School – A Help Toward Maturity

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The Christian Day School offers many learning experiences for our children. As our children prepare to face life, they must learn to relate to various authorities. Parents are their primary authority in their childhood, but they begin to move between home, Sunday School, and school. They learn under different teachers. They meet different rules and learn other ways of doing things. They see strengths and weaknesses in these teachers that are different from their parents. They must learn to process these differences, respect each authority, and adapt to each setting and obey those authorities.
Wise parents realize that they are not perfect. They appreciate the help of teachers and mentors in their child’s life. Happy is the family who blesses Godly teachers as they take their children up, up, and away in learning and development. Those parents can smile as their children rise perhaps above their own abilities and develop talents that they did not have. The talents of a teacher are often developed in the students they teach. Musically adept teachers often produce good singers. Teachers who love Math produce good Math students, etc.
Children mature as they begin to realize that their Dad, their home, their family is not the only authority out there in life. Their way of doing things is not the only way to do something. The vehicles they choose to drive are not the only good ones out there. This reality provides many teaching moments for parents as their children come home and talk about their discoveries. Children need parental help to evaluate concepts, practices, ideas, and responses and test them with the Word of God. Children should see humbleness in their parents’ responses to people who differ from them. They should see parents who can learn better ways from others and receive help.
On the other hand, children can, at times, feel like their parents are strange, and their rules are too tough. Getting out under other authorities can help them see that many others hold the same values as their father and mother. Something good happens in the child’s mind when their school teacher reinforces the same truths that parents have been teaching.
Children also benefit from the structure that school provides. It is difficult in the home setting to duplicate the same structure and schedule that is found in the classroom. Children can learn timeliness in getting their lessons done before the next class. They can learn personal responsibility to see that they don’t miss any assignment or mislay their homework. They can learn a greater level of neatness and orderliness in keeping their desk tidy. They can learn prompt responses to bells signaling the beginning of class or the end of recess.
Children also mature as they must “own” their work and answer to their parents for how they are doing. It brings satisfaction to a diligent student to bring home neat papers with as good a grade as he can get. He worked hard for it. He studied long for the test. And then it is his work well done. We must be careful not to tempt our children to pride in this point. But we also must help them be responsible for doing their own work and taking the consequences for it. In our society, so many parents “carry” their children through life, interceding for them, pleading their case, asking for lighter loads, etc. In some cases, mothers go with their teenage son for a job interview because she has always “carried” him through life. The fruit of this kind of parenting is lazy youth and adults feeling they have a right to be given a break everywhere they go.
It is a common snare for us as parents to be easy on our children. We pity them. We feel sorry that they must work so hard. It is good for us to place our children under wise teachers and let them evaluate what our child can do. They can often see things we are missing. We should encourage our children to rise up and do their best for their teacher. We are often surprised by what our children can do if they are cheered on.
It is wise for a principal to help young and inexperienced teachers to be realistic with academic expectations in the classroom. Young teachers who never were parents can aim too high and overwhelm or discourage students. A principal should take an active role in the teamwork efforts of parents and teachers to give each child a good opportunity to learn all they can and develop their talents for God. The three-fold cord of parent, teacher, and principal provides great wisdom and strength.
As children mature into adolescence, sometimes they find themselves struggling to accept parental authority. Often a wise, caring teacher can minister to a youth in this state and help him accept his parental authority. They can lend a warm, compassionate, listening ear to this frustrated teenager. They can earn a voice in this child’s life that just might be to the saving of their soul. This same thing can happen as teenagers relate to the church. A Godly teacher can gently call wrong ideas or attitudes into question, can prompt a better way of looking at church authority, and can be a model of the happiness and fulfillment of Godly living in harmony with the brotherhood.
One of the great challenges that we face is how we respond when we see failure or unwise choices in others. Children are very alert to what Dad says about his teacher’s methods or rules that seem so wrong. Children listen to what a teacher says about their parent or their family. One slip of the tongue expressing disapproval or disgust at another authority will have lasting, damaging effects. Wise is the parent and the teacher who can hear children talk about troubling events and not reveal too much of what they are thinking. Then when children are not around, a call can be made to hear directly from the other about the troubling event. We must remember that children often do not get the story right. But they do send a signal of an area where there is some need that should be watched in the future.
It is also a temptation to put undue pressure on others to do as we do or think like we think. Teachers must respect a home’s territory, and parents must respect the school’s territory. A school principal or board should help teachers understand the school’s role and territory. Parents should direct their wishes for change in a classroom through the principal or board.
Teachers should be ready for the reality that generally, the home will win on issues where there is a difference. If Dad never had Algebra and thinks it’s a useless subject, his children will likely follow in his footsteps with their attitude toward and interest in Algebra. It is noble to try to inspire something more, but we should be ready to accept that the home’s idea will probably win. To go into a school setting expecting to change academic interests and the families involved will produce so much frustration. If something needs changed, it will require team effort of parents, board, and teachers!
Parents and school personnel must remember that God gave children to their parents. Parents are ultimately responsible for their children. The school should assist the parents in teaching their children academic skills. Parents should not look to the school to raise their children. The school should not step into parental roles for the children. There is a beautiful harmony achieved when each authority finds their place, stays in their place, and teams with others to provide Christian education for our children.
As parents, what do we want for our children? We will need to support our school’s efforts and goals for academic excellence if we want our children to achieve. It is a strange feeling for a teacher when he realizes those providing the funds for his wages are wishing he would let down his academic goals and go easier on the students. Most times in life we want to get all we can for our money spent. Why not the same interest for our children’s education?
Christian education is costly, but such a blessing for our families and our churches. Just what do we think the churches of our day would look like if we had no allowances for private schooling and all our children had to go through public school? How many of our youth could we pull through the influences of ungodliness prevailing in public school? How many of our children would be lost to the world? God help us rally together to support our schools and make them good places for our children to learn and mature!