Parent Involvement Could Become a Law

Wait. Require parents to become involved in their children’s education? What a NOVEL concept!

I love it!! I found this on Dr. Laura’s blog and just had to do a little digging. (And please, for those of you that automatically stopped reading the moment you saw Dr. Laura’s name, please read my disclaimer – assuming you’re still reading).

Florida State representative Kelli Stargel has introduced a bill requiring teachers of grades K-3 to rate PARENTS, because she believes parental involvement is key to educating children.

Read the proposed bill, HB 255, here.

This is a sore subject with me and that’s probably because I’ve seen, heard and been around enough parents in the public school system to know that a lot of parents? (Note I didn’t say all, but a lot). Look at school as a babysitter. They AREN’T involved in their children’s education and then their children don’t perform as well as their peers and the parents are left scratching their heads wondering WHY and OH MY GOSH, it’s the TEACHER’S fault. He/she is not teaching their child correctly.

Now granted, that happens. Teachers are humans. They have bad days. They have a lot of crap to shuffle through and don’t have a lot of time to give each child individual attention and they don’t get paid that well so their motivation is not always the best …

… but I would argue, isn’t THAT the reason parents need to get involved with their children’s education??

In other words, it’s everyone’s fault BUT the child’s and/or the parents. Even though education begins at home.

Parent involvement is most effective when it is comprehensive, well planned, and continues throughout the school year.

Parental involvement should be developmental with a preventive rather than remedial approach and an integral part of a strategy to improve student achievement.

Parents do not need to be formally educated to provide support and assistance to improve the academic performance of their child.

At-riskchildren have the most to gain from parental involvement.

Here are some strategies that parents can use to support their children’s learning.

Attend parent-teacher conferences. (Learn the child’s strength / weaknesses).

Establish a home environment that supports the child as a student.

Contact teacher if a problem arises from homework, home situations change that may disrupt the student’s performance, absences and makeup assignments.

Monitor homework completion. (Ask to see it. Don’t just take the child’s word for it).

Make sure the child is on time, prevent frequent absences and provide school supples. (Don’t give the “but we can’t afford school supplies”. There are many programs out there that can help with that very issue).

Make sure the child is fed (again, programs to help out with that).

Adequate medical care (immunizations, [clinics provide these for free – check your community calendars], dental).

Providing the child with a place to do homework, adequate research materials (hello, library!), time slot for child to do homework (don’t over schedule children so that their time is completely gone), help prepare for tests and projects,

Sounds like a lot of work, right?

Welcome to parenting.

I thought it was interesting when Dr. Laura asked Rep. Stargel why stop at 3rd grade? Stargel responded with a vague answer about how as kids get older, they get harder to control and it’s harder to MAKE them do anything.

True. BUT, again, I would argue, that that is when the child needs his/her parents even more. Children need to be taught to discipline themselves when it comes to finishing assignments, to work independently and become their own individuals. But speaking as the mom of teenagers? It can be done.

Now please, don’t think I’m a parenting expert. I’ve made, and continue to make, my fair share of mistakes – just ask my kids. But if there ‘s anything I’ve learned from this parenting gig? You have to make a conscience decision to be the grown up in the situation. You also have to make a commitment to be there for your child at all times.

Is it a pain? Yeah, sometimes. Is it inconvenient at times? Sure. But parenting is not easy, and it’s not convenient and it requires a lot of patience, stamina and sacrifices. Those are the requirements.

Just because children get older, it doesn’t mean parents stop getting involved in their lives. We reserve the right to butt into our boys’ lives at any time and for any reason. We keep track of their grades. We ask a lot of questions and check up on them to verify those answers. If their behavior changes and they’re no longer following rules, or they lie to us, or their grades drop, we take things away from them. We remove the distractions, the STUFF that is taking their attention away from their duties and responsibilities.

Case in point About five years ago, when Dude was in 8th grade and Jazz was in 6th grade, their grades plummeted. They were truly bad. We warned them. If they didn’t bring them up a whole letter grade by next grade card, they would lose their video games and computers.

They didn’t come up. And we physically removed their games, took the power cords off their computers and the grades were so bad, they weren’t even allowed to watch TV. Our rationale? Now they would have more time to devote to their studies. Once their grades came back up to an acceptable level (and we’re talking high C’s – we don’t expect our boys to make straight A’s. We’d LIKE for them to make straight A’s, but we’re realists – some kids simply aren’t capable of making straight A’s in every subject), then they could have their STUFF back.

This lasted for a solid month. They. HATED. Us.

It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. It was NOT fun. But we stuck to our guns. And the boys brought their grades up and their privileges were restored. They’ve been excellent students ever since. And though I’d like to say that they WANT to do well (and I believe they do, as long as the work is easy), I know they were really motivated to get their stuff back.

But it doesn’t matter. They learned a lesson. The same applies to the real world. You slack off work, don’t show up, do a piss-poor job, the boss will fire you. Then you won’t have money to pay your bills and you certainly won’t have enough to spend on entertainment. You lose STUFF.

We went through that entire ordeal (and trust me, it was an ORDEAL) because we keep track of their lives. We stayed on top of their educational duties. We taught them the importance of taking their responsibilities seriously.

We were, and are, involved in their lives.

I honestly think some parents think that once their kids reach a certain age level, their parenting job is done. It’s over. They’re not responsible for them anymore. And I say, until that kid graduates from high school, yes you are.

At any rate, I had to write about this topic because I’m pretty passionate about it. And it encourages me to see that people are FINALLY waking up to the fact that if we want our children to be successful, it starts at home and with getting parents involved. Our children are young, they are immature, they need guidance, structure and discipline so they can grow up to be responsible adults. If there is no one around to teach them these things, well … you have today’s society.

