A new school year is about to begin and a fresh start is about to unfold. My friends, opportunity is knocking.
This piece is for all interested parties within the community, and particularly ... students, the home, and the school ... a powerful triangulation when working together.
In short, to the students we say: be prepared, positive, ambitious and there.
Going back to school may be, for most, a sense of "anticipation." And, for those who are entering school for the very first time, there may be a sense of "wonderment." Positive "anticipation" and exuberant "wonderment" ... ah yes, a spirit of motivation at its best!
Education plays a keystone role in the life of every learner. Make no mistake about it, every student - age related of course - is responsible for his or her own actions and has a responsibility to help to make productive things happen. The student has a right to learn and an obligation to be responsible. Mastering the basic skills and developing positive work habits are essential. Acquiring a sense of achievement is cardinal to a solid education.
Most experts recognize that parental support plays a vital role toward the academic success and the emergence of a positive learning experience. In fact, the foundation of a child's being is so importantly, positively or negatively, home-centered. Most all agree, parents and significant care givers are or should be the child's best cheerleading supporters and tone setters. The parental role is a special privilege and a vital home responsibility.
Good organization, sensible routines and a respect for a solid work ethic is essential foundational starters. A productive day at school begins six hours before a student's head hits the pillow the night before. One can help a child become a better student with desirable management skills. For example, assist your young child - and older students have self-responsibility in this regard - to organize their time effectively and efficiently. For starters: limit television, interactive computer games, idle chatter on the telephone, and endless loud background music.
Eliminate distractions. Getting enough physical exercise is essential for providing a person with a healthy lifestyle. There are four watch words that hold a vital key: sleep, eat, work, and play. It is essential that young minds and bodies have enough sleep every night to perform at their best. Also, young minds require a healthy breakfast to start off a good work day. Good food gives a body and brain the energy it needs to function properly. When these two power-houses ... enough rest and good food ... are combined with sufficient exercise and responsibility for completion of home or work chores, the learner is off to a great start for a healthy "learning workday."
We believe work to learn and learn to work are essential prime lifelong success skills.
Effective communication between school and home is essential in the education of a learner. The communication channel must go both ways. The school and the home ... EACH have a piece of the picture of a student's development, and EACH can be most effective when essential pertinent information is shared. Clear communication between school and home helps ensure that the teacher and parents are responsive to the unique needs of each student. There are few things more hurtful to a student than an uncaring or overbearing attitude of a parent or a "vindictively unfair" attitude of a teacher.
Working together as full partners - the home and the school - can create a caring and sensitive school climate which respects and responds to the students' individual needs. The centrality of this partnership is the student. The focus of the partnership is to maximize the potential within each learner so he or she may achieve all of which she or he is capable. This, we believe, is the essential underpinning of a quality educational experience.
John Locke, a great American forefather said it nobly, "The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others." America's noble experiment, universal education for all citizens, is the cornerstone of our representative democracy. And it is through excellence in education that we help to maintain the freedoms and liberties we know and treasure. Indeed, education opens doors to successfulness, and it opens our minds to the truths of virtue, freedom and security. It has been said "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." How true that is.
Clearly, the essentiality of maintaining high educational performance expectations and action standards is the necessary cornerstone for a free and enduring society. Winston Churchill said it well, "Never flinch, never weary, never despair." And you know, that is great advice for all of us to follow. And that is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.
Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University in Minneapolis. All of the past columns can be viewed on Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com