Reading is fundamental, please stop “dumbing down” your kids.

And so, it begins again, we are nearing the end of another school year and the parents are gathering arms over summer reading.

It astounds me when parents are flabbergasted and combative over book reading requirements. I cannot fathom why a parent would denounce reading enrichment. I can only surmise it interferes with something planned or as the parent, you don’t want to put forth any efforts at home. Always complaining, stirring trouble at Parent teacher conferences and ranting to any one who has an ear to bend. Teaching your child the bare minimums is acceptable and coasting through with the least efforts will produce results. Oh my.

This is not the case. Ask anyone, who had a head start in reading, they will extol the benefits reading has provided in giving them the leg up over their peers in school and in business. They will concur, reading is fundamental to those advantages presently and towards later achievements.

I grew up in Pennsylvania with a successful educational program entitled RIF, the acronym for reading is fundamental. This is currently, a successful 50-year-old program geared towards children living in poverty. The principles of RIF, believe bringing quality books to kids will enrich their world, enhancing their imagination towards unlocking their potential. Access to free books is essential to ending illiteracy in America by reaching children known to be at risk by the very nature of poverty preventing access.

My parents qualified for free books by the very nature of birthing and supporting six children with a stay-at-home Mom on my Father’s mechanic’s income. I never felt as if we were “poor” as we had the essentials for food, shelter and clothes.
Toys and books were a luxury but I never felt slighted. We shared our toys and the books among us.

I had access to books. I was blessed to have easy access to a  library within walking distance from my house and a free library card.
My entertainment opportunities were contained within the walls of the neighborhood branch of the Pittsburgh Carnegie Libraries but my world of possibilities was boundless. All because a book opened windows to my soul and sparked my imagination. Stirring a need to learn all I could image shelved and listed within that card catalog, if I so choose to explore.

So, I love to read. I advocate reading.
Early in my children’s lives, I brought the joy of words to my sons by reading every evening and making weekly trips to libraries. The wherewithal to purchase books as easily as buying groceries. There were constant gifts of books. I still buy books at every opportunity for them and me. I actively support those who teach reading and the requirement towards a successful education. It’s a “no brainer” for me when reading is part of a curriculum as important to educational advancement.

Our school district has the Bingo cards concept as part of the school year English curriculum. A reading bingo card filled with different reading genres in each square. The goal is to fill 4 squares of your choice along with the class novel in the center free space. It has a point value assigned with each passing Accelerated Reading book quiz to gain a completed square. A completed row is a required nine week grade, with assigned letter grades. The purpose of this program is to engage students in an exciting motivating way over the summer and through the year. Many teachers spend the first month of school re-teaching basic comprehensive skills needed to support children’s analytical and cognitive skills.

Reading is essential to the fundamental basics of everything students learn and how they learn. If children learn to read, they will begin to expand their horizons.

Reading empowers students to extract information; they learn to think rationally/logically/cognitively/analytically and abstractly. Developing and parlaying these skills into a very powerful writing ability. Once they link these skill sets together they will apply this knowledge across every subject.

Comprehensive reading enables students to extract equations from word problems, this is essential in basic math. A skill set which becomes the framework of advanced mathematics and sciences. For example, in science, they will read to extrapolate analytical data and apply it to a scientific method. By deriving words in mathematics to solve equations by following the logically framework contained within the word problem.

The applications of reading across all the educational subjects is vast and varied in it’s entirety, but remains the same, necessary and key to understanding the principles comes from literacy. It’s essential to develop and expand the biggest, best tool we all carry on the top of our shoulders, our brain. It’s purpose is for navigating life and maintaining good health.

The benefits derived from improved memory alone are astounding to good health and successful academics.
Each new bit of information forges new brain connections, ie..synapses. This improves and maintains existing areas of the brain, aiding in the betterment of short and long-term memory. You all know the phrase as we age: Use it or lose it.

Learning the essentials necessary to become articulate and well written is the formula to successful interactions and contributions on a daily basis in all avenues of our lives. Further developing these tools will enable a person to hold intelligent conversation with anyone, communicating with vendors, customers or management teams is an enormous boost to your self-esteem and adds to your credibility.

