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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to insure your child thrives and other tales of success...

This is an early picture of my garden at the beginning stage. This garden faced: weeds, exposure to winds,poor soil, lack of warmth.

Some things I could ameliorate; some things I had to accept.

I could build up the soil structure, add tarp to retain warmth, add fertilizing material to
encourage growth, add bio- variety to prevent insects from invading, and construct a wind barrier to minimize damage.

I had to accept that winds by the Ocean are often too harsh and too frequent, and my barrier would have to be of such force and durability to withstand hurricane force gusts even during the sunny months.

I had to accept that my soil is sand. Not just sandy, but all sand. Any plant material I add will take centuries to build up to an optimum level. I have to be patient and resourceful with what I plant, what I harvest to consume, what I compost for future soil build-up.

In educating our children, teachers basically make the same decisions. They begin by assessing the potential and needs of the youngsters. They look at the materials, time and resources available. They structure the classroom to keep time-on-task uninterrupted. They build structures to keep the winds of distraction at bay: rules, procedures, routines. They assign tasks and homework based on the capacity of the class to achieve pre-determined goals.

Much of the work in education is done by parents before the child arrives at school. You prepared the soil way in advance. You instilled love of learning as well as habits of mind. You taught rules and respect and fair play. The teacher is just planting this year's crop of concepts, skills and vocabulary.

If any amelioration needs to occur, you as a parent will be the first to notice and to point out. You will partner with the teacher and get the job done. Those barriers to keep the winds out are not built by one person. They are built by teams of dedicated workers supporting and respecting each other.

Your child will succeed not because the teacher likes him-though this element is most important- not because the homework is easy, or the materials are all available, but because he/she has become passionate about something beyond his/her capacity, something that is hard and important, something that makes him/her feel strong and important.

Both you and the teacher can take pride in his/her growth and achievements.

The harvest/results will not be visible for a long time. You are building a cathedral together.

28 comments:

Monkey Man said...

Sage words. My two are teenage now and their Mother built a good foundation for them. I give her most of the credit because she was at home with them and spent more time in their development than I did. We are both grateful she had that opportunity. Now we prepare them, not for school, but for life.

Sheila said...

I love reading what you've written here today and wish it were true everywhere for every student. My little grandson started school a week ago as a kindergartner and he is so much like his father it's sort of scarey. It took me too long to gain my footing and confidence as a mother to request what he needed in school and I only hope my daughter in law is bolder and more aggressive than I was. What a wonderful place it would be if all teachers communicated to their students' parents what you've put into words today.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I really didn't you it was possible to produce a vegetable garden, for example, on sand. I had heard that the addition of soil would mess up any qualities the sand had. So your post is something of a revelation.

Wander to the Wayside said...

This is such a wonderful comparative description using the garden soil and education, and should be printed for every school to be sent home with that school packet at the beginning of every year.

NitWit1 said...

Eloquently written and wise. Fortunately my parents, especially my mother did many of the things you mentioned.

Beth said...

A great analogy. I just wish ALL children came to school loved, nourished and desiring to learn. For those children, we are their haven. The learning will come if we can gain their trust and tech them to care.

Brian Miller said...

there is a lot of truth in that...it is a partnership...too many times i see parents ship them off to school hoping someone else will fix them...or counseling...

Janna Qualman said...

This is a comfort to read - and a call to stand strong in my duty, as my young ones are just starting their school journey. Thanks for your thoughts.

The Things We Carried said...

Perfect. The last line was a flawless finish to sum up parenting in so many more ways than education. I like the cathedral word picture. Makes me think of a sacred place, as each life is.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Lovely essay. I often liken raising children to my plants. With good dirt, plenty of water and compost, shelter from the storms and cold, propping up here and there. I give them the least sometimes so they can become strong. If they flounder, I am there - too offer support to get them growing again. Most fun to see them take off in great flower and fruit.

Amy said...

Very, very nice. I love the comparison because it's so appropriate, and you wrote about it beautifully.

Fire Byrd said...

