Pieces from the Pickup Line: #3

For the past few weeks I have been reading a book called Christian Teachers In Public Schools: 13 Essentials for the Classroom by Dalene Vickery Parker. Our first “Piece from the Pickup Line” is from my reading today on August 29. 2013.

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Guest Post: Why Did My Parents Choose Public School?

My parents moved to Virginia in the early 80’s when my father received orders from the military to once again move.  After joining a church which also had a Christian school, my parents decided to place my brother into the kindergarten class for the school year.  Let’s face it, every school, every educational system, and every teacher has flaws. However, my parents immediately knew there was a problem.  My brother as well as other students (we later found out who had this same teacher) struggled with learning problems.  My parents removed my brother from the Christian school and placed him in our local public school for 1st grade.

It was the last decade or so of the Cold War, but military families experienced the Cold War in ways that most people do not realize.  Our fathers, husbands, brothers, and uncles were constantly deployed.  Mediterranean Cruises, Med Cruises, were common place for Navy families.  My father was typically deployed for 9 months on a Med Cruise, came home for 2-3 weeks, and then left again for 1-2 months on a training exercise to GITMO Bay, the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Bermuda.  During a 4 year rotation of Sea Duty, my mother was basically a single parent.

My brother could not have had a better elementary school principal.  When his learning struggles became clear, Mr. Brown took my brother under his wing.  Mr. Brown knew my brother by name.  He knew my mother and I even though I was still at home and not yet enrolled in school.  Mr. Brown even diagnosed my brother’s learning “problems.”  My brother was gifted.

This elementary school principal referred my mother to a child psychologist and helped my family in a way no one else had previously done.  Seeing my brother improve was all the thanks he needed.

Christians, conservative Christians, have this idea that public schools will change your child’s values, your child will just be a number amongst the crowd, and or your child will receive a substandard education.  We did not.  I will address some of those topics later.  Were there problems?  Absolutely.  I am not going to lie or whitewash history.  My point is this, there are wonderful public schools available and parents should not be made to feel like they are sinning by sending their child to public school.  Their children should not be segregated from “good Christian school kids” either.

What Should I Do When My Child Get’s In Trouble?

As you can see from my first post of this week “Learning to be Patient”, that sometimes as much as I love my boys and think they are pretty good kids, they still can get in trouble. We are going on 4 weeks of school and Aric has already gotten in trouble a few times. I know it will take time for him to adjust to a classroom setting, so the question lingers then “What should I do when my child get’s in trouble?” So here are a few things that I am trying to do as a parent.

1) Trust the Teacher over your child

I was raised by parents who lived by the principle to “Always trust the word of the teacher over your child”. The truth is 99% of the time this principle is true and your child has done wrong. The teacher isn’t out to get him! In today’s society parents want to believe their children are perfect angels incapable of doing wrong in the classroom and unable to lie to their parents. This is a lie that parents want to believe about their child to make themselves feel good about themselves and their choice to not discipline their children. When Aric gets a note sent home for getting in trouble, I never doubt the note, even if he says that it isn’t true. Is there times that your child shouldn’t have gotten in trouble? Sure about 1 in a millions times. Trust the Teacher.

2) Talk to your child

The first thing I do every day when picking up Aric from school is ask how his day was. I ask him if he got in trouble or if he was well behaved all day. If he says he got in trouble, then most of the way home we talk about why he got in trouble. Most of the time when I ask him why he got in trouble he will say, “I don’t know”. Don’t settle for that answer, the child really does know why he got in trouble, it will just take some work to uncover the reason. Many times I have to go through verbally asking each point of the day why and when he got in trouble. I have to ask things like: Did you get in trouble before lunch or after? Were other children doing the same thing? Did your teacher ask you to stop? Did it happen when the teacher was asking a question?. There are a lot of other questions that could be asked, but the important thing is, is to get to the bottom reason of what he did and why he did it.

