Your Child's First Year in School - Are YOU Prepared?
Selmer L Hegvold
Your child is ready for school. But are you? How well have you prepared your youngster?
An enormous challenge faces you and your child as school begins! Many parents are not prepared. You should be. Up until this time, while your child has been at home with you, "training him or her up" in the way he or she should go (Prov. 22:6) has been relatively simple. Your influence has been profound. But now a schoolteacher will begin shaping your child's mind five days a week. The world you came out of will soon arouse conflict in your child's life. Will school negate your parental influence? Can you preserve your youngster's training? Will the teacher appreciate your involvement? A delicate confrontation faces you. Have you laid the groundwork for an effective relationship between you, the teacher and your child? If not, that relationship could become a nightmare for all concerned! And it could prevent your child from developing a right approach to education. School should be a rewarding, inspiring, worthwhile adventure for your young family. But you must take the initiative — right steps taken now will promote future happiness and fulfillment for your child.
A real challenge
Why should school pose threats to families in God's Church? The threats are unintentional. Church members stand alone in a society steeped in the false education of evolution, paganism and the way of get. Church members are actually escapees from a world whose practices God condemns. Public schools use holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter as teaching tools to develop reading, writing, arithmetic, music, drama and other skills in young students. These special, seasonal days capture the children's imagination. School staff members and teachers are unaware that your child has been taught that keeping them is wrong. Your duty is to ease the shock. In addition, school personnel are not familiar with God's Holy Days and His requirements, such as taking several days off, away from classes, for the spring and fall festivals. How well have you prepared to cope with this challenge? Will you create a scene like one ill-prepared couple did? They bluntly informed the teacher that their child would not be allowed to remain in any classroom in which pagan holiday activities took place! After several uncomfortable minutes of talk, the incredulous teacher exploded: "Sixty-two unruly, undisciplined students in this classroom, out for a frolic and not an education, and you expect me to alter my teaching methods for your one child? Impossible!" The burden was too heavy for this harassed teacher. The parents offered no compensating alternative. Don't make that mistake. Some have erred. They and their children are still paying the price. Some have assumed a call to convert relatives, friends and school officials and teachers. They were mistaken. Christ's revelation is clear, and should be remembered: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). Only God the Father in heaven can call people and open their minds to His truth. Believe Him, and spare yourself embarrassment and grief. You cannot convince school officials that worldly holidays are wrong. Don't try. There is a way, however, to deal with the situation.
Prepare your child
Jesus Christ prepares the way before His servants. He gives the faithful grace and favor. "I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (John 9:39). While instructors cannot see God, they will grant you favor for your purposes. Prepare as soon as possible. Pray. The stakes are higher than you realize. Your child's attitude toward the process of learning in school will be heavily affected by the introduction — proper or improper — he or she receives during the first few weeks of school. Help your child look forward to the opportunity to learn new skills. Show him, well in advance, what a joyous experience school and its challenges should be. Fill his young heart with a desire to learn. Impress upon him that to learn he must be constantly attentive, obedient and zealous in doing his schoolwork. Most of the threat from this world's schools to your child is erased if you have done your homework well.
Work with the teacher
How well do you represent Jesus Christ before others? Are you picky? Suspicious? Always on the defensive? Analyze yourself. Before meeting your child's teacher, determine that you will be friendly and pleasant. Most teachers will be striving to make friends with you and your child. Realize how challenging a teacher's work really is. Be sympathetic. The instructor will appreciate your understanding. Your friendship will be treasured. Except in the most extreme cases, teachers will willingly cooperate to resolve the difficulties that arise from your particular religious observances. The teacher will need your help, so be prepared to give it. Halloween is the first major crisis of the school year. But after the first few weeks of school, the teacher and child should have developed rapport. Allow for this relationship to develop before broaching the differences that must be resolved. Then make your appointment. Be frank in explaining your beliefs. Don't fall back on the Church. They're your beliefs! You have proved and accepted what God has revealed in the Bible. God's Word is your strength. Your sincerity and cooperative attitude will prove unchallengeable. Once you have prayerfully explained your position, the next question with which all will concern themselves is how parents and teachers can cooperate amicably and successfully. Propose workable alternatives to the classroom assignments that prove objectionable or contrary to the religious standards you believe in. As long as these alternatives are workable, most teachers will accept and cooperate with them. Use your imagination. Put yourself in the teacher's place. Propose nothing that would distract your child's classmates — the suggestions are for your child. Alternatives to Halloween, with its ghosts, goblins, black cats and witches? The Halloween season provides children with abundant opportunities to use their imaginations for projects in artwork, decorations, music and drama. How can you provide equally challenging substitutes that enable the teacher to evaluate your youngster in those skills? That is the challenge for your imagination! Is it wrong to draw, paint or decorate with real things in nature? What's wrong with working up a colorful fall arrangement of leaves, trees and ducks and geese swimming or flying, for example? God is clearly seen, said the apostle Paul, in the things, He has created (Rom. 1:19-20). Without disrupting the rest of the class, you can inspire and help your child to bring the true God and His created marvels into the classroom. Your enthusiastic and obviously deeply concerned help, advice and suggestions will not only prove disarming to the school staff, but will draw your family together in working out school projects. The same approach works for every other seasonal activity in the school schedule. Teachers will usually end up admiring you and your family for your energetic endeavors. Your child will have no reason for getting bad grades, nor will he or she feel ostracized because of family religious beliefs! The contrary, in fact, should prove true.
What about the Holy Days?
There are positive ways to encourage school acceptance of the number of days your child will be absent to enjoy God's Holy Days. First and most important is that you should teach your child the plan of God! It is never too early to explain how God wants him in His divine Family. Point out the meaning of each Holy Day and festival and help him develop enthusiasm. Ask him to explain back to you, for it is certain the teacher will ask him, if only out of curiosity. Your child should be able to give a commendable explanation. Perhaps he will be given the opportunity to explain each Holy Day, in its season, to the class. Next, explain to the teacher why your offspring will be going away with the family for a couple of weeks early in the fall semester. Explain your religious observances enough so their importance to you registers with the teacher. Then, offer to bring back from the Feast site mementos that would be interesting for the entire class. Finally, well in advance of your departure for the Feast of Tabernacles, ask for advance homework for your child. You want to keep your child current with his class during the trip.
Promote your child's education
The school staff — particularly your child's teacher — desires the approval of both you and your child. Genuinely praise those teaching methods that are right and sound. Show your appreciation for the teacher's efforts on behalf of your child — put the teacher at ease (Prov. 18:24) By the time the fall festivals arrive, you, your child and the teacher should be friend s. Your son or daughter will be launched in a positive direction into education. If you have tackled the school challenge properly, you need never fear that your child will be swept off into false beliefs. Your genuine concern, imaginative alternatives and proper training will pay enormous dividends. Your child will successfully rise to the challenge of each day's class assignments. He will develop confidence and be better able to cope with life's challenges as well! Further, he will never lack a warm circle of admiring classroom friends. And who knows? Perhaps the greatest joy in the end will be that a teacher, a classmate or another parent might tune in to the World Tomorrow broadcast. All because you correctly introduced your child to his first year in school!