This dual combination of self-assurance and confidence will aid in furthering your career advancement. It is well documented, those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly than persons whom are not well read on a multitude of subjects and hold lesser vocabularies in their conversational cache.

As an avid reader myself, time spent reading provides me ample stress reduction. It allows me to travel across the globe from my chair via my vivid imagination. A mini vacation all compliments of my local library or Kindle application library. I have all genres accessible for my education at any moment, anywhere I can open a book or reading app. Endless education readily available at my finger tips, all because I can and will read. Pleasure reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a useful life skill in our daily living. I believe reading takes us further than any other skill acquired in life.

I wholeheartedly, believe my abilities aren’t limited because reading opens me to assorted opinions, ideas, ideals and cultures beyond my limited zip code. It empowers me. I can and will hold my own with anyone in conversation. All because reading has built within me the self-esteem from comprehending a broader horizon with an appreciation for new ideas. Boosting my confidence to discuss those differences in a tactful well spoken interchange of ideas or expressing dissent without loosing my self-respect.

Now back to the  local board of education requiring reading supplements in my local junior high school: every child was given the same advantages when they leave our local middle school regarding the assigned over summer reading bingo sheet.

Opportunity to attend the summer reading lab every Monday in June to bank up to 4 books in any genres. If utilizing the summer reading lab wasn’t convenient to the parents schedule that’s on them, there were other options. Those who complain because they have a mouth and a voice with no excuses, well….These ladies (teachers) were there EVERY MONDAY FROM 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on their own time for all students.

Those other options for students with limited transportation, they were given opportunities to sign out books over the summer on the last day of school in 6th grade through the 11th grade. EVERY STUDENT IS ASSIGNED A PREREQUISITE BOOK ASSIGNMENT. They are all handed school copies of the assigned book with worksheets due the first few days of the new school session.

My eldest son has been through this same reading system, he was given the very same foundations for his educational success. It served him very well. My eldest son is highly motivated to succeed in a very competitive Advanced Placement program as a result of his endeavors, he is a National Honor Society senior in high school. He is confident and assured in all his academics because, he knows he can puzzle out any situation through researching and reading the discovery.

Reading is essential in education. It is THE KEY to my eldest son’s success. I want that same foundation for my youngest son as well. It matters not how the school district packages the program, it matters the program underscores the value of reading and its essential place in education.

Yet, as we near end of the school year, parents become up in arms about the required summer reading assignment. Unhappy with the time commitment their child must devote to this project, when after all, school’s out of session. Infuriated, their kid must read on the beach, or surrender the gaming console for a few hours a day or limit how late they can sleep in on a summer morning.

Oh, Come on. Really?

Didn’t I see your Facebook post capturing your beach legs and lap holding a book while balancing a drink in your hand?

Did I see that? Yes. I. Did. So, what’s the problem with a bit of structured time?

I guarantee, the efforts your child puts forth now will pay off in school and later in life. Sleeping late over summer is not a resume enhancement, in fact, it will guarantee doubts to their reliability. A great vacation at the beach picture, a golden tan and gaming dexterity are not the first steps to success, at least not for the majority, who are not planning to model for Hawaiian Tropics tanning lotions or becoming the gaming YouTube sensation.

I’ll grant there may be the few, rare off-chance kids, who will need those skills, IF they are angling for those jobs. I still believe they will need to read and understand the wording in their contracts, understand their gaming channels blogs and read the manuals of their camera to be successful.

So, I ask parents to get with it and embrace the concepts. Otherwise, you are short-changing your children’s abilities to thrive in a competitive world and strive under pressure. Learning from their failures, discovering their strengths, so they may realize their talents and capabilities. Cementing their self-confidence and their determination to succeed; it will unlock doors and open possibilities. Reading is Fundamental, it is essential to their successful start and along the path through all aspects in their life.

