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. 🙂

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.


Finding Treasure

This winter when our grandchildren were all here, Phil held a treasure hunt for them. He made up clues and even had a map (which I drew) so that they could find the next clue and eventually the hidden treasure.

They had so much fun!

The grandchildren that could read were the team leaders and the others helped once the clues were read. There was one misplaced clue – but all-in-all it was a success.

The treasure was found…

and eaten!

Last week some of the grandchildren returned and Lincoln wanted to design his own treasure hunt. He is in kindergarten and pleased with his new skill in reading and writing. Lincoln asked for “lots of paper, Nana” and began writing clues that would lead from one hiding place to another. The clues needed a bit of help in being “de-coded”. As with many early writers, Lincoln is in a hurry to express himself and doesn’t always leave spaces between the words. Any confusion was quickly cleared up because he knew exactly what he had written.

Lincoln’s clues were short and to the point – yet also effective. All the clues were found by his little brothers and ultimately – the treasure.

Gummy Bears!

treasure hunt 2

I was remembering the excitement that Lincoln expressed about making his own treasure hunt. He would not be able to participate by searching for clues – he was the one who wrote them. Yet he couldn’t wait for everyone else to find the clues and get the treasure.

It made me start thinking about how wonderful it would be if our children and grandchildren were as excited about finding real treasure.

Isaiah 33:5,6

5 The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
 He will fill Zion with His justice and righteousness.
6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Here the prophet Isaiah tells God’s people the Lord is “a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge”. Now that is real treasure!

I need to start communicating clearly to my children and grandchildren that REAL treasure is from God. Isaiah says “the fear of the Lord is the KEY to this treasure”.

The Amplified Version expands my understanding of “fear of the Lord” this way. It says “the reverent fear and worship of the Lord.” This is the awe that I feel when I realize the majesty of God and His creation. It is the overwhelming sense I have when I understand that God, and God alone is worthy of worship.

I find this treasure when I put God first in my heart and mind – the ONLY place worthy of God.
So – where is my treasure?

Do my children and grandchildren know what I treasure?

Lincoln copied Phil because Phil had made the treasure hunt so enjoyable. What kind of things do children see me do that look enjoyable – that look like I treasure them?

  • shopping?
  • cooking?
  • gardening?
  • cleaning? …(uh, no they don’t see that)
  • using an electronic device?
  • reading?

We must all be intentional in sharing with our children what really matters. I do many things during a day – but what really has my HEART? Do I express the importance of Jesus in all that I do?

Finding Jesus is finding true treasure.


Potential – Unlimited!

Hawkins - 1st day of school - 2024

Several of my friends and I have grandchildren who have started kindergarten this year. As a former kindergarten teacher myself, I have been very interested in how their initiation into formal education has begun.

It is revealing to see how different children view this common experience. Some responses to my “casual” questioning have been –

  • I like PE the best.
  • I like recess the best.
  • My teacher is nice because she gives me books.
  • I’m the tallest.
  • I’m the teacher’s best helper.
  • ____ can’t speak English so I am helping him.
  • We are learning letters, but I already know them.
  • I like math the best.
  • My teacher is nice.
  • I like library time best.

The overwhelming response has been positive and I am so thankful. After all, at least 12 more years of schooling looms ahead for these kindergarteners!

The most important issue is that each child has potential – potential in the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:47-49 (NIV)

47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

 We easily declare that all children have potential. The potential will not necessarily result in “success” by the standards of our current culture. Too often today success is measured by popularity, wealth and material possessions, or notoriety in athletics or entertainment.

Jesus valued children because they demonstrated unconditional love, faith, and trust. Each child has potential to experience God’s unconditional love – most often through their parents.

To help our children reach their God-given potential, God has placed them in our families to nurture and care for. We must demonstrate to them and for them our faith and trust in God and His word.  We have no idea what lies ahead for our children. We do know that without a doubt there will be trials and difficult times ahead. Our children will suffer hurts and rejection.

Yet, God is faithful.

Our great potential is that we can become the children of God.

John 1:11-13 (NLT)

11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

God’s plan from the beginning was to bring us into relationship with himself. As parents we have the responsibility and privilege to share this highest of potentials with our children.

May God empower us to fulfill this challenge.