Stay Connected

We have two grandchildren starting kindergarten this year. Our oldest grandchild is starting 7th grade. How time has flown by!

For several years in a row, Phil and I were invited to give a talk to parents of kindergarten students at Scotts Creek School where Phil taught 7th and 8th grade Language Arts.

We would introduce ourselves as parents of four grown children, and say that between us, we had many years (40+) of teaching experience. This was meant in no way to give the impression that we were experts. Yet we did want those listening to know where we were coming from. The purpose of the session was to encourage parents to start at the beginning to take an active role in their children’s education – then maintain that involvement throughout their child’s career in school.

It is evident at any school open house, the higher the grade, the less parents come to meet their child’s teacher. Why do parents start out involved and present at school activities when their children are young, then fade into the background as their child grows?

Unless it is an athletic event, it is difficult to get parents of teens to show up at school.

Children NEED their parents to stay involved in their education!

Phil would share this comment as we began – “I want to share some strategies with you as¬†your child begins kindergarten so that by the time they reach my classes in 7th and 8th grade, they know how to be a responsible student. It will make my job a whole lot more effective and enjoyable for your child and for me.” (This usually got several polite laughs. ūüôā

If we think that the moment we turn our children over to a teacher, our responsibility for their education in over, we are sadly mistaken.

As parents, we have a vital role in supporting, monitoring, advocating, and (only when absolutely necessary) intervening in our children’s education. There is no excuse to abdicate that role to a teacher. As a dedicated teacher myself, I admit that I did not see and hear everything that¬†went on in my classroom. I also know that I¬†was not aware of some of the special needs or circumstances my students faced – unless the child or parent told me.

We gave the parents of kindergarten students a handout with four suggestions as follows:

Follow Through –

  • If you say, “No video games until you pick up your toys” stick to it.
  • Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
  • Don’t take excuses. This leads the child to believe that your instructions are negotiable.
  • It takes effort but it will pay off!

Read to (and with) your Child –

  • This is the MOST important activity you can do to encourage your child’s academic growth
  • It will help them be the best student they can be.

Talk WITH Your Child – Listen

  • It is important to ask them about school, then ask the “next question”,
  • i.e. “Did you learn anything new today? “What was it? “Did you enjoy it?” Why or why not?”
  • “Did anything funny happen at school today?” “What happened?”
  • “Did you do your homework?¬† “Let me see it.”

Limit Screen Time –

  • Using devices, watching TV, videos, playing video games, even educational content, may rob children of doing many things that are important to their physical, emotional, and social development, like playing outside or reading a book.

God speaks to the children of Israel and says the following:

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Verse 19 encourages a continuous connection with our children. Stay connected.

May God bless our children and grandchildren with a great school year that helps them grow in God’s grace. May we be faithful to encourage them.

 

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Pattern

Nana and Minions

For the first time in my life, my schedule does not revolve around a school calendar.

Even before I started kindergarten in 1957, our family’s schedule followed the school calendar because my father taught high school.

I went from attending elementary school to junior high, then high school, and on to college. I graduated in June of 1974 and began teaching in August of that year. When we began having children, Phil was in seminary, afterward he began working at WCU in campus ministry, and then on to his teaching career as our own children began school. All that time we followed a school schedule.

I re-entered the “work force” as a volunteer teacher when our youngest child entered kindergarten and have been teaching in one capacity or another until I retired in June.

Last week I did not get up and either get myself or others ready for school.

My life until now has had a definite pattern – the school schedule.

  • start in August or September
  • new classes, new lessons, new challenges
  • off for Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • classes¬†through winter (hoping for snow days)
  • off for spring break
  • finish the year STRONG
  • organize for the coming school year
  • off for the summer to RECHARGE
  • start again…..

Artists use pattern in many ways. The principle of design “pattern” is¬†defined this way – “the regular arrangement of alternated or repeated elements.”

Patterns in art work give a sense of order and completeness.

Patterns in our lives give us a sense of order and security.