Please stop complaining about education lacking in producing skillful and knowledgeable students, if you are going to throw up the roadblocks by “dumbing down” the kids through tying teacher’s hands and prompting young minds to rebel at hard work.

Give your child the golden key to success, teach them to read and you will open up their world.



Do us all a favor, read the fine print & stop whining.

Folks, it does not matter where you live or where your children attend school…extra curricular activities require sacrifice on someone’s time. Somewhere, someone must give up some thing for this to occur. Whether, this time sacrifice comes from the child, their parents, their siblings, the volunteer or school sponsor, there are only so many hours in a given day.

We all have those unforseen emergencies in life and work which will interfere with everyone’s schedule, THAT is not preventable. It the choices you make when given the opportunity to choose which has a place value at that given moment of luxury.

Sometimes commitment of any kind carries over into dedicated family days. If this is inconvenient, I would think, this was considered in your discussions weighing the obligations to the activity just as expectations are assessed to meet job performance or school efforts. Weighed and balanced against family lifestyles, before YOU, the parent granted approval to commit your child’s participation.

I retiterate, WE ALL have those unforseen emergencies in life and work which will interfere with everyone’s schedule THAT is not preventable. If you didn’t fully consider these obligations, please don’t expect my child to give up valuable classroom instruction to accommodate your family’s weekend or nightly lifestyle. Just so you can go to the game, movies, or fishing.

Which means do not ask my child’s teacher to shorten a school lesson or NOT ASSIGN HOMEWORK which you perceive as interfering with your weekend fun.

Please do not tell your child, it’s OK to miss practice or skip a game, leaving his team short or ill prepared. Please don’t expect my child to understand.  It’s irresponsible and selfish to rationalize your needs as more important than others.

I do not care, if you are going out-of-town to shop. It’s not my concern whether you just don’t feel up to attending because little Johnny’s uniform is dirty or you just want to kick back with a book, a few beers or drop the kids off at their grandparents, so you can head out with the honey.  I do not care, if your child was invited to the must attend sleep over party by popular Patty. I just don’t care. I do not want your excuses nor do I want to be subjected to your endless social whining.

You are letting someone down by breaking your promise to be responsible.

The team/group participants are counting on your child’s presence and your child has an important part on the team. Numbers matter in rule books, bodies matter to dance groups and competitive academic endeavors need collective brain power. Your child’s presence is necessary in group activities no matter where they occur, on the field or in the classroom.

After all, some groups are limited to specific numbers to compete or fill a lesson. Signing the permission sheet committing to be involved meant someone else was denied, your joining was assenting to the time allotment necessary to the activity.

So, when coaches, teachers or tutors say it’s not acceptable to miss practice, games or deny your child to a chance to reschedule a test or project because she just had to miss school to attend a non school sponsored activity; please do not berate the teachers, sponsors and the other kids parents, they too, have other responsibilities. They manage to meet the expectations.

The schools and club sponsors have responsibilities to meet educational requirements or complete so many games required in the season’s participation in order for many competitions to advance the final rounds.

Surely, you read the rules and conditions when enrolling your child for school or that extracurricular activity?!

If you didn’t, please stop complaining on social media that teacher X, Y and Z gives too much reading or homework because little Suzy has dance competition every other weekend or Timmy has a baseball tourney and they just can’t meet school deadlines.

So what.

Just stop whining. Please, do us all a favor and read the fine print. We all see those printed words above the parent signature line granting consent, they’re not there for decoration. Read before you become frustrated and torture every one else.

Because, I know from experience you will be the first parent to march to school to complain when poor grades are marked on your child’s tests. Shooting off your mouth to all and sundry, while waiting in the school pick up line, how unfair it all is to your child. What a great inconvenience it is to your family to meet school deadlines. How you didn’t know your child had a test or project due.

You are always so shocked. I’m not.

I am being facetious when I say, I wonder, why, little Suzy has bad marks? Did she not pay attention in class? Was she too tired traveling back home from her latest pageant or softball game to do the work?  Tongue in cheek, I wonder why?

