Education comes from “involvement” in life, in living, from actively participating in the creative and healing areas of life. Every topic or field has processes for purpose. Not random mixes of facts and figures to prove intellectual capacity to be a knowledge warehouse. There are two mainstream schools we all experience; life with family and friends and strangers, and then the structured pubic school curriculums designed to overwhelm imagination and dreams with trivial fact gathering. If you allow your child to experience ONLY the public school choice then your child will be given the least powerful education. Be sure you take reponsibility as a parent to connect your child to real life connections.
Sometimes it is a very good idea to reflect upon this question: WHO was it who decided the best way of learning for my child was to be sitting most of the day to simply listen to one person espouse wisdom and how things are and how things connect and how things work? WHO decided how little play and exercise my child needs? WHO decided how many subjects my child must learn at one time? WHO decided what is “normal” education practice? WHO decided that my children are “normal” if they understand and can use any subject lesson after a set number of hours? WHO said my children have to have 12 grades of education to be considered a viable working citizen? And, especially, WHO decided to make sure my children on graduation day are mentally fit ONLY for supply and demand work at fast food places and superstores OR do be pulled into the money hungry, money grabbing institutions called colleges and Universities for another four years of the same leadership as the previous 12 grades? Listen hard, parents. TAKE OWNERSHIP of your child’s education. Do not be misled into thinking the leaders who created what we have to deal with for education now were great gods and goddesses of mental proficiency. They planned this system NOT for finding and training and supporting the great minds that come their way and thus advance businesses and inventions in all realms. Instead, this system was designed for crowd control and for supplying the worker bees of already established businesses. Be aware and take care of your children’s well being and REAL possibilities for their futures.
Today I was remembering how most parents sheepishly bring their kids to school for the first time. I think most parents “hope” their kids show signs of intelligence of the higher level, show the teachers that they know lots of things already, and, well, the main thing is that the kids make their parents look good in the eyes of the teacher. And it is a strange thing to see because those kids stepping into the school for the first time are NOT brain dead. The information, useable knowledge they’ve proven at home, the skills they have already worked on and raised the level of in language, math, science, social studies, history and math, and even in some fine motor skills, if all typed out could fill an entire pack of new typing paper on both sides, in my opinion. Yes, that means most of those 4 and 5 year old kids have that much info packed into their fast working, non-incumbered brains. Parents should never think that teachers will now “set my kid right”, “get my kid started on learning things” or “make my kid bright”. When your child steps into an “official” school, they are actually transferring from the ” experiential school of home” to a “structured system of learning things” school. Parents, Family and Friends are always every child’s first set of teachers. And remember this, too, parents. This is what I always told my student’s parents. ” I, the teacher, work FOR YOU first and the school second. I have your child for at least one-third of their day, 5 days each week on the average. If I do something you don’t like or don’t understand, tell me and talk to me. If I mess up on something related to your children and their education, tell me. We’ll collaborate together. You are a part of my team to care for your child. I am never above you in any way. I honor you as parents and I always believe you really care how your child is taught.” Teachers are guides, not kings and queens. Have confidence in yourselves, parents. Keep track weekly of what is going on in that third of your child’s daily life experiences. It keeps a smoother and more successful process.
