Summer vacation is over. Those can be some very sobering and haunting words for a student and at times, a teacher. It means back to work and back to "discipline." Here are some tips for parents who want to help their children to have a constructive, productive and disciplined school year.
Parents, it is your role to prepare your child to be the best "learner" that he or she can be. What you say or don't say to your child will make all the difference in whether he or she is a great or poor student. Your continued input and influence is so critical to your child's success. Don't ever underestimate that. You are a driving force for your child's success. My mother, almost daily, reminded us that "You have to get your education, no one can take it from you once you get it." It was true. She made a tremendous impact on all of us. She is now gone, but her words will always live on in our hearts and in our thoughts.
1. AUTHORITY: As a parent, decide what your view is of authority. If it is a "negative" one, figure out how you can reconcile them so that you can help your child to "respect" the authorities (teachers, principal, etc.) in his or her life. Without a healthy view of authority, your child will automatically "shut out" those who are there to direct him / her while in school.
2. BE THE ADULT: Don't be so quick to "side" with your child when a conflict comes up. You are the adult. You must remember that children (you were one) have a very limited perspective on life. They would like to have fun, shake off responsibility, and "get away with things." If the teacher calls you in for a conference, it must be important. Try to understand from the teacher, what the issue is. It takes time out of the teacher's schedule to meet with parents, they don't do it "just for fun or to get at a child" as some children try to tell their parents.
3. CONFLICT: If you have a "problem" with the teacher, try to discuss and resolve it as adult to adult. Avoid having your child in the middle of a dispute. That type of situation will just put an unnecessary "burden" on your child. Let your child be the child, you deal with the adult issues. This will help your child to be able to go back to the class and still "learn" from the teacher. Regardless of personality or style issues, the teacher still has a lot to offer your child.
4. BE PRESENT: Make regular (every other week or once a month) visits to the school. Stop in or volunteer to help in the school. Send an email to the teachers and encourage them to send you a "note" if there are any concerns or victories to be shared about your child. Most teachers are there teaching, because, they want to make a difference. They do want your child to succeed.
5. COMMUNICATION: Make it a habit to let your child talk about their school day. Don't just ask questions, let them talk about what was good, funny, unpleasant about the day. Create an atmosphere that lets them feel that it is safe to talk about whatever is happening at school. This way, when other things come up you can have a broader picture of what your child may be experiencing.
6. GADGETS AND GAMES: Decide the amount of time that you will let your child play games, watch television, text, be on the phone, be on Facebook, etc. Wow, I'm exhausted just writing these things down. It must be exhausting trying to keep track of all these things. Remember, you are the adult, you are the parent. You have to set boundaries for your child / children. If you don't, your child will be "lost" in those things and education or learning will be the furthest thing from their minds.
7. GET HELP: Talk to and spend time with people who are getting victories with their children. If you know a parent who has children who are focused and get their work done at school, get input from that parent. It could only help. Speak to "veteran" parents. Learn some good "old fashion" values from the wise parents from "back in the day." It can only help. The point is, talk to people who are WHERE YOU WANT TO BE as a parent. They are good resources. Ask your teachers, especially those who are parents they will tell you what can make a difference. Read a book on parenting. The point is, ask for help!
8. BEDTIME: Set an appropriate bedtime for your child. They need at leas 8 hours of sleep. Don't let them stay up all night doing WHATEVER and then expect them to function at school the next day.
9. HOMEWORK: Help them do the work. If you have difficulty helping them, get help. If you find the homework is overwhelming your child, get help. Talk to their teacher / principal. The point is, do something.
10. INSPIRE: Find ways to inspire your child. Help your child dream of possibilities for the future. Help your child see the benefits of being smart, being intelligent, being a leader. Help your child to develop self-awareness and worth. Help your child understand that as an individual, he or she can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the world. Look at videos, read books about people who made a difference in the world. Because, in school, too often, their peers treat them as "uncool" and worthless if they seek to do well and be excellent. Help your child believe that excellence and doing good work can only help him or her to be his / her best for the future.
I leave you with this quote: Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverb 22:6)
A little about Mario Depeine, Sr.
As an educator I get the opportunity to get a small glimpse of how our society is shaping up. Children come into the classroom with all types of perspectives. A lot of the perspectives are a result of their environment. Some of those perspectives reflect the home life or lack of. Some reflect the street life and some just reflect the media that the children are exposed to.
Middle School children are just starting out in life. You see how their characters and personalities are shaping up. Many can be molded or adjusted easily others are a lot more resistant to change depending on their circumstance.
I work in an urban district. While there I see many interesting and at times disheartening things. Hopefully my experiences as an educator can shed some light on what we can do to better prepare our children for the future.