As we move into the final phase of this school year, we have an unusual opportunity to teach our children about finishing strong. We don't always have this chance, because it only comes at the end of something big.
Many years ago I was on a high school track team. My main event at that time was called the 800 yard dash. Today of course it's the 800 meter. We all spent 600 to 700 yards sizing each other up for that last push. Sometimes I was so far ahead (or behind) that nothing could change the outcome. But usually it was that last few yards that made the difference between winning and losing. The runner that could summon up the physical and emotional strength to finish strong would win.
Remind your children about this fact of life that you have already learned. This is the time of year when some students quit; even some adults want to quit. But this is also the time of year that builds and shows our character. Take advantage of it; it won't come again until next year at this time.
Students don't have the experience in life to appreciate this opportunity. They need the adults in their life to coach them.
Blessings on your coaching,
Today I want to describe three "V" attributes on which we can together work to instill in our children. These three come from the writings of Tim Elmore to whom I give credit. I have adapted them somewhat for this article.
The first is vision. A vision is your description of a preferred future. If you have a vision, you can set goals to achieve it. If you have no vision, you wander rather aimlessly about. For the great inventors that vision was solving some problem. For the great artists it's more abstract. Practice asking your child what a better future would look like. Ask for as much detail as possible. For some this does not come easily, but practice can improve our ability. You will find with a little practice over time this can become a stimulating conversation. Obviously, you don't want to bring out this heavy question for three consecutive days, but look for an appropriate opening.
Second is virtue. It's one thing that separates us from the animals. When animals fight over turf, they don't care about right and wrong. They just want more territory, mates, food, or whatever. Nor are there rules. They can use any means possible to gain what they want. Sometimes humans act like this too. In rough tribal areas of the third world, society can be just like the animal kingdom. But humans are (or can be) different. We can care about others. We care about honesty, fairness, and other virtuous traits. Of course the first step in promoting virtues is to demonstrate them. Set a good example. Tell them why you do what is right even when nobody is looking. As your children catch this "vision" of how you conduct yourself, they will want to be like this too.
And third is valor. We tend to think of knights, castles, and drawbridges in this context, but valor exists today too. It's a different kind of bravery though. Valor goes beyond virtue in that valor means doing what's right even in the face of great danger. In our society that may not even mean physical danger. Most of the danger our children face today comes not from a wild animal or from an enemy tribe. It comes from the social stigma attached to standing up for what we believe even in the face of a society that will post bad things about us on Facebook. It may mean standing up for someone who is being denigrated for beliefs even when those beliefs are different than ours. Watch or read the news together with your child and discuss how various people acted or reacted. Our children value what we think, and want to learn from us.
All the above involve time with kids. Plan to spend time having fun but also engaging in occasional serious conversation.
Blessings on your role as a parent,
Tim Miesner, Principal