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How does your laundry come out of the washer? Being one who is wired to follow directions, I always turn my clothes inside out as the label instructs. Yet in every load several exit the washer right-side out. How does that happen?

Yesterday I even pulled a pair of long pants out of the washer and one leg had managed to “right” itself!

My clothes seem to be working against me when it would be so much easier if they just went along with the plan! This observation has led me to my latest metaphor for education.

During our last get-together I shared my opinion regarding teaching and parenting. There is another aspect to a child’s education. That is learning. Although some learning is instinctive, too many leave the entire responsibility to teachers.

That’s where our perception of education gets its wrong side out!

When a child enters school, whether pre-school or formal schooling, an attitude about learning has already been established. Parents have only one chance to create that attitude.

Sadly, children who are not exposed to books or engaged in conversation, don’t play with other children or experience new activities, are already well behind their peers. Parents are the crucial element to ensuring that children want to learn and like to learn.

Young children learn by watching and imitating. Their play time is truly education time. Kids who spend the majority of time interacting with some electronic device may not develop even the most basic interpersonal skills. If they learn how to communicate from watching television, then we can be fairly certain the real world will be confusing.

I remember I used to talk to my youngest child when he was still riding in the grocery cart seat as we walked through the store. I’d ask him what he wanted for dinner. Did he like this or that cereal? What did he want to do after his nap? Of course, he was too young to answer, and I admit more than once I did get an odd look from another shopper, but “we talked!”

Now I see so many mothers glued to their phones while the kids play, or ride in the stroller, or are playing on the playground. There is no interaction! What is the priority here? Apparently, it is not teaching her child to communicate or learn about the world.

Mom is sending a clear message that the most important thing for her to do while she has alone time with her child is to maintain an outside connection. I will posit that if this continues, at some point in the future mom will wonder why the child no longer pays attention to her.

Worldwide, Asian children consistently score highest on standardized tests. The reason is that Asian parents put the highest priority on education and instill that in their children at a very young age. Each spring when the names of the best high school achievers are listed in the newspapers, I am amazed at the preponderance of those of Asian descent. Schools whether public, private, large, or small – the results are the same.

Recently there was a court case in which Asian college students sued a university claiming the school essentially limited the admittance of students with Asian names. I suspect that the university had grown tired of the Asian students out performing others.

Asian children have the same number of years with their parents that other children do, but their attitude regarding education and learning is decidedly different. I have tutored young Asian students, not because they needed help, but for enrichment.

Every year we are bombarded with the reports about the standing of U. S. students in the world, and how bad we are. I previously discussed how the heterogeneous nature of Americans impacts our scores. The other element that impacts our children’s success is whether or not a positive attitude about learning is instilled in children by their parents at an early age.

If we really want our children to excel in school, then we, as parents, must instill a positive learning habit very early. We need to help them get on the “right side” of learning!