By DAVID GREEN
When Barbara (Bancroft) Symanski wrapped up a long career in education as a teacher and administrator, she knew she had something that many young parents lacked: Years of watching children and learning how to interact with them.
“After I retired,” Symanski said, “I asked ‘What next?’ I realized that parents have a difficult job raising children in today’s world and through my observations and experiences, I wanted to share ideas that I believe could help them.”
She started writing down those ideas and soon a book began to emerge. She called it “101 Ways to be a Good Parent.”
Writing the book turned out to be just the beginning, she discovered.
“After I finished writing, it took four years of presenting and rewriting before I had the published book in my hands.”
By that time a new title was assigned: “Successful Children: Step by Step, One Teacher’s Viewpoint.”
After graduating from Morenci High School, Symanski earned a teaching degree from Michigan State University. She taught in Birmingham and Detroit, then left Michigan and taught in Catlin, Ill. She ended her career back in Michigan, but on the west side of the state in Grand Rapids.
Along the way she married another Morenci graduate, Paul Symanski.
During her 30-year teaching career—and as the parent of three children—she noted changes in children and families that make parenting an increasingly challenging job.
“Our children need help,” she starts off in her book’s introduction. “I see children who have difficulty attending [school], who are less respective to authority and to each other, and who lack motivation and self-discipline.”
Perhaps she could have started off by writing, “Parents need help.” It’s parents who serve as a child’s most important teacher, she writes, and it’s parents who must deal with problems mentioned above.
Form a bond with your children, she starts off, to place them in a position to learn from you.
Her former list of 101 ways to be a good parent are arranged in 20 chapters, covering general topics including organization, manners, health and safety, plus more specific themes such as dealing with all the electronic gadgets that seem to be taking over people’s lives.
School topics include communications with school personnel, homework and bullies, but most chapters touch at least indirectly on school life. Ideas about respect, responsibility, appreciation and moral development all provide parents with suggestions for guiding children through a successful school experience.
“We were fortunate to grow up in a small town like Morenci,” Symanski said. “Parenting was different then. Today parents have more complex issues facing them.”
Her book, she contends, offers parents practical and simple ways to deal with those issues.
• Additional information about the book is available at Symanski’s website, www.successfulchildparenting.com.