The 4th “R” of Education

Reading, writing, and arithmetic. The 3 R’s of education are rooted in the very fabric of all schools everywhere. It’s just what we do.

There’s a 4th R and it’s so important that without it, all else crumbles. But we can’t measure it on a state test. It won’t be on many report cards. There’s no real curriculum to handle its complexity. And some schools don’t even teach it or recognize its central value to educating young people.

The 4th R is for “relationships” and if you don’t think it’s important, just think about why everything else in the student’s learning falls apart.

Let me illustrate how complex and critical relationships are by listing the essential ones that influence even a single day of a student’s existence in a school. Some of these relationships are direct, but most happen apart from the student and yet still have a tremendous impact on how a child navigates education and growing up. Take a look:

 Student to family

Student to teacher

Student to student

Student to self

Student to community

Teacher to teacher

Teacher to administrator

Teacher to profession

Administrator to administrator

Administration to “the state”

School to the community

School to the “the state”

Honestly, that’s just a SHORT list! Think about how many more relationships can impact a student’s academic success, peace of mind, health, and capacity to learn. It’s staggering. Look through the list above, make any one or two of those relationships toxic and think of the impact that can have on a child. The reality is that the traditional 3 R’s balance on the needle’s point of the 4th R.

While I believe that all schools are cognizant of this in some regard, I know some schools work harder at the 4th R than others. There are (tragically) some schools who marginalize it with comments such as, “We know it’s important but we just don’t have time” or “We’d like to work on it more, but with state testing, we need to stay focused.”

Intellectually, I suppose those comments aren’t entirely incorrect. But the reality is that NO school can afford to marginalize this work. ALL students need the 4th R. ALL schools need to have their own 4th R houses in order. The risks of foregoing intentional efforts to build, sustain, and protect relationship capacities are just too great.

At IAL, we try every day to honor the role of the 4th R. This year we’re trying to increase one fantastically important relationship: that between the school and families. Families – we need you as much as you need us. Your children need us to be working well together because when we are, they benefit. They benefit to a degree that almost surpasses anything else we do.

We’re not sure it would make much of a bumper sticker or t-shirt, but we believe that “Inwood Academy: A Place that Honors the 4th R” would reflect a pillar of why we open our doors every morning. It’s messy, hard work. But we’re raising these kids together and there’s nothing else we’d rather be doing.

By Nathan Eklund, | @nateek

7 Tips to Getting Ready for School

Have you ever told yourself, “This year will be different, it will be better?”  I’ve been telling myself this since I became a parent and each year I get a little better at planning for the school day the night before. Here are a few tips my colleagues and I have learned along the way:Lunch

1) Prepare the lunches
. This task is so simple and easy to do, some leave it for the morning. However, who wants to start the morning in a rush?   And if you do it in the evening, your children can help preparing the lunch or do it themselves. Here are some lunch ideas to consider. (Tip provided by Marisa Guerrero, Associate Teacher; my wife and mother of our three wonderful children.)

2) Set out the clothes. Everyone has to get dressed at some point, but it shirt rackwould be easier if you already knew what to wear the night before. This way, you’re not rushing to look for shoes or rain boots, or find the shirt you wanted to wear only to realize that it is dirty or that the pants have a missing button.

For those feeling extra ambitious and who wear a uniform every day, it can be simpler for you by prepping for the entire week. My Mom would iron my uniform clothes for the entire week every Sunday evening. (Tip by Nancy Betances, Office Manager; my mom and mother of two.)

3) Prepare the bookbags. For some reason, this one tends to get overlooked the most. Double-check to ensure that homework is in a folder, pencils and pens are easy to find, books are packed, paper or notebook is handy and that electronics have been charged (phone, laptop, tablet, etc).

If your child is in sports or in extracurricular activity that involves a change of clothes or equipment, ensure that he or she has a separate tote bag with all the necessary supplies. (Tip provided by Nilson Mejia, High School Assistant Dean; father of a newborn.)

4) Bathe. Hygiene is imperative and though it helps some kids to wake up in the morning, there’s no guarantee your child will have time to bathe, especially if you or your child wakes up late. If you have more than one child, bathing in the morning should not be an option. (Tip provided by Amarilys Oviedo, Operations Manager; no children, but the person who would call your house when your child was late J.)

5) Set your alarm clock. If your child is not able to wake him or herself up on their own, it’s up to you to set the tone for the day. Set your alarm clock while you’re doing all the prep work the night before and if your phone is your alarm set it for multiple times, instead of depending on the snooze button. If this isn’t enough consider these other suggestions by a family therapist. (Tip provided by Jocabed Diaz, Office Manager; single, but calls High School families when a student is late or absent.)

6) Get to bed on time. While these tips may be helpful to you, the most important one is to get your child to bed on time. This lessens the difficulty in waking your child and getting him or her to school on time, and increases the likelihood of being in a good mood and getting a healthy breakfast before heading out!

See Good, Sound Sleep for Your Child to learn how sleep impacts your child’s development. (Tip provided by Vanessa Perez, Executive Administrator; parent of a toddler who needs her nap-time.)Speedy Breakfast

7) Plan your breakfast. Knowing what’s for breakfast is half the battle, the other half is ensuring that it’s healthy. Having a simple and healthy breakfast before starting the day is essential. Not only does it affect your child’s mood, it affects their brain. Research shows that a balanced breakfast with the right types of proteins alerts the brain and allows it work better.  That is why at IAL we are quick to take away unhealthy breakfast choices like chips and soda from a child and send them to the cafeteria for a healthier meal.

Check out this article by Dr. Sears on how breakfast affects the brain and 12 Speedy Breakfasts for Busy School Day Mornings for some quick and healthy choices for you and your family. (Tip by Christina Reyes, Executive Director; parent of a toddler who prefers to wear her breakfast.)

How do you get ready for school the night before?  Please share them in the comment section below.

By Christian Guerrero,