Michelle Luce: 5 Parenting Commitments for 2012

The dawning of a new year always makes me reflect on the past year as well as look forward to the coming one. Here are some things I have resolved to do before the school year is out — and for the rest of my life.

Michelle Luce

I resolve to read more non-fiction with my kids. Studies have shown that reading to your children is powerful and yields better academic scores as well as a life-long love for reading. Early Moments, a book club that actively promotes literacy, lists ten benefits of reading to your child. Those ten reasons are reiterated in parenting books and web sites all over the world. My resolution involves non-fiction books in particular because I love reading fiction stories. I change my voice with the characters and pause at suspenseful moments. I tend to drift toward fiction, so I will choose to read more non-fiction.

I resolve to visit my children's classrooms. I already have done this, short friendly visits to read to the class or provide a snack or help with a party. The Learning Community encourages parents to visit the classroom. When you do, you are showing support of the teacher and of your student. And please, don't just visit because of a called conference because something is wrong.

Some of you are saying, "That's great for you. Your kids are in elementary school. My eleventh-grader isn't going to want me to drop by to visit." Okay, I hear that. But I've taught juniors. And secretly, they love it when their parents bring them lunch or stop by to hear from the teacher what a great kid they are. You can visit your high school student's school, too. It just take a little more finesse.

I resolve to do (well, help with) homework. Maybe it's just me, but I hate homework. My children aren't the type to go quietly to their rooms and work independently. They are easily distracted. So, when they have homework, I have homework. I've decided to change my perspective on homework. It allows me to see, everyday, what my children are working on in school. It helps me to see where the greatest struggles are. My daughter can write a story full of interesting details, but subtraction with re-grouping is quite a struggle. Flip-flop that for my son; he loves math, but writing is a real challenge. In an article on the subject, Math & Reading Help also reminds us that homework helps a child develop self initiative, self-discipline, good study habits and time management skills.

I resolve to listen. If you ever spent a day with us, you'd think that statement more than a little ridiculous. My kids talk all the time. So I listen… well… hear them. But this year, I want to listen. Active listening is one of the hardest parts of communication. We usually hear just enough of what the person speaking to us has said to form our own witty come back or sage advice. Active listening is about the speaker, not about the listener. Powertochange.org lists all that is involved in active listening. Try it, and you will see how being a good listener dramatically alters your relationship, for the better, to those with whom you communicate.

I resolve to invest more time. Sometimes, I inwardly groan when my kids ask me to play a game with them or go outside to watch them play. Not because I don't love to — not for a minute — but because there are always so many things to do. The dishes, the laundry, the pets, the closets, the work deadline, the shopping and cooking and… the list goes on. By the time we drop into bed, the list hasn't shortened. I'm choosing to be available for those times when my son wants to challenge me to a video racing game or my daughter wants to have a tea party. Maybe for your child, it's watching them practice for their dance recital or listening to the burgeoning talent of your young violinist or playing catch or sitting on a swing. Whatever it is, choose to invest in those moments with your child. The laundry will still be there, I promise.

I hope that my commitments for 2012 will encourage you to make a few choices this year to engage in your student's academic life, and may you find joy in the adventure that awaits!

Michelle Luce is a mother, teacher and a writer. She lives in Swansea, South Carolina.

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