A couple of weeks ago, WCCS had the privilege of hosting the first annual Educational Therapists of the Carolinas mini-conference. Some of our speakers shared some great information about how to understand the 21st century learner and become more aware of some of the negative effects technology and social media can have on a student’s brain development.
At WCCS, we understand that there are many benefits to using technology appropriately in the classroom, and even believe that it can be used to connect with and reach others for Christ. However, there is powerful research showing that it must be effectively monitored and balanced with more traditional forms of learning - such as reading and having meaningful interactions with teachers. This week, we have asked WCCS Educational Therapist and EXCEL Teacher, Beverley Furrow, to share some insight from conference speaker, Dawn Poulterer Woods to help us all understand and guide our 21st century learners more effectively in school and at home.
The Negative Impact Screen Time Has on Executive Functioning of the Brain: research has shown that social media and gaming are impacting children and adolescent brain development, particularly in the way of executive functioning – this is the area responsible for enabling your student to plan, organize and complete tasks. It is also responsible for regulating emotions and self-monitoring. The part of the brain that houses executive functioning is the frontal lobe, the same part of the brain that is the last to fully develop. When students attempt homework or other cognitive functions while also texting, snap chatting, or multi-tasking with other screen functions, the frontal lobe does not activate properly. Excessive screen time can also lead to Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS), causing your student to have issues with mood, focus, sleep and behavior. Physicians are having an increasingly difficult time distinguishing between ADHD and ESS because the symptoms of each are so similar. Another interesting fact that researchers are discovering is that the smaller the screen size, the greater negative effect the screen activity has on the brain.
Cognitive Offloading: in today’s world, students literally have the world at their fingertips. This is advantageous in that they can explore and research topics quickly, however the ease to which students can retrieve facts from the internet can also inhibit their ability to think deeply on a topic and rely on memory and deep research rather than a search bar. The brain is a muscle and the less it has to work to retrieve information, the weaker and less skilled it will become at learning and performing.
The Dopamine Effect: The types of activities that are performed on screens release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that is released into the brain and causes pleasure and arousal. This dopamine effect is what produces addictions, including social media and gaming. Research has shown that addictions formed during the teenage years are the hardest to break and can lead to a lifetime of future addiction problems. It is shocking to think that addiction to screen time has become so common among today’s youth that many are being sent to rehabilitation facilitates to regain freedom from these devices. Even if your child never has to go to a rehab facility, consider the effects technology addiction might be having on his or her ability to establish authentic relationships with their peers, teachers and siblings as well as the ability to develop effective communication skills.
Understanding the nature of how students have been created by God physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally, is essential in successfully educating the 21st century learner. As part of God’s intelligent design, developmental stages and readiness must be incorporated into the methods used for teaching and guiding today’s students. The point is not that all things related to screen time are bad. As in all things, the key is moderation. The activities of reading, daydreaming, unstructured play, and encouraging imagination seem a part of the past. Rekindling these skills is essential for today’s students and would bring about a healthier developmental environment for the 21st century learner.
Below are some tips for maintaining proper “screen health” for your 21st century learner.
Talk to your child or teen about the dangers of overuse of technology.
Delay smartphone and tablet use for young kids as long as possible.
Remove all smartphones from your child’s homework area.
Monitor the content and number of hours your child spends on social media throughout the week and set limits.
Have “screen-free zones” such as the dinner table, the morning and afternoon drive home, your student’s bedroom, etc.
For young kids, stop by the park on the way home from school and encourage physical, outdoor play with siblings or friends.
For adolescents, encourage participation in athletic teams, hobbies or service clubs after school.
Your student needs your help navigating the world of technology and social media in a Christ-honoring way. Their brains are simply not cognitively mature enough to resist the many temptations, pressures and distraction that smartphones and other technology devices pose. As Christian educators, we want to partner with you in sharing helpful information on this growing topic of discussion. For more resources on this topic, visit www.familiesmanagingmedia.com.
As parents, we think a lot about the future. We wonder if the decisions we are making today will best prepare our children for the futures in front of them, partly because we can not even grasp what life will be like for them decades from now. We desire above all else to have no greater joy than for them to walk in the truth and to discover and live out their places in God's world. But we aren't sure how to end up there. We know it takes the work of the Holy Spirit and we are praying to that end. We also know that our parenting matters.
