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This morning on the TJMS Roland Martin talked to Dr. Steve Perry about how parents can improve their children’s education, starting at home.

Check out his important tips below:

TOM JOYNER:  Good morning, Roland Martin.

ROLAND MARTIN:  Good morning, Tom Joyner, Sybil and Jay.  Hope all is well.  Everything in Washington, D.C., of course, is all about the potential shutdown.  Okay, so let the Republicans be all crazy.  But, you know, we’re one month into the school season.  And when we talk about education we always typically talk about what our union’s doing, what our administrator’s doing, how can we change things, but I wanted Dr. Steve Perry to talk this morning specifically about what parents can do right now to improve the education of their children.  We’ve got folks in their cars listening, or they’re at home, but what can they do right now to improve the lives of their children.  He joins us this morning.  Steve?

DR. STEVE PERRY: Hey, what’s happening, man?

ROLAND MARTIN: All right, we always talk about everybody else in the system, but there’s some basic things parents can do to close the achievement gap, to get their children better in the classroom.  And you said there are five fundamental things every parent can do, or in my case, an uncle raising six nieces with his wife.  What, let’s go to number one, what can they do right now?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Right now, first thing you got to do is cut the television off.  There is no reason to have the television on during the week.  This is work week.  This is when your children are supposed to be practicing for school.  So after school, before school, they don’t need to be watching TV during the week.

ROLAND MARTIN:  At all, Monday through Friday?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Monday through Friday.  Cut it off.  And that means some parents, y’all are going to have to DVR till they go to bed.

ROLAND MARTIN:  And what about phones and tablets?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Well, you know, that’s a really interesting point.  Because what happens is the kids are smarter than us at this point.  So they say, fine.  I could watch my shows on my tablet, on my phone, which means you have to monitor your children.  You can’t just allow technology to babysit your kids.  It’s just not fresh.  So meaning that you have to take away any entertainment during the week, which also means videogames.  They cannot play these things during the week.

ROLAND MARTIN:  Number two?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Number two.  Set a time and a place for homework to be done every night.  And even if your school doesn’t give your child homework every night, you can.  Which jumps into number three:  practice math facts.  Make sure your children can memorize multiplication, addition, subtraction and division in multiples of to ten, that means up to ten.  Folks, you’re never too old to need to know how to add, subtract, multiple and divide, and especially within the African American and Latino community, our kids are scared of math.  Man, we scared of math like we scared of dogs and water.  So we got to make sure that our kids …

ROLAND MARTIN:  Now Steve, you said a lot of people talk, I don’t have a computer, this that and the other.  You say, to this day, the easiest, cheapest, best thing are exactly what?  Flash cards.

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Math facts.  Flash cards.

SYBIL WILKES:  You can make your own flash cards.

DR. STEVE PERRY:  They can write it down.  You absolutely can, and must.  It actually is a better way for the child to learn.  I’m telling you my son, my eight year old, was doing sevens a couple of days ago, sweating it out.  And he had to write them out.  And he’s looking at me, and I’m looking at him, and I got that grill like, man, play if you want to.  We have to make sure that we take math seriously, especially with the black community.  We got to stop being scared of math, man.  There’s so many professions that our kids never even dream of because they’re scared of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  It’s not cool.  You have to …

ROLAND MARTIN:  Number four?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Number four.  Read like your life depends on it.  Folks, too many people in our community are in church listening to somebody preach them the word because they can’t read it.  We have to do better.  Simple reading.  Please, take the time to read.

ROLAND PERRY:  Steve, I got a real little, my niece is in the car for only ten minutes and got to pull the book out.  So you force reading 24/7 versus only when it’s school work?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Believe it or not kids actually like to read up to a point where other kids start reading better.  And then when the other kids start reading better they start to feel bad about themselves.  We have to realize that competence is preceded by confidence.  And when kids feel confident in something, meaning like I feel like I can do this, they’ll try it more.  You remember the youngest of us were really excited to go to school.  You know, we had our brand new sneakers that we thought would run faster, and every mother thought the best thing on earth for her to do is to put a child with folders because mothers love folders, and get excited to go to school.  But the fact is somewhere along the way they lose that love and one of the ways that they lose the love is they don’t have the basic facts down.


ROLAND MARTIN:  Number five?

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Number five, parents, this is all you.  Make sure that the school actually knows your phone number.  It’s crazy, but y’all change your phone number like you change sneakers.  We have to do a better job being able to communicate with you.  Man, we have your kids here.  We got to have a number that works, which means you should be in regular contact with the school, at least twice a month, whether it’s through email checks or phone.

ROLAND MARTIN:  I’m going to throw a bonus in there, one more for a parent who is listening and saying my kid should be doing better.  What can I personally do to raise their education?

DR STEVE PERRY:  One of the things that they can personally do to raise their education is make sure that education is the most important thing you do.  We spend a ton of money on entertainment and athletics.  But we don’t spend the same amount of money on education.  I don’t care what it is.  Kids enjoy the time of going to the store with you and buying a book, or going online and downloading a book.  Kids really dig that.  And there’s nothing wrong with you taking the time to make education the most vital thing you do.  And, quite frankly, if you have the opportunity to choose a school that’s not your zoned school, but you think is better for your child, then by all means you have to choose the school that works best for your child.  That’s your right as an American to be in that school.

ROLAND MARTIN:  I know some folks listening may say, man, this stuff is basic.  But the reality, Steve, a lot of folks don’t get the basics.  And that’s why we see our kids with the achievement gap.

DR. STEVE PERRY:  You’re right.  And that’s the problem.

SYBIL WILKES:  And whether you agree with these steps …

ROLAND MARTIN:  Steve Perry.

SYBIL WILKES:  … or not, make up your own.  You’ve got to have some rules and some standards by which we educate our children.

ROLAND MARTIN:  That’s right.

DR. STEVE PERRY:  You’re absolutely right.

ROLAND MARTIN:  And Lee, Sybil told me, Uncle Ro-Ro, can I read a book?  I shot her – excuse me, watch TV – I shot a her a look; she went, read a book?  I said, that’s a really good answer.  Hit ‘em with the look.  All right, Dr. Steve Perry, thanks a bunch.  Off to school, man.

DR. STEVE PERRY:  Y’all take it easy.  Thanks so much for having me.

Roland Martin Talks To Dr. Steve Perry About Teaching Your Kids The Fundamentals Of Education  was originally published on