After the questioning process is done, I try to take time to explain to him that the teacher is just like “mommy and daddy” and “we expect you to obey her like you obey us”. Then if it is appropriate when he gets home he gets disciplined for the wrong doing. On the way to school the next morning, I review with him what happened the day before and what we need to do to avoid getting in trouble again. I also instruct him to apologize to his teacher the first thing in the morning.

3) Tell the Teacher “Thank You”

One day when Aric came home with a yellow face (that is a negative mark in Kindergarten) it had a note that he was yelling and making loud noises. This was the second time he had gotten in trouble for the loud noises and I was curious as to what the loud noises were and why he was making them. In a non-offensive way I wrote a note to the teacher including a couple of questions and a thank-you at the end. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Mrs. ______ what can we do at home to help Aric behave better in your classroom? What type of noises is he making and when is he making them? Thank-you so much for the good work you are doing!

It may seem like just a trivial thing, but I am telling you when a teacher is told they are doing a good job it makes their day! I want to make the job of my children’s teachers easier not harder, so when I show appreciation for the discipline they give to my child, it lets them know I am not a parent they have to worry about jumping down their throat for punishing my child’s wrong doings.

What are some other good things you have found to do when your child has gotten in trouble?

Welcome to Our Little Man

Yesterday we welcomed the newest addition to our family. My wife gave birth to a good and healthy baby boy. His name is Alton Reese McBride. Born on 8/26/2013 at 2:10pm. He weighed in at 9lbs 12oz. (Renee doesn’t have small babies) and was 21.5 inches long.

DSC_0029Alton is not a real common name, but we do have a few reasons that we chose that name. First of all if you didn’t know we have named all our children with an “A” first name and an “R” middle name. We do this because of my first name being Aaron, and my wife’s middle name being Renee. So we have Aric Riley (our first), Alexander Ryan (our second, not middle), and now Alton Reese (our third).

After choosing the name Alton we found out that Renee had a great Uncle who shared that name, so without knowing it we had chosen a family name.

Alton also shares his name and his birthday with a man who my wife and I count as a very important person in our life. Both my wife and I went to the same Bible college, Ambassador Baptist College. The president of our Alma Mater is Mr. Alton Beal. We were amazed to find out after we had posted the name, gender, and due date on Facebook, that Alton’s due date was on Alton Beal’s birthday! Of course if you read our previous post “Learning to be Patient” then you know that we were hoping baby Alton would arrive earlier, but God must have thought it would be something special to have our Alton be born with the same name and on the same date as a man that we count as a great influence in our lives!

Learning to be Patient

expression -  Patience is a virtue - written on a school blackboWhen it comes to writing blog posts I usually try to write them ahead of time and schedule them to be published at a later date. So I am writing this particular post on Aug 20, 2013.

Patience is a hard thing when it comes all areas of life. Today we were hoping that our #3 child would be born and had had plans for my wife to be induced today, but the baby and my wife’s body are just not ready at this time. I can see how uncomfortable my wife is and she tells me often how sore she is. We also have my mother down here for the week as we anticipated getting to hold Baby Alton in our arms today but instead we are having to wait patiently for natural process to start. My wife was ready to kill me today as I have forced her to walk down every isle in the grocery store, walk up and down the sidewalk at our church, and later we will be walking some more. We are hoping for good news from the doctor tomorrow, but until then we just have to be patient.

Romans 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

While it is hard enough to be patient as we wait for a new child to be born, there is another lesson in patient that God has been teaching me while Aric is in school. Sometimes it is easy for me as a father to lose patience when it comes to my child doing well behaviorally at school. The first week of school I felt like Aric did a great job, he only had one  bad mark on one day and the rest of the days he had all good marks. The second week he did great on Monday, but had a bad mark on Tuesday. We had a long talk on the way home about paying attention in class and doing right. I told him that “I don’t want to see any other bad marks this week”. Wednesday and Thursday he did great with great marks. On Friday when he got in the car I asked him, “Aric how did you do? Did you bring home a green face today?”. When he hesitated to answer, I knew he must have gotten something other than the “Green Happy Face”. He once again had 1 bad mark against him, this time for making loud noises in class. So once again we had a long talk on the way home about how he should act in class. Then Monday rolled around and once again he had gotten a yellow face, indicating he had done something bad once during the day. It was once again for making loud noises in class and yelling an answer. Man did this frustrate me!

