What Parents Can Do
“Too many students were crammed into a classroom! There were no fans, and the heat was suffocating.”—Luis, Bolivia.
“Our school had few teachers, so students didn’t get personal attention. The school had no maps, no lab equipment, no library.”—Dorcus, Myanmar.
“Most of my teachers struggled to control the class. At times, students were very unruly, which made studying that much more difficult.”—Nina, South Africa.
AS THE statements above show, some schools are anything but a haven for learning. As a parent, how can you help your children get the most from their education despite the challenges? Here are some suggestions.
Instead of focusing on the problems—many of which are likely out of your control—focus on what you can do. If your child seems unable to master a certain subject or is overwhelmed by the amount of homework he or she receives, try to brainstorm a few solutions together. For example, do you need to create a better study area at home? Does your child need help with setting up a schedule to get the most important tasks accomplished? Would he or she benefit by having the assistance of a tutor? For further suggestions, perhaps you could speak with your child’s teacher and guidance counselor. View these people as your allies, not your adversaries.
Keep your child focused on the goal of education.
Education should equip your child to grow into a well-rounded, responsible adult. The goal should not be merely to learn how to acquire wealth. Yet, research shows that many young people pursue education with that very goal in mind—to get rich. The Bible promotes a balanced view of material things. While it acknowledges that “money is for a protection,” it also warns that “those who are determined to be rich” will not find real happiness.—Ecclesiastes 7:12; 1 Timothy 6:9.
Education should equip your child to grow into a well-rounded, responsible adult
Let your child learn through adversity.
Many schoolteachers say that as difficult as their students can be to deal with, parents can be even worse. Some parents are quick to intervene and protest when their son or daughter gets in trouble or performs poorly on a test. For example, a Time magazine report tells of one college professor who has had students who “call their parents from the classroom on a cell phone to complain about a low grade and then pass the phone over to her, in the middle of class, because the parent wanted to intervene. And she has had parents say they are paying a lot of money for their child’s education and imply that anything but an A is an unacceptable return on their investment.”
Many schoolteachers say that as difficult as their students can be to deal with, parents can be even worse
Such parents are doing their children no favors. In fact, instead of “rescuing” their children, they are preventing them from “having real experiences of decision making, failing, and cleaning up their own messes,” writes Polly Young-Eisendrath in her book The Self-Esteem Trap. She adds: “If parents run too much interference in problem solving for their children while the children sit back and do nothing, the parents will get stronger, but the children get weaker and fall over when they try to run on their own.”
Be reasonable with regard to how much education to pursue.
As mentioned earlier, education can help prepare your child for responsible adulthood. (Genesis 2:24) But how much schooling does reaching that goal require?
Do not assume that your child must attend a university to make a decent living. There are other options that are less costly. In fact, in some cases those with trade skills can make as good a living as university graduates.
The bottom line: Schools are not perfect, and children face challenges today that were unheard of just a few decades ago. But with your support, your child can succeed at school! As a family, why not discuss the suggestions found on pages 3 through 7 of the printed edition of this magazine?