"I wish to stress that parents cannot be disinterested in the education of their children, but it is necessary that they become even more aware that the school does not exempt them from their mission, but aids them in fulfilling it; and that they are the first educators of their children. Therefore, the harmonious collaboration between family and school is indispensable: But united in the impassioned task of forming men and women." Pope John Paul II 1983
The education of any child begins long before he or she is enrolled into a school. At baptism, parents are entrusted with their child's life that God gave them. Along with parents and godparents, members of the parish community make a promise at a child's baptism as well. They promise to support the family as they help their children grow in God's love.
As the primary educators of children, parents are always teaching their children-through examples, through words, through lessons, through experience. But parents alone are not the sole educators of children. Parish communities are partners in the education of children. Parishes provide resources that support parents in this very important mission. These include Catholic schools and religious education programs.
In addition to programs and resources, parish communities provide another means of education--its people. Adults, parents and parishioners alike can teach children the valuable lesson of how important it is to love one another. Support from a parish community will help a family grow in faith and in God's love. Parents, with the support of the parish community, share with their children the principles in which our faith is grounded, as well as how to live our faith on a daily basis.
The role parents play in their children's education doesn't end with the children starting school, it just changes. Living as a model of God's love will always be one of the most important ways parents can educate their children.