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Guest column | Stuart Harris

Parents, teach your children before they enter school

How many of us truly realized that when we had a baby, that was not the end of anything, but the beginning of a new life that we, the parents, had brought into this world?

How many of us realized that the quality of that life would be mostly determined by how we as parents committed ourselves to the awesome responsibility of preparing our child to make the best of everything to come?

This is especially true and critical before that child reaches school age, when the school could become a major player in your team and continue to build on whatever foundation you have established.

To be effective, the schools need us as parents to instill in our children:

• An understanding of the value of knowledge, and the motivation to want to acquire it.

• An understanding of the key role that reading, vocabulary and comprehension play in all learning and life.

• An understanding that all of us are different in some way, but that we all have good in us.

• An understanding of the core values of respect and good communication and relationship skills.

• An understanding of the love and confidence we have in our children, so they have strong self-esteem.

In these tough financial times, if we could only help ensure better, informed parenting, so many other societal problems would disappear and our costs would go down, from health care to law enforcement costs, and schools could even achieve better education for less cost.

Probably the most effective way to ensure better parenting would be to make sure our children understand the responsibility they will have for the quality of life of their own children — before they take any actions that could lead to pregnancy.

Pinellas Circle of Change, a nonprofit corporation formed a year ago, has a goal to engage and inspire our community to partner with our youth so they will have safe, healthy, fulfilled and contributing lives. Our focus is to support school efforts to prepare young people for life by focusing on what parents and other community members can do in the first five years of life, particularly by creating good relationship and behavioral skills and good reading and vocabulary skills.

We are all looking for more productive and cost efficient schools as well as a happier and safer community. There is probably nothing that can do more to bring this about than raising children well, especially in their early formative years.

Last week the Pinellas County Commission declared today Pinellas Parents Day. On this day, reflect on the fact that probably the most important thing any of us can do with our lives is to ensure the continuation of a peaceful and happy human race.

Stuart Harris of Clearwater is president of Pinellas Circle of Change. His e-mail address is

Parents, teach your children before they enter school 07/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 25, 2009 10:16am]
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