When is your child's next major test scheduled and what material does it cover?
The end of the first quarter is upon us. It's hard to believe that one-fourth of the school year is gone. Clearly, your sons and daughters should have a very good idea of their grades right now. In fact, so should you. You shouldn't have to wait for a report card; those should just verify what you have been checking all year.
You've checked homework, you have periodically checked their notebooks, you've quizzed them before tests and quizzes. You've checked the grades they made on those tests and quizzes. And you have set aside quiet time every night in your home so they could study without interruption.
You made sure they were fed properly, they had plenty of rest, you cut down on TV time and you didn't allow them to go out on school nights. If your kids were running into problems, then you made sure they were getting appropriate assistance by meeting with the teacher(s) before and after school.
You've called teachers, not only to check on their academic progress, but to find out how the kids are doing socially. Do they behave? Do they accept correction? Are they getting along with others? Do their school friends have the same interests and values as your own kids? Are they beginning to mix with a not-so-wholesome crowd? Have they missed any school days that you were not aware of?
Parenting can sure get in the way of things that we would like to sometimes do.
The reason I ask these questions is simple and straightforward. If, as a parent, you have not done your job, if you have not fulfilled your responsibilities to your own children, then what makes you think your kids would be doing what they are supposed to, what they are responsible for? Don't you expect them to follow your example?
There's a lot of research out there that seems to indicate parents are not spending much time with their own children. If the report card you receive does not live up to your expectations as a parent, then before you talk to your kids about their grades, you might think of the things you could have done not to be faced with the problem now.
Once that's been accomplished, then, and only then, sit down and talk to your kids. Identify the problem, formalize a plan to address the problem, put the plan into action and keep tabs on its implementation. You might need long- and short-term plans. But that most certainly will go for naught if you don't follow through to make sure the plan is being followed.
One part of the plan should involve having sit-down dinners with your kids. Talking to one another is still a good way of communicating. There's no telling what you can find out about your kids, like their friends' names, what's happening at school and they might even ask you for advice.
And you could provide the guidance that all kids need, whether they are in elementary, middle, high school or college.
School administrators and classroom teachers have been taking a lot of heat from state legislatures across the country to increase test scores.
When I talk to teachers in schools, they certainly feel the pressure. They are changing the ways they do things to increase student achievement. School administrators also feel the pressure and are paying very close attention to test results. However, when I talk to parents, I don't sense that pressure, nor do I sense the urgency the public schools seem to be working under.
If parents cannot answer the first question, "When is your child's next major test scheduled and what material does it cover? " then parents need to get with the program. The burden to increase student achievement must be shared with legislators to make sure they are adequately funding education with educators to ensure students are being taught the material, and with parents to ensure their kids are accountable for their education.
Bill Hanlon, a Las Vegas educator, is a member of the Nevada Board of Education. His views do not necessarily reflect those of other members. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.