Ephesians 5:15-16 says 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Recognizing that this is a stressful time, we look at our situation and hope this evil ends soon.
Conversely, maybe we should look at the opportunities that arise out of a crisis. Every few years, our world experiences a sobering natural disaster, health crisis, mass shooting, or global tragedy like a war that harnesses our attention and activates our fears. It becomes the topic of discussion in the “carpool line,” on social media sites, or in coffee shops (which you can’t sit down in now.) It promotes fear and anxiety and can often bring out the worst in society. I believe the Coronavirus is a perfect opportunity to carpe diem (seize the day) and talk about matters of the heart—the importance of life, family, health, faith, and even what we value. Just like weddings and funerals bring people together, this season can be leveraged for conversations about priorities.
Now is a time for collaboration, not criticism, faith, not fear, discipleship, not seclusion, empathy, not judgment, for family and community. Now is a time to lean in and focus on the most valuable things in life. To this end, I want to recommend a book for parents to read and, in turn, to invest in shepherding your child’s heart. Tedd Tripp authored the book Shepherding Your Child’s Heart in 1995, and I believe it can be a game-changer for many of our families today.
This crisis of health and now the economy can also be the breeding ground for innovation. We have challenged our teachers to be innovative in their delivery of instruction. At least for now, there is a new normal for our EC-12 education. Many things can and will be learned by both students and educators during this time. Don’t misunderstand me when I say that content isn’t the most crucial thing to be learned in school. Process and soft skills are essential for future success. Right now, your kids are learning to manage time. They are learning project management skills and developing independent learning skills. But that’s not all. Getting a technical education is good but does not teach you to live a good life. The ability to make a living and provide for yourself and your family is essential, but not enough. TPCS continues to include spiritual formation in its delivery of instruction. We are pouring into more than just your child’s intellect; our learning plan continues to feed the soul. Our mission has not changed during this time, only our delivery of instruction.
As Christians, we should live like we were dying (maybe from the Coronavirus or something else) and pursue all God has given us to do while we have time. So, what are you going to do with the time and opportunity God has shaped for you as a parent? Are you going to redeem the time? I have included some great resources from Dr. Tim Elmore to assist in conversations with your kids.
We’ll likely look back on this spring of 2020 and remember how scary it was for so many. May our memories be fond because we redeemed the time and led our children well.
How Involved Should Parents Be in Their Child’s Education?
In a recent blog, Dr. Tim Elmore addresses this relevant question. Read his guidance below.
During the past month, I found myself speaking to more than 6,500 parents in various locations across the U.S. I never have a more engaged audience than when I’m interacting with moms and dads.
That month, I found the most popular question was—how do I support my child in school?
Behind that question are looming thoughts like:
- My daughter is so stressed out—should I just do her homework for her?
- My son is so busy with sports and lessons—should I excuse him from doing his chores?
- My kids are both falling behind—should I talk to their teacher about easing up a bit?
Today’s parental expectations are different than they were in the past. All generations of parents care about their kids’ future, but today, we feel we need to ensure they reach their goals, even if it means:
- Negotiating their grade with a teacher, like we’re an agent.
- Advising their coach on our kid’s playing time, like we’re a personal trainer.
- Confronting those in conflict with our kid, like we’re a referee.
- Intruding on an activity to control the outcomes, like we’re a court judge.
Phil. 2:5 In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.
Stephen Covey, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about our attitudes and how they are exposed in our words. Because our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our mindset, if we are self-aware enough to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps. Our language, for example, is a very real indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as a growing or a fixed person.
The language of the fixed mindset person absolves them of responsibility.
·“That’s me. That’s just the way I am.” I am determined. There’s nothing I can do about it.
·“He makes me so mad!” I’m not responsible. My emotional life is governed by something outside of my control.
·“I can’t do that. I don’t have the time.” Something outside me – limited time – is controlling me.
·“If only my wife were more patient.” Someone else’s behavior is limiting my effectiveness.
·“I have to do it.” Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I’m not free to choose my actions.
Fixed Mindset Language Growth Mindset Language
There’s nothing I can do. Let’s look at our alternatives.
That’s just the way I am. I can choose a different approach.
He/she makes me so mad. I can control my feelings.
They won’t allow that. I can create an effective presentation.
I have to do that. I will choose an appropriate response.
