As students head back to school and presidential campaigns thicken with debate on topics including education, experts are focused on that x-factor that may benefit disadvantaged students.
“Both Republicans and Democrats have tried to help struggling students through policy, including George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’and Barack Obama’s ‘Race to the Top,’ ” says Cederick Tardy, founder of the non-profit S.T.R.O.N.G., Inc, which provides education and resources to empower youth and families.
He’s also the author of “The Seven Secrets: The Manual for Raising Boys to Men” and “A Flying Start: Outta This World Advice for Young Men,” (www.cedericktardy.com).
“Policy can only go so far to those who need real help. Anyone who’s serious about improving education for students with challenges will tell you that character is the place to start,” he says.
Even when families make a sincere effort to commit to education, obstacles get in the way, Tardy says.
He offers these tips for parents and students struggling with some common problems:
• Issue: Child has slipped off track into dangerous territory, whether it’s experimenting with drugs, skipping school, failing classes, or running away.
Parents: Reestablish order within the home using open communication (honest conversations about what each of you needs and wants) and sit down together to establish the rules. Consequences for infractions should be known in advance and follow-through is a must. Also, help your child with his or her self-confidence; children who lack confidence often choose self-sabotage when faced with challenges.
Child: All kids struggle with finding their own identity; don’t be afraid to be unique. Living life on your own terms and not those of the herd is a lifestyle choice every leader must make. Leaders are confident, funny, generous, intelligent, classy and independent people – basically, what everyone wants to be.
• Issue: A bright student isn’t reaching his or her potential and seems to have no interest in striving for excellence at anything.
Parents: Help your child discover and identify his passions and talents by identifying an area of interest he’d like to explore. Understand that he or she may be afraid of failure and may lack the confidence to try new things. That’s where your 100 percent faith in him will be crucial! Set goals related to achievement in his area of interest and help motivate him by providing the education, tools and resources he or she needs to succeed.
Child: A lot of students do just enough to get by in school, and that attitude seeps into every aspect of their lives, from relationships with the opposite sex to sports to earning money. Some kids will use the excuse that they weren’t born with the advantages – academic talent, money, whatever – necessary to succeed, so why try? The truth is everyone is born with what they need to succeed. But the kids who approach learning with a mindset of “I will master this” will always be more successful than the rest. A good place to start? Find something that excites you.
• Issue: Parents have tried every punishment and nothing works. Their child still gets into trouble every week.
Parents: Take a deep breath and remind yourself that becoming frustrated and expressing frustration rarely leads to good problem-solving. Instead, calmly focus on creating family rules and structure, rather than new punishments. Then, in communication with the child, focus on creating a vision for his life by identifying a passion, finding skills to build on, learning, and creating a plan of action.
Child: Focus energy on constructing the life you want to build instead of amusing yourself with short-term distractions. Young men especially have plenty of energy, which is much better expressed through working out, creative projects and academics.
About Cederick Tardy
Cederick Tardy is an entrepreneur and the author of four books. He is the founder of S.T.R.O.N.G., a non-profit focused on Strengthening, Training and Redefining Our Next Generation of young leaders. A percentage of the proceeds from sales of his books go to S.T.R.O.N.G. , whose goal is to create 500-600 mother-and-son home-based businesses in Texas. For more information about Cederick’s books and mission, visit www.CederickTardy.com. He is also the president of Cederick Tardy Enterprises LLC, a company dedicated to creating informative products that help mothers raise boys who become leaders. Tardy served in the U.S. Army and Navy. He has deployed three times to both Iraq and Afghanistan.