Make a difference in child’s school year


Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 10:00 p.m.

There is a notion among parents that teachers must do everything. I want to remind parents that educating a child is a team effort. So often, parents believe that schools that have low school grades somehow have poor teachers. This notion is far from the truth.

I maintain that there are great teachers at these schools, but they are faced with a multitude of complex issues, particularly at the elementary schools. The administrators and staff at these schools are dealing with major issues of tardiness, absenteeism and behavior problems.

When this occurs, the learning environment is disrupted. Many times, the teacher must restart lessons or continue instructions at the point of the child’s late entry into the class.

It is very difficult to focus on keeping the attention of children when there are constant distractions, such as a child entering the classroom late. The instructional gains and momentum become stalled when there is a break in instruction and children tend to lose their train of thought and become unclear of the lesson being explained.

Furthermore, the child entering the class late has lost instructional minutes that can’t be recovered. If the child is in school and the teacher is allowed to teach without constant interruptions and discipline problems, I’m convinced every child can learn. Most of the research I have read indicates that children who are late to school and have attendance and/or behavior problems are usually the students who fail in the classroom.

Parents often take the position that these absences and the tardiness are viable excuses and unavoidable, but in the big scheme of things, these issues have a significant impact on the child’s performance.

In fact, it has a greater impact than one can imagine. Somehow, we have got to make it a priority to get children to school on time. We have discovered that many times, our children are coming to school sleepy, diet deficient, defiant, moody, and in some cases, filled with anger and ready to explode with a peer or an adult. This must change.

In essence, we must teach our children what is acceptable behavior and we must model the behavior we desire for our children. Remember parents, our children learn from us. What we say and what we do are what they will say and do in public. It pains me to hear young children using profanity as though it is acceptable language used by everyone.

It is imperative that we teach our children appropriate behavior and proper decorum at all times. Some children are more prone to engage in such negative behavior than are others who have strict rules in the home.

As I often say to my readers, we are in a partnership with our schools and teachers. We should avoid criticizing them and learn to join hands with them to help when there is a need. It is no secret that other ethnic groups are seeing the need and pitching in to ensure their child’s success in school. Teachers cannot do it all.

Too often, I hear comments from parents such as, “My child cannot read because the teacher did not do anything” or “The teacher is picking on my child.” This is unadulterated nonsense. The parent should assist in this process by insisting that the child read at home, and parents must participate by helping the child with homework at home.

Children who are nearing ages 3 and 4 should be challenged early at home by identifying letters, symbols and shapes, repeating their ABCs and learning other fundamental skills.

Parents who fail to equip their children early will run the risk of having a low-performing child. The child will begin school far behind other children who have advanced training at home from their parents.

If parents are not willing to teach their children at home as an extension of the programs at school, this will equate to lower test scores, which consequently can cause lower school grades.

Our teachers and administrators are the best of the best, and I stand behind all of them. So, if you care about your child’s school and you can volunteer or assist in other capacities, I encourage you to do so. Just contact Liz Stark, the volunteer coordinator.

In most cases, I see the glass half full and not half empty. I know there are some other parents like me, who see the glass of water half full, so let’s take a willing stance this school year and make a difference in our children’s lives and futures academically as well as in sports and other school-related activities.

Philoron A. Wright Sr. is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.

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