Last weekend I started reading a book that I have recommended to all of our MS parents entitled Screenwise—Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. I wanted to share it with all of our WCCS parents here on the blog as well, because I think it is translatable, no matter what age your children might be. The book isn’t overtly Christian, but is relevant and presents parents with a positive, mentoring approach to managing your teenager’s devices and social media. The book comes from the reality that teenagers have so many distractions pulling at them, they are not relationally, emotionally, or intellectually mature enough to navigate all of the social media distractions without our help as parents. I thought I would provide a few “nuggets” from the book to encourage you to read further on your own.
Take a more intentional approach to mentoring your kids on technology
Focus on modeling thoughtful use of technology
Instead of trying to keep technology out of your student’s hand completely in an effort to protect, try instead engaging with them in the technology they are using. Find out what apps and games are new and current that your children might be requesting, and investigate them together. Have fun with your children using the technology they are interested in! Keeping a positive, interested attitude will help keep healthy lines of communication open with your child. If you are worried about a particular app or game, enlist a savvy tech parent that might be in the know about current apps and technology that can answer any questions or concerns you may have. Ultimately, your goal is to mentor your child on appropriate and safe online interactions in a growing digital age and to stay connected yourself to the online world in which they live.
Create times and spaces to be unplugged
Encourage each member of your family to live a balanced life and to create boundaries with technology use. As parents, don’t leave yourself out. You want to model that you are in control of your media devices - they don’t have control over you. Leave the phone at home and DO something together. Go to the park, play a game, create a craft space in your house, and unplug during mealtime and before bed. Find out what boundaries work for your family and be consistent. If you demonstrate with your actions that family time is important, your kids will internalize this and come to value it as well.
Teach your kids ways to repair mistakes and problem areas
Technology can have a big effect on our interpersonal relationships – the way we relate to peers and family members and even the way we solve conflicts. This is another great place for you to model correct behavior. If you find yourself becoming unbalanced in your media use, or perhaps you engaged in a debate online that you later realized was not God-honoring – admit to it and let your student see how you repaired the situation. As you can imagine, with social media and group texting there is a lot of potential for peer conflict in the digital world. Brainstorming with your student through these interactions will go a long way in forming mature resolution skills and keeping healthy relationships with their peers.
I have been encouraged personally by the challenge in Screenwise to bring balance and healthy boundaries into my own life regarding technology and social media use. As much as our teenagers may seem competent and self-assured regarding their knowledge and use of technology, they desperately need your wisdom and life experience to model and train them in how to navigate these technology waters. Likewise, Mom and Dad, you have much to offer them in this area. We often believe our teenagers are more technologically savvy than we, but it is the wisdom you have as parents that is needed to bring healthy margin to their overall life with their technology use.
It is hard to believe that the month of August has already come and gone! If you are like me, it has FLOWN by! As your Head of School, it has been a joy for me to witness the excitement of our teachers and students as they have reconnected with old friends and welcomed many new ones to the school. It has also been a different kick-off to the school year for me as it is the first time in twenty-four years that I do not have a child of my own attending my school. My wife and I dropped our youngest daughter off at Covenant College last week, leaving her to be the new kid on campus. This prompts me to give another BIG welcome to those of you who are new to the WCCS family. We are so glad you are here, and we cannot wait for you to personally experience what is so unique and valuable about Christian education. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you three main ways a Christian education will benefit your child.
We are a “safe” environment
“Safety” is a catch-phrase in educational circles today. Schools do what they can to promise protection from the world. While this kind of safety is important to us as well, we want to prepare our students for the world they will grow up in. They are already in the “real world.” Though we are a Christian school, we are all flawed human beings - students, teachers, and school heads alike. We are not perfect. WCCS is not, nor was it ever meant to be, education in a bubble. What I’m talking about here is much better. It’s the idea that as a group of administrators, faculty, and staff, we have the unique opportunity to come together in a safe environment to minister to your child through life’s biggest questions. Peer relationships, family life, identity, technology, the secularization of modern culture, evolution, etc. - there is no topic that is “off limits” within our walls. Trust me, your child is searching for answers. Our teachers, coaches, and administrators get to have these conversations with our students through a Biblical lens – pointing them to Christ and His Truth - reinforcing the same values that you teach them at home and that they are learning in church. We are in this together and WCCS is a safe place for your child to learn and grow.
