August 25, 2017
One of the hallmarks of a Lasallian school, even from the earliest years of St. La Salle and the original Brothers, is the practical nature of the education. De La Salle believed quite adamantly that education should be applicable. This is why the students learned their subjects in the native French as opposed to Latin, as was the case in all of the other schools of the time. It is also why, for example, the school in Marseille, on the coast, taught students the craft of sail-making so that those students had a means to support themselves upon graduation. Likewise, today, we teach our students things like coding, engineering, and public speaking, which have real-world applications beyond the classroom.
Along those lines, I’d like to share some practical guidance for you as parents, as we begin the school year. Each of you, depending on a whole host of factors, including your son’s grade, personality, interests, etc., will reflect on and apply these suggestions differently.
For fifth grade parents, your role should be one of support. You should allow your son to communicate directly with his teacher about day-to-day items such as homework, tests, etc. You may communicate with the teacher about larger concerns, such as your son’s progress, special situations or circumstances, social or behavioral issues, etc. You should provide your son with the tools he needs in order to be successful, and you should show him how to use those tools. However, you should not use the tools for him no matter how tempting or more convenient it may be. At this time in a child’s academic career, he is just learning skills such as time management, organization, and test preparation. It is important that you model these skills at home so that he can witness their importance in all facets of life. If he recognizes their application to everyday life, he will be less likely to compartmentalize them to school only and more likely to view them as general healthy habits of a successful person. This is the perfect time for a child to explore new activities and engage with new friends, as he discovers who he is and who he would like to be. Encourage him to move beyond his comfort zone in these areas and to push himself beyond his ordinary boundaries. Lastly, recognize that challenge and failure are not just a part of life but are integral to growth and eventual success. Take the long view. See the big picture. Do not panic. Stay positive.
For sixth grade parents, this year is as much a transition as last year was but in different ways. This year your son may want to accomplish more on his own without your assistance. This is common, acceptable, and even healthy. Eventually, the baby chick must leave the nest to fend for himself. However, he does this gradually and in steps and does not fly away all at once for long journeys and long periods of time never to return. This should be your approach as well with your son. Allow him to test what he is capable of on his own. Allow him to try new strategies that he is learning. Give him space as he needs it and support only if he asks for it. Encourage him to work toward independence. Oversee him from a distance and do not micromanage his daily activities. As always, recognize that there is no progress without obstacles and challenges. Risk often comes with great disappointment but even greater success.
For seventh grade parents, the ball is in your son’s court. He will constantly hear the message from us that he alone controls his destiny and that his actions and words are a direct reflection of who he is as a person. We, and you as well, should challenge him to be the best he can be in all facets of life and to not settle for mediocrity. God has given him great gifts, and he is encouraged to share those with the world. As adolescence approaches, he will explore more of the world around him and develop strong opinions about what he sees and hears. Our role as adults and models of Christ is to be examples of Jesus’ Gospel message of love and mercy. You should have “grown-up” conversations with him about his school work, his effort, his interests, his feelings, and his thoughts. Understand, though, while we increase our expectations of these young men, we still recognize that growth is a process and does not happen overnight. He is, in many regards, still a boy. He needs to be taught how to have these “grown-up” conversations and how to deal with his feelings and thoughts in a manner that respects not only you as his parents but all of those around him, including his peers. He should be taught that respect is earned and is mutual. Communication with your son as he grows up is critical to your relationship and to his future and well-being, particularly in today’s world of social media and the internet.
Lastly, no matter what grade your son is in, your relationship with him is central to his success. It should be a relationship based on support, respect, growth and progress, and mutual love and concern. We at CBS are blessed to be a part of your journey. Have a great weekend!