More and more educators are seeing the importance of addressing not only the intellectual and physical needs of students but also their emotional, social, and health needs.
Looking for a way to impact your church and your schools? We've created an Easter Devotional that can be used as a Sunday School Lesson or a Family Devotional. It also provides how you can share the story of Easter with your school!
Read aloud: Did you know that Jesus loves it when children praise him? Today we are going to read a story in the Bible about when children were saying good things about Jesus. Some adults tried to stop them, but Jesus didn’t. In fact, Jesus said this is the kind of thing that he likes to hear.
Question: Easter is coming soon; what do we celebrate at Easter? [Solicit answers]
Read aloud: Well, let’s read the story of when Jesus was coming to Jerusalem just before he was going to die on the cross and rise from the dead.
To continue reading, Click here to download a free Family Devotions handout that will help teach your child about the death and resurrection of Jesus and how this major historical event has influenced literature, art, and music as well as social movements from the abolition of slavery to the civil rights action of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
For articles on teaching Easter in a public school click here.
For our public school Easter Lesson Plan email us here.
Allow Gateways to partner with you in helping others at your school have the confidence to teach students about Judeo-Christian history and values.
For many years, our public schools have been seen as battlefields. However, nothing much grows on a battlefield. Instead, we can look at our schools as gardens to cultivate. Schools are enriched when Christians appropriately express their faith in word and deed. At Gateways we recommend you use five steps to bring a positive influence to people around your children at school. We call them the five steps of F.A.I.T.H.
F – Focus on those around you.
As the Good Samaritan attended to the man in his path, so you should focus on those God has put in your path at school this year. Begin to see the people in your path as divinely appointed opportunities. Create a list of teachers, parents, administrators, and school staff that you have contact with regularly. Put the list in a place where you will see it often, such as on your refrigerator, in your Bible, or in your daily planner.
A – Ask God to open doors.
In the book of Acts, God used the Apostles to influence 3,000 people in one day! In Acts 1:14 we find that the Apostles were people of prayer. Pray regularly for the people God has placed in your path. Ask the Lord for opportunities to cultivate relationships and plant seeds of love and truth.
I – Invest in Preparation.
Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 reveals that he was prepared. He quoted heavily from the Old Testament. He had done his homework! To be an effective Christian influence you must be prepared with answers. The Gateways website is designed to help you. At the end of this article is a link where you can sign up to automatically receive an e-mail newsletter with updates, practical tips, and encouraging stories of what others are doing.
T – Take a step of faith with God.
You’ve been praying for those on your list, you’ve been preparing, as God opens a door, take a step of faith with Him. God is at work in your school. In fact, He placed you right where you are for a reason! Are you watching for opportunities? In all likelihood, there is at least one Christian involved in every classroom in your school (the teacher or a parent). Imagine the positive impact of dozens of Christians on your campus participating in God’s activity!
H – Help someone move from fear to freedom.
The biggest challenge we face is misinformation and fear. You can help others gain the confidence they need to include teaching about the influence of the Bible and Christianity in their classroom. You can be God’s instrument to restore Christmas to the school. You can be the person God wants to use to protect and promote religious freedom for all the students at the school.
Opportunities can be as simple as sending a “get well” card to the principal who is sick, or passing along information on religious liberty at school, or encouraging a teacher to teach about the birth of Jesus.
Don’t miss out on how God wants to use you this year. We have the tools to help you.
SPECIAL RESOURCE FOR PARENTS & TEACHERS
Expressing God's Love at School: 52 Successful Ways to Bring a Godly Influence to Your Child's School and Classroom
Written for both parents and teachers, this 30-page handbook gives you a wealth of proven ideas you can easily implement in a child’s classroom and school. It includes a monthly planning calendar and suggests different ideas for each month.
CLICK HERE to order the booklet.
CLICK HERE to receive Gateways e-newsletter.
With the new school year beginning, here are some tips to help parents and their children in the months ahead. . . .
1. Inform your children of their freedom of religious expression at school.
Your children can express their faith in their homework and share about their faith with classmates. For a list of their religious liberties, click here.
2. Teach your children discernment.
Help your children learn to think critically about what they are learning instead of merely absorbing it. Predict what they may learn and pre-teach your perspective on the topic. You can do this by reading their textbooks and talking to them about any questions you may have about the author's bias. This will help them become active listeners and discerning thinkers. Over dinner, ask them if they detected any bias in how the topic was taught that day.
3. Pray regularly for your children's teachers.
Praying for your children's teachers may sound like a standard piece of advice, but I recommend that you be very intentional in your prayers. Make a list of your children's teachers, school principals, and other adults in their lives. Put this list in a place where you will be reminded daily to pray for them. Here's the key: Ask God how He wants to use you to be a godly influence in their lives this school year. Then, watch for the doors He opens!
4. Bless the teacher with an encouraging note.
Even within the first few days or weeks of the school year you can find something the teachers are doing that you appreciate. It may be something your children enjoyed learning, it may be the way the teachers decorated their rooms, it may be a classroom activity that you think is a great idea. Let them know by writing a brief note of appreciation and encouragement.
