Education is something that we value in our house.
We want our kids to take their education seriously, we want them to be prepared for college. We want to see them care about their grades and push themselves to succeed. Homework must be completed before the video games are turned on or before they can go play at their friend’s house. Because of this, our children bring home excellent report cards and score well on standardized tests.
Most parents would agree they have the same desire for their kids. Recently I was reminded of the fact that “wanting” is different than “doing” for our kids. Don’t read that wrong. I’m not saying we should be doing the school work for our kids. I’m saying that wanting your kids to do their best is different than actually helping and encouraging them to succeed.
We are fortunate in our situation. Our work schedules allow us to be home to help with homework, and we are able to easily communicate with our kids’ teachers via email. It would be unfair to assume that all parents can be by their child’s side with homework or to partner with schools. Not all homes have two parents, some parents are learning English at the same time as their children. There are single-parent homes as well as those who work multiple jobs.
One thing that can be found in each home is the desire for our children to succeed. Regardless of obstacles to education, parents need to encourage their children to succeed. Not all parents can be as hands on, but we can still praise and encourage our children’s accomplishments in school.
I came to this realization the other day when my son asked me to sign his spelling notebook. As I was about to sign he told me, “Make sure you sign for list 18.” When I looked down to sign I noticed it hadn’t been signed since list 12. “What happened to the last six lists?” I asked. “You and Mommy didn’t sign it,” he replied.
For the last six spelling lists, I had assumed my wife signed off and she assumed I signed off. That’s six spelling lists that we didn’t look at. Fortunately our son had gotten A’s on all of his tests. That makes us really proud of him that he was studying his words. But that means for six spelling lists we just left it to him and his teacher to make sure he learned his words.
I caught myself again when my children brought home their report cards. I previously wrote about how I am all for standards-based report cards, because we can easily identify where our children need help around specific skills. My daughter recently showed us her report card, and she was doing well, but she had a low score when it came to fractions. I asked her why she felt she did so poorly with fractions. She answered that she just didn’t understand them.
My response to this was, “Why didn’t you ask your teacher to explain it more?” and “Why didn’t you ask her to help you out with this instead of just guessing?” All of my questions deferred the responsibility of her understanding to her teacher. My initial reaction was to look to the teacher for reasons why my daughter fell behind in fractions.
I understand that teaching fractions and spelling is in their teachers’ job descriptions. But all responsibility cannot fall on the teacher alone. The teacher can in fact teach my children the skills but as a parent I need to reinforce and encourage those skills so they stick with my children.
I have to give credit to our teachers. We have been fortunate that our children’s teachers care a great deal. They accommodate students and adapt their teaching to fit a larger range of students’ needs. But still, that doesn’t mean we can let up as parents. We need to partner with our teachers to aid them in preparing our children for what’s next.
Yes, I can help my child with fractions and spelling, but I know every parent cannot. It would work the same for me if my child wanted to learn guitar. I know nothing about playing guitar. The strings, notes, chords, and scales are all foreign to me. But I could get them a guitar and encourage them to practice and demonstrate their skills. I could introduce them to various guitarists and styles.
I encourage all parents to reach out to their child’s teacher and school for any resources needed at home. Schools and educators are accommodating and truly want to see children succeed and families thrive.
There are definitely obstacles for children as well as parents when it comes to education. Home and family dynamics differ for every student. But as parents, we can still take steps to help our children succeed and encourage them no matter what the circumstance.