I have to realize something though, while there is no excuse for bad behavior, I have to realize that this classroom thing is all new to Aric, he is still having to learn and adjust to not having the freedom of playing all day. I have to take time to understand this and to let it process in my mind. I also have to take time to let the structure of a classroom settle in Aric’s mind. It is going to take patience as we learn this process together. I know as a father that I also need to be careful to not get overly frustrated at the times he might forget instructions or rules. It is easy to get upset as an adult when in our minds the classroom instructions and rules are so easy to follow, but then when we stop and think about how hard it was for us as children it certainly can help us be much more patient.

What are ways that you have had to learn patience with your children?

Update on Baby: While I wrote this post ahead of time, at the time of this being published we are currently at the hospital with my wife being induced. Praying that the baby comes quickly and safely.

The Blessing of Public Schools

Okay I know that people probably think that I talk to much about the negative views that many Christians have of the public schools, but I like to take those negative outlooks and try to let people see that not everything about Public Schooling is negative. Just the other day I saw someone put this negative ideal on Facebook using the words “failing public school system”. Is it true that some children come out of public schools unprepared? Sure it’s true. But the same can be said of Christian schools and Homeschooling as well. People will make statements like “Well 75% of people who are homeschooled go on to further their education, while only 49% from public schools go to college”. Well it’s a nice stat to state, but considering that there are about 49 million more people in the Public school than there are homeschooled those statistics really aren’t that impressive. Now if there were just as many people homeschooling as there were in public schools and the percentage came out like that, then I would say, “maybe homeschooling is a better option for us”. (NOTICE: I said a better option for us. I am in no way saying that the option of public school is for every Christian family.) The other statistic that many people like to point out is that when compared to other countries, the US doesn’t score as high on standardized testing, but I will answer this stat in one of my points of the blessings of public schools.

Blessing #1: EVERY Child is given a chance to be educated

Some children, if it were not for Public Schools, would never be educated at all. When the US is tested each year, many people criticize that our test scores compared to other countries are very poor, but the difference is, in most other countries children who are poor or have disabilities are not given a chance to even go to school. In the US, however, children with disabilities are given a chance to get an education, children who are poor are given a chance to receive an education, so of course scores will be lower in standardized testing. Perhaps if all we did was test the elite of our education system the statistics would measure closely to the rest of the smartest countries in the world, but in the United States every child is given a chance to receive an education.

Blessing #2: Low income children are given a chance to be healthy

I know some people would say that part of the problem with our country is the amount of people who receive food stamps and free housing. Do I believe that is part of the problem with our economy? Yes, I believe it is so. I think many of those people could do better for themselves but have gotten lazy and leach off the government and our taxes. While all this is true, should we punish the children for the sins of their families and say no to giving them the nutritional food they need? No we should not. Many children who eat their breakfast and lunch served by their schools will receive no other food from their homes. This does not negate the responsiblity of the parents, but for that child who is going hungery because of the neglect of his family the provision of food at his local school is a huge blessing.

Blessing #3: Public Schools provide jobs for many Christians

When my wife and I moved to Northeastern, GA in 2011 I had no ideal how I would provide for our family. We were stepping into a new ministry and while they were able to provide us with housing, we still had to make enough income to pay for the rest of our bills. I had put an application in at several businesses, but to no avail. Then I found out how to become a substitute teacher in our local public schools. I took the course, had my background test done, and was able to get on the Substitute list. The first year I was here I was able to sub an average of 3 days a week. This job provided me with enough income to make it through each month. If I had decided that the Public Schools were a “Godless place not fit for any Christian” than I would have failed to provide for my family like the Bible commands me to as a father and would have been “worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8). So I count the public schools as a huge blessing to me and my family.