If you are like me, you need all the help you can get. My wife Amy and I have needed to partner with the Christian school and the church in the raising of our four kids. And, I spent time over Christmas break with my oldest son and daughter-in-law talking about the support we received from these two communities and encouraged the same for them in the raising of their newborn son, Jay.
Christian education is a topic for which I am quite passionate, so much so that I was asked to participate in a podcast hosted by our church's denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. As you know, we are currently in the middle of our priority re-enrollment period. I encourage you to take some time to listen to the following podcast at the link I have provided below and consider the value of a Christian education in the world our kids are living in today. It is my hope and prayer that you will continue to seek out your local church and WCCS as partners in raising your children, so that they are educated to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ!
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.
Chaplain, Jake Tassy, shares some great, practical discipleship advice for parents in this week's blog!
There was a time where you could say "What's up Dawg?" and people would immediately know that you were asking “How are you?” Nowadays, I might get the smile or laugh I was looking for (maybe even the “cool guy” head bob), or it might just date me…I don’t know which! Today, I’m gonna talk to you parents about “keeping it real” with your kids, and something I like to call “D.A.W.G –Discipleship As We Go.”
Before I get started, let me remind you of the WCCS theme verse for the year:
13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (NIV)
Christ's love should compel us to parent as best as we can! This verse should penetrate our hearts so deeply as parents that from the overflow, our children begin to understand His grace and love.
Now, let me “keep it real” with you for a minute and remind us of something we all know, but sometimes forget. You have 18 brief years with your kids to disciple and have those faith-forming conversations, and there is no “perfect” moment to have them in this imperfect world.
Opportunities to teach what you feel you need to teach are just flying by! As parents, we each have different and varied stories (long, good grace filled marriage, divorce, separation, single parenting, still grand-parenting, guardianship). Along with those stories, there are so many distractions, flaws, issues, mess, junk, and frustrations that affect us being compelled by Jesus' love as parents. Our children know it. We don't naturally migrate to being real and authentic. Are you starting to feel overwhelmed? Wondering what you can do?
D.A.W.G. = Discipleship As We Go.
Let’s take a lesson from Jesus. He simply walked alongside people (1 John 2:6)! Parents, if you are waiting for the perfect moment to disciple your kids, you are going to miss out on all the real, imperfect moments to authentically pour into the hearts of your kids. Jesus simply asked good questions of his disciples as he guided them through the real life moments, and if we are to live as Jesus lived, then we should do the same. It’s okay to disciple as you go, D.A.W.G! Here are a few practical suggestions I have come up with to get you started:
Take time to just BE with your children: I’m talking side by side and ear to ear! Detox from media, television, and technology and do something hands on with your kids….have a picnic at the park, play basketball, make a fun dessert or a messy craft, go on a walk together, go camping, let them stay up late talking to you. These are where the real conversations happen!
Aim at the heart and not the behavior when disciplining: Our aim as parents should always be to point our kids towards Jesus. Remember, God is much more concerned about your child’s heart than he is their behavior. Teach your child the gospel and let that transform their hearts! They’ll learn to love and obey him.
Teach by example: Your kids will learn much more from what you do than from what you say. Do you ever tell your kids you’re sorry when you mess up as a parent? Are you spending time soaking in God’s Word, sharing what you’ve learned with your kids and letting them see you live it out in a practical way? Are you the type of Christ-follower you want your child to grow up to be? Modeling your own faith walk in front of your kids is powerful stuff.
Create a safe place for your kids to be “real”: Let your kids ask the hard questions without fear of your reaction. Don’t be afraid to remember back to when you were their age and facing the same temptations, fears, and struggles. The things that God taught you out of those times can be of great aid to your children now. Be the first to bring up those “touchy” topics and get the conversation rolling. Talk about Truth in those real life moments when it’s not showing up in the world (an ugly exchange between a referee and a superstar athlete, a trailer for an inappropriate movie, a conflict between two extended family members, the list is endless).
Pray: I’ve saved it for last, but it’s the most important. You can’t change your child’s heart. Only God can do that. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them to himself and do a work in their lives. Ask God to help you connect with them.
I think Deuteronomy 6:5-7 sums it up so nicely.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” As a parent, all we can do is simply love God with all our heart and encourage our kids to walk alongside us as we model how they can do the same.
Lower school chapels have started. We just had our first Upper School Chapel last week where I spoke with students about this whole thing about “keeping it real” in their spiritual lives. Chapels are now in the gym on Wednesdays at the Upper School (10:11-10:56am). Come worship with us! Ask your students what they've learned. It's a great time to reset and ruminate on God's truth. I pray it will have an impact on your family and the WCCS community.
