Use the summer to teach your children well

School's out for summer.

Many will have down time at the beach or in the mountains. Some days will include long, leisurely trips to the neighborhood pool. Folks will familiarize themselves with the price of sunscreen, and neighbors will pass out surplus tomatoes from their vegetable gardens.

The Fourth of July is around the corner, baseball games and summer concerts will compete with mosquitoes for our attention, and time will seem - at least some days - to move more slowly.

School's out.

No homework to finish, no papers to write, no tests to prepare for. Our kids get out of school. Many of us breathe a big sigh of relief right along with them, because we don't have to think much about any of that jazz for whole months at a time.

Oh, but we do. Why?

From the perspective of most teachers I know, it seems some parents have been taking summer off all year.

Some parents, I suspect, rarely engage in their kid's education. Others, I suspect, assume at all times that if anything wrong happened, an easy solution to the problem of modeling (or taking) responsibility is to blame the teacher or the administrators. It was summer in January.

I think that explains why some of our students will present us with behavior we find downright dumbfounding. Imagine a student who has earned a "D" in half of all class assignments angrily denouncing the teacher for not awarding a "B" as the final grade. Apparently, it's the teacher's fault for not adding the numbers up right.

I could fill pages with evidence that many of my students feel entitled to grades they never earned. I could tell you stories about the students who overslept their exams and demand a makeup. I despair over students who spend class time texting and simply don't understand why they have not mastered the class material.

They cannot have learned that sort of approach overnight.

So, dear parents, may I make a heartfelt request?

Spend some of the summer teaching your kids. See whether they speak to you with respect and appreciation. Model responsibility. Let them see you taking on a task without complaint, but with a go-to-it-iveness that earlier generations prized and emphasized.

Stop blaming teachers for all that goes wrong. The problem might be one your child needs to tackle and master, and your child will feel good about accomplishing that.

The vast majority of your child's teachers do the job over long hours for comparatively little money. Honestly, my friends, most teachers are in this because they love the work, not because they get rewarded.

But you can give all of us who teach the greatest reward we could ever ask for. Give us students who - whatever their talents, interests or abilities - will enter our classrooms with open hearts, curious minds and respect for the fact that we are there because they are.

Bring school back into your summer.