Parents should get involved every day
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
Monday, hundreds of adults went to school. Not to a college classroom or an extended education course, but to middle school, elementary school and high school. They didn't go to protest a textbook or to pick up an unruly child. Instead, they went to take part in their children's education and lives.
Parenting Day, though fairly new, was a great idea. Giving parents an open invitation to visit and learn about what their kids are doing and find out about the schools' facilities could serve as a step toward getting them more involved in their children's education.
For parents, taking time from their work or other chores to spend a day or a few hours at school could be well worth the time.
I remember, as most of my generation and older will, the annual open house extravaganzas from my elementary days. Once a year, my mother would throw me and my sister in the car and off we would ride to the school.
I remember those years when I couldn't wait to take my mom to my classroom. I would direct her around the school with the enthusiasm that only an eight year old has. I would point out everything – the library, cafeteria, bathrooms, and even the janitor's closet.
But the best part was taking her into my classroom. I took her to my desk and showed her where it was in relation to my latest crush's seat. She looked over recent tests as I stood studying the expressions on her face for approval. Usually it was a mixture of smiles and grimaces as I was not the most consistent of students.
Then came the part I loved most. You see, just like grown-ups have to clean their house spotless before guests arrive, we kids had to prepare by decorating the walls with some type of original artwork. One year, we drew self-portraits. I remember mine very well because in the piece I was wearing my favorite shirt – a Terry Bradshaw jersey (actually it was just a T-shirt made to resemble a jersey).
The visit to school usually ended with my least favorite part – my mother speaking with my teacher. Sure, I usually came away from the discussion looking pretty good. But, the agony came in waiting to see what they talked about. In most cases, the teacher would look down at me and smile while telling my mother I was a good student. But, I was not the most consistent of students. It was pure agony to sit there and wonder what she would say. Whether she would mention the fact that I got a paddlin' last week for talking to my neighbor' while she was teaching, or that I had obviously not been studying my spelling book, or that I was chewing gum in school, or that I had pulled sweet little Suzy Johnson's hair (she was never very sweet to me).
After visiting with my teachers I got the treat of going to the big people' side of campus. My sister was two years older and a much more consistent student. Her trips to school were more business-like and she always wore a smile during the parent/teacher exchange. But, it was always a kick to go to the side of the school that very few second and third graders dared venture in the light of day. And, as we got older the trip became even better as we had to go to a completely different campus.
After returning to school after these open houses, I had a feeling of invincibility. I knew I could make good grades and would study to make sure I did.
Knowing that my mother cared enough about my education to put off her daily five-course meal and dish out big bucks for a couple of Happy Meals was the most encouraged I had ever felt while going to school. Even when I studied really hard and made a good grades, it didn't encourage me like the knowing that she wanted to know about what I did all day. It also didn't hurt that I realize she had a way of finding out what I did all day.
But, as the open house evening faded into old memories, my inconsistencies returned. I went back to talking to my neighbor' and falling asleep with my nose tucked in the crack of my spelling book.
While open house and Parenting Day are marvelous ways to show kids that we care and want them to do well, it is only one day. Getting involved in a child's education is a 365-day-a-year job. It should not be something saved for special occasions or state-sponsored tests.
Many students who live on the verge of passing and failing just need to be encouraged by someone they respect and despite some opinions, I still believe kids look up to their parents more than Dig Diggy Dog and Mr. All-American quarterback.
While all children are unique and have their own way of learning. What most kids need to be well-rounded students is a little more consistency from their parents.