The 2013-14 school year is here. Bright, clean faces will be crossing the thresholds of schools all over Middle Georgia; some already have. But aside from the paper, pencils and notebooks that will enter with them, one of the most important education accessories is rarely seen after the open house -- if then: Parents.
Being a parent is a 24/7 job. This year promise yourself to step up your parental game. Here are a few tips:
Make sure children get from eight to 10 hours sleep every night. Monitor video game and computer use; that includes cellphones. Facebook conversations are the new way to bully.
On or before the first day of school, parents need to meet their childrens teachers. Tell them about all the avoidance games your children play. Make sure your children hear every word. They need to know the gig is up.
Make sure teachers have your home, cell, work and any other phone numbers they need to reach you. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, too. Make a pledge to yourself that when a teacher calls, you answer and head to the school if necessary.
Check assignments nightly. Many teachers put assignments on the school systems Internet Parent Portal. Make sure you can access the site (sign up at school). Parents can check attendance, tardies and in-class assignments, too. Be patient; sometimes it doesnt work like its supposed to.
Communicate often with teachers. Dont just appear when theres a problem.
Children are natural-born procrastinators. They think they can pull assignments out at the last minute. They can do that, but all too often, the assignments bear the telltale signs of last minute work. Nip that habit in the bud. Teachers are instructing at a furious pace and if a child gets behind its difficult to catch up.
If your child comes home and says, The teacher doesnt like me. Ask why? Youll get a ... I dunno, for a response. Head to the school, theres something your child is not telling you. Teachers are too busy to conspire against your kid.
Dont let your child make you look like a fool. If your child comes home with a cockamamie story, dont go to the school raising hell. Find out whats going on and follow this rule: Believe the adults. I know you want to believe your little bundles of joy, but they will lie like a rug.
You dont need to raise your children in isolation. There are other parents going through the same life cycles. It does take a village to raise a child. Get involved and be a part of the village. Commit to your schools PTA. Pay your dues, volunteer when you can, attend meetings.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but your children will take education seriously if you take it seriously. To borrow a phrase from Nike: Just Do It. Parents have to be present -- and I mean that in a state-of-mind sort of way. Set high standards. Mediocre doesnt cut it. Do not accept C work. God made awesome, not average.
Dont be afraid to ask for help; the more brain power focused on an issue the better. The district has a plethora of programs to help children. Find out what they are and use them if necessary.
And finally, no school system gets everything right all the time. Parents have to be their childrens advocate. If there is a program, such as foreign language, that would be beneficial at your school, round up the other parents and head to the principals office.
If the response isnt positive, call your school board member. If that doesnt work, address the school board -- where, by the way -- your face should be familiar.
Have a great school year and stay committed. Remember this ditty about ham and eggs when trying to distinguish between involvement and commitment. The chicken was involved, the pig was committed. Be committed.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet @crichard1020.