In this week's blog, we have asked 4th grade teacher, Jessica Coulter, to share with our WCCS families some ways you can celebrate the Advent season in your homes!
This week marks the start of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time of preparing. It is a time to draw closer to Christ as we prepare to celebrate His birth! Imagine the King of the entire universe coming as a baby... to ultimately die for each and every one of us! It is such a wonderful time of year to point your child to Christ because there are symbols of Him all around! The nativity scenes that remind us of His humble birth for all people… the sparkling lights that remind us that He is the everlasting light…. the carols that we sing in praise to Him… the wreaths that decorate doorways and symbolize His everlasting love that has no beginning or end… and the evergreens that we place in our homes that remind us of His eternal, life-giving love and the importance of growing in Him.
As a school, we are celebrating Advent in the classroom in a variety of ways! In the 4th grade, we are making a Jesse Tree, centering around the verses in Isaiah 11:1-4 and talking about a different verse each day that points to the light of Christ and making ornaments. Many of our Early Childhood classes are making Advent wreaths and acting out the Bible story of Jesus’ birth in center time! Our Upper School chorus students bring in the season by caroling around the school and the high school band will visit Westminster Towers for a special Christmas mini concert for residents.
With the symbols of Christmas all around us, don’t miss this season to help your family’s faith strengthen! Don't miss the opportunity to shepherd your child's heart as we celebrate Christ coming into our world.... so that, when Christmas morning comes, we haven't missed HIM in the business of the season! Pray for God to move in mighty ways in the life of your family and our school... that He moves in ways He alone can move... and that ultimately we are all forever changed because our faith has grown deeper and our love for Him stronger.
Be encouraged! YOU are your child’s first teacher and God will use you in mighty ways to shape their faith and in the process strengthen your’s as well! This Advent think of ways to point your child to the true reason for the season... the story of the Rescuer, who came as a tiny baby to bring light to the darkness! That is Good News to celebrate and to share with the world!
A Few Tips for Drawing Closer to Christ as a Family this Advent:
Celebrate the HOPE that Christ provides by sharing your hopes with each other throughout Advent. How do you hope to grow in your faith this Christmas season? In 2019?
Celebrate the PEACE the Christ provides by finding a peaceful place in your home to draw closer to Him. Sometimes we need to be in the quiet to hear His still small voice. In the hustle and bustle of Christmas take time to intentionally seek the quietness as you seek Him. Model this for your children and have them do the same in their own special, quiet place.
Celebrate the JOY of Christ by having a Christmas carol dance party in your kitchen! Play the music loud, light the house with candles, and have fun together singing praises to the King of the Universe!
Celebrate the LOVE of Christ by sharing His love with others. Consider making cards or homemade cookies for a neighbor or service worker. Purchase a new stuffed animal or book to deliver to the children’s hospital to bless a child who might be sick over the holidays. Consider serving at the soup kitchen together. Talk about the brokenness of the world with your child and our need for a Savior for them to see the importance of Him leaving His throne in Heaven for us!
Look for ways to point your child to Christ this Advent through your own family traditions. Get snuggled by your tree and read the Christmas story from Luke…. Or lay under it and stare up at the lights together and talk about Jesus being the light of the world. Dream together and talk about where you hope to see His Light at in your life! Hide a different Bible verse around your house each day for your child to find. Read the verses together and ask them how they see the light of Christ to come through them. Every story, from Genesis to Revelation points to Him as our Rescuer to come as we remember the first Advent and wait for the second Advent of His return. These can be stories like Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses… where do you see our need for a Savior in these stories and God’s amazing love and grace? Make new traditions together that point to Him!
Advent… what a wonderful time of year! Use every opportunity to shepherd your child’s heart and help them draw closer to Christ… so that on Christmas morning they really know Him… because their heart has been focused on Him all month and they have fallen deeper in love with the Savior of the World!
Recently, the US Surgeon General released a report on the mental health of adolescence in America. According to the report, 1 in 5 adolescents will experience a mental health issue during their school years. More concerning is the finding that death by suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in students ages 10-14 and the 2nd leading cause of death in students ages 15-18. This is an important topic that we know some of our students may be dealing with, either in experience themselves, or as they relate to their peers.
As a school, we are becoming more aware and are taking steps to better care for our community and students in regards to this growing epidemic.
Already this week, we have met with a trained professional to better equip us with the tools we need to recognize, assess and support at-risk students in the classroom. This week, we have asked School Chaplain, Jake Tassy, to provide some additional tips for parents in talking with children and teens about anxiety, depression and suicide.
Let’s face it. Life is sometimes hard. As a parent, the statistics we shared above are frightening, aren’t they? It’s important to know that though we do everything we can to love, protect, and guide our children, not one of them are immune to the struggles of this world. The devil continues his business to “kill, steal, and destroy” wherever he can (John 10:10). But, you know what? We still have HOPE. We serve a God who makes it HIS business to restore and heal, and because HE is on our side, we do not have to walk in fear, “but in love, power, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). How we bridge the gap between research and the Gospel helps us in each challenge we face in parenting, and with the Holy Spirit, ALL things are possible. Below are some tips and resources that we have shared with teachers in approaching this topic with students that we feel are even more applicable for parents at home. I encourage you to have a conversation with your student, even if you believe they are “ok”.