Let's be Real, D.A.W.G. (head bob and a wink;-)
The recent 4th of July holiday provided an opportunity for me to spend an extended time with our 5 grandchildren. Children are such a blessing, especially my grands! I love their wonder and excitement about every new experience. One of the challenges parents and grandparents face is resisting all the voices that tell us children need structured activities to keep them engaged, such as summer camp, music lesson, sports, technology, and the list goes on. What children really need is time to discover the wonder of God’s world through unstructured play.
As part of my summer reading, I’m going through the book, Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World by Johann Christoph Arnold. He reinforces my belief that children need our love and time more than anything else. We need to be there for them (fully present), talking, listening, playing, and encouraging their growth and development. Too often, we become caught up in the idea that children need things to be happy when what they really need is a more relaxed schedule that provides the gift of time to play. Children learn through their play experiences. They exercise their bodies and use their imaginations. Play experiences provide children with opportunities to focus and engage for extended periods, face difficult challenges and failure, exercise critical thinking and communication, and develop essential skills such as courage, determination, grit, curiosity, and character.
"Too often, we become caught up in the idea that children need things to be happy..."
Arnold quotes Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, talking about what he wants for his son. “When Ellington was born, I was very much caught up in the idea of childhood as a race – the faster a child develops skills, the better he does on tests, the better he’ll do in life . . . [Now] I’m less concerned about my son’s reading and counting ability. Don’t get me wrong, I still want him to know that stuff. But I think he’ll get there in time. What I’m more concerned about is his character . . . I want him to be able to get over disappointments, to calm himself down, to keep working at a puzzle even when it’s frustrating, to be good at sharing, to feel loved and confident and full of a sense of belonging. Most important, I want him to be able to deal with failure. That’s a difficult thing for parents to give their children, since we have deep in our DNA the urge to shield our kids from every kind of trouble. But what we’re finding out now is that in trying to protect our children, we may actually be harming them. By not giving them the chance to learn to manage adversity, to cope with failure, we produce kids who have real problems when they grow up. Overcoming adversity is what produces character” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/field-guide-families/201209/how-children-succeed ).
As you think about what your child needs this summer in preparation for a new school year, here are a few recommendations:
Get them outside, explore nature with them, and share the wonder of creation.
Significantly limit or eliminate their time on technology (even educational apps) and help them discover that the real world is more interesting than the virtual world. Don’t allow technology to affect their social, emotional, and physical development. Instead give them opportunities to develop social skills, build relationships, exercise their bodies, and increase problem solving skills.
READ, READ, READ to and with them. Talk with your child about the content, ask questions, help them make biblical connections, and share how you both feel about the content. You could extend this with a great way to practice writing skills by keeping a journal or drawing pictures about what they read.
Provide real life opportunities to use and develop math concepts. Younger children might count and manipulate object from nature, measure water or sand, and look for patterns in nature. Older children could help with grocery shopping, budgeting money, cooking, and dividing food so that everyone has an equal part.
Make sure your children have appropriate chores and responsibilities that allow them to give back to the family. They need to feel they are capable, trusted and a valuable part of the family. When they see that their contributions are necessary for the success of the family, they feel a sense of worth. P.S. – Don’t pay them for their chores.
Find ways you can serve others with your children. It could be cleaning up the neighbor’s yard, serving at a soup kitchen, or making items for those in need.
Give your children quality time every day where they have your full attention. Nothing will express better how much you love and value them. If you don’t already have a family devotion time, start a new tradition. Spending time together in God’s Word, praying together, and sharing your thoughts, hopes, and feelings will bind your family together.
I hope these ideas are helpful and encouraging as you work with your children this summer. Maybe it will eliminate some of the pressure to do more for your children and allow you more time to be with them. The world is full of distractions and reasons to rush about. We must be diligent to fix our hearts and minds on the things of God and focus on living the principles of Deuteronomy 6:4-7, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Have fun this summer as you and your children grow closer to each other and the Lord.
