This guest post was brought to you by Larry Bernstein of Me, Myself, and Kids Blog
What do you want for your children when you send them off to school each morning? Let me guess. You want them to learn. You want them to enjoy their learning. You want them to have friends. You want those friends to be children they can count on and feel comfortable confiding in. Well, what I want for my children is for them to have fun and get brilliant.
I’ve been offering up these instructions ever since my now 10-year old (BR) started kindergarten. After I kissed him – he doesn’t let me do that anymore in front of other children – he’d walk toward the bus, and I would call out, “have fun and get brilliant.”
Prior to this school year, I rarely saw my children off to school (my younger son, SJ, is in 2ndgrade). Like DadNCharge himself, I am an educator. I taught English for the last 11 years in an in inner city high school in Brooklyn. To get to my school, which was more than hour away via public transportation, I had to be out of my house by 6 a.m. The children were not even up or at least they pretended to be sleeping and stayed in their beds.
I resigned from my teaching position over the summer to pursue freelance writing and tutoring. As you can imagine, this professional change has led to many other adjustments. One of my favorite changes is that I’m now able to be home a lot more (My least favorite is the unsteady paycheck, but I’ll save that for another post.) Because I’m home more and have a more flexible schedule, I’ve taken over as the parent in charge in the mornings while my wife heads off to work.
The boys and I don’t talk much in the morning. I’ve spent years leaving the house before the sun rises and getting on a dark bus where I know no one. Besides, my fellow commuters were not exactly chipper in the morning. Anyway, the boys are content to spend their mornings playing Minecraft and watching You Tube on their Kindles. I’m happy to skim through my email, read the sports page, and check out Facebook. We talk briefly about what’s going on at school that day as they race to dress, wash up, and make their beds.
It’s while we are walking towards the school building, that I say to them, “Have fun and get brilliant.” I’d like to think of these words as my instructions. They’re like a "how-to" for the school day. After all, don’t we all need guidance? Let’s see, what shall I do today? I've got it. I’ll have fun and get brilliant.
These words are also my wishes. I want my children to have fun at school. I sincerely believe that having fun enhances the learning environment. If children are having fun at school, they’ll want to be there. Side note: My older son asks to go to school early to get extra math work. Even this ex-English teacher feels happy about that.
School should be a place where they can find a smiling face, a supportive staff member, and a good friend. I want it to be a place where they can run around (during recess that is) and use some of their massive amounts of energy, where they can laugh about their favorite You Tube video, or where they can discuss Minecraft strategy.
Yet, school is not only about laughs and recess. School has a greater purpose and that is to help students learn. And I want my children to learn everything the teachers have to offer. Reading, math, science, history, gym, art, etc. - let them take it all in. I want their brains to be like sponges and for them to soak up as much knowledge as they possibly can. I want my children to learn more than what is on the common core curriculum or any other curriculum. I want them to learn what it means to try their best. I want them to learn how to deal with frustration. I want them to learn how to respect their peers. I want them to learn that they don’t have to follow the crowd. I want them to learn that learning is cool.
When the school day ends, I pick up the boys and we head back to the car. And I have a question, but now I don’t even have to ask it. BR and SJ are eager to share with me. The ride home is filled with stories about drawing pictures, doing math trees, learning technology, eating cupcakes, spelling contests, and playing Lego. In other words, they are having fun and getting brilliant.