The United Nations has declared May 15th as the annual International Day of Families. The theme for this year’s day is: Families, education and well-being.
The Day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children. It focuses on good practices for work-family balance to assist parents in their educational and caregiving roles. Good practices from the private sector in support of working parents, as well as youth and older persons in the workplace are also highlighted. In particular, the Day is to raise awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth.
Maritess enrolled her two middle children, Athena and John Vincent, in ICM’s Family Academy in April. ICM’s Family Academy is a way to level the playing field so that poor children are not disadvantaged when they start school. Family Academy takes a two-generational approach to early education over an eight-month program. A personal coach, educational supplies and training empower parents to become their child’s first teachers through a math and phonics curriculum.
Through home teaching visits twice a week, along with a Values, Health and Livelihood curriculum for parents, Family Academy gives children a great start to their academic life by preparing them to enter the public school system. Invested and engaged from the very beginning of their child’s learning, parents encourage their children to start and remain in school. In Maritess’ case, the whole family is involved. When Maritess is busy looking after her youngest children, her eldest daughter, 14-year old Mara Queen, will take turn in teaching Athena and John Vincent. Her husband, Rakim, is also happy about the family’s new found love for education, encourages them all to continue and is determined they will get to primary school.
The likelihood of the children attending primary school is strong: trial results of Family Academy are positive, revealing that 83% of parents feel better equipped as parents, and after completing Family Academy, children show a 635% improvement in math skills*, which means that Family Academy graduates start school with above average math skills.
Maritess has been amazed at the children’s capacity to learn and her ability to teach. On the verge of tears, Maritess said that her children started respecting her when she joined Family Academy. Just two weeks into the program, she saw a leap in their knowledge and felt how her children were becoming more connected to her. She adds that before Family Academy, her children would rather be out and in someone’s house to watch television. Now, they are staying at home, and look forward to learning about numbers.
By Meng Valientes, ICM Senior Editor