For about the first five years of our family’s elementary school experience we put in place some fun traditions (some more fun than others). The one I want to share with you involves the Student Handbook that was given out on the first day of school every year. The assignment was to take the Handbook home and open to the first two pages and read aloud the Classroom Rules with your parents. “Upon completion, reviewing and agreeing to the rules, please sign (parent and student) at the bottom of the page and turn in to your teacher on the second day of school”, were the attached instructions. At this point of our academic journey, I would say that our children were in the 5th, 3rd, and 1st grades.
As we finished dinner, the kids brought me their handbooks opened to the pages of Classroom rules. I read each rule aloud and then asked them if they understood the rule before going to the next one. When I reached the bottom of the second page finishing with the last rule I asked my kids if they understood all these rules. Their cute little heads all nodded as they quietly said “Yes sir”. I then asked if they agreed to do their best to follow all the classroom rules each day of the entire school year. More nodding and yes sirs.
What happened next was unplanned and completely freaked my kids out.
I grabbed the two pages of classroom rules and ripped them out of the handbook, tore them up and threw them out. (Dramatic pause)
I looked at them and said, “These rules do not apply to my children!”
With their eyes the size of golf balls I spoke again before they could even ask, “what does that mean?” and simply said, “Now go to school and care for your teacher every day. Honor and respect her (or him) in what you do and say. In this process of caring, honoring and respecting, can you guess what happens to all these classroom rules? Every one of them gets followed.” I went on to say, “I don’t want to raise you to be rule followers, I want to raise you to be a respecter and lover of people.”
This story went on to become our roadmap as parents. We blew it daily but truly and humbly tried to raise our God-needing children in ways that addressed the deeper issues of their heart and not only their behaviors.
By Robert Shryoc