By Hattie Grace

So, what is going on? What’s happening? Did you read the Pensacola News Journal headline article on Sunday about our schools and the fate of our children’s education in Escambia County? It was a very revealing story. Only one of our middle schools received an “A “ grade. Six schools received a “C”, two “D”’s and two received an “F” on FCAT. As Superintendent Malcolm Thomas acknowledged, “ most of our schools– elementary as well as middle, just did not show the rate of increase we need”. We know that it is a different test. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test 2.0 (FCAT) is more rigorous than in the past and with the Common Core State Standard that is much more challenging, to be implemented next school term, we all should have a sense of urgency on what we can do as a community to help.
But first, I really want to parents to understand how important it is you are involved and that you partner with your child’s school. Study after study has shown that the best schools are the ones that have the support of the families they serve and that parental support and motivation is one of the most important factors in determining whether a child do well in school.
Before your children ever went to school, you were their first teacher. If you value education, achievement, and learning, then your child will too. You are not only your children’s first teacher; you are their best teacher, and your involvement in their formal education means the world to them. In order to convey that commitment to education, you have to be involved in the life of the school.

Believe me; I know that you are trying to make a living, trying to make sure that their basic needs of food and shelter are provided. I get it. I have been there. I know how tired you are when you get off work. You still have to get dinner, get them to other activities, get them and yourself ready for the next day. But here’s the rub, making sure children get a good education is also a basic need that will lead to self sufficiency. So if you are not already doing so, make some urgent changes in how involved you are in your child’s education.
So be involved! Get to know your child’s teacher, keep up with the class work and help with the homework, attend school events, and know what is expected of your child.
I know from hearing countless parents tell me they don’t have time that there is a real gap between parental work hours and school volunteer hours. You’re busy. We’re all busy. Regardless, I still tell parents, your child’s school needs you, and your child needs you. Do what it takes to put in the time.
1. Be involved. Parent involvement helps students learn, improves schools, and helps teachers work with you to help your children succeed.
2. Provide resources at home for learning. Utilize your local library, and have books and magazines available in the home. Read with your children each day.
3. Set a good example. Show your children by your own actions that you believe learning is both enjoyable and useful. Monitor television viewing and the use of videos and game systems.
4. Encourage students to do their best in school. Show your children that you believe education is important and that you want them to do their best.
5. Value education and seek a balance between schoolwork and outside activities. Emphasize your children’s progress in developing the knowledge and skills they need to be successful both in school and in life.
6. Recognize factors that take a toll on students’ classroom performance:
• Consider the possible negative effects of long hours at after-school jobs or in extracurricular activities. Work with your children to help them maintain a balance between school responsibilities and outside commitments.
• View teen drinking and excessive partying as serious matters. While most parents are concerned about drug abuse, many fail to recognize that alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, and common substances used as inhalants are more frequently abused than illegal drugs.
7. Support school rules and goals. Take care not to undermine school rules, discipline, or goals. Talk and develop a relationship with your children’s teachers before a crisis arise.
8. Use pressure positively. Encourage children to do their best, but don’t pressure them by scheduling too many outside activities during the school year.
9. Call or e-mail teachers early if you think there’s a problem while there is still time to solve it. Don’t wait for teachers to call you.
10. Accept your responsibility as parents. Don’t expect the school and teachers to take over your obligations as parents. Teach children self-discipline and respect for others at home — don’t rely on teachers and schools to teach these basic behaviors and attitudes.
Put on a happy face. At the end of a busy day your feet may hurt and your head may pound, but when your youngsters come running to you full of enthusiasm about something at school, put on a smile and match their excitement. When you put them off with, “Later, later,” their joy in the accomplishment disappears.
I would love to hear from you. Send your comments to me at If there are other topics you would like more information about let me know that also.
Hattie Grace is President/CEO with Academic Excellence Tutoring Services. For help with your child’s tutoring needs, contact Ms. Grace at 341-3170 or

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