I can’t. I choose.
If only. I will.
I must. I prefer.
Parents listen closely to the words your kids are saying. The language of a student with a fixed mindset can be heard and then addressed. I often encourage our staff to “listen for understanding” not just to hear, defend, or correct. When your kids are talking, be intentional about listening. When you hear words that point to a fixed mindset, determine how you can change the tenor of the conversation. Demonstrate for your kids in your words or reactions the language of a growth mindset. When you hear words of a growth mindset, encourage and applaud the thoughts and emotions behind the words.
Parents, you are the most impactful adult in the life of your child – own it, endure it, rejoice in it, and be intentional about your words.
Would you faint if your child said to you, “I just keep motivating myself to study even when I don’t like the content or the teacher is not engaging.” Your thinking, this is only a comment that would be made by a mature student who is in college, or is it? If you think that your students can’t respond this way, then they probably won’t.
Parents, you make the most significant impact on your child’s mental and emotional approach to challenges, school, relationships, and life in general. A student who approaches a relationship, a difficult course, or a teacher who doesn’t fit their personality with a positive attitude is the result of hundreds or maybe even thousands of minor contact points throughout their life. These contact points can occur with their parents, extended family, friends, mentors, youth pastors, church leaders, and more. The circumstances or context of these instructional contact points can be most influential during a challenge. When these contacts occur, and you point the child toward a growth mindset, the outcome can be transformational.
The words used, the advice given, the expectations set, the accountability or ownership required, shape the foundation for how children will respond. There are many shaping influences in a child’s life, family structure, family values, family response to failure, school environment, friends, spiritual influences, and more. While these shaping influences, personalities, and the Holy Spirit play a large role in how students react, the real crux of the matter is that the heart dictates our actions. The heart is the wellspring of life, so as you parent, you need to shepherd your child’s heart because that is where attitude originates.
Navigating these contact points is the shepherding process we are called to as parents. It is our role to see that the key ingredients for a child’s growth are available to them. Challenges often allow for high impact opportunities to shepherd your child’s heart and shape their response mechanism. Don’t avoid these challenges and teachable moments, or you may raise a child who does not demonstrate effective coping mechanisms. The younger you teach your child to interpret their attitudes in light of God’s word, and you teach an attitude of growth versus victim mindset, the more likely you are to see your child respond like the one in the opening paragraph. Don’t underestimate your children and their ability to respond in amazing and positive ways to the challenges of life.
Tim Keller - Lord, so many of my problems stem from not remembering you. I forget your wisdom, and so I worry. I forget your grace, and so I get complacent. I forget your mercy, and so I get resentful of others. Help me remember who you are every moment of the day. Amen.
It’s the Job of the Teacher to Motivate the Student
Or is it? The prevailing attitude in culture today is that those around us are responsible for how we feel, act, respond, or behave. Social media tells us if we’re important. Culture is responsible for shaping our character. Teachers are responsible for motivating us. School is responsible for all future opportunities. Parents are responsible for making life comfortable. Employers are responsible for managing work-life balance. God is responsible for making our lives full of joy, and the list goes on. Interestingly enough, I am not responsible for anything, and if these things do not take place, I am a victim of my surroundings.
Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, talks about our attitude to the emotional, social, physical, and learning environment around us. Dweck believes that we display a fixed or growth mindset to all of these external factors. Our failures or giftedness are not directly a result of where we grow up or of who we are. In her book, Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, Ellen Winner debunks several myths about giftedness. She states that neither biology nor the environment is completely responsible for giftedness. Winner says that “Both play a part in giftedness. People need natural talent, but hard work is necessary in order to develop the talent.”
A recent high school chapel speaker relayed a story from his younger years when he told a respected mentor that “people make me so angry.” His mentor retorted by disagreeing and telling him that he chose to let people make him angry. We hear students and parents talk about how a child’s failure was the result of a bad teacher or learning environment when, in fact, we have more learning resources at our fingertips than any generation in history. Dweck states, “In short, the growth mindset lets people use and develop their mindset fully. Their heads are not filled with limiting thoughts, a fragile sense of belonging, and a belief that other people can define them.” Often, generations, cultures, adults, and students are victims by choice.
Today let’s take a growth mindset approach to whatever is holding you or your student back.
James 1:2-5 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.