I told some peer teachers some years back that the Common Core revamp of how subjects are taught will end up creating more students being labeled as special ed. This may seem crazy to some, but it is happening. I am currently tutoring a grade school student whose parent said, ” they want to put my child in special ed for math”. I said, “let me work with him and I will help you know what to do.” After just the first two sessions with the child, I told the parent, ” there is nothing mentally wrong with your child. What IS wrong is that your child’s way of thinking does not match the C.C. forced way of thinking about things. This kid is smart and knows what to do according to the other way of thinking that used to be used. Plus your child has the added stress of a wild classroom making numerous distractions and noise and interruptions which he then sometimes becomes a part of from frustration. So, the problem, the challenge is NOT in your kid. It is in the system change.” Then I gave her this advice which I pass on here to all parents who are in the same boat. ” 1. They CANNOT just stick your kid in any form of special ed. situation WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT. This is the law. 2. The school is required to try many methods to help your child in the classroom–without needing special ed services to make modifications. Modifications, aka ‘changes to help the student in the regular ed classroom’, can be made without special ed services and labeling. I used to be part of a collaborative team who would meet after school with teachers who had troubled students. Our job was to listen to the teacher and offer alternative ways to help the student. After 2 or 3 weeks, we’d meet again, see updates and, if necessary, offer a second set of ideas to use. We always recommended including the parent’s involvement–although THAT was half the time IGNORED by the parents who thought the school should DO IT ALL. Still, we had our second meeting. Another 2 or 3 weeks would pass, and on the third meeting, we’d view the updates. If progress was still way far behind, then the teacher and Psychologist would ask the parents for permission to test their child for possible help needed in whatever subject was in failing range. If the parent said NO, then that was it. From that point on it is totally up to the student, the parent, and the teacher to make school life work.” The parent and I spoke about the usual routines between teacher, parent, and student that always make a success if everyone does their part. So, just be aware, again, that it always takes three to make education work in any setting; the parent, the teacher, the student. All three have responsibilities to be directly involved in the process of things and to make the changes together within the regular ed. setting. Most of the time there is no need for a fourth party. Sometimes special ed must be there but only when absolutely necessary. Just sharing from my experience and my opinion.
I see where school supplies are showing up in the stores now. Kind of cruel, you know? For both the teachers and the students. The reason these lists show up so early is that you will need money from your next two paychecks to pay for all the stuff. The routine is, as usual, a crazy looking list a mile long that makes you question the intelligence of the people teaching your kids. But it’s all routine and you are conditioned to accept it, obey the command of the list and hand out the cash for the goods. There is another routine you need to be aware of. The one your child faces every year. Ask yourself, what happens during the school year like clockwork? My kid feels like he or she is going back to a happy place or to the torturous dungeons again. Late homework or on-time homework. Feeling dumb from consistent struggle and more wrong than right answers, or enjoying the challenges of figuring things out and seeing different perspectives. Getting help every day at home from parents and relatives to encourage them to feel more confident or getting little to no help from parents and relatives because of many reasons of their own. Realize there are 9 months of being in a place by force for at least 7 hour’s each day, 5 days a week. I always measured the end of my school day as a teacher by happiness and sadness. For example Monday might have been a 70% happy and 30% sad day. As a teacher, I paid strong attention to the happiness of my students and of myself during the day. Teaching and learning are done best in a state of happiness and safety. The more I planned for a higher ratio of happiness the better off we all were. I usually planned for the kids to learn in a happy state so then I would be happy as well. On some days when most of the kids wanted to stay in an ” I don’t care” mood, that’s when I focused on making certain I would be happy even if they did not want that for themselves. I would always try to be more than fair because I am obsessed with making life happy, so the kids were given more chances by me than anyone else. I prided myself on that. I would tell my kids we are a team and that I will give them lots of chances to switch mood gears; so many chances that if some negatives had to come they would know without a doubt they had it coming. Some of the chances I gave my kids was in the form of realizing that the weather, holiday seasons, sickness, family home problems and being bullied was affecting their mood strongly. So I would shorten a lesson or change the lesson list around or the style of the lesson. Not all teachers can do all of what I did because they had many more students or because their emotional makeup was different from mine. So, parents, please understand the teachers are “just like you”. They also can wake up tired, angry, moody for any reason, and maybe think more of their own comfort than your children’s comfort. They can also wake up happy, smiling, looking forward to teaching your child in a fun way. But you won’t know any of this nor anything else that goes on in the school building if you don’t talk to your child and check that bookbag and help with the homework–ridiculous as homework is these days–and ask how they are feeling about everything and anyone they see “on a daily basis”. Be aware and present in your child’s life during the school year because that environment is where fear and bravery are built, where the concept of feeling smart or dumb is built, where trust or distrust in adults is also built, where hope or despair is built, where ‘trying’ or ‘giving in and giving up’ are built. Never think you can blame a bad teacher nor the school system when you don’t keep track on your own for the welfare of your child.
