Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turn the Report Card Over

When you go to parent and teacher conferences, which I hope you do, take the grade card and turn it over.  Instead of talking about points needed to change an A- to an A, look at the teacher and ask, "Is she kind?" and "Is she trying?"  A child who can get along with people and who works hard will do well.  And, every child can succeed in these areas.

A mindset of working hard to learn and grow will help your child use and develop God given abilities.  When you focus on your child's effort and learning instead of grades, you teach him or her a deeper motivation that will bring not only good, deep learning, but is more likely to bring better grades as a result . Focusing on the details of grades or the points he or she scored in a game is short sighted.  Encourage the long term investment of learning, growing, and trying and let the results happen naturally and without anxiety.

And, a child who shows kindness and works well with others will be given ample opportunity to learn collaboratively, to learn leadership, and to learn the value of serving.  That child will be respected as he or she respects others, respects the teacher, and respects learning.  Character and compassion are rocks that will help a child succeed in school, work, family, and life.  When we focus our questions on character and compassion, our children learn what is important to us and those qualities become important to our children.

Grade cards give glimpses of how a child is doing in school.  They are good tools to recognize potential areas of need if things aren't working.  They help you have a sense of how your child is learning the educational objectives that are being assessed.  But, normally they don't give a lot of information on the important long term skills with people and a mindset of growth. It is our job as parents to make sure our children know what we value and to make sure that what we value is of prime importance. You will probably have to ask questions to find out about characteristics that are important, but not found on the reports.

Even if you missed parent and teacher conferences or you don't have them, how about a note to your child's teacher asking how your son or daughter is treating people?  And, what kind of attitude he or she has toward work and learning?  Avoid the little details of a point here or there and make a big deal out of love and trying. Let your child know you are checking these things.  This approach will pay off in the long run.  I hope you will enjoy the freedom of a focus on kindness and effort and are refreshed as you watch the results.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dagwood's Dream

Following a dream takes courage.  Dagwood has been in the same office job and carpool for a long, long time!  He is avoiding pursuing his dream, it would change his world.  He has a dream inside, but wants to keep eating pizza undisturbed.

God put ideas in Jeremiah's heart that needed to come out:
"Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
And I am weary of holding it in,
And I cannot endure it."
--Jeremiah 20:9

Jeremiah was mocked and beaten for saying what was inside him, but let it out anyway.  Dagwood doesn't want his dreams let out, life would change.

Dream pursuit is frightening.  Life changes.  And, lives are changed.

How do we help our children have the courage to pursue God planted dreams?  Give them a view of the world bigger than themselves and a home to think about what they see.  Let them know that God is calling them to follow dreams that are just for them.  Let's not be afraid of the tender spots and passions that God puts inside them, but help them discern and develop those ideas.  Let's trust a trustworthy God that His call on them is good.  It may be hard, but it is good.

Real life isn't about eating pizza.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Yoda, There is Try"

A few nights ago, Dana was out for the evening.  After making one of my favorite alone meals of fish sticks and beans, I pulled out our VHS copies of the original Star Wars trilogy and enjoyed some great memories and movies.  Still love it!
But, I did catch Yoda hurting the whole braveheart idea.
Yoda tells Luke, “Do, or do not.  There is no try.”  
Yoda was wrong.  In his effort to stop using “I tried” as an excuse for a half-hearted effort, Yoda may have ruined a generation who think they can go from fear and mediocrity to success and greatness without trying and the messy in-between part.  A generation that is misled to think that you either have it or your don't.
 To be successful in real life and not the movies, “try” and its companion risk of failure are real, demanding effort and courage.  Expecting success to come without the messiness of fears and possibility of failure isn’t real.  No one goes from “don’t do” to “do” without the courage to try, because “do” is not a gift or accomplished by a dream.  Waiting until you are sure you can “do” before trying keeps a lot of children in the bleachers and out of the game.  Waiting until you know you can "do" leaves out the value of growth and developing abilities.
Yoda promoted an unrealistic jump to achievement where the importance of trying is left out.  Many children don't succeed because they are stuck in bad spots where they don't try for different reasons.  Some have given up.  They feel like they can never make anyone happy, so why try?  Some have no purpose, they have found nothing outside themselves worth their energy.  Some don’t try because they think the fine life will be handed to them.  Others look around their small world and have no hope or think they have no ability.  It is a travesty for children to be stuck, without the courage to try.
But, our children don’t need to be stuck in a bad spot.  They can learn courage and be bravehearts.  And succeed. They can know you believe in them, that they are gifted, and that they have a great God they can trust. They can have courage to try, even if Yoda says there is no try.