Children are naturally beautiful without the help of makeup or hair color. They should look like, act like, and be exactly who they are: kids!
The Successful Student
Over the years, I have been blessed to work with children who have various physical and academic abilities as well as students of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. I have worked with children who suffer from hearing loss, are almost blind, crippled, have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, autism, Down syndrome, Usher syndrome, CHARGE syndrome, and those who exhibit extreme behavioral issues. One of the things that all of these children have in common is that they all look for your love, your time, and your approval. These are the main ingredients for a successful student. It’s not about the money, the high tech gadgets, the clothes, or going into debt trying to keep up with friends, neighbors, or colleagues.
Beyond the basics, i.e., love, safety, shelter, good nutrition, and adequate rest, if education is not a priority for you as a parent or guardian, it will not be a priority for the children in your care. It is your responsibility to be the adult and be a good example for your children. A good relationship, high expectations, and accountability are essential whether your child is in Pre-K or high school.
Your child should not be telling you when THEY feel like doing homework. After a healthy snack, homework is the first thing your child should be doing. Homework should come before video games, smartphones, social media, television, play dates, etc. Please note that you do not want to create a robot or a high achieving sociopath. Children should be taught, at an early age, the life lesson called balance. They should learn how to work AND play. If your child wants to engage in extracurricular activities, make them earn it by maintaining good grades.
We cannot continue to complain about physical and emotional violence on one hand and applaud, condone, and encourage it on the other. We must stop putting a “discipline” label on child abuse. You can punish your child in various ways without making them feel worthless. There is a difference between a spanking and beating on your children like they are animals. When you treat your child like an animal, you give other people permission to do the same. Stop saying “Black Lives Matter” if Black lives don’t matter in YOUR house!
Acknowledge the fact that there is a connection between what we call “discipline” and domestic violence, low self-esteem, drug abuse, depression, rage, suicide, homicide, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, you name it. It’s simple science. Energy cannot be destroyed. It can only be transformed. Abuse is abuse…even if you try to justify it with a Bible verse.
Educate the Whole Child
Again, you do not want to create a robot. Every state has a listing of free events including festivals, book fairs, arts and crafts, storytelling, theater, concerts, interactive entertainment, and fun educational activities. Check for upcoming events at your local library, online, in newspapers, in magazines, and on public television.
Visit some of the landmarks in your state, watch a movie and make some popcorn, exercise together (you don’t need a gym membership), go for a walk and take pictures of birds, flowers, trees, and great architecture, visit a museum, have a girls’ or boys’ night out or in, play some board games, engage in a sport, sit at the table and eat meals together, have an old fashioned conversation, pack up some food and have a picnic in the park. In addition, you can always let your child play with their friends provided there is plenty of adult supervision.
Keep It Simple
Below is a still life film of the Annual Rose Show at Elizabeth Park located in West Hartford, Connecticut. The children in attendance loved learning about the different types of roses, they enjoyed watching the ducks in the nearby pond, making new friends, and simply running around the park being kids.
If your child spends only half an hour per day (including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) reading, writing, or practicing their math skills, it will make all the difference in the world with respect to academic success. Your child should know what your expectations are. They should know what to do in school and they should know what to do at home.
With respect to homework, your children should NEVER wait until Sunday night to complete assignments. Remember, balance is key. They should be doing a little bit of work every day. If your child has “no homework”, a curse word when I was growing up, make sure they spend time on an educational activity. To your right are websites that are fun, educational, and safe. It is my hope that your child has a successful academic year.
Take Care of the Caretaker
Finally, take care of the caretaker and learn how to say “No” without explanation. Show up in your own life. Pamper yourself without guilt. Set boundaries for children, other family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Let God be God. It is not your job to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. It is your job to teach, inspire, and motivate, to awaken that which lies dormant within.
Books Worth Reading
Below is a short list of books that are great for our children. For your convenience, these titles have been gathered into one group and can be purchased directly at Health, Beauty, and Intelligence.
2. Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove
3. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
4. I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
5. The Ben Carson Story by Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis
6. You Don’t Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys by Sharon G. Flake
7. Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes by Floyd Cooper
8. The Bat Boy and His Violin by Garvin Curtis
9. Keena Ford and the Field Trip Mix-Up by Melissa Thompson
10. African Folk Tales (Dover Children’s Thrift Classics)
11. Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt by Patricia McKissack
12. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
13. Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz
14. The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
15. Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper by Ann Malaspina
16. Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney
17. We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt, and Sharon Draper
18. Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children by Wade Hudson
19. Jamaica’s Find by Juanita Havill
20. Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of African-American Artists by Tonya Bolden
21. When Grandmama Sings by Margaree Mitchell
22. Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree Mitchell
23. Cassie’s Word Quilt by Faith Ringgold
24. This is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson
25. Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton
26. The Loose Tooth by Anastasia Puffin
27. Just For You! Low-down Bad-day Blues by Derrick Barnes
28. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers
29. Don’t Say Ain’t by Irene Smalls
30. Because You’re Lucky by Irene Smalls
31. President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston
32. Poetry For Young People by Langston Hughes
33. Color My Fro: A Natural Hair Coloring Book by Crystal Swain-Bates
34. Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates
35. I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes
36. Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children by Mari Evans
37. I Look at Me by Mari Evans
38. Clubhouse Mysteries (Series) by Sharon M. Draper
39. November Blues by Sharon M. Draper
40. Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat by Nikki Giovanni
Stop the Disease Called Illiteracy
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin, neighbor, or friend, please donate your time and read to a child today!
A Great Resource for Parents and Teachers
Maurice Ashley is a chess grandmaster, author, commentator, puzzle inventor, app designer, and motivational speaker.