Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Letter to Your Child

The struggle against poverty and for justice and equality starts at home.

Too few public school parents understand the power of education. Public schools must put more energy into changing that by helping parents put words to their own dreams for their child. The most simple way is to have an annual project at the start of each school year with parents writing a letter to their child about their dreams for their child.  That letter should also include at least one story from their own childhood or their family history, different stories each school year. Imagine parents recording and passing on to their child stories told to them by their grandparents, stories they wanted their child to remember as an adult. Would those become priceless letters?

Such letters could document family tradition and a foundation for the future. If you had received such letters, you would probably share them with your own children and grandchildren.

The start of a new school year is a perfect time to write such a letter. The reading of this finished letter with their child could quickly become one of those priceless parent/child conversations about goals and life, events we definitely want to encourage. This letter could then go into your child’s photo album, or their scrap book, so as to document evolving dreams and goals at the beginning of each school year.

A parent could also encourage their child to write a letter in response. Knowing a parent's dreams helps a child to form their own goals. It helps in the evolution, and the changing of goals. Few lessons in life are more valuable.

Knowing more about their own family history and stories helps a child become more resilient. Children will know the challenges of those who went before them, and how they conquered those challenges. Consequently they will be better able to face their own problems in life. Research and experience has repeatedly proven the connections between knowing the dreams and histories of those who cared for you and your own success in life.

Sadly, only a minority of parents write such letters. We need to encourage the writing of such letters by all parents at the start of every school year. As the years pass, more and more parents would follow the practice.

School counselors could use this same parental letter writing practice, focusing on goals and family stories, in their work with families and students during the school year. It is the perfect way to refocus a family, and their student, onto the important things in life, especially when that student has discipline or academic problems. Parents of unmotivated students will probably not have written such a letter.

As the value from such a letter writing tradition is seen it may become a normal annual event centered in our schools and our families. A refocusing on family dreams and history is the perfect way to kick off the school year!
Can you think of a better way to create a school atmosphere with parents actively involved in the education of their children?