The best thing about this job, other than working in my pajamas, is dedicated time to expand knowledge and broaden perspective. Rarely are there only two sides to any issue; rarer still is a subject for which full knowledge is a finite pursuit. Education is a perfect example.
I suppose (hope?) that children's education has always been a major topic. Reform is so oft-discussed it's become a political byline, a buzzword good and bad, depending upon one's experience. Much maligned is the American education system, not without reason. Shifting laws, state and federal overrides in classrooms, and standardized tests leave teachers feeling constrained, blamed, frustrated and perhaps wondering if they should've become accountants instead.
American educational systems (especially in math) definitely need tweaking. We're too well-off by comparison to other nations to rank as comparatively low as we do. However, a successful fix can't be restricted to the school day. Parents have everything to do with it.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development academically assesses 15-year-olds in industrialized nations (Program for International Student Assessment). In recent years the PISA was amended to include factors outside school to measure academic success. Its findings released this month found three main influences on high school performance:
* The more parents read to their young children, the better their grades in high school. Parents who did this daily had students with much higher PISA scores.
* Simply asking (and listening attentively), "How was your day?" affected performance as much as private tutoring.
* Yes, households with higher incomes were more likely to have involved parents; however, in any socioeconomic category the first two factors above markedly increased scores.
The study also concluded that student-parent time like this more positively impacted performance than did parent involvement in PTA and board meetings or classroom volunteering. The full PISA study is called "Back to School: How parent involvement affects student achievement."
Kids don't have an on-off switch 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., so schools aren't the only ones responsible. We parents have to feed them well, nurture them emotionally, keep a structured schedule and supportive atmosphere at home, and get involved with homework. Without the parents' support, nothing teachers, schools, or governments can do will fix Johnny's education.
It's not just abusive or neglectful parents who could use improvement. I could. Most of us could in this lightning-speed society. Take a snapshot of the average two-income family, running 90 miles a minute. How much time is spent with Johnny? Does that take precedence over vacuuming, email, and work brought home? It's easy to forget, putting it off one more day ... Before you know it, the nest is empty and they become parents, following our leads.
"Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression." - Dr. Haim Ginott
Source: Coeur d'Alene Press - http://goo.gl/4yFeF