Guest Post by Jennifer Landis
Weighing the pros and cons of big-ticket child-rearing decisions such as education, after-school care, sports involvement and social events isn’t easy. You seek the advice of friends and family, study-up on current development theory, which school is best to send them to (check website here), consider new alternatives, and — when all is said and done — check in with your heart.
Looking back at how you were raised, what are the lessons you remember as being the most meaningful? Is it possible to carry them forward in today’s modern environment? Can the traditional, time-worn standards that unite many of us be applied to the dizzying, ever-changing needs of your family?
Maybe it’s time to check in with the basics. What’s the Bible’s take?
Pave the Way
One thing for certain is that the Bible supports your emphasis on the importance of mindful educational and teaching experiences. Proverbs 22:6 states: “Teach a child the way they should go and they will not depart from it.”
Child development theory concurs by looking to the science of shaping a child’s mind and how early learning sets the stage for a future of intellectual inquiry. While newborns arrive “wired” with all the brain cells they’ll need for life, brain capacity realistically begins at about one-fourth that of an adult. An astounding ninety percent of all life long brain growth develops, in turn, by age five.
What, who, where and how your child is taught wields a mighty impact.
By design, public schools are meant to be secular. Separation of church and state forms the basis for elimination of the Pledge of Allegiance in many districts and turns what would be public prayer into “moments of silence.”
However, secular schools offer a science-based worldview that arguably arms students with skills like logic and reason, plus the ability to wield skepticism against a globalizing and self-interested world. Titus 2:1 asserts: “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
Nobody knows your child better than you. Only you can attest to the level of religious instruction you think is right for your family. Consider the pros of cons of public education, non-secular schools and private alternatives. The Bible encourages you to examine curricular content from all sides and then go with your gut. Follow Proverbs 23: “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”
When it comes to the Bible’s spin on who your child’s primary instructors should be, the scripture leaves little doubt:
- Proverbs 1:8 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”
- Proverbs 4:1 – “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight.”
Verses such as these might be construed as a clear directive for homeschooling – and many families who choose that option often use them as such. However, a broader interpretation might speak to the importance of parent-backed education and same-page coordination between home and school settings.
The takeaway lesson if your child is enrolled in school is to know your child’s teachers personally and make sure they know you. Support their efforts to teach on the home front and coordinate with classroom functions whenever possible.
Care and Role-Modeling
After-school care, organized sports involvement and social affiliations or clubs are growing segments of any modern child’s extra-curricular life. In deciding what’s best for your child, consider activities and supportive staff that display respect and compassion as well as encourage both empathy and self-awareness.
Make sure facility and care practices are safe, healthy and empowering. Look for opportunities for your child to take on leadership roles and mentor younger participants. After all, it’s never too early to turn the tables and encourage students to teach!
Titus 2:7 states: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness.”
Children have different learning styles. Once again, nobody knows your child’s skill set, including strengths and weakness, better than you. That being said, several common-sense truisms can be applied to effective teaching methods across the board.
If a child is not engaged in the learning process, and if a spark isn’t set to trigger innate curiosity and wonder, any form of methodology will fail. Consider an educational setting designed for self-directed activity — in other words, a place where your child can initiate promising leads in subject areas of interest.
Active participation in educational inquiry develops critical thinking, problem-solving and executive function skills. Such aptitudes are vital for a promising future in today’s rapidly changing world. They are also universally valued across time and culture.
Proverbs 20:15 says, “Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.”
When you identify what you learned as a child that retains merit today, you’ll note these skills repeatedly. Go ahead — provide a supportive opportunity for your child to develop them as well. After all, the Bible tells you so!
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Jennifer Landis is a healthy living blogger, mother, and wife. She enjoys tea, peanut butter, and cross stitching. She writes about mindfulness, parenting, and clean eating on her blog, Mindfulness Mama. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELadis.