Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mighty or Might-less?


2 Samuel 23:11-12 
11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and Israel’s troops fled from the Philistines. But Shammah took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.
This is one of my favorite stories. It’s about one of David’s Mighty Men. When David’s army ran away from the Philistines, Shammah stood and faced the enemy. It was Shammah and God against a multitude.
How can we raise up children to be like Shammah? How do we prepare them to stand alone with God and face the world outside of home and VVCS?  Here at school we memorize scriptures and teach the children the stories of the Bible.  We teach them how to pray and listen for God's voice. We work on developing Christian character traits.  We learn to let our light shine and to be salt, to seek first and to serve.  We give the children opportunities to enter into a relationship with Jesus. Is all that enough? 
Let’s compare our students to Shammah.  He had been trained as a soldier, and I think it’s safe to assume, he had a weapon of some kind, a sword or spear.  Likewise our students are receiving training to be soldiers for the Lord at school, at home, and at church.  They have weapons: knowledge of the Bible and prayer. 
The problem that we teachers anguish over is, we can't teach them an intimate relationship with Jesus. We can model it but we can't make them love Jesus. We can give them head knowledge but head knowledge can be reasoned away by convincing (though not necessarily true) argument. We can give them weapons, but are weapons enough? 
How often have you seen kids from Christian families launch into life standing strong for the Lord? Then after a year of college they either reject their parent's faith or turn to neutralized lukewarmness?
Let's look back at our story of Shammah. Like our children, he had training and weapons. He also had three choices. He could run off with the unfaithful, lukewarm, ineffective soldiers of Israel, he could join the Philistines, or he could stand alone with God. Our children have the same choices. Live a lukewarm powerless "Christian" life, completely reject Christianity, or stand alone with God in the bean field of this world. 
What more can we do as a school to produce Shammahs? What more can you do as parents? I think a huge key is prayer. Fervent prayer, consistent prayer, battle prayer, sacrificial prayer, FASTING prayer (my least favorite), and never giving up prayer. What do we pray? That our kids will have a Mighty Man spirit. That they will be friends with the Holy Spirit, yielded to Him so He can work in their lives like He did in Shammah's. Pray that they will choose to take a stand in the bean field even if they are the only one standing. Pray that they will choose NOT to run away with the lukewarm or the Philistines. Pray that God will work a great victory.You pray over them as they sleep while we pray over them at school. The prayers we pray now are eternal. The answers to our prayers are like time released capsules coming to them as needed throughout their lives. The Bible tells us our prayers are held in bowls. The Lord is waiting to tip the bowl and send the answer at just the right time. 
Revelation 5:8 "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people."
We train, prepare, supply, and model the Christian life for our children but in this crazy bean field in which we live, all that is not enough. We must diligently pray that God will show Himself real to this next generation. Will we produce Mighty Men or might-less men? Only our prayers and the Holy Spirit can move the hearts of our children.

-Peggy White (VVCS 4th Grade Teacher)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Freedom to Choose with Ben Russel

School Choice has been at the center of much debate in our country.   A quick google search shows a broad array of definitions of school choice.  According to Edchoice.org, "School choice allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs."  According to focusonthefamily.com, "School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their child's education."  In short, some say that school choice deals with a funding mechanism while others say that it is simply our ability to choose options for our children's education.

America is a great champion of choice.  From our clothes to our food, we are a country who loves and champions individual choice.  Our country has been built on the belief that choice makes us stronger and that competition gives us even greater strength and diversity.  The problem in our country is that often parent school choice is restricted based on financial factors.  

Arizona is considered by many to be a leader in school choice in the US.  Our scholarship tax credit is perhaps the strongest of any state.  As many readers know taxpayers in Arizona can claim a dollar for dollar tax credit against their state tax burden by making a donation of up to $2,106 (for the 2016 tax year).  Taxpayers who itemize can then claim that donation (which would have been paid in taxes) on their federal taxes as well.  As a local accountant put it, “this is the best deal going for the taxpayer”.

Another foundation of school choice is the voucher system.  The Arizona legislature recently took up a proposal to expand the use of vouchers in our state.  Vouchers would allow a family to choose from a broad array of educational options.  The state funding their child’s education would then travel with their child.  Under the current system, a family’s tax burden would be used to support public schooling.  If the family chose private schooling as an option, they would then need to pay out of pocket, effectively causing them to pay double for their child’s education.