Recently, I was reading John Stonestreet’s (2017) A Practical Guide to Culture, a book I would recommend to all parents. At one point Stonestreet discusses the effects of affluence and consumerism on today’s youth. He points out that the definition of the term “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, as intended by the Founding Fathers, was “a life well lived, characterized by wisdom, virtue, and character” (p. 228). This definition reminded me of the purpose of WCCS, to educate students to bless the world for Jesus Christ. This requires students to live a life of value focused on service to others as they exercise their God given abilities. Paul put it this way, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Gal. 5:13). Stonestreet continues, “When pleasure is our goal, rather than the by-product of a higher end, it becomes distorted” (pg. 231).
Summer is a wonderful time of year for young people because it is full of lazy days, relaxing around the pool, and spending time with family and friends in a variety of enjoyable activities. The summer also becomes a great opportunity to help students learn more about the world around them, the opportunities that exist to serve those in need, and realize that their life has a greater purpose.
Recently, a team of WCCS students just returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. No doubt they enjoyed being with their friends, having fun on the beach and playing in the pool. But, as one member of the team told me, “My favorite part of the trip was being able to experience a new culture and meet the amazing people while also growing closer to my American friends.” The culture this student was serving in is depressed and humble, as were the “amazing” people. This is a different picture of joy, happiness, and success than we get from American media and culture. Another member of the DR team told me how the trip was a spiritual awakening of sorts. This student specifically discussed how wonderful it was to help and share with the people they went to serve, and how they were equally blessed from the experience.
The idea is simple! The team traveled to the DR, met physical needs of those in need through building improvements, met spiritual needs through shared worship and leading Bible study, and met emotional needs by just being there to play with children and spend time in fellowship. The impact of the team was great, yet the impact of the Dominicans on the team may have even been greater. As these students served those in need they were exposed to a culture they may not have fully understood before the trip. They gained insight to how God can use their life to bless others. They also, and equally important, gained an understanding of how someone else can bless them. Finally, and most important, they discovered how the gospel blesses everyone.
Stonestreet concludes his discussion on affluence with the hope of this current generation of young people, exemplified by the DR team. He points out how 84% of millennials personally give to charity, and 70% spend time personally volunteering. The summer is a wonderful time for students to get involved. It doesn’t need to be a mission trip or major program. Significant change often takes place in the small, yet consistent things we can do within our own community. Here are just a few ideas:
Prepare a zip lock bag with water, food items, hygiene products, and a verse of Scripture and keep these in the car. As you travel and come across a homeless person you can share the bag and potentially the Gospel with them.
Volunteer to work at special events designed to raise money or support for a local ministry or charity.
Visit an assisted living home or nursing home. Nothing brightens the day of those elderly confined to a home like a young smile. Just a few minutes to hear their story, or read to them can bring a great deal of happiness.
Volunteer at a food/clothing bank, thrift store, or shelter. Often, the people you come in contact with will be in need of feeling loved and accepted. You can meet that need with a simple conversation as you serve.
Write a note of encouragement and spiritual blessing to share with someone in need or those who have dedicated their lives to serving those in need.
These are just some simple ideas that do not require much time or forethought. God has blessed us through His son Jesus Christ, and He now calls us to be the living example of Christ to a lost world. The point is that summer can become a valuable opportunity to experience service and ministry, and in the process bless others while being blessed by them.
As parents, we all want to raise self-confident, responsible children who are ready to leave our homes and enter the real world.
From an early age, we have the ability to shape who our children will become by the way we speak, the rules we set, and the decisions we allow them to make. Don't you sometimes wish there was an instructional manual?
You may have heard the phrase “Love and Logic” over the past several years at WCCS as administrators and teachers have studied and implemented principles from the approach. Love and Logic has given our teachers a toolbox of positive techniques for maintaining calm and effective classrooms. In this week’s blog, we thought we would share some of the basic principles of the program, some real-life examples from WCCS classrooms, and some practical tips for parents to implement in the home.
What is Love and Logic?
In the mid 1970’s, Foster W. Cline, M.D., a child psychiatrist, and Jim Fay, an experienced educator, were concerned about the number of parents and educators struggling with challenging children and teens. Their research and real-life experience resulted in the Love and Logic approach to help parents and educators raise happy and responsible kids. The goal was to provide parents with positive, loving tools for raising happy and well-behaved children. It was built around the science of maintaining caring, respectful relationships and is a balance of love, mutual respect, limits, and accountability; all designed to help children become happy, self-controlled adults.
