Parents’ Roles For This School Year

As we are entering into another school term for students in grades K through 12, my mind takes me back to when I was a student at Gordon Elementary and High School, respectively. I can vividly remember my first day of school as a first grader. Back then, we did not have a kindergarten class for children under six years of age, as they do today. I remember feeling like an alien in a strange land. I had to quickly adapt and adjust to this new environment and relate to children, most of whom I had never met or seen before. One of my greatest challenges was learning how to use the bathroom that was located at the back of the classroom. Don’t laugh at my lack of knowledge and sophistication that was quite obvious back then. Before I started school in the first grade, I had never used an inside bathroom or commode. Being born and reared in Newtown, I lived in a section that was not located in the city limits, where it was mandatory to have a bathroom. The area of Newtown where I lived had only a few bathrooms. You were indeed privileged if you lived in a house with a bathroom and inside running water. When I started school, I was only familiar with the outhouse and the outside pump that often had to be primed by pouring water into it in order to get a flow of water. So when I first went into the bathroom as a first grader, I literally had some difficulty learning how to flush the commode and turn the faucet on and off.
As I progressed from the first to the twelfth grade, I truly looked forward to the beginning of the new school term. Perhaps, it was due to the fact that I was tired of working during the summertime in the heat and humidity on my father’s job as a laborer (whose job it was to make the mortar for his crew of bricklayers with a hoe). Now it was that particular job that separated the men from the boys; and some who thought they were tough and macho fell victim to the hoe and mortar box. So when the time came for school to start back, I was more than ready to leave the mortar box, the hoe, and the heat and humidity of summertime for the comfort of the classroom. Also, from the ninth to the twelfth grade for me, with the arrival of high school football, I worshipped the thrill and excitement of the competition and opportunity to hit someone from my position as a linebacker.
At this point, I want to shift my attention to the primary purpose of my column today. I did a random survey of a few professionals who work in various aspects of the education field to obtain some insight and helpful instructions on the responsibility of parents in this coming school term. The first educator I interviewed is a middle school history teacher who stressed the following: “Tell parents,” she said, “Please make sure your children spend quality time studying and reading.” Her instructions hit the nail on the head as to why far too many students of all grades and levels are struggling academically. I wholeheartedly agree with the instructions of this history teacher. It is time that parents buckle down and do their duties concerning their children’s education by making them get off social media, stop texting for awhile, and get into their textbooks in order that they may be able to succeed academically.
A guidance counselor, who has served in the education field for over thirty years, gave this advice to parents who have children going back to school: “All parents must make sure that their children sit down, be quiet, and behave themselves.” She stressed this with much seriousness. This is certainly sound advice for all parents with children going back to school. Many teachers cannot concentrate on doing what they have been trained and hired to do in the classroom because of disruptive and unruly children. These “bébé” kids (because of lack of home training) will often tie up the teacher’s time, energy, and efforts with disciplining and maintaining order, rather than teaching. It is unfair and almost criminal how these disorderly few are allowed to steal from the majority who are mannerly, submissive, and teachable.
Two educators who work in the field of special education (one as a director and the other as a teacher), shared the following advice for parents with children going back to school: “Parents, make sure that you get to know your children’s teachers and keep in touch with them about their performance in class academically, as well as their attitude and behavior.” One of these special education specialists stressed the point that parents must build and maintain a relationship with their children’s teachers. This advice from these two educators is very important, not just concerning children with special needs, but for every student. Parents and teachers must forge a bond and work together in order to better serve the students. At the end of the day, it is about the students and how to help them to compete and excel academically to the best of their God-given and innate ability. Parents, whether you realize or appreciate it or not, the average educator is one of your children’s best mentors and is instrumental in helping to lay the foundation for which they will build their lives and future. Do all you can on your end as your children’s primary and foremost teacher to assist these trained and committed professionals as they labor and often wrestle to bring out the best that is in each child academically.
These words, from an educator who is a very dear and devoted friend of mine who teaches in Brooklyn, New York, will conclude our column today. She told me to make sure I tell the parents to make their children respect their teachers and all the adults at school. I wholeheartedly agree. Oftentimes, defiance and disorder in a child at school starts with disrespect. When parents do not instill and enforce respect for authority, principals, and teachers in their children while they are at school, they have sent them out to fail. It is practically impossible to instruct and discipline children when they are disrespectful and unmannerly. So, parents, please do to your children like my parents (especially my father) did to me when I was young and attending school at Gordon Elementary School. His rule was that the teacher was in charge of the class and you had better behave yourself while you are in there and do what you are told. My daddy’s law was not a reflection of the Constitution or Bill of Rights of the United States. With him, when it came to teachers and adults, if there was a complaint from them about you, you were guilty until proven innocent. As backward and old fashioned as it might sound and seem to many liberals and modernists today, it worked to the raising of several hardcore boys (of which I was the worst) and one little beautiful, tomboyish sister.
My closing advice to all parents, who have children going back to school, is to make sure you let your children know that they are there to learn and to get an education. Also, please make sure you do your part in helping them to excel academically.

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