By Todd Grina, Middle School Principal
We all know the three R’s of education; reading, writing and arithmetic. At Hutchinson Middle School we preach three additional R’s; respect, responsibility and relationships. During adolescence the later three R’s are just as important as the former. Summer is a good time to continue to reinforce these character traits as they relate to your family expectations at home.
In my opinion, the old adage that respect must be earned is missing a piece. In order for children to earn respect they first need to learn what respect looks like. As adults we should be modeling respectful behavior so children can see what it looks like. During the summer months this responsibility falls on the many people that will be involved in a child’s day. It could be their summer baby sitter, the convenience store clerk or the coach or leader of whatever activity they are involved in. Children should see respectful behavior modeled in many different environments so they learn what it means to be respectful in many different ways.
During the summer responsibility can mean many things. It can mean something as simple as taking out the garbage or making your bed and keeping your room clean. Your child may even be responsible for planning and cooking a meal once a week or be responsible for taking care of younger siblings. Teaching responsibility can be taught at home through setting goals each week. Goals not only teach responsibility but they also teach time management Parents can start by having their children set one weekly goal. The goal should be written and include what needs to be accomplished and a time line for accomplishing it. At the end of each week parents should review the goal and discuss how well their child did. Early on what is most important is that parents praise their child for trying. Over time they will get better at goal setting and time management which will lead to successfully accomplishing their goal. Adolescents who are goal driven will be less likely to be involved in negative behaviors.
Learning how to develop positive relationships during adolescence with peers as wells adults is an important factor in later life success. The summer months are a good time for parents to encourage their children to get involved in an activity. Not only does it keep them busy, it may also help them develop new relationships. Relationships built over the summer my ease the transition back to school in the fall. Especially if the transition involves attending a new school. If your child is old enough to get a job, being able to develop relationships with coworkers, customers and their boss will be a determining factor in whether or not they are successful in the workplace. Being able to make positive connections with people is a character trait that will lead to success in the classroom as well as in many facets of life.
It takes a lot of effort to teach a child respect, responsibility and relationships. By having these positive character traits reinforced over the summer helps your child to be prepared to learn and for getting off to a good start at school in the fall. As a parent you will have helped reinforce and teach your child the attitudes and skills they need to be successful students as well as grow into responsible and capable adults.