Commentary: Here is a lesson plan for a successful school year
School is under way, we are already in our eighth day -- 164 to go. My big concern is that during those remaining days, the school and home have an effective relationship so your children can achieve at a high level. The peak of our school year isn't the big game on a Friday night, the Christmas concert, or the play put on by students. It occurs in April when the state of Minnesota tests students to see how they measure on standardized tests. The district needs your help as parents and a community so our students achieve at a high level.
Teachers have recognized for years most successful students share essential qualities that form a foundation for school success: consistent attendance, parents and teachers that have established an effective partnership, and participation in extracurricular activities.
Children with a sketchy attendance history nearly always have problems in academics. Good attendance is defined as arriving at school each day ready to learn. This means the child has gotten a good night's sleep, had a nutritious breakfast, has completed their homework, and is in generally good health. Children that are hungry or tired, have not completed their homework assignments, have difficulty seeing the whiteboards, have difficulty hearing, or are ill will naturally be less attentive than their peers.
As a parent, you can demonstrate how much you care and how interested you are in what your child is doing in school by letting them know how much you value learning. As an example, let your child see you reading. Let them hear what you think is right or wrong, and share why you feel that way. Discuss what they are learning in school, and please take time to review their completed work that has been graded and brought home. Talk with your child about projects they are working on, set aside time every day and a quiet location for them to work on homework, and offer your help and guidance. Children who know what is expected of them make great efforts to meet or exceed those expectations.
An essential part of helping your child is the development of an ongoing partnership with their teacher. As a parent you can tap into a wealth of practical knowledge that enhances and reinforces learning at home. Teachers can get a clearer picture of a student's needs when parents and teachers share information.
Educators share a common goal with parents of helping children achieve at a high level. In this day and age of testing mandated by No Child Left Behind, this common goal becomes paramount. As a district, we must show growth. We need parents to help us accomplish that growth. We cannot do it alone and without all of us working together for this common goal, our children will suffer.
We know families have busier lives today than ever before. Despite this, parents that are part of their child's educational team discover the rewards outweigh any inconvenience they may experience as they help their child achieve success. That success must be a common goal of both parents and teachers. Some tips for parents:
- Help your child attend school regularly and ready to learn. This includes all children grades K-12.
- Demonstrate to your child your own interest in learning.
- Form an effective partnership with your child's teacher.
- Ask questions and voice concerns.
- Share with your child their special interests and needs.
- Encourage participation in extracurricular activities.
Jerry Kjergaard is superintendent of the Willmar Public Schools.