Blessing #4: Public Schools provide education in areas of knowledge that parents are lacking

Let’s face it, not all parents are experts at Math, English, Science, History…. and the list could go on and on. I can tell you that personally I like History, if I were to homeschool my children they probably would learn more about history than any other subject. I was pretty good at math up to a certain point. While I could help them with basic math, when they get to more advanced math, I am helpless. You probably can also tell that English is not a strong suite for me. I probably put punctuation in wrong places and repeat words a whole lot in my writing. Science, I can get that pretty good to a certain point but when it comes to chemistry and biology “forget it”.

While I know there is some “junk” that is taught in many of the subjects, I understand enough as a parent that I need to carefully explain and teach my child at home the truths from God’s Word relating to Creation, historic events, life styles, and godly living. I need to teach my children how to tell the difference between the facts from God’s Word and the fiction of the world. But in the end I also realize that the school my children attend is able to offer them some very good skills and knowledge. Do I have issues with some of the things my child may learn about in a public school setting? Yes, just as I take issue with some of the things that don’t line up with God’s Word in Christian Curriculum.

I am sure there are other blessings that could be added to this list. What blessings have you found from the public schools?

Say No to the Phone: Lesson from week #2

I am sure there are a few lessons I could elaborate on from week #2, but I really just want to stress one thing that I learned and determined to do as a Father for the sake of my children.

Say No to the Phone

As a freelance graphic designer, I get request to call people or get phone calls at all hours of the day. Many times I end up doing work at hours that I would rather be spending time with my family, but I also know how important it is for me to work to provide for my family. With that said, spending and making time for my family is more important than working all the time.

Just the other day when I was waiting to pick up Aric from school, I had received a Facebook message from a client asking me to call them. My first instinct was to call them right that moment. I had been praying for work. I pray every week for 3 jobs to help us meet our financial needs. This was job #3 for the week! I must return the call, right? I decided at that very moment though, that making that call, and getting that job was not my priority at the time, spending time with my child was.

Say Yes to your Children

I looked down at the clock before making my decision. Aric would be getting out in just 5 minutes. Many times my phone conversations can last for 15-30 minutes or more depending on how much detail a client shares with me about their project. Knowing I only had 5 minutes before my son would be in the car, I decided his time was more important. I have since made a rule in my life, that unless their is an emergency (outside of my business), that I will not be on the phone at all while I am taking my children to school or when I am picking up my child from school. That 10-15 minutes on the way to school and on the way back home is a good opportunity to learn about my child’s day at school. It allows me to give instruction, pray with my children, and allow them to ask questions. It is so important for me as a Father to make sure that I make time for my children. I believe the Lord will bless me for saying “No to the Phone and Yes to my Children”.

What thoughts would you like to add to this short post?

9 Things I Pray for Each School Day

Man prayingIt doesn’t matter whether you are a person who sends your children to the public school, a private school, or is home schooled, prayer should be an important part of your day. Each night before I go to sleep and each morning before we leave to go to school I spend time praying for certain things. So here are a list of 9 things I pray for each school day:

1.Wisdom as a Parent of  school age children

In general no matter what age your child is, seeking God’s wisdom is a must.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

2.For my children to make wise choices

No matter the age of my child I should be taking time to teach them to seek God’s face in all the choices that they make.

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

3.For my children to remember instructions given to them

Each morning on our way to school I talk to my children about things they need to remember and work on for the day. During the first few weeks of school we talk about remembering to listen to the teachers and to pay attention. These times of instruction and instruction given in the home are a special time for our children to learn how to behave and what is expected of them.

Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

4.For my children to avoid troublemakers

No doubt troublemakers can be found most places that your children go, so it is important to teach them to guard themselves from them. One conversation that Aric and I have had lately on the way to school has been,

Me: Aric what should you do if someone asks you to do bad?

Aric: Tell them I can’t do it because it is bad.

Me: And then what should you do?

Aric: Tell my teacher.

