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VALUING EDUCATION

Usually I answer the questions but this time I have a question for my readers: DO YOU VALUE EDUCATION? And, if you do, do your children know that you do?

Parent are a vital part of what I call the “education triangle” which consists of the child, school, and parent. All three need to work hard, and work together, for the child to succeed at school. And there is nothing more important to your child’s future than school success.

We live in a crowded, competitive, complex world. Without a good education your child doesn’t have a chance to stand out in the crowd, compete, or figure out the complexities and land a good job. Because of our current economic downturn all of these problems will likely increase in the future, placing the poorly educated at an even greater disadvantage.

If this weren’t bad enough, the world we live in has many distractions that conspire to entice children away from their main “job” which is getting an education. It’s more fun to watch TV or play a video game than it is to learn the multiplication tables or write a book report.

But parents who truly care about their child’s future can come to the rescue! Here are the Heins’ guidelines for how parents can best support their children in school:

o VALUE EDUCATION. Let your child know almost from the moment of birth that nothing is more important to you than his or her success at school. Children want to please their parents so be sure yours know how important school is to you.

o VALUE READING AND BOOKS. Fill your house with books, visit the library often, let your children see you reading.

o TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT SCHOOL. Ask about school using questions that require an answer, not a monosyllable (“What was the best thing that happened today?” or “Tell me what your teacher looks like.” rather than “Did you learn anything today”? or “Did you have a good day at school?”). I always asked, “What was the best thing you learned today?” and got surprising answers sometimes (“My teacher’s going to have a baby!”)

o EXPECT YOUR CHILD TO DO WELL AT SCHOOL. Even though, to quote Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is showing up” when it comes to school showing up is not enough. In school you have to do the very best job you can. This job is measured in grades so expect your kids to get good grades.

o EXPECT YOUR CHILD TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITIES FOR CHORES AT HOME so the child feels, “I count around here. They need me to do chores.” Children who play while their parents are fixing dinner or cleaning the bathroom don’t feel this way. The child who feels valued at home is the one who succeeds at school.

o COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER. Ask about your child’s progress, listen to the teacher’s suggestions. Respond to all notes and requests. Pay attention to the papers your child brings home every day, don’t just wait for the report card.

o VALUE AND SUPPORT HOMEWORK.

o LIMIT TV and VIDEO GAMES.

o Encourage your child to play out of doors and get enough exercise. School work is valued in your house but so is keeping fit and interacting with peers.

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