I enjoy Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, not just for the wacky humor, but because Watterson gets us into the mind of a 6-year-old so that we see the world through a child’s eyes (even if that child happens to be a precocious daydreamer like Calvin). One cartoon pictures Calvin as a square peg being beaten into a round hole, than as a zombie, a robot, a hamster on a wheel, a parrot, and a prisoner on a chain gang. At the end of the strip, Hobbes asks, “Another typical day at school?”
What is it like for the other guy? How do things change if I look through his eyes? We should be asking these questions often in many relationships of life, and no less in the complex of relationships that make up the family-school connection. As an educator I try often to see things through the eyes of my students or their parents. As a school parent myself, it’s not too hard to see how the view looks from the other side of my school administrator desk.
Reaching the end of another school year, it strikes me that it is a good time to take stock of how to be a good Regents Academy parent. Call it Parenting 101. Here and in a few subsequent posts, I will offer some suggestions for how to be a good school parent.
First, realize that the school relationship is a partnership, not a solo act.
Resist the temptation to be a drop-off parent who thinks, “They do the educating. I do the parenting. I pay them thousands of dollars so that I don’t have to worry about the education part.” No, parenting is educating. We are your partners in fulfilling your responsibility under God to educate your children.
When you approach school as a partnership rather than as a responsibility that you have abdicated or shifted, it changes everything. You get involved with the day-to-day progress of your children. You go over spelling lists and discuss the literature of the week and review math facts and probe your child’s Bible knowledge. You spot weaknesses to work on and strengths to praise and celebrate. You see the teacher’s role as an adjunct to what you are already doing. You support the teacher in countless ways as a co-laborer rather than as an mere spectator. You develop trust with your child’s teacher as you work together with him or her.
Teachers love it when parents are deeply involved with the academic progress of their students. And the opposite is true as well: teachers get frustrated with parents who are distant and only minimally involved in the education of their children. The first matter of Parenting 101 is to be an involved mom or dad who takes seriously your responsibility under to God in the education of your children.