NATIONAL SITUATION: Systems such as those running public schools are very slow to change. It will take generations for schools in the United States to truly change—if they ever change.
PERSONAL SITUATION: As parents, if we wait for public schools to meet the needs of our children we are setting our children up to fail.
But There Is Good News!!
THE GOOD NEWS: We as parents DO NOT have to depend completely upon school systems to educate our children. In fact, there’s much we can do to help our children succeed independent of schools.
Here’s a quick list of steps that we can take to become advocates for the education of our children.
- Increase your emotional bandwidth so that you can spend at least 1 hour each day focused on your child’s education. This is huge and oftentimes the biggest obstacle for parents just getting started. If this seems overwhelming start with 15 minutes a day or partner with another parent and use a team approach. No matter how stretched you are, you will not regret carving out this time for your child. Again, if an hour seems impossible—start with 15 minutes. Some of this time will be spent interacting directly with your child and some you will spend looking for resources and connecting with other parents and supportive educators. But it’s hard to do this when we are stretched thin and overwhelmed by our daily responsibilities. Increase your bandwidth.
- Libraries are still one of the best ways to turn kids on to learning and reading…and most of what libraries offer is totally free. Get a library card and find out what they have available.
- Turn your smartphone into a private tutor for your child. There are more good apps out there than I could ever share with you. No matter your child’s age or academic needs, you can find great resources they can access on your phone. My youngest son uses apps to study for tests and quizzes. My grandson uses apps to practice drawing his numbers/letters and learn sight words; and I use apps to study different languages. Many are free but I have paid up to $4.99 for a good app if it’s what I need to move forward. NOTE: If you don’t want your child to “play” with your phone, get an older smart phone that isn’t connected to phone service. Connect to WIFI and download apps that your child can use later.
- Use online resources to find out what you need to know to get started. Here are some samples of the options I provide for parents. But there are many more out there.
- Free and low-cost resources by grade level
- Videos to help parents put their limited time to good use
- Access to educators who will answer your specific questions as your begin this journey
Photo Credit: Derien Downing (Artistic Avenue)
Over time, taking this series of steps will empower you and lead you to additional steps in ensuring the success of your child. You will find new questions and the answers to those questions. You will discover new relationships with people who are on the same journey. And, if you’re like most of us, you will thoroughly enjoy this journey and the wonderful benefits that come from investing in your child’s future in this manner. Because the short sweet truth is that you’re the key element required for your child’s educational success. -cd