These words are only partially right for me.
My sons had the firm foundation, they have an understanding of what is right and wrong. And the older has grown into a healthy sapling.The youngest is a more troubled soul, who hopefully one day will become that strong tree, but at the moment is more like a desert plant roaming wherever the breeze takes him. And I fear for him, and yearn for him to be older and to have been able to make the choice on the right side of growth.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Oh boy. I have planted gardens that have flourished, and gardens that have struggled. My children flourish, and they struggle, as do I. It's very true, what you say about building the foundation and putting in the time and love and attention, but variables come into play and that's a test for us, how do we respond? In the end, it would be nice to have a nice juicy carrot to show for our efforts. That's for sure.

Linds said...

Superb words, Rosaria. It is just so sad that some parents do NOT do the ground work, and the eagerness to learn, respect, and readiness is just not there at the start.
Your cathedral analogy is just wonderful,and I echo what others have said.....I wish this could be sent home with every child at the start of the new school year.

Merisi said...

I love what you are saying here: It is so true!

My children went to Montessori preschools (in the States, I was acquainted with Maria M's teachings in Italy). They were lucky enough to have teachers who adhered to the same philosophy you describe in your post. I also loved their emphasis on nurturing the children's natural love of learning and the way they encouraged them to explore and learn at their own pace. I shall forever be grateful for teachers like you!

the walking man said...

he question is how do you re-involve parents who for so long not only neglected their own education but are passing that neglect on to the generation they birthed.

This is why the Detroit school system is failing. I personally consider a 25% graduation rate from HS a failure.

Gaston Studio said...

Fantastic analogy Rosario, but I agree with some commenters that SOME parents don't seem to "get" that their children need good parenting from them before they get to school. I heart the teachers who have such children as they often can't get thru to the parent(s).

Shadow said...

teaching IS a partnership. that's a fact. as children reflect what they glean from their parents....

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Very wise words, Rosario! You must be a wonderful educator! I love the comparison with the garden - and echo your woes of "oh sandy soil"!

potsoc said...

Having worked all my professional life with dysfunctional families and children, I do agree with you Rosaria. Parents have a prime role and the partnership with school is essential.
However I would temper that children reflect their parents. To a certain extent, yes, but they soon, very, soon develop their own colors. I have known children from good families who turned bad and the contrary also. Let us be careful here.

Reya Mellicker said...

Clear eyes, an open mind and open heart, the ability to improvise and lots of love are the most useful qualities to cultivate.

Can we see a pic of your garden now?

Susan said...

You are funny - I love the comment you left on my blog.
Hey - about Health Care Reform (my sister is a Glenn Beck admirer and has gone a little nutty on attending town hall meetings):
has anyone else noticed that the Glenn Beck side seems like the counter-cultural flower children of the 60s? Fervor, check, antigovernment, check, having lots of fun, check, not concerned about logic, check.
My theory is that my sister missed out on being a hippie and now she gets her chance at age 56.
I want Health Care Reform to pass, but I think we are up against a dizzy group of flower children here.

Sarah Laurence said...

I like this analogy of a sandy garden to a school. Educating a child is indeed a joint achievement. Nicely put.

Renee said...

I love how you have written this Rosaria.

It is all so important and so true.

And the funny thing is it is easy enough to do too.

love Renee xoxo

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Great post! I am a mother and both my girls are teachers... words of wisdom can be found here. Thanks for the sweet note that you left me today.

Nancy said...

Where were you when my children were in school? I could have used you for a life-coach about that time. No, my girls did very well. But there were those times when I wished I had a better understanding of everything. School organization is complex, as you have mentioned before. I'm not sure that parents always understand that.

lakeviewer said...

I love all your comments. It is even more important now to be good partners with those people and those activities our children interact. We need to know how and who influences them; we need to be a major presence in their lives, not an invisible figure.

I worry about the influence of the internet and social sites. What our children do with these tools is of concern to us. We want them to be savvy, curious, discerning and discriminating.

If I were still teaching, I would prepare a unit on blogging/email manners, and how to sort through requests for information. There is a grooming behavior used by child predators that needs to be outed, exposed. Come to think of it, there are all kinds of predators out there that need exposing. Did those nice retirees in Florida think Madoff was a predator?


We used to tell our children not to talk to strangers. What happened to the advice not talk to strangers, when all of us are doing just that?

I digress. Raising children is our number one job.

me said...

Hello, lakeviewer. I love your comparison between garden and education of young people.
Both require patience and sensitivity but at the end the harvest gives great satisfaction.

Spero che siate riusciti ad aggiustare la pompa; fare giardinaggio senza acqua sa di miracoloso!
:)