5. Encourage your children to pray each morning at school.
In 34 states, schools can, and in about half are required to, start the day with a moment of silence. Even if your state doesn't have a moment of silence law, you can download a beautiful prayer and give it to your children to pray each day. Click here for a list of all the states with laws regarding moments of silence.
6. Be an encouragement to Christian teachers at school.
If you know a teacher at your children's school who is a Christian, get a map of the campus from the school office, and meet with that teacher. On the map, ask the teacher to circle the names of other Christian teachers he or she knows. During the school year look for opportunities to connect with those teachers and give them encouraging information about how they can address religious holidays, their students' religious liberties, and helpful articles from the Gateways to Better Education website.
May you and your children be used by God to bless others this year at school.
How to Talk to a Teacher or Administrator When You are Concerned About a Classroom Activity or Assignment
Technique #1: "Help Me Understand"
When you first hear of a classroom assignment or activity that concerns you, verify your information with the teacher. Don’t jump to conclusions. However, before meeting with the teacher you can think through why—if what you heard was accurate—you would like the teacher to change the activity or assignment. Then, use the following four-step approach to discuss the issue with the teacher.
Start the conversation by using the phrase “Help me understand...” For example, if you are concerned about a particular reading assignment, you might start by saying, “Help me understand why you chose this book for the students to read.” At this point in the conversation you want clarification. You may assume the teacher has one motive, but after discussing it you may discover your assumption was wrong. Your question should be a sincere desire to understand the point of the assignment
Affirm what the teacher is trying to do in general. There is bound to be something on which you can agree. For example, you might appreciate that the teacher wants the students to learn about the environment, but you are concerned about the particular bias of the book she is using. At this point in the conversation, don’t jump to explaining your concerns. Finding “common ground” is an important part of the discussion.
Transition to your concern by using the phrase, “But have you considered....” Don’t assume the teacher will oppose you. In fact, it is better to assume the teacher will agree with you once you explain your concern. Having that assumption will help you avoid expressing an adversarial tone.
If the teacher agrees with you, ask her advice about what might be a good alternative book, assignment, or activity for the class.
If the teacher doesn’t agree to change what the class will be learning, you may want to ask for an alternative assignment for your own child.
Technique #2: "Your Class, My Child"
There may be times when you want to ask your child to be excused from an assignment or activity. Here are four steps you can take in an attempt to bring about a mutually satisfactory result.
When you meet with the teacher, begin with a compliment rather than a complaint. Find something you appreciate about her teaching.
As you transition to your concern, be sure to acknowledge—with genuine respect—her authority to teach her subject as she sees fit. This will circumvent the natural defensiveness any teacher is bound to feel when confronted by a disapproving parent.
Follow this with a friendly reminder that though the classroom is hers, you are ultimately responsible for your child’s development. Long after he has graduated from this class you will still be responsible for his academic and moral growth.
Conclude by asking—without challenging the teacher’s right to teach—for her to provide an alternative educational activity for your child. It is best not to have the teacher simply put your child in the hall. Instead, ask that he be allowed to work quietly at his desk on another assignment or go to the library. If you discuss this in a friendly manner, most teachers will honor your request.
Sometimes talking to the teacher doesn’t solve the problem. You should always start with the teacher, but if you are not satisfied with the teacher’s response, you may want to visit the school principal.
Technique #3: "I Thought I Should Alert You to a Potentially Embarrassing Situation" (How to talk to a principal or administrator)
Principals are used to hearing the complaints of parents. Avoid sounding like a complainer. Instead, you can approach the principal as a friend and supporter of the school. Assume the principal will welcome your input because it may save her from an embarrassing situation or an unnecessary problem. School administrators don’t want problems. Your input may help her avoid a problem later.
One way to begin the conversation is with the sentence, “I thought I should alert you to a potentially embarrassing problem.” You are not there to cause a problem, but to help the school avoid a problem. It is quite possible the principal is unaware of what is happening in the classroom. For example, what if other parents discovered their children were listening to a guest speaker whose remarks were inappropriate? You will have the principal’s attention if you begin your conversation with the sentence, “I thought I should alert you to a potentially embarrassing problem.”
Explain what you discovered when you talked to the teacher and share your concerns with the principal.
Ask the principal’s advice for how to resolve the problem. If she offers to help by talking to the teacher about the situation, ask when it will be done. Let her know you will call to find out the result of the conversation between the principal and the teacher.
You may also want to bring a friend or your spouse along. You will feel less intimidated, and if you get flustered, your partner can help you express your concern. If you cannot resolve the issue through the principal and you feel strongly about it, you may need to seek counsel from the superintendent. Keep asking, “Who else can help us with this issue?”
(This article is excerpted from Gateways's ten-topic parenting Bible study, Keeping the Faith in Public Schools: How to help your children graduate with their faith and values intact. It is available in Handbook form as well as with a DVD for small group study.)