Karen Overstreet | 7/22/2006 1:30:18 AM
What are you doing to start the new school year? Don’t have kids in school? It doesn’t matter. A good education for all students should be everyone’s concern, according to LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist Dr. Karen Overstreet.
The family expert recalls the story about a Louisiana Corrections official once stated he could predict the number of future beds he would need in the correction facilities from the reading scores of third graders. Businesses need workers with at least basic skills and a willingness to learn. And, the more good jobs in Louisiana, the more likely your children and grandchildren won’t have to leave the state for work.
"Lots of us talk about our low rankings in education but few of us take action, thinking there’s not much we can do," Overstreet says, adding that schools are only one part of the education process. Parents and a community that values education are also critical.
"Take a look at your attitudes. Children absorb a lot from those around them," Overstreet says. Do you tease children who prefer to read than play sports? Do you complain when students are given a summer reading assignment that it spoils summer fun? Do you encourage respect for teachers even when there may be a problem? Do you support events other than sports? Many schools have excellent music, drama or arts programs. Do you make fun of people with "book learning?"
The goal is not for every child to make straight A’s but to encourage every child to develop a love for learning.
"Become a participant yourself," Overstreet urges, explaining, "Children often emulate what they see." Many libraries now have reading programs for adults as well as children. Have fun reading the summer reading assignment with a child and discuss it as you go.
Always wanted to learn a new skill? Sign up for an adult education class. It doesn’t have to be at a traditional school. Taking a class at your church, the YMCA, community college or other local site still shows children that you are interested in learning.
Become a volunteer. Decide how much time you have and what you like to do. Some one-time tasks don’t involve working with children, such as helping to paint or fix up a classroom. Other tasks may require meeting weekly with a child such as reading buddies.
Many churches and community groups have volunteer programs in the schools. The more citizens know about their schools, the more likely they are to support them. Unfortunately, many people have not been in their local schools recently. Volunteering is a good way to develop a better understanding of the successes and challenges of our education system.
For related family and back-to-school topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
Source: Karen Overstreet (225) 578-1425, or Koverstreet@agcenter.lsu.edu