Many of my friends are teachers. Almost all of my friends are parents. We talk a lot about education and how the system is struggling. Some school districts have so much and others have so little in the way of funding and resources.
Frequently we focus attention on what is wrong with education. We blame teachers, administrators, school districts, unions and politicians. Many of these problems seem out of our control. But there are things we can do. There are things in our control.
Take a look at the person in the mirror.
Setting high expectations for ourselves.
Do we set a strong example of hard work for our children/ students? Do we focus on what is important? What are your priorities as a parent? Education, learning new things, having/ showing respect for ourselves and others? Do we admit when mistakes are made or do we make excuses? Do we, as parents, take responsibilities for our actions?
Children are watching us at all times, observing and learning how to behave in every situation.
Setting high expectations for our children.
Expecting kids to be respectful – to teachers, other students and themselves. You don’t have to always agree with others, but we must teach children to be respectful.
Teachers deserve our respect. No one is perfect, but most teachers have the best of intentions and earned their degrees in education with the sincere hopes of inspiring children to learn. Support teachers and allow them to do their job whenever you can.
Don’t allow your child to develop a habit of blaming others for mistakes. Teaching children at a young age that it is okay to make mistakes and to grow and learn from these experiences will help them as they mature. Encourage perseverance.
Teach independence early. When children are young simple chores to encourage responsibility
Your child may encounter their first homework assignments in grade school. Initially these are simple projects that are usually fun. A perfect opportunity for your child to get in the habit of completing their “work.”
At our house we try to get homework done before it gets too late, mutually agreeing on a deadline with our children – such as 6 pm. This way they have the choice to complete homework right after school or relax a bit first. The child has some choice, but it will be completed by 6 pm. If you wait until after dinner everyone will be tired (parents and children) and the task is much more overwhelming. Increasing the odds for arguments and meltdowns.
Set your child up for success.
What doesn’t work:
Children who have no sense of responsibility. At any age.
Children who have no limits on time spent with electronics. Have you ever attempted to remove a child that has been in front of video games, the computer or television and get them to go outside and play, read a book or do homework? It can get ugly.
Parents who hover. Some parenting books describe this as helicopter parents.
Do not do your child’s homework at any age… and don’t write any of their college entrance essays either. You would be surprised how tempting it can be, especially if your child is struggling.
In the long run, letting them struggle and work hard and figure things out on there own is the answer. In the long run they will be much better off and more prepared for the future. Struggle and disappointment can help build character.
The big picture
Talk about the future with your children. What are their hopes and dreams and what will it take to get there?
There are always years when your child may not get the teacher you were hoping for or your school district does not have the funding it needs. Instead of giving up and focusing blame on things you can’t control – focus on what you can and teach your children to always keep trying. Never give up. No excuses.
Definition of perseverance: “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Perseverance is a skill that will always serve your child well.