Faithfully Yours -Three questions for parents


Neil Strohschein
The Neepawa Banner

In a few days, homes in our communities will be filled with two familiar sounds.
The first will be an ominous groan—made by students who have been told to get out of bed because this is the first day of school. The second will be a huge sigh of relief—made by parents as they watch their children, now each a year older, leave to begin another year of learning.

School years are always challenging for parents. We want our children to do well. We wish that they all could be “Straight A” students; but we soon discover that this won’t happen. The best we can hope for is that they will receive the skills they need to survive and thrive in the next phase of their education—whether that is in university, college, trade school or on the job.

This desire forces every parent to answer three important questions--what are the skills that we want our children to learn, what is the best environment in which to teach them and to what extent should I, as a parent, be involved in my child’s education?

The first question is easy to answer. We want our children to be proficient in reading, writing and mathematics. We want them to be physically fit and to know how to practice good self-care. We want them to learn how to accept others as they are and how to look past the barriers of race, color, language and religion that have caused such division in society for so long.

Most importantly, I would argue, we want our children to learn how to think for themselves and how to decide for themselves what they believe and why. We want them to know how to study all sides of a controversial issue and how to distinguish truth from rhetoric or fake news. Then, we want them to develop and be able to defend beliefs with which they are comfortable.

Which raises the second question—what is the best environment in which to teach these skills? That depends on who you talk to. Some parents opt for “home schooling.” Others believe in and support “faith-based” schools, schools with a unique cultural identity or schools that adopt a specific method of teaching students. The vast majority seem quite content with the public school system, its values and curricular choices. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Parents must do what they feel is best for their children.

But however they answer the above question, parents can no longer sit idly by and let others educate their kids. They must be involved in their child’s education; but their involvement must be discreet and appropriate. There is no excuse for parents who constantly pester teachers and administrators over trivial issues involving their children. Teachers and administrators must be free to do their jobs. If parents have questions or concerns, they should go through appropriate channels to express them. Their concerns will be addressed. They will be taken seriously.

The best gift parents can give their school-aged children is a loving, accepting, caring and stable home environment. Schools excel in imparting knowledge. But they cannot teach wisdom. That comes through the day-to-day experiences of life; from seeing the rewards of wise choices and experiencing the consequences of foolish ones.

This is where the home and the church can work together to create an environment in which children can explore important issues and be taught about life, living and faith by those whose lives and faith we all should seek to emulate.