The “love” in Love and Logic means that we love our children so much that we are willing to consistently set and enforce limits with sincere compassion and empathy. The “logic” in Love and Logic happens when we allow children to make decisions and affordable mistakes and then experience the natural or logical consequences of those choices. When this ‘logic” is balanced with sincere empathy, children develop the logical thinking that “the quality of my life depends on the quality of my choices.”
Charles Fay, Ph.D., school and clinical psychologist and CEO of the Love and Logic Institute, often refers to the two important rules of Love and Logic.
Rule #1: “Adults should set limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings.”
As adults, we set limits by telling children what we will do or allow in a calm and loving manner. Be firm, but resist lecturing, threatening or making empty promises. Remember, it’s hard to make a sensible decision or a good choice when you are stressed or angry. This is true for both you and your child!
Rule #2: “Let children solve their own problems.”
When children cause problems, adults should hand those problems back in loving ways. This is achieved by replacing anger and lectures with a strong dose of empathy followed by the logical consequence.
Parents are the most important influence and source of information in a child’s life to help them develop wisdom, values, and discernment. The Love and Logic approach provides four basic principles or ingredients to help parents build their children’s self-esteem, personal responsibility, and ability to make smart choices. These principles assist parents and educators in making daily deposits in the lives of children:
Use Empathy. Whenever possible, build self-concept by maintaining the dignity of both the adult and child. Parents and educators are the examples as we provide the model for mutual respect and dignity. We must offer children empathy, understanding, and unconditional love; allow them to struggle and solve their own problems; and encourage them to learn to succeed through personal thinking and learning.
Example: “One of the most commonly used Love and Logic principles in my classroom is the 'Uh, Oh' song. This is accompanied by an empathetic statement like, "I see you are having a problem." I might follow up with a thinking statement like "Children who are listening get to stay in group." For many students, this simple exchange is enough to get them thinking and back on task." – Alice Browder, 4K Teacher
Whenever possible, share the control. Parents and educators offer healthy control and allow children to make choices frequently, when they don’t negatively affect the welfare of others.
Example: “Sometimes during the day, I will give the students a list of three of four tasks that we need to accomplish and let them choose the order we complete them in. They oftentimes have good reasons for wanting to get one finished in a specific order. Giving them a little bit of ownership over our day leads to less complaining and more time to do the things they enjoy.” – Christiana Holz, 4th Grade Teacher
Example: "One of the things that I like about Love and Logic is the opportunity to give choices to the children when it is appropriate. I think it makes them feel empowered and they can see the benefits of making good choices. Just yesterday, a little boy was playing a little too rough in a center after he had a warning. Instead of putting him directly in time out or telling him to go somewhere else, I said he could "choose" a different center that he would like to play in instead. Though sad to leave his center, he was able to calmly choose somewhere else and play very well there. No tantrums or fussiness and he could see that he could control his body and with choice have another chance to play more calmly in another center!" - Nikki Cales, 3K Teacher
Whenever possible, share the thinking. We give our children a lifelong gift when we allow them to think more about the solution to a problem or mistake. Questions are a powerful way to encourage children to think for themselves.
Example: “When students are struggling to share or in the middle of some other social problem […] first, I listen to each child’s description of the problem. Again, my goal is to get them thinking…so I may say this...’Would you like to hear what some other kids would do?’ And they always want to hear! (Let’s say the problem is who will get to be the Dad in the home center)….I would say, “Some kids decide two dads from different families can be in the center. Or, some kids decide to stomp their feet and yell at their friends. Or, some kids decide to get a timer to help them take turns. Which sounds like the better choice to you?” – Alice Browder, 4K Teacher
Example: “I even use love and logic with my husband. ‘Would you like to take out the trash before you come to bed or when you get up in the morning? LOL’” – Kara Winn, 3rd Grade Teacher
Use the empathy/consequence formula. Offer empathy first and then the consequences. Empathy allows children to learn from their mistakes instead of learning to resent adults. Consequences teach children all sorts of lifelong lessons, including the knowledge that they have the power to shape their own lives by taking ownership of the actions they take. Avoid the temptation to remove the source of your child’s pain by allowing natural negative consequences to occur when they make a wrong decision.
