Chrstmas Spirit

Chrstmas Spirit
My wife and kids having a little holiday fun

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Educational Opportunity

Happy Monday to all of you.  For some of us, our kids are on Christmas break.  This is the perfect time to think about what is really going on with their education and how you, as parents, can separate your children from the pack a little bit. 

At this point, you have been able to digest the report cards of your kids and get a handle on their strengths and weaknesses.  My questions to you are how did they do in their classes, how do you know, and how can you help?  The best way I can explain these is to use my child Cameron as an example. 

1.  How did Cameron do?  Cameron is in a Catholic school which uses the traditional way of grading. (A-B-C-D-F)  For those of you who do not have a traditional form of grading, your job may be a bit more difficult.  Cameron received straight A's.  For those of you who have kept up with this blog, that would not come as a surprise.  (He reads and works on math skills typical of a third grader with me).  I was a lot more pleased with Science, Social Studies, and Religion grades because we don't work on those subjects as consistently.

2.  How do I know how Cameron did?  This is a trick question for me and maybe some of you concerning your kids as well.  I should be pleased with the grades. Straight A's is the best he can do--- or is it? 

In Cameron's case, he didn't actually learn anything in reading or math because he already knew the material.  Therefore, an "A" isn't a big deal.  I knew this would happen and I'm not upset at all.  Here's the point.  If your child had to work hard to receive whatever the report card said, you should be pleased.  But what if the class is moving slowly academically or your child has superior skills to the class/grade level?  Is an "A" as big a deal?  This is an important distinction which leads to the next point.

3. How can I help?  In Cameron's case, we go over every wrong answer he receives at school or at home.  I have the attitude more of a caring teacher than of a tough parent in these cases.  What's important to me is the knowledge- not the grade.  I want to give Cameron every chance of understanding what is being taught.  In my opinion, this attitude places less stress on my child while accomplishing the overall point of school which, of course, is learning.

Now that we have these points established, why do you think I am writing this blog now?  The kids aren't in school.  Well, here's why.  This time period is your golden opportunity as it is mine.  Over the next couple of weeks, we have the chance to really dig in and help with our children's education.  "Daddy School" (the boys education with me) doesn't end when schools are out.  I'll typically set aside some time with the entire point of working with Cameron and Luke (my 3 year old) on their academics. Of course, my boys aren't working on Christmas day or even on the weekends.  What we do though is work during the week directly at their skill level- not grade level. 
Social Studies classroom at Port Charlotte Hig...Image via Wikipedia
How can a parent take advantage of this???
What may surprise you is how much you can accomplish in a short period of time.  Working with Cameron will take me 30-45 minutes daily (the latter if he is intensely focused).  This still gives him the rest of the day to play and enjoy his time off from school.  This extra amount of time allows us to bond and for him to grow as a student.  Being a student shouldn't be confined to 187 school days.  In one way or another, we all should be lifelong learners. 

With your children, you have three choices.  The first is to forge ahead with your child's education no matter what the report card said. If, for example, they are good readers; help them practice to become better with more difficult material.  

The second is to target skills in a subject where your child is having difficulty.  Let's say, for example, your kid worked hard and received a "C" in math.  This is a perfect time to go over the material in which the child struggled and possibly show him/her some upcoming material that may be a bit tricky.  If you do this, there is an opportunity to receive a better grade on the next report card.

The final choice you have is to do nothing.  Let me be extremely honest with you.  Parents who do not create extra opportunities for their children to learn are going to have a hard time keeping up with the kids who have proactive parents.  I'm not judging anyone but it's a fact.  To use a sports analogy, it would be like someone off the street trying to throw a football as accurately as an NFL quarterback.  Odds are pretty low of this happening. Parents and kids who put the time in are going to be better equipped when the subject material becomes more challenging. 

My contention is the extra amount of time you place in your child's education will pay off substantially for those who take advantage of it.  There are a lot of desks empty across America right now.  Will you take advantage or will you let this opportunity pass you by?  The choice is yours. 

My next blog will be written on Wednesday.  I hope between now and then you'll think about this blog and make whatever choice you feel is best for your family.  All the best!!!


  1. I just "followed" this blog. Great job!

  2. Thanks for the reminder! It is also worth keeping in mind that learning opportunities occur everyday, everywhere ... a proactive parents can incorporate them throughout the day. Happy Holidays! Stop Pinching Your Sister!

  3. Thank you for your honest and thoughtful insight into an area of parenting often neglected by many busy parents. Although most parents may expect to be their young child's first mentors and teachers, they don't always realize that this "mentoring" and "teaching" can continue throughout childhood and beyond. I will be following your blog. :)