Our teachers are “for” your child
I want you to know that your child’s teacher at WCCS desires for him or her to receive an outstanding, well-rounded, education. However, even more than this, we want your child to know that he or she is genuinely cared for by our teachers, even when (and maybe even especially when) they fall short. Christ’s love has never been dependent on our performance. In the same way, as Image-Bearers of Christ, we would never want your child’s self-perception to be based on their ability to get an A, perform on the field, behave well at all times, etc. What might this look like in the classroom? It could mean that your child’s teacher has the freedom to allow your child to approach an assignment creatively, from his or her own strengths or interests. Or perhaps to allow them an opportunity to make up a failed assignment to show that the material has been learned. It could even mean giving a measure of grace to a student in a discipline situation, knowing it is undeserved - just as Christ has done for us. WCCS teachers are for and want the absolute best for your child – that he or she would discover and live out their place in God’s world.
We get to tell a BETTER story
Our hope is that when your child walks across the WCCS stage at graduation, WCCS has had a significant impact on both the mind and the heart. God has created your child to do more than go to a certain college, obtain a degree, make a certain amount of money and fulfill a personal dream. HIS story for your student is so much better. I truly hope and pray that all of our students will leave here, no matter how long or short their time has been, with a sense of who God created them to be – ready to bless the world as a disciple of Christ, for HIS glory. Then, we will be able to say together that we have no greater joy than to hear that our children are walking in the truth!
As YOUR family experiences Christian education at WCCS, I hope you are becoming just as passionate as I am about the difference a Christ-centered learning environment has on the life of your child. Our teachers get to share the transforming power of Christ in the academic setting, and that’s exciting! If you are anything like I am, when I find something great, I want to share it with my friends, family, and neighbors.
In the next couple of weeks, we will have an opportunity for you to do just that. You will be receiving a couple of postcards that we encourage you to hand out to those people in your circle that you think might be interested in learning more about the difference a Christian education at WCCS could make in the life of their own student. As parents, you are invited to join me for coffee as we discuss these benefits. We would also love for you to invite interested friends, neighbors, and church families so that they, too, might "Discover the Difference" at WCCS!
Lower School Coffee – Friday, September 13, 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. in Westminster Hall, Section A
Upper School Coffee – Friday, September 20, 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. in the Upper School Chapel
RSVP today to Jane Wilson at 803.328.5472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited to announce that Lisa Barlow will be joining us as our new Director of Development! Get to know her in this week's blog, and be sure to give her a warm welcome when we return for the 2019-2020 school year. We can not wait to see how God uses her to further his Kingdom and purpose at our school!
The Director of Development position is a new role at WCCS. Why do you think this new position is important in shaping the learning experience of our students here at WCCS? The Holy Spirit can of course change the hearts of students through excellent teachers in any setting. However, giving students the very best educational setting that we can requires certain teaching tools that unfortunately are not free. I see the role of Development as one of support. The teachers are the heart and soul of the school, being in the trenches every day as they labor to educate the hearts and minds of these precious covenant children. Development labors alongside to give those teachers what they need to provide a superior educational experience. My immediate goal is to determine what needs exist and to prioritize those needs under the supervision of the Head of School.
The WCCS mission statement is "educating students to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ". How do you hope to accomplish this as our new Director of Development? The mission statement in any organization should serve to inform every decision that every employee makes. My role in support of our mission would involve functioning within that statement to help further encourage a community of unity and generosity.
Tell us about you and your family: I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC, and have been married to my high school sweetheart for almost 40 years. We have three children who are all products of Christian education. Each one is married; our oldest and his wife are expecting their first child on July 4th, our second son and his wife have two children who are 3 and 6, and our daughter and her husband are newlyweds.
Tell us something that we would be surprised to know about you: I am a seventh-generation bookbinder in a family from Bohemia (Czechia). My family has been binding textbooks and Bibles for many years, and even some antique books and documents.
What are some things that you and your family like to do in your free time? I like to get my hands dirty in the yard! I love cutting grass, digging in dirt, and gardening. My husband and I switched housekeeping roles a few years ago and have never looked back! He does the cooking and grocery shopping, and I do the outside work.
What attracted you to WCCS? The mission of the school! I am very passionate about Christian education and believe strongly that we are in the business of rearing the next generation of ministers of the gospel in order that the King will receive more worship and glory.
What is your biggest desire for each student that walks in to WCCS? Hands down, that they would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.