The New School
You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?
As a former teacher, I have some really big opinions about this prompt. I think it’s a fairy tale.
Because it’s really not about the school at all. Children have been learning since time began, with or without a school building, a school board, a federal Department of Education, or “experts” who come up with the ultimate learning environment.
The very most important thing in a child’s education is————-drum roll—————his parents! In fact, it is his parents plus his family culture, plus his community, plus his own inquisitive nature. If a church is part of his family and community, that’s all the better.
Now, you can have all those ingredients and still have a child who doesn’t perform well in school. So you need to understand that the parents are the ones who set the mood for education. They are the ones who are initially responsible to light the child’s flame for learning. If the parents are negligent, then the child won’t learn, no matter how new and innovative the school is. Without parental excitement, interest and support, the school just can’t function as well as it should.
So what does parental involvement look like?
Talk to the child. Ask him about his school day. Get him to show you his papers. Be interested in what he’s telling you. Keep up with whether or not he’s turning in his homework. Don’t DO his homework! Just make sure he gets it done. Stay in touch with his teacher(s) and don’t blame them if your child gets into some kind of trouble at school. Most teachers really do not sit around thinking up ways to make your kid miserable.
Never take your child’s word for it when he says the teacher “yelled” at him for no reason at all. Always contact the teacher, preferably with the child present, to find out what actually happened. Your child WILL play both ends against the middle if he can get away with it. That’s why it’s helpful to have him there when you talk with his teacher. He can’t tell you a lie about what the teacher said if the teacher is standing right there with you.
“Oh, but my child would never lie to me.”
Please. Of course he would. He’s a normal kid, not a saint. We all lie. If you remove the opportunity for him to tell two different stories, you will help him to tell the truth.
Make sure your child knows how much value you place on education. Stay informed, stay involved. Turn off the TV. Limit computer time. Insist on outdoor exercise. Make sure he gets enough sleep, and leaves with a decent breakfast in his stomach. This is your job, unless you’re homeschooling, which is a whole other topic.
It’s also important to acknowledge and accept the kind of learner your child is. Some kids are just natural students, churning out A’s with ease. Others have to work really hard to get a C. And that’s ok. The grade isn’t as important as the effort. If you know your child has made a huge effort, then congratulate him on the C and encourage him to keep trying. Make sure he knows you approve of him and love him whether he’s an honor roll student or not.
Parents, you are the most important factor in your child’s education. Government would love to change that, making parents nothing more than peripherals in the education process. Don’t let it happen. You matter more than anything or anyone else in your child’s life, including his education.