The movie Blind Side is inspiring and surprising. Sandra Bullock plays Leah Anne, the matriarch of the wealthy Memphis family who adopted Michael Oher as an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens football team. Michael was two years behind in elementary school and had a spotty educational history with a 0.6 GPA in high school. Michael was born into a family of 12 children and spent most of his life under the guardianship of the state of Tennessee.

His biological mother described Michael as a runner, who when he was in foster care, when he was placed with families, he would run away trying to find his way back to his mother. In the movie Blind Side Michael is taken in by Leah Anne and her family. They give you love, caring, and the opportunity to be successful. And it was successful. He was able, with the help of a tutor, to raise his GPA from 0.6 to 2.56 and with continued support through mentoring, he received a college degree before becoming a professional soccer player. While the film hinted at the importance of religion to Leigh Anne, the extent of the importance of her faith was not entirely apparent.

Leigh Anne and her husband founded a church in Memphis. This fact is not mentioned in the film, but the importance of faith to Leigh Anne is hinted at leading me to believe that Michael was exposed to a religious community and participated in church attendance and church activities with family. I mention this because I want to emphasize the importance of the participation of families for the development of their children. Religious organizations provide enormous benefits to the family for their participation, support and growth. Studies reporting on substance use such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs have shown that children who have attended religious services were less likely to experiment with substances. Studies have also shown that the more services the child attends, the less likely they are to experiment with substances. In addition to religion being a positive factor in reducing drug use, the religious organization provided opportunities for children to develop social skills to improve relationships with their peers. They also provide a sense of belonging to the child and the family. Religious communities also provide opportunities to understand, celebrate, and mourn the events of life.

In one scene from the movie, Michael and PJ were on the soccer field getting ready to exercise. Michael wanted to go home and play video games. PJ informed Michael that Michael was expected not only to play soccer, but to pursue excellence. That everyone in the family had played sports or participated in some activity, the father played basketball, the sister ran track and played volleyball, the mother had been a cheerleader, and that he (PJ) practiced all sports. While all children may not become Michael Oher, sports and other social activities are critical to child development. I think another lesson to be learned from the blind side is the fact that the family not only encouraged Michael to play sports, they supported him. The family supported him during practice and was at the games to support him.

Children need their efforts to be recognized and validated, not just those of Michael Oher of the world, but children who spend the game on the sidelines, they need to know that their family cares enough to show up. There are other social activities that are beneficial to children, including boy scouts, girl scouts, and explorer scouts, to name a few. The important thing is that you involve your child in activities using community social groups; community sports organizations, or sports and social groups through the child’s school. The more involved you are as a parent, the better, you will send a message to the child that you support the child and that they are important.

The movie Blind Side teaches us the lesson that being involved in a child’s school is important. There are several scenes where Leigh Anne is talking to the school staff and teachers about Michael. This is what we call the link between school and home. Research has found that the greater the link between home school, the better the child’s performance in school. This includes school attendance. There are schools that have programs that allow parents to come to school and have lunch with their child if their child’s school has a take advantage and have lunch with their child program. Don’t wait until your child brings home his report card to see how he is doing, call or come by and talk to his teacher. Leigh Anne did just that in one scene, she spoke to Michaels’ English teacher and asked what Michael had to do in order to pass his class and the teacher told her what Michael had to do. Michael did exactly what the teacher told Leigh Anne to do and passed the class.

In the movie Blind Side, Michael had a private tutor who helped him with his schoolwork not only in high school, but also in college. While we cannot afford to hire private tutors for our children, we can sit down and help our children with their homework. If we find that we cannot help our children with their homework, we can ask for help at school. There are schools that have peer tutoring, some schools have after school tutoring programs, there may be a tutoring program at a local church, community college or university that has students going to school to be teachers who can tutor. There are community organizations that provide tutoring, such as the Boys and Girls Club. If you are having trouble finding resources or opportunities for your child, chances are other parents have the same problem. Network. Set up your own tutoring group with the help of your parents or your child’s peers. Start a learning group of 3 or 4 children and get help from the teacher to help you with the study material. Parents can even divide subjects, each taking responsibility for one subject and leading their child’s study group. Be creative.

As with all things in life, the more positive time and energy you invest in your child, the greater the reward. Get your child involved in social, community, and school activities, get involved with your child, and be supportive and available. Take an active interest in your child’s school work; find out what resources are available to help your child learn. Talk to your child’s teacher regularly, not just parent-teacher conferences. Help your child with his homework. Show your children that their homework and activities are important and a priority. Do not use sports, community activities, or religious activities as rewards or consequences for behaviors. Participation in activities are opportunities for growth, and the more involved your child is in these activities, the less likely it is that your child will be tempted to experiment with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol or engage in criminal behavior. These are the parenting lessons learned from the movie The Blind Side.

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