Parents have ‘back to school’ responsibilities


Some parents never meet their children’s teachers, attend PTA meetings, monitor homework assignments, discuss report cards, or monitor what their children wear to school.

They don’t know how many credits are needed to graduate or how many their children have. They also leave too many important future planning decisions up to the school system and their children.

Confucius said, “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If it’s for three years, plant trees. If it’s for 100 years, educate your children.”

Some solutions
•Buy only the clothes you can afford for your children. Remind them that they will be briskly walking down the hall in a school, not sashaying down a fashion runway. Save some money for college or trade school.

•Take your children to open house and meet all their teachers.

•Your children’s school day should be the main topic of conversation at the dinner table every school night. Go through their daily schedule. Ask them two questions: “What did you learn today?

Do you have any homework?” If their answers are repeatedly, “Nothing” and “No homework,” it is time for you to contact their teachers.

•Put the dates of the interim reports and reports cards on your refrigerator calendar. Have a one-on-one detailed discussion with your children about both. It is very important that you let them talk and defend their position.

•Plan to have two hours each school night where you and your household have a lockdown. Cut off all electrical or battery-operated TVs, gaming devices and phones. Use that enrichment time for homework, reading, writing and family discussions. Teach them how to take notes and study.

•Never give up on your children. Keep encouraging them to respect themselves and others.

•After you have constructively criticized them, help them find a solution to that problem.

Remember, if you watch your children for a long period of time, they will do something wrong and something right. Catch them doing something right each day and give them a big hug as you praise them for doing well. Age and size does not matter; they are still your “baby!”

•Take the time and have your children teach you how to use the Internet. You must monitor what they are reading, watching, writing, sending, and receiving pictures online. No secret password for children in your home.

•Buy a one-year subscription to your local Black newspaper. Some cost less than $40 a year (about the price of four large pizzas that will last about 15 minutes). This should be among the first reading materials you put in your home library.

To help your high school child follow the right educational track, you must know the answers to these questions. (If you don’t know, have your child and the school counselor guide you.)

•How many credits does your child need in each of the following subjects to graduate? English, math, science, social studies, health and physical education, a second language, computer skills, electives.

•How many credits does he or she have? What is his or her grade point average? What is his or her best subject? What is his or her ranking in the class? What is the grade point average required for the state university system? Community college? Trade school?

•Bullying is a serious problem in every school and grade level. It can be face-to-face, by text or on the Internet. You need to have a discussion with your children on a plan of action telling them what to do and who to tell when it happens. 

•Being able to quickly tell the names of the starting five on the NBA champion Golden State Warriors or the main characters in the many dramas on the Oprah Winfrey Network is good for sports entertainment conversation only. Meeting, learning the names and communicating with the five or more teachers that will teach your children this first semester is priceless. These are the people you must know.

All these are parents’ responsibilities! “I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4.

James J. Hankins is a graduate of an all-Black high school, a North Carolina A&T State University alumnus, a US Army veteran, and author of the book “What We Blacks Need to Do.” Contact him at


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