From the Principal's Desk
We are five weeks into Distance Learning due to the coronavirus Shelter-In-Place. I like how things are working out. Personally, I am enjoying the teaching time on Zoom. Today, we dissected a frog in high school biology—the students had their specimens at home, and I had mine at school. Zoom connected us. A lot of things are going well, but some things are falling through the cracks, and that is what I want to address today. It relates to student effort, completing assignments, and taking responsibilities seriously. Before I go on, I want to commend you on what you are doing. You have a lot of things going on, and now you are in the midst of having your children do school at home. Some of these things are new, and I want you to know that I sincerely appreciate your work. Our parents have been extremely supportive and cooperative. At the same time, I believe we can strengthen the Distance Learning for our children by incorporating greater accountability, establishing and maintaining high expectations, and by using biblical motivation.
When I said earlier that some things are falling through the cracks, one of the areas I was referring to is completed assignments. A lot of students are not turning in a fair number of assignments. I know that the transition to Distance Learning was abrupt, but the students are used to doing homework. However, as we wrapped up the grading period, many students had numerous assignments blank on Thinkwave. They just did not do them. We graded very leniently. This is where the accountability comes in. Students need to do their work daily, but they also need you to check their work daily. Your child needs this in order to develop strong character and a submissive spirit, and in order to learn. You should ask to see your child’s work every day, and then check his assignments against the weekly homework sheet for completeness. Also, be sure to check the work for accuracy. If he says, “I did my work,” then you say, “Let me see it.” When students are older (upper high school), you might take their word that they did their work; but that kind of trust must be earned. Right now, hold them accountable on a daily basis.
Second, establish and maintain high expectations. Most parents, I believe, would say that they want their children to be excellent in what they do. But wanting excellence and getting it are two different things. If your child will excel, you must lead him to excel. Essentially, you must make him do it. All children are born sinners, so naturally they resist things that they don’t want to do. In those areas, they tend to take the easy way out, they refuse to comply, or they make excuses for their indifference. Take penmanship, for instance. Most children, if you let them, will be sloppy. But if you make them write neatly, they will. You must establish high expectations, and then demand that they be fulfilled. Don’t stop demanding until they are fulfilled. Then, you maintain those expectations. By the way, dads, you must lead in this (Ephesians 6:4).
Finally, use biblical motivation. Our society, for many years, has been enamored with the feelings of children. Instead of making sure their children do right, parents have become overly concerned about their children’s happiness. This is a mistake. The focus on being happy and comfortable steers parenting in a child-centered direction. Parenting must be Christ-centered. When child-training is about the glory of God, then the motivation parents use will glorify God. One of these motivations is fear.
The Bible says clearly, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and thy mother…” (Ephesians 6:1-2). The word honor has the idea of highly valuing, of respecting, of wanting to fulfill the wishes of. The Bible also says, “Ye shall fear every man his father and his mother, and keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:3). In this text, how seriously one takes the relationship to his parents connects to how seriously one is toward the worship of God. Honor and fear work together. That your children fear your authority does not mean that they are a nervous wreck 24x7. But it does mean that they take you seriously; and when you say something, they move. If they don’t, then the parenting practices need to change. Part of their right response to your authority comes as a result of giving them a spanking when they disobey (Proverbs 29:17). It also ties in to dealing with the root sin problem (Proverbs 29:15).
The other motivation is praise. When your child does a good job, let him know. Tell him when he has met the standard. The job a child did might not have reached your top-end goals; but for his age, it was appropriate. So you commend his effort. At the same time, you keep leading him to greater heights. Jesus spoke of verbal commendation in Matthew 25 as it pertains to faithfulness in salvation. Paul commended the Philippians for their sacrifice in meeting his physical needs (Philippians 4:14). Commendation encourages a child to do more, it lets him know you approve, and it ties in to his seeking your favor, which relates to honor. Ultimately, you want to lead your children to glorify God in all that they do.
I like the Distance Learning. But if we can strengthen the accountability with our children, establish and demand a standard of excellence, and then motivate our children in a scriptural fashion, Distance Learning can be an outstanding experience, and our children will benefit in great and lasting ways.