The quote: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit”, by the philosopher, Aristotle is on a poster on the wall next to the door that leads into my office. It is one of my favorite quotations, because I know that good habits lead to acquiring a great education and may result in a fulfilling life if the habits of good character permeate all that we do. Living our best lives maybe realized when we can take the lessons learned as children and put them into actionable plans as adults. Parents, educators, and friends can provide lessons on what it means to be excellent every day for children and young adults.
Becoming educated is a journey that requires building blocks to be in place. A great house begins with a design first. The team that meets the goals and puts in a modicum of sweat- equity is going to have a house that is solid and will withstand time. It is also true with children who are taught the foundational building blocks of learning; they are equipped to plan, construct, and implement their best selves as they mature. Let us start there and discover what a kindergartner will need from parents even on that first day of school?
Getting to school on that first day with curiosity and enough independence to say good-bye to mom and dad is no easy feat. As a parent, you may ask, how do I do that? Reading books to your child that stresses independent actions and personal responsibility can really help. Making up fairy tales that have your child as the major character really works; it adds to the excitement of learning:
Once upon a time, Elijah was getting ready to go to school for the very first time. Mama put on his pants and yellow shirt. He was so excited that he asked her questions about what he was supposed to do once he got to school. His mother said, “You are going to meet your teacher and make a lot of new friends.” Elijah listened and said, “Are you going too?” “No, Elijah, but I will be back to pick you up in time for dinner.” His mother smiled, and said, “I am so happy that you are going to learn to read and we will get to school on time every day. I want you to do your best. This means that we have to be prepared when we leave to go to school, and you will have work that the teacher will ask you to do at home.”
Before school begins, parents can set the expectations for their children regarding the habits of excellence. Yes, it is important for children to know that they will come to school every day, and to get there on time. Even young children should learn to be responsible for their own learning. Parents speak these expectations into them. Thirty days is a habit. If these habits begin with getting to school on time for class, from kindergarten to adulthood, good habits will be into the fabric of our children’s lives no matter their age. From the mundane things that are done every day to the complexities of shaping their way: they will get to their jobs on time, and will lead orderly and purposeful lives. The habits of good character are powerful tools.
Building good attendance habits early with your children will avoid many unnecessary challenges for your children later:
- Starting in kindergarten, too many absences can cause children to fall behind in school, and hard to catch up throughout their school experience from K-12.
- Missing 10 percent (or 18 days) can make it harder to learn to read.
- Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
- Being late to school may lead to poor attendance over time.
Create your own story about the importance of one very important habit, attendance, and that is why excellent attendance leads to doing many things well. Good habits are a direct link to academic achievement. You will not go wrong putting the Aristotle quote on your wall, too. Every child is precious and deserves the best education. Begin it with the habit of good attendance!