Children who have a pattern to their day are happier and healthier. They eat better and sleep better when they have regular times to eat and sleep. There will always be situations when these patterns are interrupted, but maintaining a routine whenever possible is so beneficial.

This pattern¬†also develops a sense of security in the child because they know what is coming next. Children like¬†the feeling of anticipating¬†the activity¬†they will do next and planning for it. That is not to say they don’t like surprises, but knowing what is next helps children cope with their surroundings and various situations. This is especially true for some children who NEED a pattern to their day to feel secure. These children will be better able to handle the inevitable changes to their routine better if they are given a warning of the change whenever possible and time to adjust.

We tried to maintain the pattern that our daughter and her husband have established this past week when their three middle boys stayed with us. Their family began to keep this schedule when their twins were born and their oldest child was 18 months old. The pattern was their link to sanity!

It has also created happy, secure children who generally know what is coming next. Not to say there are no surprises…. in fact there is never a dull moment!

The most important benefit is control of the chaos.

Truth be told, we adults function better when we have a regular routine. We used to tease my father that he always ate and went to bed at regular times, even when he was much younger. Now at 91 it seems to have paid off. He is very healthy and active.

Just as following a pattern, or repeating positive actions, is beneficial for our physical lives, it is even more important in our spiritual lives. Paul tells Timothy to follow the pattern Paul has set as he follows Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:13-14  (NLT)

13 Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me‚ÄĒa pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

That is the most important pattern one can have in life – following the pattern of Jesus – living as He lived.

In a very real sense, my pattern has not changed since I have retired. I desired to follow Jesus before retirement РI desire to follow Him now as well.

May our lives be a beautiful pattern, reflecting the image God.

 

 

 

 

Back to School

image

Today was the first day of school for me, three of our grandchildren started kindergarten, and three other grandchildren had their first day in either 2nd or 4th grades.

It was a BIG day!

New beginnings are exciting and a bit scary at the same time. I have been praying for each of our grandchildren that their teachers would love them and see them as individuals.

As a teacher, I pray this for myself as well.

It is easy to notice the students that demand attention either positively or negatively. I have 30 students in my first period class and right now I am making a real effort just to learn all their names.

I started my teaching career in 1974, which I realized this week is 40 years ago! During that time I have taught in the public school, private school, Christian school, and I’ve home schooled.

Now, I have not taught continuously “lo these many years” – but I have taught over 25 years. I have learned some important lessons that help communication between parents and teachers during this time, some because of mistakes I made. I share these thoughts with the hope that each of us allows God’s grace to overshadow all we do as parents and teachers.

So – here goes:

* don’t believe everything your child says – check it out.

I had a parent come see me my second year of teaching and ask me if I had dressed up as a moose. No, I had not. In talking further, we realized that I had a dress with a white pinifore (this was 1975) and that the child was trying to tell her mother that I had dressed like Mother Goose – only the child said “moose”.

* if you have a concern, ask about it respectfully, don’t
accuse

I remember thinking “why didn’t the teacher let me know about this earlier” only to find out a note was sent home – but never given to me. Not the teacher’s fault.

* if you have a concern, write a note that says something like this – “I am concerned about Jimmy’s __________ (fear, negative attitude, apathy, lack of understanding of new material, etc) and I was wondering when I could meet to talk with you about it. Is there something I could be doing at home to address this concern?”

Showing up during class or calling during class is NOT a good idea. Teachers want and need to be teaching during class. Waiting around right after school unannounced may also be a problem because the teacher may have after school duty, a faculty meeting, or a sports event for their own child. A note expresses your willingness to respect the teacher’s schedule as well as let the teacher know you want to work together for the good of the child.

* Whenever something positive happens, especially after you have expressed concerns, share appreciation for what the teacher has done and is doing. It means so much and it also sets a good example for our children.

These verses are a good reminder for teachers, parents, and grandparents since we all share the responsibility of teaching our children.

Proverbs 15:2 (TLB)

2 A wise teacher makes learning a joy;

Proverbs 16:21 (TLB)

21 The wise man is known by his common sense, and a pleasant teacher is the best.

May God Bless this school year!