A new school year: what to do

An open letter to parents, especially fathers

In my ongoing inYsam new picture newterest regarding the academic welfare of our future leaders, I have decided, for this instance only, to change both my writing style and delivery mode, and revert to my abdicated pedagogical role.
The approaching end of summer marks much more than cooler weather and light jackets. As we begin to trade long summer days for cool fall mornings, parents, especially fathers, need to be diligent in ensuring that their child’s school year not only starts off successfully but also concludes on the selfsame note.

Dear Parents,
Greetings! Welcome to the start of a new school year. I look forward to working with you in an atmosphere of mutual respect, honest communication and cooperation to ensure a successful outcome for your child. Please look over the School Rules with your child, as it pertains to student behavior, student interaction, as well as male and female interaction and expectations for learning.
There is also important information about the school atmosphere and how teachers and administrators manage it, and yes, I do agree with you that not all teachers are parents, but please, at the same time remember that all parents are teachers.
While I fully understand that you are faced with the day-to-day responsibilities of being a parent to your child, be equally assured that as a teacher your child’s best interest is my foremost responsibility.
In fact, strange but true, there are actual teachers who care and endure the politics and red tape school year after school year because they care so much for your child. May I offer a suggestion that you immediately take an active interest in your child’s school life instead of pointing the finger, and being quick to say that teachers are not doing x, y, and z. Instead, just ask yourself the question: “What am I doing as a parent to help my child progress in school? Am I doing my all to be informed? Have I made use of the various available means of receiving grade, attendance and even behavior updates?
At what point are we going to work together to ensure your child’s success?
Parental involvement helps your child to learn, improves schools, and makes my job so much easier. Please ensure that each day your child is fully prepared for class, this does not mean having a fully charged cell (hell) phone, Tablet, head phone or I pad, but instead note book, exercise book, ruler, p ens, pencil (sharpened), eraser and most of all textbooks in his/her possession on arrival. Make sure you read for yourself and know the rules of the school regarding phones and digital equipment.
Technology has dangers that have far-reaching effects on a young child’s future. The Internet is a wide expanse of information and there are consequences to cyber-bullying, bullying, profanity, access to pornography and information that may create behavioral changes. Make homework a priority each night before television, telephone and you bet the Internet.
I beg you, do not fall for the ploy that no homework has been assigned on any given day; homework simply means school work or school assignments being completed at home. If I have not given your child any work to be completed at home, then as my home-based representative you can assign work and also ensure its full completion.
There may be times when you may not have the time to spend with your child going through all the homework assignments, but let the child know that you are aware of what is going on in school. You are aware of the term if you snooze you lose, well that holds true for your child.
I see firsthand, on a daily basis, the negative effects too little sleep can have on children, especially at the beginning of the school year. Expect your child to be really exhausted just from being excited, anxious and starting the new school year. Establishing and sticking to routines is great for both yourself and your child, for after all they are not the only ones switching from fun summer days and later nights to the hectic rhythm of fall.
In addition, as a parent there must be some displayed willingness to monitor how they spend their time, especially on weeknights. So make sure that they get as much sleep as possible.  Please make it your duty to talk to your child everyday about their day in school and even in the community, their interactions with others – young or old – and how they feel.
Do not settle for the okay, all right, or fine; they are not answers, just utterances tantamount to being dissed. The foundation of your relationship with your child should be based on love communication, trust and respect. Act like the Gestapo; check your child’s phone daily (especially if you pay the bill) to ensure that they are not involved in behaviours that could eventually lead to law enforcement interaction and educational disruptions.
Please reinforce manners and social graces on a routine basis, for my instructional class time does not allow for the teaching of manners, etc. These should have already been learnt and fall outside my realm of classroom responsibility and expectations. After all, I am a teacher; it is not my responsibility to teach child manners, I am supposed to reiterate what has been taught.
Do not forget to set a good example by showing your child how reading is enjoyable and useful by reading to, or with, your child everyday. Provide resources at home for reading and learning by having books and children-friendly magazines. Treat your children as though they are authors; encourage writing about their day.
Writing is a key part of cognitive and intellectual growth. Children will write more as they progress in school. Writing, reading and comprehension work together to bridge the gap between applying skills and integrating what is learned in school and how to apply it in real life. Oops!
Pardon me, I almost forgot, but please make the dictionary a necessary accompaniment to any reading session. Young people of school age have been (and still are) treating the lexicon like a leprous entity. At home teach your child how to listen, when to speak, and when not to, this is so beneficial to your child’s progress, even outside the classroom. Listening allows the absorption of information and then its application.
Last but not least, use every occasion inside and outside the home to teach your child Math. When baking, cooking, shopping or even walking the street have your child practice math, this reinforces critical and higher order thinking skills.
As I close and prepare for the start of the new school year, this I must let you know, my teaching best to your child I will show. Accept my sincere thanks for being a vital part of the team, helping me to guarantee that school is not as hard as it may seem.

Signed: Your child’s teacher.

Next edition: Reading is leading.