What are your special traditions for the first day of school? I have a friend who took her husband and kids to breakfast the first day of school every year for over 14 years. How many pictures did you take of your kids dressed and ready for the first day of school in kindergarten and first grade, dressed in those cute little skirts and with brand new lunch boxes? What has changed? Did you take a picture of your middle school student on the first day of school this year? How about your sophomore? Or have you, as a parent, forgotten all about your part in school? Do you ask to see their planners every day? Do you inquire as to what book they are reading? Do you talk about what they learned in history today?
Too often parents think that since their kids are in middle school or high school that their responsibility is over, that their kids are big enough to take care of themselves. Here's what too many kids see: if it's not important to my parents, why should it be important to me? Remember when you read to your children every night before they went to bed? How much fun was that? When was the last time you and your child read a book together, or even an article? Are they too big? Says who? When was the last time you asked your child what he/she thought about a moral dilemma or the ending of a story? When was the last time they asked you?
Do you look at what your child is wearing when they leave the house? Do you approve? Is it attractive and appropriate? Is it cleaned and ironed? Do you know what music in downloaded on their MP3 player? Would you find it acceptable?
When was the last time you saw a movie together and discussed it or watched the news and discussed it?
At my school, if students have not completed their homework, they are sent to the office to call their parent and let them know. Some kids call every period. We have had parents actually ask us not to call any more. Really? You don't want to know that your child is not holding up his end of the deal. Or do you not want to know that you are not holding up your end of the deal?
We worry about our kids doing drugs or getting into trouble, but too many of us parents have given up our responsibility as parents before it is time. How can we keep channels of communication open if we don't use them every day? When was the last time you spoke to your child?
Anne Marshall is a teacher at Tempe's Grand Canyon Preparatory, a public charter school.