Think about the people you work with; the varied personalities, the nice and not nice, the ones who care and the ones who don’t, the ones who are happy most of the time and the ones who always find something to complain about most of the time. Think about the emotional environment of your job that you spend all day in and how it affects your outlook on life in general, on your perception of yourself and how you act and react in work and at home. Next, consider the same above types of people and emotional environments of the school and classes your children spend all day in. Schools usually have 3 to 5 more times the population of people to deal with than you do at work. Schools have more possibilities for negative stress, bullying, depressing environments and people getting away with aggressiveness toward others than anyone could ever get away with where you work. Have you ever noticed a difference in your children’s behaviors between the school months and the summer vacation months ? Do not blame your child for becoming more negative, fearful, sad, depressed, angry or careless during the school months because it is more than likely due to the environment of school where they have way less control of who to be around and where to be than they have in the summertime. And if you notice your child showing signs of the dark side of life, be aware and do something about it; help them with the school work, help them understand what they can do and how to do it with regard to relating to crowds and to people who are not nice, about people and situations they are forced to relate to every day. Make sure they have fun, happiness, and safety at home. Let home become the salve and heart medicine to heal and recover the spirit each week. I have noticed during my teaching years one really important result of school environments; 95% of parents do not like entering a school for any reason and less so for meetings with teachers for any reason. You know why because you are likely to be one of those parents who enter schools with an inner wariness or defensiveness or expectation that you will leave with sad or bad news. Every year at parent-teacher conference time in every school I taught in the staff was told to make the experience good for the parents, stay positive, show the upbeat side of life. Now, why do you think we had to be told that; it is because that is not the norm for most school daily environments. So, be aware for your child, for their well being, for your own safety and happiness, too, because how your child feels in school shows in their actions and moods at home. Children do not get “breaks” like adults do at work. At work, you can get away for a while during your lunch break. At school, you are shoved into the greatest crowd of people at lunchtime and recess time. Just be aware of your child’s emotional well being. That’s my safety-first service message for parents as the new school year approaches.
School starts very soon. Another nine months session of what is meant to be a time of personal growth of mind, body, emotions, and spirit: which also happens with a stronger success in the more free-moving arena of summertime vacation.
The school year. That annual life switch from the comfort of having freedom of movement, freedom of planning friend and fun times, of adventures, travel, discoveries in the more natural environment of living and learning naturally with very few time and space constraints; switching from that to roaming through tunnels to various sized boxes where we mostly sit and read and listen and write whatever the leading teacher tells us to conform our attentions to. It is a major change for most students, from constant motion to consistent sitting, exchanging hours of personal choice interests to specific topics someone else picked out.
What was once called ‘natural curiosity’ is now called ‘being distracted’ in school. What was once rewarded as complimentary, ” she loves to do anything; draw, collect things, climb, run, wonder about this and that. She is very curious and smart.”, is now corrected with, ” pay attention. Stop letting your mind wander. Get your assignment done. Focus on this lesson.”
It will be another year of adding more negative stress to the lives of both teachers and students; not all of them but for at least 50% of the population. The other 50% see it as a great time of challenge and really thrive on proving themselves capable of catching on to any topic at any level of mastery to prove their significance to themselves and others.
This writing is mainly for the 50% who wish to stay in the summertime mode. Parents in this group need to stay aware of giving more time to help, praise, reward, and provide definite fun times which are often overlooked because of the time homework takes.
Lastly, control the homework. Do not let it control you. Allow a variation of grades to be on the report cards of those students who can’t or won’t strive for an A or B in every subject. Whatever the reasons for the variations of grades, be certain your child understands that their worth as a human being, as a person deserving love and life, is never dependent upon any grade from any school subject. Low grades and high grades reflect only levels of interests or amounts of invested time in understanding the lessons. So, keep the fun and love factor in your family very high. Let this year redefine school as positive as possible for your children.