Mothers influence the future of our world every day. Most would agree that a mother plays an extremely important role in raising a family. Without a doubt, her attitudes and values strongly influence the values of her children. And those attitudes and perceptions continue to be passed on from generation to generation.
In Cajola, home to Mayamam Weavers, children attending school has not always been “the norm” as they were sent to work in the fields to help the family eat. The problem still continues in some measure today due to poverty. This means that some of today's mothers have never had the chance to experience school for themselves or understand what happens during a regular school day.
The preschool next to the weaving cooperative where the families in the community can send their children, has been changing that outlook. Wisdom of Our Elders Preschool, a project of community group Grupo Cajola, is a Reggio Emilia inspired school that emphasizes the important role of the parents in the education of their children and requires their participation.
Since many mothers did not have the opportunity to attend school themselves this participation has helped them understand what education actually is. The teachers had observed that the mothers did not know much about their own roles at home in the development of their children, so they invite the mothers on an ongoing basis to participate in activities in the school where they play with their children! This can be singing and dancing, or making posters. The mothers are also invited to lead an activity at the weekly physical education outing, allowing them to engage with the children and teachers together. Attendance is required at monthly meetings where mothers learn about the importance of talking to your children from the time they are born, the value of play, good nutrition and health habits. The mothers are often surprised at the activities at the school -- that the boys are taught to make tortillas or cakes or that the children often participate in the preparation of meals. They are encouraged to spend more time interacting with their children at home, asking them questions about what happened at school, asking the children to teach them a song.
It has been well established that parental involvement in a child’s education has a direct positive affect on children’s achievement, their social skills and self esteem. These interactions between mother and child have even been proven to improve the physical development of a child’s brain. Wisdom of the Elders Preschool is working hard to make a difference in the community by not only educating the children that attend, but supporting their families as well, particularly their mothers --the child's first teacher.
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