[Melinda Finch is a 30 something mother of two from Dyersburg, TN. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree from Tennessee State University. Follow Melinda @sillymi09]
It is important to teach children the importance of education in every family. It is especially important when a single woman raises a son. Education is a formidable weapon in anyone’s hands, but nothing that exists is more threatening to the status quo than an educated Black man. Education is the only thing that you can give to your son that no one will be able to take from him. It is the best gift anyone can give a child.
The mistake that many parents make is relying solely on the educational system (public or private) to educate their child. In actuality, the educational system is only a supplement to the education you provide for your child. You are the primary educator. Taking the time at home out to encourage, equip, and implement lessons meant to ensure the continual success of our child.
I believe education should start in the womb. It has been suggested that the embryo can hear and recognize the voice of their family members, especially the mother. I can only provide you examples from my personal experience. My son is currently 10 years old. He is in the fourth grade on a 7th grade reading level. He scored highest in Reading, Language Arts, and Social Science and second highest in Math for the entire third grade at his school. His success can be attributed to a collaborative effort made by the public education system and myself.
It is important to stress that my specific activities are not causative. It is my attention to my son and my modeling of the importance of education that has made the difference.
The steps I have taken to ensure that my child receives all that is due to him are as follows:
At embryo stage
During my pregnancy, I had specific times that I would read to my child and allow him to listen to classical music. I made every attempt possible to start a schedule with him during this phase. I did these things at the same time every day so that he would become accustomed to hearing structured information on a regular time schedule.
As an infant, I put my child on a schedule (which you can view in the blog: “Being a Single Mother“). In this schedule, I included a specific block of time dedicated to education. During this block, I would read to my child and allow him to listen to education videos like “Baby Mozart.”
At this stage of his development, I implemented more detailed learning skills. I had a block of time during the school year, for example 8:00am to 10:00am, during which we would have classroom time. During this time, I would use “Hooked on Phonics Reading, Writing, and Math.” I recommend this program to all new mothers. This program teaches the “phonics” of words instead of “site words,” which is the model currently being used in Tennessee public education.
I believe that the mistake being made at this age is down playing the importance of good study habits. What I mean by good study habits is teaching your child that education is first. What I did with my son: As soon as he returns home from school, he was allowed to get a snack and required to start his homework immediately after. I do not allow him to turn on the television, go outside, or play any electronics until his homework is done and checked. This started his first year of preschool. Although in preschool there was not much homework, I would still have something for him to do to reinforce any skills that were taught during the day at school. My son was reading before he was four years old.
1. Do not be afraid that you are starting too early. The earlier you start, the more time you have to train yourself in the routine and work out the kinks.
2. Do not allow others to discourage you by telling you that your child does not understand. During the first few years of your child’s life, he is like a sponge. During this time, his mind is wide open for the taking.
3. Use supplements such as “Hooked on Phonics” or “My Baby can Read.” I have personal experience with “Hooked on Phonics” and stand by the product. The “My Baby can Read” is an intriguing new program with many positive reviews.
4. Establish healthy study habits. Allow your child to get a snack after schoo. Then, it is homework time. If he does not have any homework, either read to him or allow him to read to you for 15 minutes. During this time, you should not allow any company over. The television should be off, and you should not take any calls.
5. Become active in his educational process. Go to the school and make your presence known. Meet his teacher(s) and principal. Participate in activities at the school. There is no greater feeling than knowing that your mother is proud of you.
These steps have worked for my son and me. I do not have any behavior problems with him. He puts his best foot forward in all that he does in school. I hope that these tips are of some assistance to you as you work to educate your son. Let me know how it is going.