When I was in school my dad informed me that my only ‘job’ was to study, do well and get into college.
His view of my studies as the top priority in my young life gave me the focus I needed to meet my parents’ expectations. But priorities for today’s young people aren’t necessarily that clear. “We’re living in a new world with a new generation,” said Mike Schabert, associate superintendent of marketing and enrollment for the Diocese of Orange Catholic Schools. “This world is so different for them than it was for you and me.”
“I don’t necessarily think that children today feel that school is their only job,” Schabert adds. “They have club ball, travel ball, piano lessons – there are quite a few additional opportunities and challenges for kids today.”
The jumble of competing priorities certainly makes success in the classroom challenging. Still, with final exams on the horizon it’s important for Catholic families to underscore the lasting importance of stellar performance in school, including doing well on final exams.
In order for that to happen, we parents must prepare our children with the tools they need to succeed and the skills they need to sustain that success in their adult lives. Virtues like hard work, integrity and honesty play critical roles, Schabert acknowledged. “It’s vital that parents help their children develop into good citizens.” That means insisting that kids develop and sustain good study habits, cultivate the fortitude and diligence to do well in tests, and show willingness to commit to lifelong learning.
“Parents lead by example,” he explained. “The concept of hard work is personified by parents who wake up every day and go to work dutifully and faithfully. These are helpful ways to help kids start developing those qualities.”
Fulfilling chores and tasks at home as well as sticking to routines, including study schedules, can help children develop the self-discipline they need in the workplace and beyond.
With our busy schedules, it seems an impossible feat for Catholic parents to continuously monitor our kids’ education. But if we do nothing else in our lives, preparing our children for life in and out of the classroom means we have succeeded.
Catholic schools are helpful partners in assuring that students learn the habits and life skills they can apply to schoolwork and exams, Schabert added, because they focus on educating students’ souls as well as their minds and bodies.
With fewer disciplinary problems and bullying incidents, Catholic schools work hard to teach students that they should do their own work, have a sense of honor, and respect themselves, one another and property, Schabert noted. “We recognize the dignity of each person as a child of God – that each individual matters.”
Life is more complex for kids today, and when you add COVID-19 to the mix, it’s no wonder that today’s students are struggling, he said. “Our children are needing structure, and Catholic schools offer that,” he said. “We provide not only opportunities for educating children but for helping parents navigate the world.”
As Catholics, he said, “we believe that one way we can grow as a child of God is through education. An educated child is a thoughtful, creative thinker and one who develops the potential God has given to us.