We recently invited other local schooling options to Verde Valley Christian School to share their educational philosophy with our outgoing fifth grade families.  We heard from public, charter, parochial, home school, and blended models.  I was amazed and pleased at the level of diversity represented in that room.  There were so many different perspectives on what is important for our children's education.  Some schools emphasized special programming, others on strength of academics, still others on family strength and size, and others on faith and the importance of the whole child.  Some took a global approach to learning while others focused primarily on our nation's heritage. The parents were able then to ask questions and meet with those who they felt best matched their own philosophy.  The feedback I received was very positive.  It was clear that families benefited by the diversity of choice. 

I've had the fortune of being involved in public schooling, home schooling, and now Christian schooling.  Each was entirely unique and had a lot of strengths.  I firmly believe that when we allow families to seek schooling options that best fit their family we raise the overall level of education in our country.  I have found benefit and value in every school choice that I have been involved in. 

Why in a country that is committed to choice and diversity would we not champion the opportunity for all families to have the same access to choice when it comes to schooling? 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bully Proofing Your Child with Ruby Brown

BULLY PROOFING YOUR CHILD
What can parents and educators do to help students deal with genuine bullying?  First, it is important, though not always easy, to identify the difference between teasing and bullying.  Bullying is done with malice and a desire to destroy another person.  Teasing, disagreements, and arguing are part of the process of “growing up” and establishing relationships.  Technology, for all of its positives, has created a new level of bullying for all ages ranging from humiliating pictures and posts on social media to adults actually creating false “news” items (lies)  in a deliberate to discredit targeted individuals or organizations.
We also need to recognize that American society values beauty, money, power, and winning.  Because of our human depravity, it is challenging to resist the urge to follow the current philosophy.  This is where we can make a difference for our children and the Bible gives us guidance.  
We as people have value because we are God’s creation.  On Day Six of creation, Genesis chapter one records that God made all living creatures, livestock, creeping things, and beasts of the earth.   However verses 26-27 are special because they refer to humans:  “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over….”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  We are not just another animal.  We are God’s special creation.  Even after man’s deliberate sin, God loved people enough to send Jesus, his one and only Son to provide salvation for us (John 3:16).  Then in Ephesians 2:10 God describes those who have been saved through faith as, “his workmanship.”  This phrase is also expressed as “handiwork.”  So we need to emphasize to our children that they are God’s very special creation and he loves them because they are his, not because of anything they have accomplished or their looks, or talents.
On a practical level there are several strategies we can teach.  The first one is to teach that some people pick on others in order to make themselves seem stronger.  Often these students either feel left out themselves or have not figured out an effective way of getting the attention they crave.  Another strategy is to calmly deliver “I messages” where you tell the person why you do not like what they are saying or doing to you.  This takes a lot of rehearsal to avoid the “YOU…” instead of “I do not like it when you call me names such as --------.”  Sometimes the other student will respond kindly and they can work out a compromise, but there is always the possibility that the bully will laugh or escalate the offensive behavior.  If the latter occurs, then the student needs to walk away.  If the behavior keeps recurring, the student can then enlist the support of a trusted adult.  
Walking away or avoiding a particular person may seem to be a weak way of dealing with bullying.  However, you are also teaching your child how to avoid becoming the VICTIM.  A person who consistently treats you unkindly or disrespectfully is not your friend, even if they easily say, “I’m sorry” or with older students, “If I offended you…” and then repeat the same behavior.
A weekly resource you may find helpful is https://www.loveandlogic.com.  The one on December 7 was titled “Sibling Rivalry” and some of these strategies can easily be applied to situations at school or work.  This website has many resources, and you can have the “Insider’s Club” sent to your email weekly.  As adults we know that forming healthy relationships is a challenge, and we have to apply strategies in order to live effectively.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Off to a Good Start with Peggy White