Tips for Talking With Your Child About Their Mental Health
Listen: Does the mood of your home make it a safe place for your child to open up to you? Do they have the freedom to express themselves emotionally (within reason)? When your child comes to you with a struggle they are facing, LISTEN…and really listen. Avoid the temptation to immediately try to fix the problem or offer a solution. Most of the teens I talk with say that they wish their parents would just listen sometimes without trying to offer immediate advice. Realize there may not be a “quick fix”, and that’s ok.
Empathize: Take a minute and empathize with the challenges your student is facing. Put yourself in their shoes, and remember your own “growing up” years. Maybe you went through a similar struggle. This may be the door of entry for you to start the conversation, and let the Lord use the truths you learned from past experiences.
Affirm: It’s important to remind your student that God’s Word is full of practical wisdom for any and all of life’s situations. The world defines success contrary to the Truth. Sometimes our teens need help in remembering where there value comes from (or more importantly, WHO their value comes from). Point them to Scripture. Commit to helping them discover who God uniquely created them to be and do for this world.
Direct: What lies from Satan need to be kicked to the curb? Pinpoint them and replace them with corresponding Scripture to refill the gaps.
Enlist: How can they participate in their own healing? Have them give some suggestions and take action.
Refer: Keep the circle small, but encourage them to reach out to a Sunday school teacher, WCCS mentor, coach, teacher, or other adult.
Pray: Pray continuously for your child. Sounds so simple, but it’s the single most important step you can take as a parent.
Some of these resources are geared for educators that are teaching students about these topics, but they are also extremely helpful to you as parents as you seek to guide your child.
Teen Health & Emotions
Information on various topics
Speaking to a student with depression (or anxiety). It has a section of what to say and, equally as important, what not to say.
Interaction with someone that is suicidal
National Alliance on Mental Illness
As you use these resources, I encourage you to go back to Jesus as you talk with your child. Only HE can give them the hope they need to face the challenges of this world. He has come to give life, and to give it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Also, please know that there are WCCS faculty and staff available to partner with you in whatever ways your family may need support. At the heart of our school mission is the desire to help each one of our students reach their full, God-given potential, to thrive, and to be able to bless our world in HIS name and for HIS glory.
At WCCS, it is our hope for our students to not only receive an excellent education, but to discover the God-given talents the Lord has given to each one of them, and in discovering those gifts, to use them to impact the world around them. When we connect classroom learning with service outside of the school walls, we give “hands and feet” to the concepts they are learning.
Service learning is incorporated into curriculum at both the upper and lower school. Just next week, our 4th graders will participate in our annual Box City project. Like most people, the students are accustomed to eating at restaurants and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate the holiday. However, on this day, the fourth graders will each bring in a large box and one blanket as well as a rain poncho or garbage bag in case of bad weather. The box is intended to be the student’s “home” and to give them the experience of celebrating the holidays as a less fortunate or homeless person might. Teachers and their students will discuss what they have learned, pray for the homeless and less fortunate, and write about their thoughts in an essay. On Tuesday, they will travel to a soup kitchen, where they will serve lunch to locals. This is just one great example of service learning at our lower school!
So far this year, we have had upper school students serving at the Salvation Army, the Children’s Attention Home, the Adult Enrichment Center, and Pilgrim’s Inn. Art students have done numerous service projects this year including completing art pieces for a local adoption agency and first responders as well as serving at a local church fall festival! Our Beta Club and National Honor Society have several service projects lined up for the remainder of the school year as well.
As parents, we know that you share this desire with us and long for your children to want to be a part of God’s work. It’s never too early or too late to begin cultivating the trait of servanthood in your child.
For this week’s blog, we have invited Nick Turner, Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor of Families and Children, to share some practical ways in which you, as parents, might instill a sense of genuine servanthood into the hearts of your children.
“How do we teach our children to serve?” Good question, especially in a world that has us staying so busy. As a parent myself, I realize this firsthand. However, the impact that your influence has on your children is invaluable. There is no better way to spend time with your family than to volunteer together and not just during the holiday season, but year-round. Here are a few thoughts…
How Do We Teach Our Children to Serve?
Acknowledge your own struggle. Jesus redefined greatness as serving others in love (Mark 10:35-45). Serving is difficult. Serving with the right motivation even more so. On this side of eternity, our best service is imperfect. We must own our failure to serve, repent, and receive grace from the One who served us.
Model service for your child. While preaching on God’s design for family discipleship in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matt Chandler said, “God’s design is so thorough, so good, that you are making disciples. The question is…What are you discipling them in?” Our children will learn to serve by watching us serve.
Keep it Simple. Teaching our children to serve does not require going on a mission trip or creating a fancy service project (though nothing is wrong with both). Simply evaluate where you are currently serving the Lord and bring your child along with you. For example, if you are delivering a meal to someone in your church have your child by your side.
Talk About It. Tell them along the way what you are doing and why you are doing it. Ask questions afterwards like, “How did it feel to serve that person?” or “What other ideas do you have to help others?” or “How do you feel when someone helps you?”
As you talk with your child, remind them that we do not serve Jesus to earn His love. Our service is a response to His love. In love, He laid down His life for us. We serve because He served us. PS – lay down the smartphone…no pictures or video. We are teaching our children that we serve for His glory alone, not for “likes” on an Instagram page.
Looking for ways you and your family might serve others in the Rock Hill community? Check out this comprehensive guide to serving in Rock Hill.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45