A parent's responsibility is to see that children get the instr

December 19, 2003|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Each year as we unpack the Christmas decorations, I'm reminded of how quickly time passes.

The baubles I cherish the most are the lop-sided, one-eyed creations of chubby little fingers.

On the back of each homemade decoration is my son's name or my daughter's name and the year it was created.

My kids love looking back at what they've made, and we talk about the teachers who helped them with each craft. If Mommy was their helper, we talk about what we did.

Some of the messes we've made together over the years ... well, just don't mention papier-mch to my husband, OK?

I've learned alongside my children, and each project has brought us closer together.

As layer upon layer come out of each decoration box, the kids delight in selecting just the right spot for each creation.


I sit back and marvel at how quickly children grow. Everyone says that, but when you're in the midst of raising your kids, it's just hard to comprehend.

I've taken them to countless local programs - art, science, music, foreign language. We've participated in just about everything that is available.

There's one consistency in whatever we've done.

When they're finished, the children want to show what they've created to me and to their father.

It's as if our approval and appreciation validate their work.

What a responsibility we have as parents.

Children need us to post their scribbles on the fridge and hang their construction paper angels on the Christmas tree.

Our positive reactions often provide the incentive for them to continue creating.

It matters not whether we send our kids to public school, private school or choose to home-school.

My family has done all three, and we've lived the pros and cons for each choice. I'm so thankful that we live in a country where parents can choose what type of education is best for their children.

What matters more than the school a child attends is the role parents choose to take in a child's education.

How much do you know about what your child is learning? Did you ask how he made the holiday craft that came home with him?

If you had to take one of his tests, would you pass it? You should be able to, if you reviewed the material with him.

I've seen the same results in each of the educational communities that we've embraced over the years: Parental involvement typically encourages student success.

You can't do your child's work for him, nor would you want to, but it is your responsibility to make sure he is learning.

How can you tell? Ask questions. Talk about what you liked learning when you were his age. Perhaps he'll tell you he enjoys that, too. Or, he may express shock that you'd like something so boring.

A few minutes of conversation can tell you a lot about your child's interests. Then you can team with the other educators in your child's life to assure that he is getting the instruction he needs. If every parent would be so involved, no child would be left behind.

Teachers should be viewed as people who help parents educate their children.

I don't want my child's mind formed by an educational institution. That's my responsibility as a parent. I'm the one who decides what toys, books, videos, games and clothes are best.

I want the time that is passing to be spent richly, experienced completely and appreciated fully.

Then each year as the Christmas decorations come out, I'll be able to cherish the memories, enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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