This week’s topic is education. Have you noticed how quickly children learn and absorb information? They can remember things from two years ago that we don’t even remember saying or recall events that we barely remember happening. At a young age, we are wired to learn and take in as much information as possible. The challenge we have as parents is to pour into our children (or grandchildren) and guide them in their educational journey. For too long, we have given this sole responsibility to school teachers, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, etc. We relinquish the responsibility to teach our children whenever we are around them. We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to teach. We can teach by letting our children cook a meal with us as they learn how to read a recipe, measure ingredients, purchase the necessary supplies and the fine art of etiquette. It may be as simple as learning a new word everyday on the way to school and reviewing the word during the family meal. Learning can happen while driving to church and talking about the latest fad or current event. A couple nights ago, we decided to read A Christmas Carol together as a family to reinforce the reason for celebrating the Christmas season and to practice their reading skills. After our first reading session, the girls woke up the next morning excited to continue reading the book before school. This simple gesture has rewards for them and us, as parents, on many levels.
Teaching our children to think and use reasoning is one of the greatest lessons we can teach. We will not always be around to tell them what to do, but if we have taught them to think and weigh the consequences, we have a better chance of them making good decisions. We teach morals and values by showing them what is important to us. Do we keep our word? Do we put others before them? Are we respectful to those in authority? How do we treat others, especially our “enemies”? Children will do what they see before they do what they hear. My daughter was in first grade and noticed one of her classmates having a difficult time reading her accelerated reader book. My daughter offered to help her. She sat down beside her and read the book with her. I wasn’t there to tell her to do this, but because she’s seen her parents help others, it’s a natural part of her character.
Teachers are only as good as the support structure which surrounds the student. Teachers are trained to give information, but the information must be reinforced at home with homework, practice, hands-on activities, etc. We are quick to blame teachers for our students’ laziness and apathy. As parents, we must take on the responsibility God gave us to instill discipline, standards, structure and the support our children need to learn and grow. We can no longer use the excuse of my child’s teacher just doesn’t like her or they are just out to do me in. Our children will rise to the standard which we set. If we allow them to make “C’s”, they will. If we tell them its okay to sleep in class if they are tired, they will. If we buy them a cell phone and keep minutes on it when they refuse to study and do homework, we are to blame. If we allow them to buy, or we buy for them, the latest pair of Nike’s when they haven’t learned to read because they don’t put forth the effort, we have failed them. If we allow our children to go to parties on the weekend, but spend no time with family, we have done them a disservice. So, it’s time we, as parents, grade ourselves. What standards are we setting for our children? What are we allowing them to do? What kind of behavior do we encourage? What is our attitude towards their teachers, principals, school staff? Can we be a better teacher? Are we encouraging them to be life-long learners?
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I learn. Involve me and I remember.” –Benjamin Franklin
~Coletta Jones Patterson