My oldest son starts school this next fall. Sad thing is, I don't think he is ready. If academics is all we are concerned about, then he would be fine; he is reading and doing math far beyond his years.
No, we are much more interested in where his heart is. There is something I tell college students quite often. The line rings around in my head right now even as he is beginning Kindergarten.
"Don't let your grades get in the way of your education."
So my wife and I have been praying and discussing this concept. We don't want our son's grades to be the only defining factor to let us know how he is doing. Because of this, we have come up with some key areas we want to focus on this summer to prepare him for school. They are:
Honesty - This fall begins much more of outside influences on his life. I want him to learn early on that we want to live in the light, being honest about everything - including our shortcomings.
- How - We simply plan to make a big deal out of the times this summer when he tells us the truth, even if it cost him something to do it. Our hope is that he begins to understand that honesty is what God desires, and that being dishonest is not really an option.
There are three simple lines we use when it comes to obeying. I'm sure we heard these lines somewhere, I just don't remember where. Obedience means doing things all the way, the right way, with a joyful heart.
- How - We give him opportunities daily to learn to be obedient. Sometimes he does exactly what we ask (all the way), responds quickly (right away), and has a great attitude while doing it (with a joyful heart). At other times, he gives us the openings in the door to discipline and teach. Both responses give my wife and I the ability to speak into his life.
Responsibility - I don't look at my son as a boy, but as a man in training. Therefore, I don't expect him to act like a boy. I want him to learn to act like a man. Men take responsibility; for their families, their employability, and their actions. Now that he is entering school, we want to teach him what it means to take responsibility for his actions.
- How - We give him areas for which he is responsible. Cleaning his room, helping clear the table, or helping take care of his siblings, this is a great chance for us to continually teach what it looks like to be responsible for things outside of himself.
Self-control - Kids have to learn how to deal with their emotions. Our son is no different. There are times when he is overcome by emotion because of frustration, exhaustion, or whatever. There will be people in his class that drive him absolutely batty as well. We are trying to prepare him now for how to deal with that when the time comes.
- How - For our son specifically, this begins with him knowing and believing he has strength. From there, we want to teach him for his strength to be under control. Practically, we want to teach him how to breathe when he is frustrated. We hope this becomes a building block for future years when we teach him to restrain other desires as well.
Hopefully, this will be bathed in grace. We don't expect him to be Superman. Each time he lets himself or us down, we get to remind him that we love him not for what he does, but for who he is. Those are always powerful moments for us.
At the same time, we know that none of us ever drift to anything good. Instead, we set a plan. This is our plan for this summer with him.
What would you add or subtract? What are you doing to invest in your kids?
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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