Family Forum / By Judy Konitzer: Grandparents remember the good old days when we communicated face-to-face, with pens & typewriters, and we survived. Today students cannot survive without some form of social media, but to become a successful student some basics remain important.
- Parents getting involved early sets the stage for success at all levels especially if a child has special learning needs. Additional meetings with teachers and other appropriate staff allows the set up or revision of gifted education plans, as well as individualized education plans (IEPs) and 504 education plans, which are also available at college and university levels.
- Communication is a two way street so really listening vs. just hearing, making eye-contact, avoiding multitasking during talking, and responding in ways that allow more than yes or no answers teaches children to develop into informed learners.
- When parents see homework as a priority, it helps develop a sense of responsibility and work ethic that can benefit a child for life. Establishing the proper environment free from distractions (electronic devices) and being available to offer guidance, answer questions, and review the completed work without providing correct answers or completing the assignment yourself while allowing mistakes is part of the growing process and should not be taken away from a child.
- Proper nutrition fuels the body, and the right amount of sleep is vital although problematic today especially for teens and those in college, because of continual internet access and social media needs and being afraid they may miss something.
- Most of us are not born with great organizational skills so they need to be learned and practiced. Using a personal planner or calendar, making to do lists, etc. can become a habit in childhood that could carry thru life.
- There are a variety of disciplinary policies at all schools from pre-school thru universities and some are not what we expect. The consequences of abusing dress codes, electronic devices, attendance, vandalism, cheating, bullying, sexual abuses, and violence is something we as a society can become more involved with. It can start at the elementary level with simply volunteering if only once or twice a year at the school, or voting for those who represent us on School Boards to make sure they implement our values.
- Social media readily provides answers, but this can come with a reduced focus on learning and retaining information. Spell check encourages a lax attitude towards proper spelling and grammar, and the more time students spend on social sites, the less time they spend socializing in person. Numerous studies also show there is reduced academic performance and ability to concentrate on the task at hand by distractions brought on by the various social media sites.
- Students also sometimes fail to realize that once words are posted on social media they are there to haunt you forever. Nothing is private and the only filter is a person’s sense of responsibility.
On a positive note, school websites allow parents and students to keep abreast of events, homework assignments, testing dates, staff contact information etc., which can increase productivity.
Social networking teaches students skills they will need to survive in the business world. Sites like Linked-In help to create and maintain connections with people in diverse industries that are important in determining a career or building a business.
The future belongs to the technology explosion and aids students in building the skills that will be very useful in the business world.
Establishing Habits and Values Early
Habits and values established early help students, and a Wall Street Journal op-ed also addressed “Things They Didn’t Tell You at Freshman Orientation” by David Gelernter, professor of Computer Science at Yale.
He encouraged “understanding that you’re here to be a good citizen of the United States… constantly trying to improve and always competing among everyone over everything… learn skills with reading and writing English the most important of all; learn a language other than Spanish, take harder subjects, and know the Bible and Shakespeare as they should not be taken for granted.”
He advises students to “listen skeptically” as some professors, even those with international reputations, “may not know what they are talking about.” And if a professor continually mentions his/her personal politics and propaganda, “you should be in a different class.”
“Being led by older students is not the best way to obtain guidance” he also believes, “because they don’t know how to lead their lives.” He advocates “finding one older person anywhere in the world whom you can trust and talk to which will put you ahead of the game.”
Lastly, there are so many issues to agree on today from politics, taxes, immigration, etc., but it is also okay to disagree in a civil non-violent manner, and all religious groups deserve respect.