Monday, August 17, 2009

Cairns - Email to the Teacher

I did it already. I'm "that parent." Yup. Emailed the teacher before we even got a full school day under our belt (or our backpack). Before I've even had the chance to scrape school lunch off of the inside of a lunch bag or fill out a single one of the multitude of papers requiring our current names, aliases, and nicknames .... I emailed the teacher.

Students in a traditional school setting will spend over a thousand hours with a teacher in a year. As they get older, the hours are broken down into chunks (sort of like the meat in school cafeteria Shepherd's Pie). The influence a teacher can have on the heart and mind of a child is monumental. I know; I was a teacher. Sometimes it scared me! I remember thinking that when I closed the door of my classroom, I had such great power. There may be more tech in the classroom, more information, and more challenges, but the power of a teacher has not changed.

As children head to classrooms and co-ops and athletic teams, many different adults will influence them. Parents can be great advocates for children by doing several things:

1) Set the tone of prayer when you encounter "teacher troubles."

Many of the distinctives of a teacher add to the stretching of a child. This can be used for good, though the Enemy may mean it for evil. Teach your child to go to our Heavenly Father in prayer to take concerns and troubles to Him. Pray with them, pray for them, and remind them through notes and texts and hugs that you are praying. Never let your kids start a day under the guidance of another without covering them in prayer. Let them know that they can pray with expectation.

2) Set the tone through a respectful response.

Our children listen to us and watch us, which can be a good thing and can be a bad thing. It's our responsibility to help frame their attitudes and perspectives with respect for those in authority over them. It's not always going to be easy. Last year we had a great opportunity to really work at this, and it took work. Above the adult who is "there," let them know that the Lord is ultimately the authority they show respect to. Teachers need apples ... apples of gold like the ones described in Proverbs:

"Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumtances," Prov. 25:11

3) Set the tone by being your child's best advocate.

Sometimes our children need us to act or speak on their behalf. As my mom always said, "Choose your battles." Not every communication with a teacher should be a battle; those should be rare. Most should be open flow of dialogue that helps your child learn. When we assert ourselves with grace and kindness and wisdom after prayer, we teach our children a great lesson. We also implement the power of the God of the universe on their behalf, and great things can happen. Instead of being reluctant and resistant to speak up on our child's behalf, let's do it with a loving spirit that gives our children confidence we are looking out for them ... and so is their Heavenly Father.

I've been both teacher and parent. Being a parent during the season when school takes off can be a challenge, beyond shopping for the school list, paying fees, and setting a new morning routine. It's a time for us to seek wisdom from God. He cares more for our children than we do.

Much prayer surrounded my reluctant email to the teacher. It probably won't be the last, but I was blessed to get a sweet, professional, and encouraging response from her in less than 12 hours! Praise God for that answer to prayer. I was able to take Jo off to her classroom with a light heart, knowing that God will truly be with her wherever she goes. Later this week we'll look at ways to encourage the teacher in their role, as well as ways to pray for them.


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