

As we have indicated earlier, in our traditional system social festivals like ‘Madhushrawani’ already took care of this aspect, where brides were given training about family life just after marriage. Since these occasions used stories, songs and paintings as the methodology to empower couples to face this new situation, it had better and long lasting impact. These stories are heard by not only  young couples, but by all ladies of the village present on the occasion, and so it  had larger coverage so far learning is concerned.

There is an urgent need to strengthen such an arrangement. The curriculum, content, etc. of such festivals should be modernised and reformed. People should also be made aware about the importance of such festivals, so that they can make maximum use of them. One of the important features of this festival is that only ladies handle it. If message pertaining to small family norms were spread though such festivals, it would easily be adopted by people.

Similarly, if we can make young couple conversant with the methodology of pre-school learning on such occasions, they might be better prepared to undertake such measures immediately after the birth of a child. Hence, better development of brain of the child can be ensured. These occasions can also be used to make the couple aware of the health concerns of the child.
Schools may also be asked to play an important role in this regard. They can organise

  • Regular awareness programmes for young couples
  • Short term courses in
    – Pre school learning
    – Learning at home during school days
    – Problems of adolescent children
    – Equipping parents in the art of helping children in studies at home
    – Ensuring basic literacy to illiterate parents
    – Health concerns of children
  • Awareness programmes about the importance of traditional learning systems
  • Workshops for modernisation of traditional learning systems

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