One of my favorite things to teach in English class is etymology – it is the study of the parts of words. If you know your etymology, you can define a lot of words without ever looking them up in the dictionary. So, how would we define “advent” with etymology? “Ad-” means “to or toward” and “vent” means “to come” – therefore, “advent” means “come towards.” Advent is a very special time as we “come towards” Christmas.
However, because our society can be so materialistic this time of year, it can be difficult to keep our children’s eyes and hearts focused where they belong: on the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Here are some ideas that will remind your children of the reason for the season throughout the month of December.
Many make a paper chain that kids tear off throughout the month. Why not make a paper chain of Scriptures? Read one each night.
Implement a family devotion every night you can (and don’t ever feel guilty about the nights you can’t).
- My family is doing Max Lucado’s “Celebrating Christmas with Jesus” – a devotional I found on sale after Christmas last year. They are very short and one of us reads it at dinner each night.
- If your family likes music, a friend of mine recommends the “Behold the Lamb of God” CD by Andrew Peterson. Her family has done their own advent with different songs each night and this year they have the new advent book that goes along with it. On Christmas Eve they usually watch the whole concert on DVD.
- If a devotional isn’t handy, read one chapter of Luke each night. It has 24 chapters – perfect for the advent season!
One year my grandma made a tree full of Jesus symbols. If you have an extra small tree laying around, make it your “Jesus tree.” Have your children make ornaments that represent the names of Jesus or symbols that represent them. Here is a link I found that shows you how to make easy names of Jesus ornaments:
I was researching what “Elf on a Shelf” was as many of my friends were talking about it. As I did, I came across a Christian elf on a shelf tradition. Cyndi Spivey would hide Mary and Joseph somewhere in the house for her children to find – they are on their way to Bethlehem, but make various stops along the way. Come Christmas morning, they should be found with Jesus. Here’s the website if you want to read more about it: http://cyndispivey.com/2011/12/02/my-christian-version-of-the-elf-on-the-shelf/#comments
Another of my friends had a wonderful idea centered on the nativity set. Don’t set out the nativity all at once. Wrap each piece and count down to Christmas by unwrapping one piece each night. Attach a scripture about that piece to the outside and read it before unwrapping. For example, attach to Mary a verse about her, such as Luke 1:30: “Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Save Jesus for Christmas morning!
As Christmas cards come, open them over dinner and take turns reading them. Then pray for each person or family. We have just started this tradition with the first card that came last week. It was a very sweet time praying for part of our family that we never get to see.
Does your family have a unique tradition that helps keep the focus of Christmas on “coming toward” Jesus rather than a bunch of presents? Share them in the comments below!
by Dick Buckingham
1. Remember teachers are adult professional educators who have worked hard to be prepared to effectively teach students. They have the same goal and desire that you do with your child: success.
2. Show respect. While we may not always agree about everything there is no reason to show disrespect toward an individual that is laboring to help your child. There is too much of a mentality in our society that it is right and appropriate for a parent to defend his or her child against any one no matter if the child is right or wrong. We need to remember we are on the same side and working toward the same goal.
3. Don’t assume you have the whole or correct story from your child. As with all fallen humans, we tend to “modify” the truth that we might look more favorable in its light. This seems to be certainly true in the case of students. Particularly when a negative report is given by our student about their teacher, we must avoid the temptation to assume it is fully and completely true. Wait until you hear the other side of the story before you make conclusions and respond.
4. Realize that teachers are a wealth of information about parenting. Not only have many of them experienced parenting first hand, but they have also had close contact with a number of other parents through the school and can share good ideas, and warn of bad ones. I have had many parents seek me out for advice about things other than academics.
5. Remember teachers are imperfect and do make mistakes. Even with the best intentions, teachers will err like the rest of us. Just as we desire grace in matters such as these, so does your child’s teacher. Offer grace generously as did our Lord to all of us who are saved.
6. Life has become very hectic for parents. Please consider putting down the remote, leaving the clubs in the garage on a Saturday morning and getting rid of other distractions in your life so that you can parent your child. The one thing they need from you most is your time. As the father of three grown men, I can attest to how quickly these years pass by when they are young and most in need of my attention. There will be time later for those other things if they really are important.
7. Life has also become hectic for students. They want to be involved in many activities outside of their academics and often they get overwhelmed. While there are many wonderful things students can participate in, they need help in prioritizing what is truly important and what they need to spend their time doing. For some students, school may be all they are able to handle. A parent should not feel like they are withholding some important experience from their child if they are unable to handle karate, soccer, and basketball, piano and dance lessons on top of school work. Put the extra stuff in its proper place.
8. Simplify your child’s life. Many times our students are running constantly from one thing to another. Or they feel it is necessary to give large portions of time to socializing on their phones or computers. Look for ways to make life simpler for you and your child.
9. Don’t stress over grades. I am fully aware of how our society likes to measure everything on a 100 point scale. But grades are at best a snapshot of how a child is doing on a few things and doesn’t really reflect how a child is doing over all. For an in-depth evaluation, talk to your child’s teacher. They can give you a clearer idea if your child is working hard, showing respect, paying attention, and doing everything they can do to succeed. Sometimes this will also be reflected in their grades, but not always
by Meridith Borta
― Dr. Seuss
― William Penn
― Charles Buxton
― Denis Waitley
by Jennie Smith, Secondary Assistant Principal
This question can take many forms.
When will I ever use this in my real life?
What is the point of learning this?
Why, Mrs. Smith, why, why, why?!
Have you ever been faced with that question from your kids? In the midst of a challenging project or homework assignment, you may find that your children wonder what the purpose is of learning and school. I’ll tell you the top two Biblical reasons I give to my students and children – feel free to use them as needed with your own kids.
The first reason comes from Genesis 1:28. The New International Version reads like this: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ”
God commands Adam and Eve, among other things, to subdue the earth. The King James Version uses the word “dominion” – Adam and Eve are to have dominion over the earth. The idea of dominion is to have control or rule. My question to my students is: how can you have dominion over something you know nothing about? Imagine someone becoming a CEO of a company, but he has no knowledge of what the company does or how to run a business. How successful can that boss be? God has called us to subdue the earth and the first step of doing so is learning about it.
So, reason #1 to the question “Why do I need to learn this?” is “God says so.”
Reason #2 to the question is “Jesus did so.”
We don’t know too much about the childhood of Jesus. But from the small portions we do know, we see that Jesus had a desire to learn. When his parents couldn’t locate him when he was 12 years old, they found him in the temple learning from the rabbis. Luke 2:46 says “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (NIV). It follows to say that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature.” (Luke 2:52, NIV). So, if Jesus grew in wisdom, and sat and learned and asked questions from the teachers of his day, so should the rest of us.
God said so and Jesus did so – two good reasons to do just about anything, including learning the tough stuff.