As our son Rowen approaches his first birthday, Chelsea and I have been giving thought to the ways in which we engage in intelligent play with him, the resources we use, and the examples we set when it comes to books, pictures, music, and most of all, the words we use with him. That’s a lot to consider.
This morning no doubt we all faced challenges getting to our usual workplace. I am notoriously early when I have an appointment, thanks to my grandfather’s insistence on that in my life. It also makes me aware of the precious nature of time and how fast it flies.
I’ve enjoyed the tradition of seeing each of you posting your children, grandchildren, or dear friends’ children on their traditional “first day” of school. Who would have believed it was just 10 weeks ago that classes let out for Spring end of year, and today, they’ve returned in full force? What are your hopes for the children you love this year?
Beyond the fundamentals of reading, writing, and math, I think we are all most appreciative of teachers who make it their priority every day to meet our children where they learn best. Every child has a learning style as unique as a fingerprint and not everyone can learn the same way.
One secret to success I remember from years ago was the story a professor told about a teacher getting a printout (remember those?) of the test scores at the beginning of the year for her class. She stood in front of the class and said, “I’m very pleased to tell you that your class has the BEST standardized test scores in the school. That means each of you is ready to learn the most from our school year. When we take our exit tests, this predicts we will again be the best. From time to time during the year, the teacher would remind the class they were “best,” and she knew they were all doing wonderfully, based on their grades each six weeks.
At the end of the school year, their test results came back, once again, the top in the school. The principal came to the classroom to congratulate the class on their “amazing accomplishments” and smiled broadly. Privately she said to the teacher, “I don’t know how you did it, but your class went from worst in the school to best in nine short months!” The teacher was puzzled. Apparently, she’d been sent the wrong test scores and never knew her class tested out the worst of all the others.
Isn’t it amazing what confidence a teacher gives to a student? Parents play a large role in this effort as well. Education is not about parents’ doing their children’s homework for them. I’d say that only 30% of today’s parents even have time available to ask a child if they have homework. But, a note a parent writes to his or her child and puts in a lunch sack each day, a parent who writes a note on the wood of a #2 pencil of their child that encourages them, “Have a great day! Love, Mom” goes a long way to the child’s attitude towards learning and achieving.
Children don’t go into classes each year with new tennis shoes, a new notebook, and some new pencils where they expect to fail. They are usually excited to learn, to meet and see new friends, and to get through to the next class year and keep going until they graduate high school. How a child feels about kindergarten and first grade will determine whether they think college is for them. Maybe they want to take over a family business and want to study a trade plus business and finance and psychology to managing people. When your six years old, eleven years old, or even fourteen years old, it’s often still too soon to know what you want to be.
The best way to prepare a child for their future is to teach them how to work independently as well as in groups, to use the library and all the tremendous (and free!) resources that your tax dollars make possible, and teacher’s hours and fellow student tutoring hours are available to every student, if you look. Talking to other parents, finding outside tutors or affordable group sessions at places in town can help. If you find in talking to your children’s teachers and principals that they don’t really know your child, it’s a good measure to help you know their level of commitment to their success. Not every school can be A+ rated. But, here’s some good news.
If you’re in Bryan, you have Mounce Library, and if you are in College Station, you have Ringer Library. For your pre-K and early learners, both branches have collections of books that you can check out that are perfect to encourage children to read. The love of reading leads to a love of spelling, increased vocabulary, and children who love books tend to be more successful throughout their school career than those who say, “I really don’t like reading.”
There’s a tutoring resource in the libraries but you need a library card. It’s often an exciting rite of passage when your youngster gets his or her first card! Visit tutor.com/bclpls for details.
Parents who are involved in activities at their children’s campuses and who meet parents of other students have another advantage to staying aware of upcoming assignments, tests, bake sales, and other activities that are important for parents to attend. Again, when both parents work or in single parent families, it’s not always possible to be there in person, but perhaps you have a family member who can fill that role and be your student’s resource throughout the school year, a partner in learning.
Finally, for all of us who are relearning how to get to work each day with the new traffic flows and demand for passage through stop signs and street lights in and near school zones, it’s good to add in an extra 15 or 20 minutes every day until things settle in.
Don’t get too comfortable, though, because the Corps of Cadets students are already on campus, the coming week will be “Rush Week” for the fraternities and sororities for Texas A&M, the path to Blinn will be heavy and backed up as registration continues. First day of classes is Monday, Aug. 22 for Sam Houston, and Wednesday, Aug. 24 for Texas A&M and Blinn. Whether you are heading north, west, east, or south, practice defensive driving and assume the driver in front of you is on their phone, texting, or otherwise distracted. Those extra five or ten miles an hour faster that you don’t travel will give you plenty of time to slow down in an emergency, plus improved gas mileage.
Our entire community is officially built on the success, joy, faith, confidence, and productivity of the children and young adults who enroll in educational institutions to “become” that person they always wanted to be “one day.” Here’s to making their first days, and everyday after that a great experience. Prayers for all teachers and students this year for safety, for peace of mind, and for thanks for all the resources provided by the Educational Foundation nonprofits established to help. Welcome Fall, 2022 and to the newest members of the Class of 2026! Most of all, thanks to all who chose education as their profession. God bless all of our teachers, principals, and support staff.
Cody D. Jones
Owner & Community Member