The start you give your child each morning effects how their entire day will go. The bad news is you need to start their morning the night before! 
1.                  Early in the evening (or while you're in the school parking lot) check their backpack for notes and homework. Make sure homework gets done before they are totally wiped out. Up through 5th grade your kiddo needs help and supervision with their homework. Taking the time with them during these early years will pay off later on.
Please listen to your early elementary child read out loud. Sit down with them and make sure they are reading correctly. Is it torture? Sometimes. Do you have a million other things to do? Sure. Bite the bullet on this one, it's important. 
2.                  Have an evening routine. Pick out tomorrow's clothes (shoes and all) before bedtime. Make sure you've signed anything that needs signing and put it in the backpack. Everything needs to be ready so there won't be chaos in the morning. 
3.                  Have a bedtime routine. Pray with your child. Speak blessings over them. Thank the Lord for the gifts and good qualities you see in them. Pray for some of your concerns with your child so they see you turning to the Lord for help. Display your faith in action. Have them pray for others to help develop compassion. Take time to read aloud to your kiddos. It makes great memories and actually helps improve their reading!
4.                   Have a morning routine. Get your child up early enough that they have time to move at a snail’s pace if they are so inclined.  Letting them sleep till the last minute and giving them “5 more minutes” ten times and then pushing and rushing and yelling to get them out the door is no way to start their day. One time I saw a roadrunner cross the road in front of a motor cycle. I think the bike nicked his tail.  In any case, he made it across but he was VERY ruffled, to say the least.  Many times children arrive at school in a similarly frazzled condition.  Get them up in time to have a leisurely (healthy) breakfast and get fully awake. Instead of arriving at school like a survivor of a 3rd world hurricane and earthquake rolled into one, do everything you can to give them a peaceful start to the day.
5.                   Lastly, allow plenty of time for the drive.  Don’t rush your kiddos to the car with threats.  Expect the last minute potty break or misplaced shoe. Keep the drive pleasant and positive.  Arrive about 10 minutes early so your child has time to connect with their buddies and just get their minds set in school mode.
Now I hear you saying, Mrs. White, you have no idea what it’s like.  Yes I do.  I had 3 kids….I know! I made 3 different breakfasts, packed 3 lunches and hunted for shoes and backpacks every day for many years.  Somewhere along the way I learned a lesson from a really great dad.  He said, “You have to treat parenting like a job where you’re never off duty.  Organize things like it was for an employer.  Approach your day like it’s a job.” And in fact, it IS a job, the most important job you’ll ever do.  You will never regret the effort and sacrifices you make for your kids.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

All Tuckered Out! With Ben Russel

Dangerous- Don’t Read This When Drowsy!!!

In the last decade we have learned many new words.  Among them are words like zika, ebola, mrsa, and avian flu.  Remember following the news as these illnesses spread? They can be pretty scary. But there is one health crisis that has gotten almost no publicity.  It's lack of sleep.  Believe it or not in 2013 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) declared lack of sleep a public health epidemic. 

Dangers
According to a recent Harvard University article, lack of sleep can have negative short term effects on our bodies such as memory loss, decreased decision making skills, mood swings, and more (some of you are saying, “that explains my spouse”).  What's even more concerning is that long term sleep inefficiency can lead to things like cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.  I would argue an even greater problem is that we are passing this disease on to our children.

Our children's lives are often so busy with homework, playdates, sports practices, music lessons and play time that sleep takes a back seat.  We can assume that our kids are resilient and will bounce back but studies show that lack of sleep in children can lead to poor school performance, behavior struggles, and mental health struggles.  

Guidelines
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sleep guidelines for children share the recommended amounts of sleep for kids.  A quick reading is a bit surprising.  See what you think.

Age
Recommended Hours (including naps)
4-11months
12-15
1-2 years
11-14
3-5 years
10-13
6-13 years
9-11
14-17 years
8-10

*https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sleep/Pages/Healthy-Sleep-Habits-How-Many-Hours-Does-Your-Child-Need.aspx

We often judge our children’s sleep times by how they act.  It’s important to note that children will actually mirror overactive symptoms of ADHD and hyperactivity when sleepy.  According to NSF,  Children often act as if they are not tired, resisting bedtime and becoming hyper as the evening goes on. All this can happen because the child is overtired.

Developing Sleep Habits

The following is a checklist of good habits to set in your home
                 Routine:            Do my children have a nighttime routine (they thrive on                                                             this)?
·                  Lighting:          Do I dim the lights a bit so their bodies can prepare for bed?
·                  Toys:                Do I keep toys off of their beds so they identify beds with                         sleeping?
-                    Example:         Do I set a good example for my kids?
 -         Screen Time:   Do I limit screen time during the day and turn off electronics
.                       at least 30 min before bedtime?


With healthy sleep habits, your family will see great benefits.  Start today and start a little bit at a time.

Sincerely [said with a slow yawn],


Ben Russel
VVCS Administrator
Lover of Sleep


Interesting Articles To Learn More

[http://www.cdc.gov/outbreaks/][Sept 2016]

[http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences][Sept 2016]

[http://bettersleep.org/better-sleep][Sept 2016]

[https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sleep/Pages/Healthy-Sleep-Habits-How-Many-Hours-Does-Your-Child-Need.aspx][Sept 2016]

[https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/sleep-news/how-much-sleep-do-babies-and-kids-need][Sept 2016]