By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
1. Your child is not a test score.
There is a good chance that your child will be more heavily tested this year than ever before. Many educators and politicians have convinced themselves that having a quality school means megatesting. Do not get caught up in that erroneous belief. No matter what percentile your child falls into, regardless of what score he produces, he is first and foremost a unique human being.
2. Your child is not her report card.
Nor is she her grades. Grades and report cards are only a partial reflection of who and what your children really are, know, and are capable of becoming. Grades measure only what your child's particular school defines as markers of intelligence. That narrow definition of intelligence does not measure emotional intelligence, spontaneity, integrity, trustworthiness, fortitude, sensitivity, creativity and a host of other important characteristics.
3. Being a teacher is not easy.
It is likely that your child's teacher has many students and parents to work with. While your child is most important to you, the teacher has to balance the needs of 30 to 120-plus students, a demanding curriculum, behavioral issues, pressure to raise test scores, and a family of his or her own.
4. You and your child's teacher are on the same team.
Do what you can to work in harmony with your child's teacher. The more you can present a united front and work together, the better for your child.
Focus on mutual solution seeking rather that on blame and faultfinding. Most of the time you and the teacher are on the same side, working to help your child learn and grow.
5. Your child needs protection from excessive homework.
Do not let your children do school work for long periods of time. Family time is MORE important than spending hours working on school assignments. If the teachers assign more than is doable in the study time you have structured (90 minutes for high school, 60 minutes for middle school, 30 minutes for elementary school), call them and let them know they are assigning too much material.
6. Money for grades sends the wrong message.
Rewards are ineffective if a love of learning is your goal. Paying kids ten dollars for each A, treating them to ice cream if they bring home a good report card, or buying a new video game if they get on the honor roll promotes only short-term results at best. What attaching rewards to grades really teaches children is that study isn't for the purpose of learning and growing but to get a treat or special concert tickets.
7. Your child needs help in understanding that stars and stickers don’t necessarily mean work excellence.
Help your children see that external rewards are a quick-fix control system that has little effect on internal motivation. Teach them to recognize quality work whether or not it is supported by a scratch-and-sniff sticker. Help them develop the judge within so that they can create an internal standard of excellence. Sticker-proof them by not overreacting to some teacher’s reliance on stars, stickers, and smiley faces that produce only short-term compliance at best.
8. There is a difference between being an advocate for your child and overfunctioning.
There is a time to stand up for your child and be their advocate. That time occurs after you have taught them how to speak and stand up for themselves. Teach them to talk to teachers and state their wants in positive and respectful ways. If teachers do not respond in kind, it may be time to become the advocate. Choose those times wisely and keep them to a minimum. Refrain from rescuing or micromanaging.
9. It's okay to change teachers during the year.
If your child has a teacher who cares more about content than children, who values test scores over learning, and who believes that bribing children with candy and stickers is the way to motivate them, it might be time for a change. If you have talked to the teacher and are seeing no change, if she continues to punish the entire class because four students won't quiet down, it might be time for a change. You get to request a new teacher. If that is in the best interest of your child, you have every right to insist on and expect that change.
10. YOU are not your child's grades.
Your child's grades are hers. It is her homework, her assignment, her responsibility, and her report card. You already did school. It is her turn now. Whether she gets all A's or E's is not about you. It is about her. Stop taking it personally.
11. Having and maintaining routines is important.
Establish a routine for morning, study time and bedtime. Routine, by definition, is doing the same thing every day. Stick to the schedule. Kids thrive on structure even as they protest. Keep the routines simple and predictable.
12. Sharing your appreciation is important.
Teachers don't get enough appreciation. Neither do administrators, coaches, counselors, bus drivers, custodians, playground supervisors, or cooks. Share your appreciation by telling them what you appreciate and the positive effect it had on your life or the life of your family. "Thank you for working with Vickie on her times tables. You have reduced the stress of the entire family during study time. She has a big smile on her face now. I appreciate your efforts."
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The Only 3 Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today: www.uncommon-parenting.com.