So I'm skimming through my son's work journal when I notice that he didn't do too well on his most recent spelling test. The first thing I want to do is kick myself. My wife was out of town, so the full brunt of preparing him to do well was on me. Sadly, I had not done enough. Right then and there, I vowed that his being ill-prepared for academic challenges such as this one would not be par for the course.
Like most parents, I want my child to be a better student than I was. I want him to have an accurate understanding of his ABCs and 123s. I want him to be able to have intelligent conversations with other children, as well as hardworking adults. But what I realized last week is my son is not going to be a great student if I, his first teacher, don't give him my undivided attention. It is also imperative that I establish a vision for him that he will one day embrace as his own.
Recently, I read a report that suggested the graduation rate for black boys in Wake County, North Carolina was 46 percent in 2009-2010. That means almost half of the black boys in the Wake County Public School System weren't graduating from high school in four years. Reading a little further, I learn that many of these black boys were suspended at a higher rate than their white counterparts. I ask myself, "What's wrong with this picture?"
Because I know how important parental involvement is to child development, I could easily charge these black boys' parents with parental neglect. Remember, I neglected my child last week, and look what happened. But this problem is much deeper. I think the village that these children live in is also culpable.
So many of us adult professionals possess the knowledge and skills to make a difference in children's lives by serving as tutors, mentors or life coaches. But we fail to rush to their aid for various reasons, the most prominent being our preoccupation with the arc of our own lives. While striving for excellence should be a universal goal for all members of the human race, we should never neglect the need to take a youngster along for the ride. In the final analysis, they will express gratitude for our time and attention. More importantly, they will develop platforms for their own success.
What do you think?
I look forward to reading your responses.