- Value the process of education more than the diploma.
As with the acquisition of any accomplishment there is a process to getting an education, a process which takes time, commitment, and effort. We must be patient with the process, enabling the student to gain the greatest benefit from it, for it is more important than grades, awards, scholarships, or the diploma itself. Embrace the process.
Getting a good education is the child’s “job”; it’s what they go to “work” to do every day. The child needs to take their job seriously just as parents take their jobs seriously. It benefits students if they see that school is important to their parents, that their parents value school and the process of education.
Parents must convincingly communicate to their children that school has priority over sports, music, entertainment, random family outings, etc. (not down playing any of these, of course – simply prioritizing them). What’s important to the parents is usually transmitted to the children. Parents, value the process of education.
True education is more than the memorization of facts; it’s understanding the material and concepts as well as assimilating that material, analyzing it, and utilizing it in everyday life. That’s where the benefit of the learning comes in. To know how to do long division, for example, is good. But to know how to use that knowledge to figure gas mileage on a long trip, per se, is an example of the application of the knowledge. To be able to add 2 + 2 is fine and necessary. But, to extend that knowledge and be able to add a quantity of numbers together accurately is what’s needed when shopping for groceries with limited cash in one’s wallet.
Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator-- individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in enterprise, and who influence character. It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thought. Ed, pg 18 (White, 1903)
- Accept the child’s best effort.
Parents sometimes set too-high expectations for their children. This can be discouraging, inhibiting success. Not every child can get all A’s; we need to recognize that B’s are exceptional grades, too; and C’s are passing.
Those who find school easy often don’t learn good study skills and have difficulty in life because they didn’t gain strength from struggling; thus they can’t reason real-life situations through well enough to come up with solutions to problems. The child who struggled more to acquire the learning grew strong in their ability to problem solve. Their self-concept blossomed, also, enabling them to try still greater challenges and realize even more accomplishments than they ever thought possible.
- Respect the teacher.
Respect for the teacher is essential if the student is to learn well from them. The student must first see that respect in the eyes of their parents. This creates a three-way connection that truly aids the process of education. When the student sees that their parents and their teacher are “on the same page” concerning education the child won’t be tempted to try to play one against the other. They will settle in with the mindset of, “I guess I have to learn this stuff.”
That might sound like resignation on the part of the student but it’s actually relief, even if they don’t admit it. Children crave order and structure in their lives. The alliance of parents and teacher working together supplies the child with that organization. Organization à Stability à Confidence à Comfort à Peace & Harmony à Greater Learning! When home and school work together for the benefit of the child everyone is happier and greater progress is achieved.
Some parents want teachers to speak the same words and follow the same standards and routines as in the home. “This gives the child consistency,” they say. But, look at it realistically: the teacher has 20+ kids in their class – that can mean 20+ sets of words, standards, and routines to learn and match. Trying to do this would cause great confusion in the classroom as one child would be treated a particular way in an incident while another would be treated more leniently or harshly, depending on the ways of their homes, creating resentment and/or jealousy on the part of the various students.
A more viable system is to have the teacher develop their way of speaking, their necessary standards and routines to enable every student to achieve success. The students would have only one “new way of doing things” to learn. Plus, learning the teacher’s (boss’) ways is good practice for when the child enters the work-a-day world. After all, no boss is going to study the way it’s done in his employee’s homes and try to match all those styles!
If something comes up where a parent might not agree with what the teacher has said or done they should handle it Biblically and take their grievances to the teacher privately as Matthew 8:15 instructs us: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Parents and teachers need to open-mindedly listen to each other. Teachers might gain insight into how the child thinks and acts, while parents may learn something new about how their child acts, speaks, or responds when away from home. After all, children often act very differently at school than they do at home. Part of the reason for this can be resistance against being made to work. At home children get to play most of the time, at school that isn’t the case. Thus, different behavior patterns can emerge.
Parents should be respectful of the teacher even if they disagree with them. It would be tremendously refreshing (and potentially helpful) for a disgruntled parent to end a parent/teacher conference by sincerely praying with and for the teacher, verbally recognizing the difficult job of teaching the curriculum in an interesting and effective way to 20+ sometimes reluctant students from varying backgrounds and with varying temperaments. Pray for wisdom and carefulness on the part of the teacher. By doing thusly the parent could help bring harmony between home, school, and child.
- Know the curriculum.
When parents are involved with the child’s education the child values it more and does a better job of learning. This doesn’t mean becoming a “helicopter parent” (hovering suspiciously over the teacher and classroom). Helicopter parents can actually interfere with the possible learning; that would be counterproductive.
- Ask for ideas on how to assist with their child’s learning.
- Help their child memorize assigned Bible verses.
- Help their child study for Spelling tests, going over the words once a day, perhaps as they prepare supper and set the table – a great time for review of schoolwork.
- Encourage multiple short periods of study rather than cramming the night before a test.
- Look at the papers that come home, note anything the child might be having difficulty with, and review those points with them.
Assisting with Math problems, especially in the lower grades, can be a fun activity. As the parent drives to and from school they can:
- Kindergarten – ask the child to read the numbers on the speed signs or highway signs.
- Grade 1 – do Math off the speed signs. (35 becomes 3 + 5 or 5 – 3)
- Grade 2 – begin teaching the multiplication facts: keep a multiplication chart in the car for the child. Call out numbers and have them tell the answer. After a time the child will realize that they know some of the answers and don’t need to consult the chart any longer.
- Grade 3 – practice multiplication (hopefully without the chart)
- Grade 4 – practice division: the speed sign says 35 – “Does 2 go into 35? Does 3? Does 4? Etc.”
- Grades 5 and up – practice two-digit multiplication
This mental Math is excellent training for the child. Do it in a fun, almost game like manner. Enjoy the Math and the time with your child!
- Family study time.
Set aside some time, perhaps 15 minutes each evening, for family study time. Parents and children can each choose something they wish to study. Once a week it could be a time for sharing what they’ve learned in their studies. This family study time would be a great way for parents to model learning and the value of learning. They could teach (by example) study skills and good thinking skills. The time could be a great bonding experience for the entire family.
When I started college I had three pre-teens. They saw me regularly setting aside time for study; they saw me preparing assignments and studying for tests. My children began to compete with me for grades – it was the most motivated I ever saw them in their schoolwork; they wanted to do as well or better than Mom. The modeling was paying off. What fun for all of us when they got a better grade on a test than I did!
Written by Mary Ann Walden
Former Education Department Chair of Private College
Droolees LLC Education Blog Contributor
Meet Mary Ann Walden - Mary Ann Walden taught in small Christian schools for 27 years in various combinations of Pre-K - Grade10. Eleven of those years were in one-room situations (Grades 1-8). For the next six years, as ED Dept. Chair of Ouachita Hills College, she trained future Christian teachers. Mrs. Walden and her husband have since retired to the beautiful Virginia mountains where she spends her time writing books for teachers and children. You can find her published works at www.Walden-Wonders.com