Secrets of success

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Susan Stiffelman’s article fostering the student teacher relationship printed in the Sept. 4 issue of The Malibu Times offers some good tips but may not go far enough. I agree with most points she makes except the last. She says that how well your child does in school is how well they feel connected to and liked by the teacher.

In order to enrich a child’s experience with learning, and more importantly to allow development of strength in order to face the world, do not focus on a perfect relationship with the teacher. There is no perfect relationship. The child’s experience will always vary depending on the weaknesses and flaws of the teacher as well as the student. Parents have already made mistakes of impatience and overreaction that may impair a child’s learning abilities.

To remedy this, make sure all family problems are regularly discussed. The smallest grievance by a child can cause pain and impair learning. Regular family meetings are recommended with a different family member as leader at each meeting. Children then realize that they are as important as everyone else and all are flawed to a certain extent. The child must know that almost all people are doing their very best but are imperfect. This includes the teacher, but the teacher must be respected anyway. The parent should be in constant contact with the teacher to get their very best. This takes patience, persistence and nonjudgment. With this equation, both student and teacher benefit and rise together.

The responsibility of success mostly rests on the shoulders of the parent. The focus of attention should be that when children turn 18 and go off to college, they are almost completely self-contained. They should be responsible and able to handle almost all situations. The more time the parent spends with the child, the less time the child will be dependent on the parent. In order to increase the level of maturity of your children, make it almost mandatory to take up an individual sport. It will teach them strength and they will be able to have the confidence to stand alone.

Forrest Stewart

Forrest Stewart is a parent and a teacher. His three children were student athletes and all valedictorians at Malibu High School. All three were granted admission to Princeton University.