I hope you all had a blessed break for Christmas and New Years and that you were able to have some quality time with your children and family. As always, that is what life is all about.
As we enter this new semester, I wanted to take a few lines here and talk about new beginnings as far as the school year goes. January is difficult for students with the excitement of Christmas over and spring break so far away. They must focus on studies with few incentives at this point. So, how do we as parents help with this? Consider helping your child set mid-year goals. Like New Year Resolutions, a goal can be set for grades, behavior, or organization…anything that will help a student become more successful. Your role as parent is to sit down with them to determine what they want out of the rest of the year — reasonable goals that can be met while still being challenging.
After that is done, support your student. Support does not mean doing the work or organizing them. It means helping when they need it, knowing when they are just tired or being lazy, and encouraging them to be their best. Be supportive without taking over—that is the tough part. Over the years, many of the rebellious kids I have seen tend to be rebelling over their perception that grades are more important to their parents than they are themselves. Show them that your love is not conditional on them getting the grades you feel they should get. Push them hard, but not at the expense their view of your acceptance and love as they may try to turn it into a power struggle. “You can’t make me!” is a common refrain in the teenage vernacular—so don’t get into that battle, just let them make the work their own.
While leaving them space to succeed is important, just as important is leaving them space to fail. I have written and spoken for years about the importance of failure. Remember, from failure you learn a lot about yourself, and you definitely will learn a lot about the problem you are trying to fix. But from success, not so much. So if you do it for them or push them to the correct conclusion, they do not earn the knowledge. Let them fall a little so that they can learn to how to pick themselves up. I always remember the quote from Confucius that I have heard many times at Jesuit, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Once you have you have shown your support by helping plan and goal set, show faith in your students to carry out their plans and learn from their mistakes. What does this mean of us as parents? Don’t nag. You will become the proverbial clanging gong to your kids. Remind them once or twice and then let them go. Their homework is just that, theirs. You finished school and can help them, but they need to have ownership of it now. One thing we learned from the diocesan survey last spring is that the students want more ownership of their educational experience. If they don’t complete something, allow them to experience the consequences of a poor grade. As taught through Love and Logic, show empathy not disappointment. Make sure they understand you have faith in them to make it right, and that you love them no matter what.
The more students are part of their own education, the more they take ownership and will want to be more successful—not for you, but for their own feeling of accomplishment. Intrinsic motivation—coming from within yourself—will always beat extrinsic with you leading the way.
For the schedule: January 16th is our Open House for perspective families. If you know anyone who might be looking for a school, we would love to show them around and let them see what makes MIS special. Krause’s Koffee for 3rd through 5th is on the 17th of January as well.
Matthew Krause, Principal
The Pope’s Prayer Intention for January 2017
Evangelization: Religious Minorities in Asia that Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom