September 18, 2019 4 min read

What if education was as cool as getting a fresh pair of J's? What if reading was as popular as Fortnite?

It's true parents, we live in a world where children are tech savvy and better dancers than you were as a kid (got em')! Children value things that they feel are popular and trending. So, I sat back with a glass of wine....... and thought long and hard about this burning question that parents have. "How can we get children to value education"? After that question crossed my mind, I had to have another drink of wine. Stop it....don't judge me, it could have been a shot of tequila instead. As a parent of 2 school aged boys, full time educator, and education consultant, I deserve a valid answer.

This question plagues schools, teachers, administrators, and parents. Positive reinforcement ideas begin to kick in full gear. Perhaps as a parent I could give my sons praise. "Wow, Jaylen, I'm so proud of you. I love how you persevered through that difficult math problem."? How about this one "Wow Justin, you know your letters and sounds just as well as you know the Baby Shark song". You get the point. But after a while, words are just words. Right? I could turn Report Card Day into Payday. For every A that is earned, I could throw them a couple of dollars. But what is that really teaching our children? Do they have to be constantly praised for what is expected of them? Heck my boss isn't saying "Candice, awesome job at getting to work on time. Lunch is on me today". Cost of living is expensive, I'm not trying to have Progress Report/Report Card Day to become yet another daunting bill for us. So, I'm not paying for good grades, at least all the time. Wait ya'll I got it! I could just show my children how much I VALUE EDUCATION and they will follow my lead.

Studies show that the "Do as I say, not as I do." crap doesn't work for these 2019-2020 kids. They are watching us....and Youtube of course. That was my hint.....for you to buy an #urbykids shirt. Sorry, I'm supposed to be giving you education advice here. My point is, as a parent we lead by example. Our children will value what we value naturally. If all we care about is image (how our kids are dressed, look, and if they know the latest trends) then that's all they are going to care about. If we place extra curricular activities above their grades....then guess what? Raquan is not going to the NFL or NBA, because he can't pass the SAT or ACT. THERE! I said it. That felt good. I had flashbacks of when I was a 4th grade teacher and a parent (whose child was failing terribly) told me "he didn't have time to do his homework because he had football practice". After a while I stopped preaching, and left the classroom, for good. My exit was to the left. I fought too many battles with parents and children, on how important a basic education was. 

Let's just imagine that his mother was at every parent teacher conference, tutoring session, sitting at the table during homework with him, as much as she was cheering him on during football practice. The truth is, I know that he wasn't a scholar, and learning didn't come easy for him. But, he did have self esteem, and confidence, that was damaged during school hours. Yet he regained his sense of self on the football field. So, mom praised him and focused on what made him feel good. 

There's nothing wrong with knowing who your child is, and if they're not an academic scholar. I totally get that. When I was getting all C's and a couple of D's on my report card I felt like crap. My brother would come busting down my mother's door, to show her his straight A's. Learning didn't come as easy for me, as it did for my brother. My mother didn't understand that (tear).However, it doesn't give parents a pass to ignore their child's educational needs. 

Here's what we can do to make our children value education, as much as we want them to succeed. 

1. Limit their screen time. (2 - 3 hours) per day. I know right, get over it.

2. Have a drop everything and read time at least 20 mins a day at home.

3. I know it's hard but.....let them see you read sometimes. (truth is I'd rather watch Power than read, but that's our little secret).

4. Ask them about their day, but not in that old school "How was school"? way. Rather get more specific..."What did you find most challenging today? Did you have a question, but was too scared to ask, if so what did you need clarification on?. What did you read about in class today"?

5. Stay in constant communication with your child's teacher. Let your child know when you spoke with their teacher.

6. Try to attend their school events, both academic and social. If not social, then academic for sure.

7. If you feel that your child needs more academic support, reach out to your child's school to look into resources and systems of support.

8. Give specific praises "Alright! You remembered how to regroup on your math test." This shows that you are knowledgeable and aware of their academic stages.