Everyone told me I would change after I had kids...I would soften up...I would get nicer, but it just isn't happening. All parenthood has done is make me realize that it's still good to have high expectation for my own kids...I just have to stop having them for everyone else!
Now that most people are through their first week of school (at least), here is the list and my little personal addition to all of these ditties:
- Don't be a stranger! Don't take this one too literally...while we don't want you to be a stranger, we also don't want to be your best friend. Also, schedule appointments...don't just show up. It's rude.
- Learning doesn't stop at 3:15. Help your kids...set up an afterschool schedule that makes sense. Not all kids can sit down right after school and start their homework. Some kids need to play for a while. Ask questions, but don't needle. Kids will share what they want to share when they want to share it. It's part of letting go...and yes, it sucks.
- Stay involved - even when you don't know the material. When I taught, I had many parents come in a say, "well, it's no wonder A's doing poorly in Math...I was never any good at math." To which I would have to politely request that they never repeat that in front of their child again. If you say something like that, you're just giving your kid an "out" to be unsuccessful. Fake it til you make it is a much better way to go. Either that or show them how and where to find the answers...don't dismiss it because you're "no good" at something. You're only as good as your make yourself...and so is your child.
- Keep your child organized. Yes, this means that you have to be organized too. Create neat "stations" for paperwork, backpacks, and homework. Your child will pick up on your cues and will continue those trends as he/she gets older. One of the largest problems that I have seen leading to poor grades is disorganization. Not only does it result in loss of papers or important material, but it translates in disorganized thinking. Help your child b/c organization is a learned skill that teachers can't control at home...we do enough of that in the classroom.
- Let your child make mistakes. For God's sake...please stop bringing work/books/permission slips/lunches to your child's school when they forget them at home!!!! Let them learn to remember this stuff without constantly having you there to pick up the pieces! They need to learn consequences and what to do if they forget something. If you let them learn this lesson, they will be less likely to forget things in the future...oh, and see #4...it all ties in together. If you allow your child to pick up the pieces every now and then, they will learn cause-and-effect and realize what it means to make a mistake and to make amends for said mistake. Cut the cord, folks!!! We're trying to raise functioning adults here...not give them a safety net for life!
- Raise a good reader. I can't say much more about this one. Our biggest hobby growing up was reading. We were at the library at least two times a week during the summer. Give them all the opportunity in the world to read as much as possible. Without question, it will make them more intelligent adults.
- The teacher's on your side - give her the benefit of the doubt. Seriously...I am sick of hearing parents complain that the teacher is against them or their children. It's just not true. Whatever contrived idea you have in your head that the teacher is out to get your child, let it go. All teachers are trying to do is their best...every single day. Never badmouth a teacher in your child's presence. It is the single easiest way to undermine that teacher's need for respect in the classroom. Your child will treat your teacher the way that you "tell" them to...even if you're not coming straight out and calling the teacher an idiot, your child can read between the lines...be careful. If you have a valid issue, go about it the right way. Don't go storming into the principal's office demanding a teacher is fired. Make an appointment, prepare specific issues to discuss, rely on facts (not feelings), and be clear with your intentions. Treat your teacher as a co-worker rather than a saboteur. We're all working toward the same thing here, folks...it's not a war...it's an education. Oh, and try to say something nice at the conference...in the beginning...not at the end. It goes a long way to setting the tone.
- There is a secret to better grades. Communicate...communicate with your child (first the foremost)...communicate with your child's teacher(s)...communicate with other parents. It's not easy letting your child's education be handled by someone else, but trust that the important lessons, the ones you really wanted to instill, are there...the rest will follow.