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China intensifies efforts to promote family education

By Guo Ying and Zhao Wanwei | Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-19 17:25

BEIJING - A class tutor at Beijing's Yimei Primary School, Zhao Lin has visited all 36 students' homes at weekends and summer holidays since 2014 to discuss their study with parents. Zhao offers practical advice on how to improve motivation and self-management.

The aim is to get parents more involved in educating their children, says school principal Jin Hui.

Although social networks and other new media have helped communication between teachers and parents, Jin believes traditional home visits are still necessary.

"Parents tend be bewildered about their children's education. Home visits mean teachers give one-on-one guidance in a targeted way. That helps create concerted efforts for educating children," Jin says.

In September, the Chinese government issued a guideline on education reform, which called for improvements to "family education and strengthening family education guidance services to help parents establish a rational educational philosophy".

China has an ancient tradition of family-led education. Some family rules and traditions pass down from generation to generation. However, this cultural legacy is now being tested.

Some working parents have precious little spare time to spend with their children; some don't know how to talk with their kids effectively, especially if their youngsters are strong-willed or rebellious. Indulging children in online games has to some extent revealed weaknesses in family education.

As a result, the demand of parents for scientific methods to raise children is growing. Books on child-rearing and education philosophy often appear on best-seller lists. Some parents consult professionals.

Chinese authorities have pledged greater support and guidance. According to the Five-Year Outline on the Promotion of Family Education (2016-2020) released in November 2016, "parent schools" will be established in 90 percent of kindergartens, primary and middle schools in cities, and in 80 percent of rural schools by 2020. Public institutions such as museums and cultural centers will be required to hold at least two family education guidance sessions and two practical activities each year.

More cities are integrating family education guidance into the public service system and increasing financial support.

Beijing Municipal Commission of Education recently launched a program providing guidance to more than 500,000 families of kindergarten, primary and secondary school students. Launched in 2012, the "mobile education lecture hall" has held hundreds of free public lectures for more than 10,000 parents, inviting leading experts, scholars and teachers to answer questions.

In Shandong province, family education research centers and mentor training bases have been set up with the help of universities, research institutions or internet platforms.

Some places are fast-tracking local legislation on family education. Since the implementation of the Chongqing Family Education Promotion Ordinance in September 2016, public security agencies have admonished 1,323 parents or guardians for inappropriate family education.

Family education is also regarded as crucial for cultivating and promoting socialist core values among China's youth. Qi Zhenjun, principal of the Primary School Affiliated to Beijing Chaoyang Teachers College, believes the essence of traditional Chinese family culture, such as filial piety, should be creatively applied to modern family education.

In his school, parents volunteer to be guest speakers at flag-raising ceremonies, sharing their life and work experience with students. The school also encourages students and their families to do volunteer service in the community.

"Parents' mindsets and the home environment are thought to influence child development greatly. Parents can set a good example for their children and help instill social responsibility through these activities," Qi says.

Some Chinese parents only focus on intellectual education, sending their kids to extracurricular classes to raise test scores.

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