Any parent should know, Little Suzy’s dance recital interfered with required after school tutoring which became necessary since Little Suzy didn’t do her homework along the way BECAUSE she has too many after school activities.

It enrages me, yes, it down right infuriates me to hear parents grump and complain extracurricular activities are more important than school BECAUSE the parent PAYS FOR extracurricular activity.

You PAY for school in your taxes, folks!
Good Lord! Are you really so shortsighted?! Yes, it appears from your latest Facebook rant that, indeed, you are clueless and self-centered.

So, you want someone to sacrifice something but not you or yours.
My child and our family refuse to pay your dues, pay your responsibilities yourself. Balance your own checkbook of rewards against the deposits of time you are willing to invest. It’s not our job to sacrifice for your shortsighted planning.

It’s called scheduling around the commitment during the season or event. It’s called dedication and honoring responsibilities, two very important lessons of follow through every child should learn well.

For example, baseball or dance lessons are not required educational commitments, this is your child’s choice of EXTRACURRICULAR enrichment, just as either of my sons swim team meet or boy scout camping trips are not your child’s choice of activity. They must choose to get it all done accordingly or sacrifice somewhere.

I would never expect my child’s activity to encroach on learning and I expect my child to be prepared at school as well. He is part of a group learning in a classroom of peers. His preparations allow everything to progress smoothly for the entire class as a whole, anything less holds them back to play catch up. He is required by law to learn and I expect him to meet this commitment to assure his future.

School hours are for advancing education, preparing children onwards to become functioning knowledgeable and skilled adults. On some days or nights, there will be homework involved to enrich or support that endeavor, just as important as those extracurricular activities provide enrichment to round out their skill sets.

These extracurricular activity lessons may occur nightly after school or have practices which carry over into the weekend as like school during the day carries over into homework at night or on the weekend. It’s called juggling the priorities and balancing the responsibilities. Many kids manage to do both well. They are called scholar athletes or well-rounded children because teacher, volunteer and parent work together to give them these opportunities and hold them accountable to each essential part of the broad spectrum.

These dedicated teachers strive to educate your child for a successful future as like volunteers, who donate their time and efforts BECAUSE they have placed value on these extracurricular activities. These teachers are spending weekends preparing lesson plans to meet grade requirements. Volunteers are sacrificing their own weekend or evening hours to enrich kids sports, academic competitions, theater, music or pageantry.

So, it annoys and galls me into irrational anger when a careless selfish parent and child whines about school work or practices.
Many children commit to rigorous schedules in sports, education, league activities, etc….with the support of their parents, grandparents, and their siblings. They gain from the benevolence of those volunteers, gaining much more than the activity, but the message they matter.

I am thankful to those who donate their time for mine and others. They bring lessons to learn and lead by example, the right volunteer instills values and purpose. Sometimes these people bridge gaps in children’s lives as mentors. They can be unsung hero’s to many parents and children.

I am frustrated when parents and kids do not value the efforts and the commitment of the team as a whole. They are truly short-changing everyone with their self-centered and callous disregard.

I am grateful to send my child to school. I am very pleased my child has an opportunity for an education leading towards a fruitful future.
I do not apologize for valuing education over your dedicated weekend fun. It annoys me, when you do not wholly commit your family to the educational process or the extracurricular activity taking away value from my child’s participation.

Let’s work together on all the fronts to provide our children the same opportunities and experiences in those activities when we participate together. Everything has value and its place in importance. Please don’t ask me to sacrifice my child’s commitment to compensate your lack of importance and value.

Teamwork is priceless. Singular participation which measures achievement against your own efforts is incredibly valuable. Self esteem and pride acquired through extracurricular activities or participation at school can not be weighed by monetary value. Successful and purposeful participation is measured by committed engagement as a whole in order to harvest the benefits of a program. Money can not buy these lessons, they are intangible and irrefutable.

Those benefits gleaned from all those various types of lessons strengthen the foundations of a successful adult. Please do not interfere in my child’s goals by short-changing your child’s success and hampering my child’s opportunity.

Do us all a favor, read the fine print and stop whining.

~Joanne Roth Marino