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

5.For my children to remember Who Created them and Who they should serve

Another conversation that Aric and I have been having on the way to school is: Who created everything, did dinosaurs live millions of years ago, how old is the earth, and did men come from monkeys.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

6.For my child tobe testimonies of Jesus Christ

I want my children to learn early in their lives that they have an opportunity influence others for Christ.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

7.For the teacher to be encouraged

One of the most underrated jobs in my book is that of a teacher. Parents treat them like jerks when their child gets in trouble. Parents act like their child is an angel and the teacher is the devil himself/herself. Being a teacher can be a very discouraging position.

Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

8.For the teacher to have patience

If you have a child or even a few children you know how hard it can be to be patient at times. Imagine the teacher there in the classroom with 20+ students all coming from different home lives with different standards. Some children may be well-behaved, while others may have no discipline whatsoever. It can be quite overwhelming for a teacher to face a classroom each day, so pray for your children’s teachers to have patience.

Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

9. For the teacher to teach with wisdom

Now some people might say, “how can you expect a Public School teacher to teach with wisdom when many of them probably aren’t Christians?”. Well those people probably don’t use that same logic when they ask prayer for Doctors to have wisdom when they are facing a health situation. Not all Doctors are Christians but we still ask for God to give them wisdom and we should pray that God give our children’s teachers wisdom as well.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Lord, there are many things that can be prayed for when it comes to having children in school. But above all we want you to be pleased and glorified in everything that we do. We need wisdom as parents. We need your guidance and direction when it comes to teaching our children. We also need you to work in our children’s lives to be a bright and shining testimony for you, no matter what type of school they go to. A-men

What are some things that you pray for when your children start their school day?

Silence Speaks Volumes

One of the areas some people like to argue for the reason a Christian should not be part of the Public Schools, is the limitations that teachers have in being able to share their faith openly in the classroom and the challenges that Christian students will face. While it is true that Christian teachers can not spend a large percentage of time speaking about the Lord, it does not mean that a Christian teacher will have no influence in the lives of their students. Just because a Christian student will be surrounded by students who do not have the same belief system, does not mean that they will never influence others for Christ. In fact I believe that there is Biblical evidence that sometimes silence is far better than speaking.The other morning I was reading my morning devotions and I came to a passage of scripture that to many would seem like a strange instruction given to us by the Lord. In context this passage of scripture is talking about a Christian wife’s responsibility to an unsaved husband and the importance of her testimony. But I believe we can take principles from this passage of scripture that apply to life in general. Here is the passage:

I Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

In this passage of scripture, we have a Christian wife, and an unsaved husband. God has told that wife to be submissive to her husband even though he does not know Christ, and has chosen to reject the Word of God. Christian Public School teachers are required to be submissive to the rules of the governing body of the public school system, even though the rules in particular do not favor that of a Christian belief system, and by and large the Bible has been rejected by the schools as a whole.

The verses though do not give the instruction to simply to be submissive, but also that the wife is to live by example what the Word of God speaks. The word conversation is not so much the wife constantly telling her husband of his need of salvation, but the lifestyle the wife lives in front of her husband. The winning to Christ of her rejecting husband, is going to come by her godly example, her pure lifestyle, and the fear of the Lord. Christian Public School teachers must be conscious of their limitations when it comes to speaking of the Word of God. Christian students must be conscious of the constant attack they will face against their own belief systems. But if  both the students and the teachers will live their lives that is godly and pure before their peers and pupils, many will come to inquire and know about the God of whom they serve. This is not just a tip to be applied to Public School though, but to life. If the conversation of your mouth is not reflected by the conversation of your life than you will not be able to have a true influence for Christ in the lives of those you are trying to reach.

Christian teachers in the realm of public schools is one of the most important things that our government education system needs. Christian students have a big impact on other students who may never hear of Christ outside the lives of those who surround them. So while I don’t believe the public school is the place for every Christian teacher or every Christian child, I do believe that the Lord has given some the call to be missionaries to the realm of government schooling. And while the Government tries to keep the name of Christ silent in their education system, sometimes “Silence Speaks Volumes”.