Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2001

The little things make the grade

September 13, 2001

Prior to the start of school, I was visiting with a friend and we were discussing what "truly" makes the difference in education. Ironically, we both agreed at the same time that it wasn't the big things that were happening, it was the small things that make the difference. The conversation then went from education to life in general. This includes everything we do as part of a normal day to include parenting.

During the past seven years, education has had tremendous changes, as I am sure many of you have noticed. Dating back seven years ago, when EWE opened, we were given a very nice state of the art facility. I now realize there is more to success than nice material things. For example, what is happening inside a building is what truly makes the difference. Each year, we try to add something that might spark more interest in school and to make attending school more fun. The little things like greeting the children when they arrive at school and being there when they leave. Now this may not seem like much and it really isn't that difficult, but the number of detentions have decreased as a result. Providing an after school study session has made a terrific difference not only in helping the students complete work but avoiding a confrontation at home with the parents. These are just a few small changes that have been successful, but without the support of you as parents, none of this would be possible.

You may be wondering how these small changes or ideas have an effect outside of school. Take for example if a student were to read five additional minutes each night, they could possibly read an extra five to 10 books in a school year. Studying an extra five or 10 minutes a night could mean the difference between getting an A on a test opposed to a B or a C compared to a D. Did you realize that by watching five minutes less of television you would cut down TV time by over 30 hours a year. If as parents, we took that extra five minutes that our kids give up of television a night, and took this time to just visit, we would be given 30 hours of nice time with our children. And folks, this is just using the amount of time of five minutes. Could you imagine what that would equal if it were 15 minutes or even 30?

Okay, I know this is all addressed toward the student. What about Mom and Dad? What can be considered small, yet significant? That is a good question and one where I can only make suggestions because for each of you, the answer is quite different. Try spending 15 additional minutes with your children. Whether it is helping with homework, reading a book, or just talking, it will pay dividends. You may not see the dividends immediately, but in several years you will. If you are a parent that attends your child's activities, good for you. If you don't make all the activities, try to plan the extra hour or two to be there. Believe it or not, your child knows if you are in the audience or crowd. Afterward, you will have a common topic to visit about. If they do well, tell them. Our kids need to hear more positives. If they didn't do so good, be there to console them because they need that as well. Write a note to your child before they go to school. Tell them you are proud of them and that you love them. There is nothing that would start the day better for them. Writing a note will only take a minute and it can make the difference between a good day or bad. (Kids, this works both ways). Be interested in what they are doing and involve yourself as much as possible. Hint: This works better at an early age. Somewhere between 12 and 14 is when it gets tricky. Once they hit that magic age, just getting a complete sentence out of their mouth is a challenge but hey, try it because there will be days when they surprise you.

Do the little things make any difference within the community? You bet they do. It will be the small things that we do that make our community our town. Waving at a passerby tells many visitors how friendly we are. Introducing yourself to new people in town can also go a very long way. Getting involved on committees whether it is civic, school, or community makes the difference. Take Relay for Life as an example. Do you for one minute think this would be successful if it weren't for those who volunteer? One thing to remember is that for the most part, it is usually the same people that involve themselves. This in itself is another entire article. Don't hesitate when someone asks for volunteers. The experience is very rewarding and an excellent way to make new friends.

Folks, you all have the ability to make the difference. The difference in parenting, schools, community, and civic organizations. Remember that it doesn't always have to be big gigantic things, but small little things that allow success.

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