"So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
1. See yourself as their first teacher.
We are commanded to train our children to think with a Christian worldview all day long (Deut. 6:4-5). Covenant Academy was founded on the principle that while all parents are given the responsibility of education, many parents do not have all the resources to provide such an education.
Covenant Academy seeks to assist parents in fulfilling their responsibilities through delegation. However, delegation is not the same as abdication - shirking your responsibility by handing your job over to someone else. Don't just send your children to Covenant Academy; let them have a sense that you are directing their steps educationally. Debrief at dinner, dialog during driving and demonstrate your devotion by actively listening to your children.
2. Discipline your children according to God's Word.
Covenant Academy strives to create an orderly and warm environment because the children are trained to display kindness to others and self-control in their conduct. While many parents are attracted to this type of an environment, there is a temptation for some families to seek out a school which will provide the type of discipline and training that they are unable or unwilling to provide themselves. This will inevitably lead to difficulties in the school-family relationship because the child is not trained consistently.
God's Word, the Bible, provides all the encouragement, wisdom and practical understanding we need as parents to adequately train our children for life. If you feel that this is an area in which you may need to improve (and who doesn't), we encourage you to seek wisdom from the Scriptures and to read an excellent book about biblically training children called Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp. For parents of older children, an excellent book about shepherding young adults into adulthood is Age of Opportunity, also by Paul Tripp.
3. Become a lifelong learner.
Let your children see you learning, reading, and discovering. Your children will assume the view of education that they see in you. If you think of education as something that happens at school, then they will begin to think in this way as well. But if you think of education as a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, then they will begin to pursue this as well.
4. Read to your children.
This can hardly be emphasized enough. This one task can help your child improve his self-control, imagination, creativity, vocabulary, writing skills, and auditory processing. Fostering a love of books will lead your child to becoming a lifelong reader, thus a lifelong learner. By ages three and four, most children are capable of learning to sit through short novels such as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Little House on the Prairie, The Adventures of Homer Price, etc. If you would like to learn more about what to read to your child, Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt is an excellent resource.
5. Communicate with the school.
Communication is the weakest link in any organization whether it's a family, church, or school. Communicating our appreciation, concern, fear, and disappointment should be a natural and regularly occurring event in the classroom, hallway, or on the phone. Doing this within the parameters of Scripture will enable us to bring glory to God and build up others instead of tearing them down. An excellent book on communicating with others is The Peacemaker by Ken Sande.
6. Develop friendships.
Covenant Academy is not just a school, it's a family. We rejoice in the good in each other’s lives. We mourn with those who mourn. If you want more out of your school than an educational environment, then take the first step to develop relationships. Serve brunch and invite other parents. Have a Bible study to parallel what your children are learning in their Bible class. Develop a reading circle and read books from our Great Books Program, or start a parent-child reading circle and read books that are on their level. Be creative and be proactive in developing relationships with families at the school.
7. Establish priorities for home life.
The first school your child will experience is your home. Here, your child will learn how to play, work, worship, relax, eat, and interact with others. While these activities do not involve grades and exams, they are measured in the daily application of faith to life. It is crucial to the Christian life to understand how to perform these activities in a way that celebrates and brings glory to the Lord. "Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God." (I Cor. 10:31).
Childhood flies by in an instant. There are so many choices and activities available in our culture that there is a great temptation to fill the day running from one thing to the next. The children who are the most successful at Covenant Academy, or anywhere else, come from homes that have made family time a priority by limiting extracurricular activities. Godly home life is not something that can be appreciated in rare tropical storms of spiritual teaching. If we are to be effective, it will be accomplished by keeping the relative spiritual humidity very high.
8. Establish consistent sleep habits.
Sports and activity schedules, along with the additional responsibilities of homework can lead to children staying up far later than their bodies are intended to, resulting in a lack of sleep. Sleep is very important to the healthy development of children. Parents who want their children to be successful would be wise to carefully select extracurricular activities and make sure that sleep is a priority.
9. Get involved.
Covenant Academy would not function without the help of parents who volunteer their time and skills to assist our teachers and staff. Parents have volunteered in the classroom, helped start and maintain our library, organized special projects, driven children on field-trips, put up bulletin boards, assisted students who need individual reading time, even grade papers.
Teachers rely on the help of the parents throughout the school year. Parents who volunteer their time in their children's school feel more connected to what is going on, are more appreciative of the overall goals, and are better able to positively affect their child's education. Ask your child's teacher how you can help.
10. Develop and maintain good homework habits.
Many parents are thrilled when they learn of our homework policy. We believe that family time is important to our success as a school. To assist families, we have made it a policy that only homework that is essential to the child's mastery of a skill or concept should be assigned. This should not be interpreted to mean that we are "light" on homework or that homework is optional. We expect and require that assigned work be completed in a timely manner as determined by the teacher. And some students may need to do more homework than others because they work at a slower pace in class.
With this in mind, parents may benefit from the following suggestions: Students do their best work when in a consistent environment with good lighting and proper seating. A personal study area that is free of distractions works well. Parents should keep in mind that homework is designed to increase independence. If a child is unable to do his work independently, this may be an indication that there is a deficit in his skills which should be discussed with his teacher. Or it may mean that he is having difficulty transferring his skills from one environment to the other. The best course of action is to relax and attempt to change directions given and use vocabulary more consistent with that of the teacher's, if possible. Share your concerns with your child's teacher the next day.
Parents do well to encourage their child to be independent, even if that means making mistakes. Children doing their work heartily and making their mistakes with integrity while receiving average grades brings as much honor to God as an exceptional student receiving straight A's.
Above all, relax and enjoy your child, let him become what God has made him to be, and enjoy the incredible adventure you are beginning!