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Mayor's Report for September 2000

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Following are two columns reprinted from past issues of The TownCrier. These offer basic, time-tested approaches for parents to consider as the new school year begins.

September 1996 - by Ann Ferguson

Back to School--A New Beginning

It has never been clearer that for children to succeed, parents must set the rules for their performance in school. The job cannot be shifted to teachers, school aides, guidance counselors or the community. Parents are the primary care givers--they can be reenforced in the development of their children, but they cannot be replaced.

More important than a list of needed school supplies is a parents "how to" checklist for making the job of school performance a success for your children. A few ideas:

  • Require (at least) one hour of supervised homework each school night--no television or telephone calls. A child who says they have no assigned homework should be handed a book to read or school work the parent assigns--make it the same hour every night and declare Friday a day off to start the weekend. A parent will have to monitor this to make it succeed, but you (and your children) will find the time is well spent.

  • When in doubt about what is expected of your child, call the teacher. Teachers work for you and your children and will know you are interested in making sure your child succeeds.

  • Demand that your child respect teachers-- they are there to teach, not to juggle the free expression of 25 or more assorted attitudes.

  • Be clear about who is in charge of your home and who has the final decision in important matters. Children traditionally clamor for their rights, but they need to go about the business of growing and learning in a secure setting where important decisions are made by caring parents willing to take on the burden of making and enforcing rules.

  • Bring children into the work of the daily routine of your home--whether it is taking out the garbage, scrubbing the bathroom sink or folding laundry, they need to earn their keep.

These are not new ideas. They are tried and true approaches that will work now just as they have in the past. This school year can be a new beginning for some old values.

September 1993 - by Ann Ferguson

Parents Make the Difference

It is in the family that every one of us is shaped to be a part of the world in which we live and, if we all goes well, in which we succeed.

Beginning with respect for parents, we learn to respect teachers, employers, and others in authority when we leave the family circle. It is in the family circle that we learn respect; it is there that we need to be given comfort, approval and direction.

In computer jargon, the phrase "garbage in, garbage out" means that your computer will give you a product that is only as good as the information you put into it. The molding of children into confident adults and good citizens can be described the same way. How often have you heard astonished parents wonder why their children use bad language or exhibit bad habits that you recognize as habitual in the parents' behavior? What about small children who are considered "cute" when they storm and rage at parents? They suddenly become "incorrigible" when put into a school setting. The children believe the behavior tolerated at home should be acceptable everywhere.

If parents abandon their obligation to set boundaries for their children, the children feel lost and confused. Just telling a child to do school work will not work if you, the parents, do not see to it that the work is a priority--no television, no telephone calls, no friends at the door--until the job is done. It's a tough program to start if a child has gotten used to the casual approach, but if you stick with it you will send a message to your child that school work is your, and must become their, top priority.

Parenting is not a casual occupation and a strong family doesn't happen by accident. It is the sacrifice and caring of parents who invest time and energy into all levels of this most important job that brings about the result. The return is much greater than the investment--it's the satisfaction of seeing youngsters shaped into responsible and successful adults.

As this new schoolyear begins I hope you will consider that you will make the most critical difference in your children's lives. Your example and involvement now will be the key to their accomplishments in the future.

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