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Moms Council Question of the Week: Have Three Golden Rules for School?

How should parents advise their kids on how to deal with school, approach their education?

In this space every Wednesday, the La Mesa Patch Moms Council poses a question and invites your wisdom—and chimes in themselves.

The council is captained by Mommin’ Around columnist Genevieve Suzuki. Other members of the Moms Council are Deena While, Linda Byerline, Tony Lawrence, Elizabeth Blust and Phylicia Mann.

Now the question:

Now that school is in full swing, young students everywhere are going home to seek advice from their parents on a multitude of issues. What are your three golden rules for school?

Genevieve Suzuki September 15, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Deena, I LOVE No. 4. That's how we operate in Hawaii, where you don't want to "make shame" by doing the wrong thing, which then reflects on your family. Familial pride works wonders!
Elizabeth September 15, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Twice I've had to bite my tongue to enforce the "listen to the teacher" rule (when my daughter brought home notes from school about problems that boiled down to a difference of opinion). Both times I could see the look of relief on the teachers' faces when they realized I wasn't going to fight an issue. Two issues in 12 years must mean we're doing something right. My three rules? Hmm... My seventh-grader says she doesn't think we have any, but here are the things I've told her through the years: 1. Do the work. You have no excuse for not turning in a complete assignment. If you're getting poor grades, it had better not be because you've missed assignments. If you think you don't have time, I'll take away your TV and computer privileges. 2. Do your best. If you get a C but I know that you really tried and that's the best you can do, I won't complain. If you get a C but I know that you were capable of a better grade, get ready for an earful. My high school gave a traditional letter grade and also an Effort grade for each class. My letter grade didn't matter nearly as much to my parents as my effort grade did. 3. Ask questions. I was horrible about this as a student, until about halfway through law school. Even if you think you understand, ask a clarifying question. Make sure you understand how you got to the answer (especially for a lucky guess). I wholeheartedly agree about behaving like a lady and not making me look bad. "I'm raising you better than that. Show it."
Tony Lawrence September 15, 2011 at 03:46 PM
My list 1) Homework. Education first. It comes before TV, sports, play rehearsal, before computer and hanging out with friends. My kids know, if the work is done, they get an awful lot of leeway. 2) Respect. The teacher is amost always right. If you are reading this with a chip on your shoulder looking to justify your distrust or contempt for a teacher or coach, or fist cocked ready to defend your litle angel, you are likely wrong. Even if you're right, you're not doing your kid any favors by "going to war" for them over homework or a grade - you will not be there their whole life when they don't get a job or raise or promotion or grant or starting position or lead on Broadway to "make it right." Teach the kids that failure and difference of opinion is a way of life and how to deal with it - beyond crying and whining to Mommy or Daddy who then ride in cutting a swathe of destruction. 3) Ask questions. This bears repeating. Everday you do not understand, you get father behind and we (at least in my house) can not remember all the stuff we learned and your teacher is a MUCH better resource - and wants to help - but YOU have to ask, And (Thanks Deena) 4) (especially poignant in high school) These are your memories. You are living the stories you will tell your kids and remember with friends at reunions and gatherings. Write the story you want to tell. Treat people the way you want them to remember years later. You will never regret being too nice to anyone.
Tony Lawrence September 15, 2011 at 03:58 PM
This is a rare moment when I have a small issue with what seems to be the consensus. Deena, Gen and Elizabeth all made reference to how the kids behavior reflects on us. Of course it does, but I think framing it like that is counter productive. It is like the coach who says after a loss "I taught you better than that." WE are not the issue. WE should be teaching the kids the right things and behaviors and decorum so they know how to function in society, not because we might look bad. My oldest had a few visit to the counselor in 8th grade. Mostly for being a stupid 8th grade boy. Anyone who knows my kids know these couple of trangressions were not the norm. When being summoned to the discilpline dispenser, I never thought "wow, this makes me look bad" or "I wonder what they think of me?" I thought - and made clear - that I didn't want to be called for this nonsense again. I asked him how he thinks his actions made others involved feel. I asked him what was the upside and downside of his actions, and was it (horseplay, rough housing with friends, food fight, etc) worth the grounding. I explained that someone had to clean up after all that and for the next week - that someone was him! I think we teach our kids not to smoke because they will get cancer, not because they will get in trouble. We teach the kids to eat right so they can be healthy and fit. And we should teach them to behave because that is how you function in society, not because it might embarrass us.
Deena While September 15, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Totally agree with you Lawrence. I know my kids. I know what to expect based upon how they were raised. But peer pressure makes kids react differently, like the food fight example. No my kids would not throw food at my dinner table, but in an outdoor lunch area...I would hate to think they would, but given the situation, maybe. Example: (another Jenny story! I don't think I've told this story, but I apologize if I have) Second grade - A little guy wrote a bad word on a piece of paper and asked Jenny to read it. She wasn't familiar with it so she was sounding it out [ Fah - Uh - ] etc. When she mastered the word she said it out loud in the classroom, real proud like, and the teacher heard her. She was marched up to the Principal's office and I was called. By the time I picked Jenny up at the end of the day, the teacher met me outside and told me how it was all cleared up, that they knew Jenny didn't outwardly use the word but was only reading what was presented to her. The teacher said that she and the other children were amazed that Jenny didn't know that word. I, on the other hand, was amazed that the other second graders DID know that word! My point is, kids need to know how to react to many different situations, and yes, they will make mistakes, but if they understand their family values it will help them make right decisions. And knowing they have to face either a happy-mom or a mad-mom makes all the difference in the world. =D

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