I hate that the government has to get involved, YET AGAIN, but if it means helping at-risk children get through school and form stronger bonds with their families, then so be it.

You can listen to Dr. Laura’s interview with Rep. Stargel here.


Big Snow Storm of 2011

Alternatively entitled: Snowmageddon

So, the blizzard … that was fun, right?

Okay, don’t answer that. Actually, I’m okay with snow, it’s the ice that terrifies me. So I’m really thankful ALL we got was snow. I heard St. Louis and Indiana got a lot of ice.

Poor saps.

My mom disagrees – this wasn’t really a blizzard, at least down here in the Ozarks, it was a snow storm. A blizzard, to my mom, is when conditions are so bad that you literally can’t see two feet in front of you, when you are forced to stop, on the road, get out and make sure you’re still ON the road. (True story – go read about it on her blog). A blizzard is when it takes you an hour to drive a mile.

Uncle. She wins.

But we did get a lot of snow here. Not as much as my sister, though. She posted a picture on Facebook with a measuring tape – 14 inches. We only got about seven here. I think my brother got around 10 inches where he lives.

And did you hear about Chicago?? TWENTY inches. Oy.

So we were lucky. And I’m thankful, truly. Seven inches is hard enough to navigate.

Seven Inches of Snow - 2-2-11

This is the third day that the kids have been out of school. We all stuck around the house the first two days, Kevin and I are back at the office today.

*Side note: There has been A LOT of groaning, moaning and complaining about having kids home because of snow days on Twitter. Though I understand that kids can get underfoot and are frustrating, especially when they’re bored and we’re trying to get stuff done, I can’t help but wonder if their (the parents) attitudes aren’t being picked up by their kids? I’m betting most of the parents that complain about having their kids home on snow days don’t, in any way, relay that to their children, that they are, in fact, trying to be “cool” on Twitter and join the “Ugh. Kids home. Help me,” bandwagon and they are fun and supportive to their children’s faces, but still … Has our society gotten so used to pawning our children off on other resources that when we’re forced to deal with them it’s a chore?? Like I said, I’m just wondering. These are the kinds of things I think about.

We all did our own thing Tuesday, though we did get together at meal times and do the family bonding thing, but for the most part, we all stuck to our own devices that day. Yesterday, the boys and Kevin went out and shoveled snow from our driveway and sidewalk. I stayed in the house and cleaned up the lunch mess.

*Side Note: Kevin made us some potato soup for lunch yesterday. OH. MY. GOSH. Good stuff, ya’ll. It’s my new favorite. I like it even more than Panera Bread’s potato soup. Here’s the recipe.

We only have one snow shovel. So we told the boys they needed to take turns shoveling the driveway and Kevin would use the dirt shovel and work on the sidewalk. I’m telling you this so you’ll get an idea where my guys are proximity wise. Our driveway is at the side of the house, our sidewalk is at the front of our house. So Kevin was out of the boys’ sight most of the time.

I peeked out of the window and was quite amused to see my two teenage boys, who otherwise act cool and way more grown up than they’re feeling, having a little fun in the snow.

I had to tape their clowning around, of course.

Sweet, right? They made snow angels. You can hear me laughing on the tape.

Did you notice Jazz stomping on Dude’s snow angel head? That’s boy code for, “I really do love you, bro.” LOL

I also thought it was funny that they immediately stopped their “playing” when a car drove down our street. LOL

Boys are funny.

Seven Inches of Snow - 2-2-11

I just really got a kick out of them horsing around in the snow. They eventually got the driveway cleared away, but it took them a while. In fact, I was quite surprised that they willingly stayed outside for a little over an hour. Though it was a nippy twelve degrees yesterday, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was out, so it really wasn’t that cold, if you kept moving.

I was afraid, at first, when I saw the guys clearing off the car that Dude drives (I hesitate to call it Dude’s car because 1. he doesn’t really care anything about the car or driving and 2. he hasn’t put any of his own money into the car so instead, it’s an extra car that the boys can drive – I just call it the Cavalier) that Kevin was planning on taking Dude out driving. I mean, fine, the boy needs to learn to drive on this stuff, but at the same time .. ACK! I didn’t say anything. I’m really trying to tone down the “girly-mom” reactions (it annoys Kevin), but they must have been getting too cold to deal with it by that point because they simply cleaned off the car (we park it outside), and shoveled out a path for it, they didn’t take it out for a snow drive.


I built a fire yesterday. We have a fireplace insert that puts out some serious heat. The only problem was, we didn’t have any wood. We haven’t bought any this year, so we used our “show” wood instead.

Yes. You read that correctly.

Kevin bought a really nice firewood holder thingie to hold our firewood in. Only, since we hadn’t bought any wood (and Kevin didn’t feel like fooling with having a half of a cord of wood in our backyard to mow around and spray for termites), he bought two log sets from Lowe’s. Expensive, but nice, dry, bug-free wood. (That’s another problem bringing wood from outside into your home – bugs). Since it was so cold yesterday and everyone was home, I talked Kevin into allowing me to use the show wood. So, we had a roaring fire burning all day yesterday.

It was quite cozy and I love that fireplace. (For about two times using it and then I’m DONE dealing with it. Keeping a fire going all day is a pain. Not to mention, you smell like smoke all day).

We all played the new game I got for Christmas last night. It’s called “Carcassonne” and it’s by the same makers as “Settler’s of Catan.” We had a pretty good time playing it though Kevin got just a LITTLE too much into it. lol We also played quite a few hands of a new card game that Santa stuck in my stocking this year, “Scrabble Slam Cards.” That’s a fun, fast-paced game and we had quite a few laughs at Jazz’s attempt to make up words.

I enjoy being snowed in with my family.

But I think I’m ready to get back to normal again.

Did you hear that Mother Nature? No more snow or ice this season, please.