Example: “This might be used with a child who doesn’t want to clean up which is just prior to lunch in our class schedule. I might say, ‘Aww. I see you’re not helping your friends clean up. Don’t worry, you can finish cleaning the center while we eat our lunch!’ The tone of voice is key here, as it is said with a soft voice and no anger or frustration at all…In fact, I give the impression that I just thought of a great idea! This squarely puts the problem back in the child’s hands. I have had to follow through on this one enough times that they know I am not kidding.” – Alice Browder, 4K Teacher
Example: “Throughout the year I reinforce that the students are capable or making their own choices on a daily basis and the consequence is based on their decision making. Over the past three years, I have seen incredible progress in students' problem solving skills and in the maturity of their decision making. In the past, I have had students come up to me in the morning and say, "Mrs. Holz, here is a note from my mom that says I forgot my homework at school yesterday, so I couldn't do it" - which leads to the child completing their homework at recess, losing points on the assignment, and a gloomy attitude for the rest of the day. Just a few days before Christmas break, a student walked up to me in the morning and said, "Mrs. Holz, do you mind that my homework is on a lined sheet of paper? I left my assignment here and called my friend, who emailed me a picture of the assignment." You can bet that I don't mind the homework being completed on a lined sheet of paper when the child takes ownership of their own situation.” – Christiana Holz, 4th Grade Teacher
Example: “When we are moving on to something exciting where self-control may be an issue - like doing an explore lab - I give directions and say "Students who follow directions get to participate while students who aren't listening get to watch." Because they WANT to get their hands into experiments, they listen to directions and usually follow them so that they get to participate. Then if they get off task or disruptive, they can take a break a watch to refocus.” – Kara Winn, 3rd Grade Teacher
Want to know more? If you are interested in learning more about this approach and its strategies, WCCS is holding a class on Friday, February 23 at 8:15 a.m. in Westminster Hall using the Parenting the Love and Logic Way series by Charles Fay, Ph,D. and Jim Fay.
This week's blog is from 3rd grade teacher, Kara Winn! We asked Kara to share some encouragement to parents as a fellow mom and WCCS educator.
I’m a big fan of social media, when its powers are used for good and not evil. Like when I see someone’s engagement or wedding announcements. Or when it keeps me in touch with longtime friends and distant family. I love seeing kids grow up, lose teeth, and graduate through social media photos. Hey, I even like seeing the pictures of what you eat for dinner. I’m one of THOSE social media fans.
But…. Deep breath… I really hate what it does to us as parents sometimes. It can put us in a really crummy state of mind if we starting comparing our family to others on social media. Satan can run rampant and these thoughts start to enter our minds. “Their kid wins EVERY award! How does she keep her house so clean? They’re going on another big vacation? Whew, I’m glad MY kid doesn’t do that! How does she have such wonderful meals cooked every day? I’m working myself to death, and I’ll never keep up with…” Stop. Just stop. It’s not apples to apples.
(Insert side note that I need to take my own advice sometimes…. OK… a lot of times.)
Here’s some goals for me… maybe for you, too.
Rejoice with others. They got a promotion, new car, vacation, trophy, spelling bee certificate…. Celebrate with them. They probably aren’t announcing these things just to get on your nerves. Romans calls us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” This is a great lesson to model to your children as well.
Don’t judge someone else's parenting. You’re not in their shoes. It’s easy to tell someone that their baby should sleep through the night, get rid of a pacifier, or be riding a bike without training wheels at a certain age. But we don’t see past the mask of social media to know the background. I have plenty of “I’ll never do that” statements that I’ve had to swallow.
Show yourself some grace. When the person on the other side of the screen is the picture of perfection, neatly dressed, home immaculate, with cute lunches packed for their kids… STOP beating yourself up. It’s totally cool that they can accomplish those things. And it’s totally cool that you can’t. So pick yourself up by the bootstraps… or yoga pants…. And honestly check off what you do accomplish. And high-five yourself for throwing a Lunchable at your kid as you skid into the car line five minutes late. (Just don’t do that every day, ok?)
Be present. Put the phone down for a bit. Especially for meals. Don’t look at social media or emails. Talk to your kids. Ask them questions beyond “How was your day?” Maybe ask, “What is the coolest item someone had for lunch today?” “What was the most challenging thing for you today?” “Tell me 4 people you sat close to today.” “Did you see anyone acting like Jesus?” “Did you act like Jesus today?” “Was it hard to show Jesus to anyone today?”
Parenting isn’t apples to apples. We’ve all been given different fruit. Or maybe some of us were given nuts. But nevertheless, it’s all different. Stop comparing your parenting, your kids, and your family to others. God didn’t call you to be perfect. He called you to be YOU to YOUR KIDS. Do a lot of praying and give yourself a high-five every now and then!