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.

 

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Back to School – That is the Question!

School is starting this week here in our community.  Some of you have over a month before your child or children begin school for the 2012-2013 school term, some of you may have years before your child reaches that magic age – 5 years old!

 Home school, public school, private school, Christian school, or charter school? Which option is best for your child and when? There are valid, compelling cases to be made for each of the above options. Many of you have talked to family, friends, and acquaintances that have STRONG opinions about which option is best. Some of these well-meaning folks will share their opinions with you even when you don’t ask. Some hold strong opinions because they feel that the path they chose had the positive outcomes they desired for their child. Others are equally convinced that their child suffered because of the educational choices the parents made, so they discourage making the same “mistake”. As with many things in parenting, there is no ONE RIGHT answer.

As parents of young children, my husband and I did all of the following at one time or another – homeschooling, Christian school, and public school.  It was not because we couldn’t make up our minds – it was because at different times, for different children, we felt led by God to choose various options.

If our goal as parents is to raise children that will seek and follow God’s will for their lives, then selecting their means of education is very important. Yet, the method must never be selected to ensure the child’s spiritual future. There is no Bible verse that says, “For it is by home schooling you are saved, that not of yourself, it is the instruction of parents or Godly teachers, least anyone should boast.” No, the Bible verse that illuminates Truth in this area is

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Even the best instruction by the best teachers in the best home, Christian school, public, private or charter school will not ensure our children’s salvation.

Some of you are searching for assurance that the educational decision you have made for your child is the “right” one, the one that will guarantee a positive outcome. It may be the right decision – yet the outcome is up to God.  There is no one blanket solution that applies to everyone.  In making your decision, it may be helpful to prayerfully consider the following:

  • What options are available to us? This may make the choice simple.
  • Is my child naturally a leader or a follower?  If my child follows their peers, social pressure may be an issue.
  • Are they socially mature? Does my child need to be around other children to learn to share, take turns, realize they are NOT the center of the universe?
  • Are there services (special education classes, speech therapy, etc.) that the public school offers that will benefit my child? Often, children with special needs have more services available in public school. Some services are available to those who home school as well.
  • Are the teachers my children have equipped, nurturing, and do they love what they do? This MUST be the case whether the teacher is a parent, or in any of the various school settings. Sadly, not all Christian teachers have the above qualities. I know many public school teachers who see their profession as a calling from God and it is evident in their classrooms.

As a parent, you still have the most important influence on your child’s education. What you say and do at home is far more influential then what happens in the classroom, even if the classroom is the dining room. Your role as a parent carries over from year to year throughout your child’s life and informs everything else that happens to your child.

I can remember being so concerned as each of our children started school – even when I was their teacher! The Biblical account in Daniel of the four boys taken into captivity in Babylon gave me great comfort and hope, especially as our teenagers started public high school. These boys were about 12 years old, taken from their homes and families to a foreign land and educated by a secular, pagan culture. Yet the teaching they had at home was imbedded in their hearts and even when they were tempted with the king’s rich food and drink and the choice between compromise and death – they did not give in.

Daniel 3:16-17

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ”

God is faithful….

…WHATEVER TYPE OF SCHOOL SETTING!