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The Informed Parent

Take Charge Of Your Child’s Education

by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Feb. 20, 2012

We live in troubled times on many fronts. Our moral social institutions seem to be failing; our political processes appear to be stagnant and without direction; our country’s moral compass looks askew and our education system is floundering.

Over the years parents have abdicated their role in the education of their children. Parents have become critics. They have dropped the reins to the horses that pull the wagon of education. When did this happen? In the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s?It really doesn’t matter. But I can tell you it is time to pick up these lines that control the way the cart goes.

Why the parents gave up control of this important part of our lives is again a topic unto itself. But we must have some understanding of this in order for us to correct the problem.

Parents became self-centered. They didn’t love their children enough to give them the most valuable gift--TIME. They substituted money for time. They said to make ends meet both parents had to work full-time. There is no question that is true in some cases. We must ask ourselves if “to make ends meet” means expensive vacations, multiple cars and recreational vehicles, big screen TV’s, the latest fashions, an opulent house, etc.

They also substituted COACHES for the time the parent should spend with the child teaching basic sporting skills; TEACHERS for the role parents should play in the education of their child’s development in responsible living; “THE VILLAGE” in instructing the development of ethical/moral values. Education is so much more than importing didactic material to eager brains. We can’t expect teachers to assume the total responsibility for the development of your child.

Teachers, coaches, ministers, police, members of the school board all play a vital role in the evolution of your child to adult life. But someone must be the quarterback; someone must be in charge. That doesn’t mean a parent can make arbitrary unfounded decisions which everyone else must follow when interacting with your children. We must realize the individual aspect of this education is best handled by the person educated in that field.

Yet, the venue in which this is conducted, particularly in education, is critical. Also, the method used in imparting this knowledge is vital. This is where the parent can take charge. Today we have:

  •                      public schools
  •                      charter schools
  •                      private schools
  •                      home schools

These options are obviously not available to all families from a practical standpoint. Finances may exclude certain options. Availability of parental time may preclude certain options (i.e. both parents work full-time). The health status of the parents may eliminate certain choices.

It is time for the “wild animal” child that torments school, home and the neighborhood to end. The only way this will happen is for parents to take charge. The role of parents is more the conception, delivery and nurturing. As I mentioned earlier, we must love our children enough to give them our TIME, our most precious commodity.

Remember, by telling you to take charge does not mean to become the know-it-all parental bully at school, on the playing field, court or stage. Be the decision maker of what and where your child goes. Respect the special skills the teachers have but don’t adopt the two attitudes that doom the parental involvement: 1) I ALWAYS know what is better for my child than the teacher, 2) I NEVER have to concern myself with my child’s development because that’s the sole job of the teacher and school district.

Let’s get the most from the best system of education that is truly available. Empower yourself to pick up the reins and steer the wagon of your child’s education.

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