Because of their physical features, colour and temperament, the different children behave with others in varying ways. That is why children of the same parents living together in the same house do not grow in an identical manner. It is out of the purview of this chapter (and also of the book) to discuss “how the heredity and environment affect the development of a child in different manners. In the development of the child, the family occupies a pivotal role.
If the family or the parents do not co-operate in the school’s effort to educate the child, his development will be marred. If the family does not care about the development of children, the school will not be able to educate the child. Up to the first twelve years, the child’s social environment is limited to his family circle alone. Even after this age, the family environment continues to influence him.
The foundation of all the traits of the child is laid by the family environment. The traits of sympathy, generosity, love for justice, truthfulness or such other traits as selfishness, lethargy and speaking lies have the roots in die family environment. The child learns in the family to express some of his ideas. It has to be kept in mind that the child coming to the school for the first time is not a clean slate, i.e., he is already equipped with certain modes of behavior and styles of life. When he enters the school his mental powers have already reached a certain stage of development he already possesses the power of distinguishing between good and bad. He can distinguish up to some extent between sweet and bitter behavior.
Accordingly, he responds to various stimuli. His learning depends upon these responses. In order to strengthen the mental powers of the child, at least for the first six years he should be kept in a good psychological environment of the family. That is why in the Montessori and Kindergarten systems, for the children at the age of three years, an attempt is made to provide in the school a family-like environment. It is due to this attempt that the success of their system depends. We do not mean to suggest that children should not be sent to school before they complete six years of age. He learns many things in the school.
His social and language developments are very much accelerated when he starts going to school. His narrowness vanishes to a great extent and he learns to be sympathetic and generous to others. Hence it is good to send him to school before the attains six years.
But at this tender age the school for him must maintain a family environment, because in many respects, he is still helpless and needs guidance in several ways. Thus family environment is a very important for development and education of the child.