OPIN­ION

Par­ents and teach­ers: Work­ing to­gether for suc­cess­ful schools

The Covington News - - EDUCATION -

The very first day of school, we are not kiss­ing our child good­bye and send­ing him off alone on a jour­ney. We are em­bark­ing, hand in hand, in a part­ner­ship that must re­main strong if it is to be fruit­ful.

Par­ents or guardians must re­main as ac­tive and vig­i­lant in their chil­dren’s lives at school as they were be­fore be­gin­ning their for­mal ed­u­ca­tion. Par­ents must make cer­tain their child or chil­dren are put into the best, most stim­u­lat­ing classes and that his teach­ers are be­ing both fair and en­cour­ag­ing.

Par­ents must be will­ing to make a com­mit­ment of time, re­sources or en­ergy when that is re­quired.

A child must be­lieve he is some­body spe­cial, some­body valu­able and some­body with some­thing to con­trib­ute at home and at school. At home, that means we turn down the ra­dio to lis­ten and talk to him; we teach him that his school work is a pri­or­ity, his ideas are in­ter­est­ing and his feel­ings war­rant con­sid­er­a­tion.

As par­ents we have an obli­ga­tion to help our chil­dren pre­pare for the world. We must pre­pare our chil­dren for all the pes­simistic, neg­a­tive, dis­cour­ag­ing voices along the way. They will come from peo­ple of all races and all ages. Some will mean well. Some won’t. No mat­ter, our chil­dren must lis­ten to the voice inside them which alone speaks to their dreams and de­sires.

Our chil­dren, in­deed, have the op­por­tu­nity to be­come pres­i­dents of our coun­try or No­bel-prize-win­ning sci­en­tists or math­e­ma­ti­cians, to make the For­tune 500 or to write books that will be­come part of the canon of Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture. Why not? To get there, how­ever, they have to pro­duce. They have to work, re­main fo­cused and dis­ci­plined, suf­fer de­feat, per­se­vere and main­tain a be­lief in them­selves and their ul­ti­mate suc­cess. Why can’t we en­cour­age self-es­teem?

Re­mem­ber the chil­dren’s book “The Lit­tle En­gine That Could” by Watty Piper? If you con­stantly tell that lit­tle en­gine that he can’t get over the moun­tain to de­liver the candy and toys to the girls and boys, it prob­a­bly never will. Par­ents are usu­ally their chil­dren’s most in­flu­en­tial role mod­els, and, there­fore, they can be their great­est men­tors. Chil­dren are likely to be­lieve what they hear from their par­ents more than what they hear from any­one else. What do you want your chil­dren to be­lieve about them­selves? Teach­ers have a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive in­flu­ence on chil­dren also.

Try as they might, ed­u­ca­tors, par­ents and stu­dents may never be able to break the back of some of the prob­lems that block stu­dent suc­cess. It’s the way stu­dents are ed­u­cated that hurts their per­for­mances, and many of those ways can be changed.

Abra­ham Lin­coln once said, “The older I get, the more I re­al­ize that there is but one wealth, one se­cu­rity, on this earth and that is found in the abil­ity of a per­son to per­form a task well.” But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say, “And first and fore­most this abil­ity must start with knowl­edge.” There is no sub­sti­tute for knowl­edge.

In­our approach to knowl­edge, we must re­al­ize that prepa­ra­tion is a con­stant process with no end­ing. It must be for­ever mov­ing, never static. School is never out for the per­son who re­ally wants to suc­ceed, whether it’s a child or an adult seek­ing a pro­mo­tion on his job.

We need schools where stu­dents are chal­lenged and par­ents and teach­ers in­volved as a team, sup­port­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and hav­ing high ex­pec­ta­tions for each child.

Ev­ery­one at school should em­brace the idea that all stu­dents can learn if given the op­por­tu­nity by teach­ers who care about all chil­dren re­gard­less of eth­nic­ity.

There is no such be­ing as a self-made per­son. Those who have truly earned the world’s re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for their out­stand­ing ac­com­plish­ments are al­ways quick to point out the many help­ing hands, through­out their lives, that helped them reach their pin­na­cle of suc­cess.

Were you given a schol­ar­ship to at­tend col­lege? Who was re­spon­si­ble for your not be­ing a drop-out in mid­dle and high school? Who taught you that cre­ativ­ity pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties?

As a team, par­ents and teach­ers can teach chil­dren that they must be­lieve that they are spe­cial, some­body valu­able, some­body with some­thing to con­trib­ute. That means par­ents turn down the ra­dio or TV to lis­ten and talk to him, turn off the television to read or play to­gether and teach him that school work is a pri­or­ity, his ideas are in­ter­est­ing and his feel­ings war­rant con­sid­er­a­tion.

Ex­perts say that un­til chil­dren can ac­cept a par­ent’s author­ity and re­spect at home, they are un­likely to ac­cept any other author­ity any­where. Be­ing re­spect­ful to­ward teach­ers, par­ents, stu­dents and friends is crit­i­cal to suc­cess in school and life.

Thomas Lick­ova, in “Ed­u­cat­ing for Char­ac­ter,” said, “Re­spect for author­ity comes from un­der­stand­ing that le­git­i­mate author­ity fig­ures are en­trusted with the care of oth­ers.”

With­out some­body in charge, you can’t run a fam­ily, school or coun­try. When peo­ple don’t re­spect author­ity, things don’t work very well and ev­ery­body suf­fers. The first step in build­ing re­spect for rules is to make rules im­por­tant to your fam­ily and in the class­room at school.

Telling chil­dren they need to re­spect rules, author­ity or other peo­ple is im­por­tant. But all the ad­vice and lec­tures in the world won’t make a dent if par­ents, teach­ers or other adults don’t do them­selves what they ask their chil­dren or stu­dents to do. To teach chil­dren re­spect, we must be a model of re­spect for our chil­dren. How well do you model re­spect?

Ex­perts say that the best way to teach chil­dren re­spect is to be re­spect­ful to­ward them. Chil­dren must learn how re­spect feels. Only then will they know how to give it to oth­ers.

An at­mos­phere of mu­tual re­spect cre­ates an ideal cli­mate for dis­ci­pline at home and at school. Chil­dren who re­spect adults obey them be­cause they want to. They un­der­stand that adults are look­ing out for their best in­ter­ests.

Our chil­dren nat­u­rally draw in­spi­ra­tion from sports fig­ures, movie stars and other celebri­ties, but it is we, par­ents, to whom they look for daily guid­ance, love and sup­port. We are their pri­mary role mod­els.

Let’s make sure our en­cour­age­ment is never in short sup­ply and that our com­mit­ment to their phys­i­cal and emo­tional wel­fare never lags. No NBA star will be our stand in at that par­ent-teacher con­fer­ence. Only we can put forth the val­ues and ideals from which our child can draw strength and pros­per.

A good foun­da­tion built at home will carry our child out into the work and keep him go­ing through his tough­est times.

The world is tough, as we par­ents know. We want our own chil­dren to be able to make their way through it with spirit and con­fi­dence. That means they’ll have to be strong and se­cure enough to stand up to oth­ers and speak their minds re­spect­fully. At the same time, they can­not sim­ply be smart alecks or back talk­ers; they need the intelligence and drive to carry through on their words.

Louise B. Adams

Colum­nist

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