My Hope for Harper: REVISITED
It has been two years since I wrote this blog. Little did I know at the time how interrupted Harper’s school experience would be. In addition, our sweet Ellie is starting preschool, so my wish list has grown a bit! So many educators resonated with my original blog. I decided it might be a good time to revisit and revise. For those of you who have children or grandchildren, your desires may be similar to mine. If you are a teacher without children of your own, I hope this will give you some insight into the heart of a parent/grandparent. We all have such high hopes!
I have had so many opportunities to spend time with my two granddaughters, Harper and Ellie. Harper is now six, and Ellie is three. This is such a perfect age. They still love spending time with MeMa! Trust me; I don’t take this for granted. I was fortunate as a child to grow up in the same town as my maternal grandmother. I am so grateful for her influence. She always poured love and truth into my life. I cherish the opportunity to do the same for my granddaughters.
Our times together are full of fun and excitement. We read books, play board games, build puzzles, plant flowers, watch movies, play hide-and-seek, sort shells, and do just about anything else we can think of. We have “friendly” competitions, which usually involve some type of race. The outcome is always the same; Harper wins followed by Ellie. I am happy to flamboyantly finish last!
These precious little girls never stop. Harper talks constantly, wants to try new things, and runs wherever she goes. She never—and I mean never—slows down. She has a curious mind and is full of wonder. Learning seems second nature to her. Ellie is following suit, doing her best to keep up with her big sister. I suppose this is true of most little ones. (Check out the “Wish for the Year” on their first-day-of-school boards.)
I catch myself thinking about their future quite often. I know God’s Word tells me, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6). In the moments when I reflect on their future, I am thankful God is okay with me selfishly praying for Harper and Ellie. It is during these times I also catch myself speculating about their schooling. Being a lifelong educator, I simply can’t help it!
I don’t worry about whether they will learn how to add and subtract or how to read. I wonder about other things. Chief among them is these thoughts. Will Harper’s precious, energetic, vivacious personality be celebrated and nurtured, or will it be discouraged and squelched? Will Ellie’s compliant yet inquisitive nature be cultivated or overlooked? You see, I’m not sure either of them will thrive in a setting…
· where the traditional model of sitting down and being quiet is the norm.
· where competition is valued over cooperation.
· where compliance is seen as engagement.
· where following rules and procedures takes precedence over learning.
Don’t misunderstand me. Do children need to learn rules and procedures? Of course. Do they need to obey the teacher? Certainly. Do they need to listen and take turns? No doubt.
However, the reality is many young children begin school with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and excitement only to dread going to school in a few short years. Why is that? The question is a difficult one, and the answer is complex. At the same time, we as educators cannot deny the impact we have on how children view school and their learning. My husband is fond of saying, “School is only what we tell children it is.” What do I want “school” to be for Harper and Ellie?
If I could speak to all of my granddaughters’ future teachers, I would humbly ask that they consider some of the thoughts noted below.
· See their energy as something to be channeled, not repressed.
· View their tenacity as an asset to be promoted.
· Encourage them when they get frustrated. Tell them they don’t have to be perfect.
· Teach them to make good choices, and help them learn from wrong choices without feeling shame.
· Show them how to support others who may not learn as quickly as they do.
· Nurture their strengths and develop their weaknesses.
· Tell them it’s okay to make mistakes; this is how we learn.
· Give them freedom to be all they can be.
· Love them when they aren’t as loveable as usual.
Will Harper and Ellie get the chance to experience this type of educational experience? Will they continue to love learning as they do now? I certainly hope so.
I recognize how difficult it is to be a teacher these days. Children differ in so many ways—personalities, temperaments, learning styles. Yet, every child is someone’s precious gift. All children deserve what I want for my own granddaughters. While it might seem impossible, as Christian educators we have a power source that makes the impossible possible.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
As Christian educators, the calling to teach goes far beyond teaching our content.
· We must look at every child as a precious gift created in God’s image.
· We must see every child as one to be loved and cherished.
· We must give every child the opportunity to identify and cultivate their God-given gifts.
Teaching is a high calling to be taken very seriously.
Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24 AMP
I truly believe God has purposefully placed Christian educators in our schools for a reason. It is an honor to be chosen to pour into the lives of children and families every day. As educators, let’s embrace our calling. My sweet granddaughter’s futures depend on it, and so does every other child’s future who enters our classrooms.