Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hey, Moms and Dads. You're Getting Lazy.

I had this fantasy when I graduated high school that I was going to become a groundbreaking, inspiring, incredible teacher. I truly believed I was going to change the course of history through the lives I touched with my work. A year before I graduated college, however, I changed my major to nursing. Why? Because I was quickly realizing that all of the reasons that made me want to teach in the first place, all of the hopes, dreams, and inspiration I wanted to pass on to growing young minds, would never be realized...because parents are lazy. 

We live in a society where we expect others to do our dirty work. This includes raising our children. Deny it all you want, but it's true. Parents drop their children off at school and honestly believe that the 7 hours of group instruction they receive while there will be enough. 

Here's a newsflash people:
A teacher's job is not to prepare your child for the world. It is not to shape them into the people that you want them to become. They are not responsible for your child's education. That is your job. A teacher's job is to inspire a passion for learning, to encourage, to challenge, to be an example. While the role they play in your child's life is invaluable, it is purely supplemental. You are your child's first and most important teacher. 

It's amazing how many kids are entering the school system unprepared. A staggering number of children are starting Kindergarten without knowing their alphabet or even how to count, leaving public school systems to clean up the mess parents are leaving at their doorstep. The school system shouldn't be teaching kids how to count, or read for that matter. These fundamental basics should be taught at home, not in a classroom where your child is one of many. One on one time with your child is crucial and can very easily be the difference between their success or failure.

Parents are also finding the realization that their children are average a very difficult pill to swallow. People are getting all frazzled when their kids bring home "average" grades on their report cards. In fact, just last night, I witnessed a teacher being publicly berated because a child that goes to her school received a B on his midterm. This child isn't even her student yet the mother was lashing out at her anyway. The teacher's response, however, was beautiful. "I'm sorry you're upset but it's wonderful that he's not a straight A student. Would you rather him just sail through school, or do you want him to be challenged? Besides, you are your child's first teacher. At school, he is one of maybe 50 kids, but at home, he's number one." The mom responded with a lot of nonsense about how she was busy and couldn't be expected to "do it all." I couldn't believe someone could stand there and say they are too busy for their kids and act like they aren't her top priority. I was also glad that the teacher was able to hold her own through all of the ridiculous ranting because things like this are happening all too often. Parents are refusing to make adequate time for their kids and teachers are being unfairly expected to pick up the slack. 

When my middle son began needing physical, occupational, and speech services, I took him to therapy three times a week where he worked intensely with his therapists. I quickly realized though that there were 165 other hours in the week where he wasn't getting what he needed. I've never had an interest in being anyone's therapist but three hours a week wasn't going to teach my son how to speak, how to interact in society, or build his muscles so that he could walk without braces on his legs. Those 165 hours are my responsibility. I would move heaven and earth for my kids. In this case, I rearranged my work schedule, gave up anything that resembled a social life and dedicated myself to being Carter's number one therapist. Why? Because that's what a parent is supposed to do. Carter wasn't going to succeed if I didn't make time with him a priority. Sure, he still receives therapy from the "professionals" but I view that time as a learning experience for myself. They model the things that I need to be doing with him all the time at home. I learn from them and act based on their example, and because of that, my little boy is thriving. 

The same principals apply to your child's education. If they're struggling, you find a way to be there for them. Be the parent willing to move mountains for your child. Use your child's teachers as examples for yourselves. In my house, there are 5 hours between the end of the school day and bedtime. That's 5 hours I could be continuing their education. It doesn't have to be all books and worksheets either. Discuss world events, cook together, just share the events of your day and how you feel about it. There are learning opportunities everywhere but we can't share them with our kids if we aren't there for them. 

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