Tuesday, May 22, 2012
A Final Message to the Parents...
Whenever my brother tells me he is concerned that his son is not being challenged enough in school, I respond by telling him his son's education is up to him. While I do believe a child's experiences in school are very important to their social, emotional and physical growth, the most important teachers they will ever have are their parents. This is something I learned from my mother. If you were to pass along one final message to your students' parents, perhaps it should be how important they are. If you'd like to add in some practical tips, here are my top ten "What My Mother Did to Support My Education"....
#1: She talked to us every day about school.
She always asked what we had done, how our tests had gone, and if we were doing our homework. One word answers were not sufficient. Through this she conveyed to us that our education was important to her.
#2: She was involved.
She always found a way to get involved in the school from kindergarten through my high school graduation. Through this she conveyed to our teachers that our education was important to her.
#3: She created a literature rich home.
She took us to the library to check out books and purchased every age appropriate novel she could find at thrift stores for 50 cents or less. Through this she taught us that books were a valuable and readily available resource.
#4: She believed in us.
Like her uncle (who tried to teach my brother calculus in third grade) she always pushed us to perform at a higher level. Unlike my uncle (who told my parents to have my brother tested for learning disabilities) she never made her opinion of us contingent upon our success. Through it, though, she communicated to us that she believed in us, often more than we believed in ourselves.
#5: She was always helping us to set goals and create plans.
If the summer was coming, we had to plan out what we were going to do to stay busy. We had to learn to swim, but beyond that the one rule was that we stay busy. When it came to schooling, she started talking to us about college early. She instilled in us a belief that education was one of the few things in life that was not an option. Today all of her children have a college degree and two thirds have a graduate degree.
#6: She made sure education was not all about the common core standards.
She encouraged us to play sports, play instruments, appreciate the arts, and do "things that matter." Through this learning became fun and important.
#7: She took us on vacations to see new places, people and things.
One of her rules was that we always had to try something new. Her love to travel broadened our horizons. We weren't world travelers. We drove everywhere we ever went together, but if we learned to fly, it is because of my mother.
#8: She always invested in us.
She was always there giving time and savings. Parents who prioritize their children over their careers are often disrespected, but in my opinion, she always had her priorities straight.
#9: She didn't test us or put our successes on display.
She was always proud of our successes, but I don't ever remember her going around bragging or comparing her kids to other people's kids. Through this she taught us that she cared how we did, but not because we needed to impress anyone.
#10: She taught us to be our own person.
She taught us to talk to our teachers about problems ourself. When it came time for graduation, she insisted we learn to stand on our own two feet and walk away from home base.
I say all this to make a point: parents are important. Take the time to say this. If you think it would help to throw in some practical tips for how parents can support their kids, the above list has my ten best ones.