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Readin’, Writin’ And Character

I was recently published in the Good Men Project, and I wanted to share it with you.

It was nearing the end of the school year. Ramon’s kindergarten teacher requested a meeting with my wife and me.

Earlier in the Spring, we met with his teacher who expressed concern about Ramon’s unsatisfactory progress with his reading skills. She went on to say Ramon would need significant improvement for her to recommend his promotion to the first grade.

In response, as caring parents we got Ramon a wonderful, skilled tutor to help him with his phonics and reading. My wife and I increased the time we spent reading with Ramon.

When we were requested to schedule a meeting with his teacher I was filled with anxiety about what his teacher would have to say. Our meeting with his teacher came.

She informed us Ramon was still struggling with his reading and she would be recommending he not be promoted to first grade.

It’s Not About You

The news was crushing after hearing her recommendation. His teacher went on to say being born in late October made Ramon the youngest student in her class.

His maturity or lack thereof wasn’t where it should be for a new first grader. An unseen accusatory finger was pointing at my wife and I indicting our abilities as parents – somehow we failed our son.

I felt like I would have to repeat kindergarten. While the majority of parents want their child to be successful in school, it’s important to define what academic success means for your child.

While we may want our child to be a permanent resident of the Honor Roll, graduate Valedictorian and be the hottest senior in demand by the best colleges and universities, it’s important to define the unique definition of success for your child. The reality is when it comes to academic performance we all fall on the Bell curve.

Some of our children will fall at the left side of the curve. In the middle of the curve is where you’ll find the majority.

Others will reside on the right side of the curve. The reality is our children are blessed with a unique set of gifts and abilities.

Discover what your child’s gifts and abilities are. Nurture these gifts and abilities. All we can ask of our kids is they give everything they attempt their best effort.

An Environment for Success

As much as I wanted Ramon to master reading and be promoted to the first grade with his classmates, it was something he had to do on his own. My wife and I couldn’t do it for him. As parents, our role is to create an environment that will allow our children to be successful. The elements of the environment are physical and emotional. 

  • Physical
    • Create a clean, organized, neat workspace for studying, and make sure the rest of the family knows to keep it that way.
    • Lighting should cover all of the study materials it should be even and consistent – no shadows and no glare. A person is calmer and steadier under full-spectrum fluorescent lights.
    • Set the temperature of the room to a comfortable, constant level.
    • Monitor the amount of time your student studies. Allow for periodic breaks where they can relax and unwind.
  • Emotional
    • Show your child love and affection.
    • Frequently compliment your child.
    • Make your compliments believable – no ego inflating.
    • Criticize your child’s behavior, not the person.
    • Express your pride of your child.
    • Love your child unconditionally and let them know it.
    • Let your child’s teacher’s know your child’s strengths and areas they excel in.


Would you rather raise a straight A student whose of questionable character – untrustworthy, unreliable and lacking self-control? Or raise a C student who’s a person of integrity, honest and someone who do the right thing regardless of the cost? This is not to pooh-pooh the importance of getting good grades. However, if given a choice I rather be the proud parent of a C student who is considered by his teacher’s and peer’s a person of character. 

  • Discipline
    • Take the opportunity to explain why your child’s behavior is wrong when you correct them. Identify the value you want to teach your child based on the particular conduct.
    • Give a consequence that is appropriate to show that value. For example, one consequence we can use is to “make amends.” If your child steals something making amends would be apologizing and return the stolen item.
  • Modeling
    • By exhibiting the qualities of good character, you transmit your values by modeling the choices and actions essential to being a person of good character.
    • Do your children see you modeling honesty, trustworthiness, fair, compassion and respect in your everyday actions and choices?
  • Story Telling
    • Use stories to teach moral lessons.
    • Listening and responding to your child’s stories about school and their friends with the goal of helping them identify the right thing to do.
    • There are great children’s literature books that illustrate important values.
  • Discussion
    • Having conversations about the stories you see on TV to share and reinforce your values.

Raising our children to be mature, happy, successful and productive adults is our goal as parents. These our responsibilities.

We are responsible for setting our children up for success. While getting good grades is great what’s more important is our children represent high character and values.

Strong character and values will earn high marks in the school of life.

About The Author

In 1995, Gerardo Campbell married his wife Roberta aka the Pretty Lady and became the stepdad to her two children. In 2011, he started the website Support for Stepfathers to reverse the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families in the United States. His website is to help and inspire stepfathers, aspiring stepfathers and the women who love them worldwide. You can follow Support for Stepdads on Twitter and Facebook.

Learning to study and willingness to study are two completely different subjects when it comes to kids. Some kids simply don’t know how to study and they don’t have the best studying skills.

Others are simply unwilling to take the time to focus on the topics they need to cover for the next day or for an upcoming test. As a parent, what do you do?

How do you help your kids turn from whatever is currently distracting them to taking the time and having the skills they need to succeed in the competitive world of school? Tips to help make things easier on your kids and less painful on you.

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