Thursday, August 20, 2015

Open Letter to Parents

 This is the third of a three-part series of open letters to the three most important stakeholders in our educational system: students, teachers, and parents.  All three of these groups play a vital role in the education of our children.

Dear Parents,

       The school year is about to begin.  This is an exciting time for your children; but I know that it is an exciting time for you too.  And well it should.  As parents, you are an important part of the educational process of your children.  You encourage your children to do their best and you help them as much as you can.  Your children need you as they navigate their way through the P-12 system.  Thank you for supporting your children.

       I'd like to offer a few suggestions on this topic that you might not have ever heard before.  I say this because these suggestions tend to go against popular thought on the best way for parents to help their children.  Here goes:

1) It's OK to let your children struggle a little bit while they are learning new things.  It's OK if they don't "get it" the first time.  It doesn't mean that they are slow or below average or any other negative buzz word you might want to call a person who doesn't learn new things quickly.  True learning takes time; it takes a little trial and error.  Be sure to let your children know this. 

2) Education is not a competition.  I know that this sounds like a funny thing to say--especially to people who believe that everything in life is a competition.  But education should not be a race for your children to win.  Who cares if your child is a better speller than other kids in the class?  Who cares if your child gets a better grade than other kids on the geography test.  

       Teach your children to do the best they can all of the time.  If they feel that they have to surpass everyone all of the time in everything that they do, then the first time this doesn't happen (and it will; often) they will feel like a failure.

3) Instead of saying "Get good grades!", you should say "Learn well today!"  School is about learning; it's not about getting good grades.  Especially in elementary and middle school; grades should absolutely be secondary to learning.  Students who strive for high grades tend to learn how to "play school".  They do what their told and they turn things in on time.  But they only do things because of "the grade".  They don't care about learning; they only care about following the rules to get a good grade.  Don't be impressed by your children's good grade.  Stress the importance of learning.  What is the point of getting through school with good grades if you haven't learned anything more than following rules and doing what your told?

4) Lastly, make sure your children understand that hard work and studying and practice lead to success in everything that they do.  Making mistakes is OK; in fact, making mistakes and learning from mistakes helps children to learn.  Let your children know that it always OK to make mistakes.  

       Learning is a pursuit for perfection, it is a lifelong journey of wonder.

Public Schools and Choice

       Is it true that public school kids and their public school parents don't have choices?  I'm sure that I will expose my igno...

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