The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 21, 2013

Parents critical to learning


CATLIN — Danville’s Northeast Elementary Magnet School, which operates on a balanced calendar, opens its doors this week as staff and students begin another school year. Students across the region will join them within a few weeks.

As much as politicians like to pretend they know about what’s good for education, the secret to students’ success can’t be found in regulations, standardized tests or even in the amount of money spent on schools.

The secret a child’s learning comes down to two people: the parents.

Not all homes have two parents to help ensure a child is doing his or her best in the classroom, but there are many others — teachers, friends, relatives, neighbors, school volunteers, fellow church members, tutors — who can serve in the role.

The most important thing is that the parent prepare the child for learning by lending a hand — such as reading aloud for even a few minutes a day — by making sure assigned work is completed to the best of the child’s ability, to teach the child to respect others with whom he or she shares a classroom with and, perhaps the most important thing, by setting a level of high expectations for the child’s performance.

Parents who allow a child to slide by on homework, who allow them to be disrespectful to themselves and others, and who take no notice of what the child is attempting to learn is doing no favors for anyone. Raising a brat should be classified as a form of child abuse. It certainly does nothing to help build a foundation for the child’s success as she or he grows into an adult.

Helping a child succeed in school opens so many doors of opportunity — scholarships and other benefits — as a student. Those opportunities spill over into the child’s adult life as well.

The best part is that helping a child succeed doesn’t cost parents a lot of money — all it takes is time. Spend that time with your student this year.