Several years in a row, Phil and I were invited to give a talk to parents of kindergarten students at Scotts Creek School where Phil teaches 7th and 8th grade Language Arts. (Since we live in a rural community, our elementary schools have Kindergarten through 8th grade in one school.) We would introduce ourselves as parents of four grown children, one son and three daughters, and say that between us, we had many years (40+) of teaching experience. This was meant in no way to give the impression that we were experts. Yet we did want those listening to know where we were coming from. The purpose of the session was to encourage parents to start at the beginning to take an active role in their children’s education – then maintain that involvement throughout their child’s career in school. It is evident at any school open house, the higher the grade, the less parents come to meet their child’s teacher. Why do parents start out involved and present at school activities when their children are young, then fade into the background as their child grows? Unless it is an athletic event, it is difficult to get parents of teens to show up at school.
Phil would share this comment as we began – “I want to share some strategies with you while your children begin kindergarten so that by the time they reach my classes in 7th and 8th grade, they know how to be a responsible student. It will make my job a whole lot more effective and enjoyable.” This usually got several polite laughs. 🙂
If we think that the moment we turn our children over to a teacher, our responsibility for their education in over, we are sadly mistaken. As parents, we have a vital role in supporting, monitoring, advocating, and (only when absolutely necessary) intervening in our children’s education. There is no excuse to abdicate that role to a teacher. As a dedicated teacher myself, I must admit that I do not see and hear everything that goes on in my classroom. I also know that I am not aware of some of the special needs or circumstances my students face – unless the child or parent tells me.
We gave the parents of kindergarten students a handout with four suggestions as follows:
Follow Through –
- if you say, “No video games until you pick up your toys” stick to it.
Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
Don’t take excuses. This leads the child to believe that your instructions are negotiable.
It takes effort but it will pay off!
Read to your Child –
- This is the MOST important activity you can do to encourage your child’s academic growth
- It will help them be the best student they can be.
Talk WITH Your Child – Listen –
- It is important to ask them about school, then ask the “next question”,
- i.e. “Did you learn anything new today? “What was it? “Did you enjoy it?” Why or why not?” not?”
- Did anything funny happen at school today?” “What?”
Limit Screen Time –
- Watching TV, videos, playing video games, even educational content, may rob children of doing many things that are important to their physical, emotional, and social development.
- Some content is excellent and very productive. Check out creationscience4kids.com and igamemom.com)
These suggestions are just that, you may feel led to do other things. God speaks to the children of Israel and says the following:
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
There is no excuse for being actively involved with our children.