Another school year is in the process of beginning. On Wednesday, August 7th I will be returning to Saint Augustine High School as I prepare to meet my students for the first time for this academic year. In the coming weeks many of our students will be reporting to school to start another year in their educational career. As we begin a new school year, it also marks a new beginning in the academic arena for our teachers, staff, students and parents.
Parents, I encourage you as we begin a new year of education, to become actively involved in your children’s education. There is a direct collation with student’s success rate and with parent’s active interest and participation in their academic studies. Those parents who are actively involved with their children’s education, realize a higher success rate as opposed to those parents who are passively involved in their children’s education. Therefore, please be involved so that our children can realize their fullest potential and achieve academic success.
There are a few suggestions that I would like to offer for a successful school year. These suggestions apply to all students, from Preschool through High School. Yes, even our High School students need to be encouraged; they need to know that you care and have an invested interest in their education. So often I hear parents of High School students state that they are allowing their child to become more responsible for their education. Remember, they are still teenagers, and are still developing into mature and responsible adults. They are not there yet. While it is commendable to give our High School students more accountability and responsibility for their education, as parents there is still a need for us to check to make sure they are on task.
It is also imperative that we are constantly observing our children in the lower grades as well. Elementary School education is the foundation upon which all academic skills are developed and learned. Parents make sure your children are reading daily. Have them read to you, and then ask them to explain to you what they had just read. Reading deficiency is the greatest stumbling block for too many of our children. Remember, if they unable to read, then they will struggle with their writing skills, doing math, or even understanding the different sciences or their own history. Too often when we fail to stay on top our children’s school work, the results are generally not the most positive.
Parents check your children’s notebooks, chrome books or any device that is used in school to gather information. If you do not see any information, or fresh information gathered daily, I would suggest you start asking some questions such as, “What did you do in class today?” “Why don’t I see any information recorded?” From my experience as a teacher, students do not like to copy down information; they will sit in class and either fall asleep, play with their electronic devices or day dream. In the end, they are not capturing the lesson. If you fail to see any written information daily in their books, there is a need to have a serious discussion with your child. It is also a good practice to ask your child everyday what they did in class and name at least one thing they learned in class, for every subject they are taking. It is also important that you check for homework and make sure it is done properly. Some students will say they have no homework, or they did it in school. Check it! When a student states “I did it in class,” that is a coded message which actually means, “I copied someone else’s work.
It is also important that you check any electronic device that your child is using in school: chrome book, note pad or lap top. One needs to especially check their browser history, to discover what sites your child was on during the school day. Once again, from my experience I have witnessed students searching the web during class time. They go to You Tube, play electronic games, and watch football or basketball games, all while instruction is being offered. In the end, they miss the lesson.
It is also important that you make sure all students are going to bed at a reasonable time and going to sleep. Just because they are in their bed room, does not mean they are sleeping. Some children take their cell phones, or other electronic devices to bed with them, and are using them until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Then when it is time to get up for school, they are tired, and when they go to school, their class room becomes their bed room. Instead of listening to the lesson, they are sleeping. One of the favorite excuses that students attempt to justify their “sleeping in class,” is “the teacher is boring.” Perhaps, if they went to bed and to sleep on time, they would stay awake.
Finally, get to know your child’s teacher(s). Develop a relationship with them early so that you are both working together to assure success. It is good to learn what their expectations, their goals and their requirements are early in the school year, so that together you can work to attain them. It is always best to have a good relationship with your child’s teacher(s) before there is an issue that must be addressed. Always remember to be open and listen to what the instructor is saying, remember your child is a saint when you are there watching them, however when you are not there, that is another story. I know, when my parents were around I was a saint, but as soon as they were gone, the devil in me came out. Just listen, and if there is a need for more discussion, please have that discussion without your child being present at the beginning. In this way both you and the teacher(s) can discuss the issue frankly, and develop a plan that will work in the best interest of your child. After you and the teacher had your discussion, then bring your child into the discussion. In this way you are showing a united front, and generally there are less issues, since the student realizes they cannot play one against the other.
It is also important for you to share with the teacher any special needs that your child may have. Please do not assume that they know, because once again, from my experience that is not always the case. When you inform the teacher of any medical or special needs that your child has, then they can make the necessary adjustments to their lesson which will be a benefit for your child.
Students, please go to school to learn. Your education is of greatest importance for your future. Be a leader, not a follower. Avoid going along with the crowd. Avoid being the class comedian; we have enough comedians in the world. However, we do need more doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, researchers, priests, brothers, sisters, mechanics, electricians, and contractors, just to name a few professions. You have the potential and the ability to achieve whatever you want in life, as long as you are willing to put forth the effort. Pay attention in class, do your work and study hard. Remember your education is your key to true freedom and success in this world. Always remember that God our Father, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are always present to lead and guide you.Together let us all pray that this academic year will be one of peace and great academic success.
Fr. Peter Weiss, S.S.J.
PRAYER FOR FAMILIES
We bless your name, O Lord,
For sending your own incarnate Son,
To become part of a family,
So that, as he lived its life,
He would experience its worries and its joys.
We ask you Lord,
To protect and watch over this family,
So that in the strength of your grace
It members may enjoy prosperity,
Possess the priceless gift of your peace,
And, as the Church alive in the home,
Bear witness in this world to your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.