Public schools are plagued with problems, but many of the issues start at home.

I may not have been in honors classes and advanced math courses when I graduated high school, but there were some things I was able to do.

I knew how to read and count.

I knew how to write my name and I knew the alphabet.

I knew my address and phone number.

I knew how to wake up on my own and I knew how to clean and groom myself.

Unless you’re suffering from some sort of physical or mental impairment (learning disabilities), these things may not seem like overwhelming accomplishments, but there are many mainstream “normal” students who are seniors in high school who are not able to do these simple things.

I knew how to do these things because my mother took the time to teach me.

All of my kids knew how to read and count before they got to kindergarten. Their mother and I read to them. We taught them the important things they need to know to be functional in the world.

This isn’t bragging. 

I’m not claiming I’m some sort of super hero, but I did something when my kids were little that many aren’t doing in our society – it’s called parenting.

The new norm in society is for parents to drop off kids at school as if it’s a day care facility. They expect the schools to teach their children everything, including basic life skills which should have been learned at home at an early age.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of issues with public schools where teachers are failing our kids too, but that’s another article for another day. I’m talking about parents not teaching children the most simple of daily life skills needed to function in our society.

Knowing your ABC’s, what is 2+2, who was George Washington…Basic functional education skills are important, but so are life skills. Many kids have no clue what their address is. Many can only use a digital clock because they don’t how to read the hands on a standard time piece.

I’ve seen kids in high school who don’t know how to make change at a store or restaurant (many times they’re the employee behind the counter). I’ve seen kids in middle and school who don’t know how to tie their shoes because they never were shown how.

Let’s not even discuss simple manners such as greetings, please and thank you.

It is absolutely unacceptable a child should make it past elementary school without knowing the most basic of educational lessons – reading, writing and simple math. God forbid they enter high school without knowing these things, but in many cases, they do.

I understand there are learning disabilities which sometimes hinder kids with reading and counting, but there is no valid excuse for a child to make it to high school, or graduate without having someone notice they don’t know how to read. 

Parents need to do their part because schools don’t always have the time or resources to seek out these problems. Parents need to get involved with their kids before they enter school. This means reading to them and with them.

Many problems can be identified early if parents didn’t simply rely on schools to raise their children. It’s been scientifically proven kids are smarter when parents read to their kids at a young age. In short, parents need to interact with their kids.

Parents need to take the time to observe their kids from an early age to know when something isn’t right. Whether it’s a learning disability, mental illness or behavioral problem, parents have the responsibility of getting their kids the proper care and treatment needed to make them successful.

Learning disabilities happen. I get it. But again, it is an epic failure for a parent to say “I didn’t know my child couldn’t read” after 12 years of public school. It’s also an epic failure for a school to say “we didn’t know”.

Schools do have some blame when they lack proper resources to help these students in need, but the bigger tragedy is a parent not caring whether or not their children have these needed skills because they were never involved in their lives. It’s worse when they know but do nothing to remedy the problem.

Schools should not be entirely tasked with the job of molding our youth into productive citizens. Parents need to help. When parents fail to do their job, schools are destined to fail and when our schools fail, society fails.

Written by Marty Augustine

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Marty Augustine - Writer, Author, Entetrtainer

Marty is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.

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