Sunday, September 25, 2011

Making Schools Better: Parents Make a Difference

We all know that parents make a difference.  We know that from our experiences in life--experiences as children, neighbors, relatives, and educators.  Everyone knows that parents make a difference, but not every parent knows what it takes to make a difference for their child.

No parent is perfect.  It's a huge job particularly in a society that often disregards what's best for children and families.  Despite the challenges, it's our responsibility as parents to put ourselves second and focus on what's best for our children.

I've created a list of actions that I believe make a difference for children:
  • Time: time to talk, play, question and explore with trusting, caring adults.
  • Nutrition: healthy food makes everyone feel better thus creating greater happiness.
  • Rest: seems so simple, but a good night's sleep for children and other family members matters.
  • Reading: A book a night, simple or complex, will nurture your child's mind.
  • Shared entertainment and activity: visit a museum, picnic in the park, climb a mountain, take a bike ride, swim at the beach, watch a movie, play a board game, camp. . .
  • Family Meetings: meet and talk together about what's important for each member of the family, and as a team set priorities and schedule.
  • Honesty: share your challenges and struggles with your children, and talk about injustice and weakness in developmentally appropriate ways as that will prepare your children for life's realities.
  • Take Charge: children are the responsibility of parents--set limits, be observant.
  • Engage your children in activities that interest them. Stand on the sidelines, converse with other parents, and learn all you can about your children and the programs they are involved in.
  • Spend your money wisely on quality toys and objects that support learning and fun.
  • Find out about and take advantage of public programs at the local library, parks, museums, and recreation facilities.
  • Dream: create dreams together, work for them and plan--then enjoy.
Our country can do a better job to support families.  We need to vote for leaders that understand that.  Today, many families are compromised because parents are working so hard to support their families that they run out of time to do the things on the list above.  I'd like to see our country encourage work places to give their employees greater time and support for family needs and relationships such as days off to volunteer at your child's school, optimal day care, a shorter work week and more vacation time.

In summary, as parents, we make a difference for our children, and as parents we have to work together to advocate for laws and actions that support children and families well.