Parenting your child’s education
Article by Allison Jarman
An article in the Wall Street and a recently published book by Steven Brill again attempts to tackle the task of overhauling public education. What does this mean for the single mom? Does she have the time and energy to get involved? Will her voice be heard? The last question is the most important one, as single moms are sometimes still looked down upon as weaker and/or their children are “labeled” as not likely so succeed. Now, this article is directed at moms and how they can help. It is not intended to judge everything that needs to change in public education. The number one thing students need to succeed are supportive parents and that means supporting your child’s teacher as much as you can.
Support and respect your child’s teacher a small note of thanks goes a long way. As a teacher I received gift cards, thank you notes and even a book of poetry from Jaqueline Onansis signed by a parent. I can tell you that the cards and that book of poetry meant the world to me as a teacher. I know sometimes when parents receive a less than stellar report, they immediately want to confront the teacher. Your first step is getting the facts. Approach the teacher in a non confrontational way: “I see that my son brought home a D on his science project. Is he struggling in one particular area? How can help as a parent? I know you have a tough job and I thank you for helping with my son’s education. Please feel free to contact me anytime.” This kind of email or note lets the teacher know that you are not one of those parents who attacks and blames teachers, principals and the school.
Holding your child accountable Make sure your son or daughter is doing homework and is attentive in class. Ask questions, what did you learn today? What was your favorite subject today? As a parent, it is your job to help educate your child by teaching your sons and daughters to value education. Remember, they take their cues from you. If you don’t emphasize reading at home, your child won’t value it. If you don’t emphasize the value of education and learning, your child won’t care. The teacher teaches and the parent helps by holding their children accountable.
Listen, but don’t adhere to the politics There is much rhetoric when it comes to teacher tenure and the teachers union. Much of this is to satisfy individual political goals and in some cases to get more books published/sold. Find out what is going on at your child’s school. You cannot paint the landscape of teaching with one broad stroke. Find out if your child’s teacher is overwhelmed with too many undisciplined students. Find out how long the teacher has been teaching. The best advice I can give is too refrain from listening to “talking heads” (including teacher unions) and find out for yourself what your child’s teacher and school are really like.
Lastly, try to remember that most teachers get into teaching because they love it and want to make a difference in the life of a child. There are not many people who want to receive a low salary for all of the hard work, heavy criticism, spiteful parents and politics who’ve never attempted to create a lesson plan. Keep this in my mind when working with your child and more importantly, remind your child of the sacrifices your teacher makes.
I still remember my third grade teacher who instilled in me a love of reading, this lead to a love of writing. Now, my mom, herself a single mom, had to work a lot but she never had a bad word to say about Mrs. Rochembau. This taught me not only to respect my teacher but also encouraged me to keep going to class. From that point on, I always took pride in my school work. All thanks to two women who shared a common a goal: to see me get a good education.