When you see a fat dog, you know its owner needs more exercise.
This week, K-12 students across the Golden Triangle returned to school.
As always, most of the attention has been focused on the students and the teachers. There also has been considerable attention paid to safety precautions against COVID-19, which stubbornly persists as an indicator of our failure to quickly achieve mass vaccination.
But there is another group, rarely mentioned, whose efforts will have a profound effect on student achievement.
With both dogs and schoolchildren, success relies on the involvement of responsible adults.
We can extend the metaphor by noting that learning is not a Pavlovian response: It doesn’t begin with the morning school bell and end with the afternoon bell. It begins before the student arrives at the schoolhouse and continues after the student has returned home.
The best teacher in the world can do little to make sure a child arrives at school on time, well-rested and ready to learn, with the materials he or she needs and homework completed.
The best teacher cannot take time out after the school day has ended to review the child’s progress that day, work on areas where the child may not have a good grasp of, supervise homework assignments and ask about an issues that may have emerged on the playground, in the cafeteria, on the school bus or another other encounters not supervised by faculty or staff. Remember, part of the learning experience includes socialization with their peers.
As you can see, when a child goes to school, parents go, too, in a sense.
We urge parents to be as involved in their children’s school experience as possible. For those who can, we encourage participation in PTAs, school organizations that rely on adult volunteers, school board meetings and other activities where parental involvement enhances and reinforces what is taught in the classroom.
We realize that the days when “stay at home moms” are largely a thing of the past. We understand that for single parents or two-income families, participation opportunities may be limited. For those parents, teachers are available for private conferences, often via electronic messaging. Grandparents, too, can serve as fill-ins for parents whose schedules may make it difficult to get as involved as they would like.
We believe that parents, regardless of these circumstances, can set aside time each day to actively engage with their children and their schoolwork and make sure their students are prepared to learn each day.
Just as a fat dog cannot take himself for a walk, a child cannot supervise and support his own education.
Parental guidance is required.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.