Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back to School

I know school has already started in some parts of the country. It starts here tomorrow.

Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader has assembled a truly wonderful offering of poetry for going back to school. She has a list of back to school poems and poetry books and suggestions for integrating poetry into the classroom. I love her suggestion of having students write a poem each week and then compiling that poetry in a booklet for each of them at the end of the year. What a meaningful memento of a school year that would be.

Helpful back-to-school advice

A year ago, Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News authored some excellent advice for parents. Do read his whole column.

Here's the myth: Schools educate children.

Don't fall for it! Too many children have suffered already.

Let me explain. Of course schools can help educate a child. But just like a book or a pencil, a school is only a tool. And a tool can only do so much. A book can't open itself. A pencil has no words of its own. And schools alone can't educate.

Parents must be in charge of their children's education. To put it plainly: The success or failure of your child's education is up to you.

We spend a lot of time talking about "fixing" schools. The truth is that few are broken. The much bigger problem is parents who have forgotten their vital role. When that happens, schools struggle.

Teachers have a hard time discussing this. It sounds like they're making excuses. But it's true.

As a parent, you have the power to make a complete failure of the very best teacher or finest school. How? Easy. Just say bad things about the school to your child. Tell how unfair teachers were to you. Criticize a lot. Or simply take no interest at all. Trust me, your attitude will quickly be your child's attitude.

On the other hand, if you are excited about school, chances are your child will be, too. Make it clear how important education is to you. Set high goals. Volunteer at school if you can. At least introduce yourself to the teacher. Don't hesitate to make an appointment as soon as concerns arise. Working as a team is everything.

Reading Assignment

Finally, Rosemary Wells's My Shining Star should be required reading for every single parental unit in the country. Over a year ago I talked about this book after hearing Wells at a conference. The book lays out a path for raising a child who is ready for school. It seems so simple and so obvious but so many children will arrive at schools tomorrow, ill-equipped to learn.

Her preface explains her book's message.

All children bring to school what they learn at home.
This book is about creating a home full of harmony
and the preparation of a successful child.
You are your child's first teacher.

Students, teachers, librarians, and parents I hope this is a wonderful year for you all.

Good luck!


Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks for the link to my post about school poems. When I was teaching second grade, my students wrote poems, reports, and stories that I compiled in separate anthologies. I'd bind the anthologies and tie them together in bundles. Each family got a present of the class's collected published works during the last week of school when we invited the parents and grandparents into the class for a special program. My kids and their families really loved those anthologies. It was a lot of work for me at the end of the year--but definitely well worth the effort!

jenclair said...

Such excellent advice!