Christians at times spend more time worrying about what they aren’t allowed to do in the public arena than actually doing the things they are allowed to do to impact various aspects of culture. This can be particularly true in public schools where educators and administrators may appear to brush off parental concerns. The truth is that a subset of parents has always had a huge influence on teachers and staff at our public schools. Some are Christians and some aren’t. They all, however, take advantage of every opportunity they can to put them in a position to be heard when they feel it is important.
So what secret do these parents hold? They have learned that supporting the teachers and administration in ways those people value, builds relationships. Those relationships can provide other opportunities to question or influence various policy decisions.
Here are some great ways to support the teachers and staff at your children’s school(s).
Get involved in the PTA and other parent organizations like booster clubs. Yes, it means extra work and more meetings, but when a group of parents bands together, they can sometimes achieve more than an individual parent could. When our daughter was in elementary school, the county cut funding for their daily German classes. The parents worked as a group to raise money to fund the positions and the county relented.
Volunteer to be a “room parent”. The position is more than planning parties. Some teachers take advantage of supportive room parents and use them as a sounding board or offer them other opportunities to engage with students.
Volunteer for ketchup mom, carpool lane dad or any other volunteer positions at the school. Yes, the jobs are mundane and boring for the most part, but it shows you are willing to invest in the school. Plus you often get to see the various teachers and administrators doing their jobs when most parents aren’t there. You can learn a lot about people by watching how they interact with students.
Ask for prayer requests in your interactions with faculty and staff. Public prayer may not be allowed in schools, but nothing prevents you from telling a teacher that you are praying for him or her and asking if there are any specific requests. You would be surprised how many will gratefully tell you a request. Even those who don’t believe in God understand the sentiment behind your offer. If you do it consistently, you may be surprised to have teachers track you down to give you a prayer request. In our daughter’s elementary school, a group of moms met at a church in the community weekly to pray for our kids, their teachers and classmates, and the school as a whole.
Reading time. This is not available at every school, but many elementary schools have a parent come in to read a picture book to their child’s class. While you can’t get by with reading stories from the Bible in most schools, we were able to bring in books like Berenstain Bears that encourage godly behavior and attitudes.
Break-room treats. This is your chance to finally see the inside of a teachers’ lounge! Seriously though, finding excuses to drop by an occasional batch of cookies or some other treat lets everyone know you are thinking about them as people.
Volunteer to tutor. This is not ideal for everyone, but if you do have the gift of teaching, many teachers would love to have free tutors for struggling students. Be aware though that some teachers use tutoring for extra income, so don’t be offended if they reject your offer.
Participate in county or statewide curricula reviews. This varies from place to place, but some school systems allow parents to review potential new textbooks. It’s time consuming and tedious perhaps, but even if your feedback is ignored, you will be more aware of any problematic material before it is taught to your children as “truth”.
Volunteer for any school system committees that include parents. There may not be many, but if you do your volunteer job well, you will earn the respect of system wide employees who impact the bigger decisions for all of the schools in a district.
Run for school board. Okay, this one is for the truly passionate and those gifted in politics and diplomacy, but this is the one place where your voice will be heard – even if it isn’t heeded.
If you work outside of the home, you may think this article doesn’t apply to you. The truth is that many parents with full time jobs make the time to get involved. Ask teachers for projects you can do at home at night – like cutting out things they need or other flexible tasks. Many schools have meetings at night so more parents can attend. Schools also often have weekend work days to make improvements in their landscaping. (If not, why not volunteer to organize such a day?)
Yes, all of this takes a lot of extra time and effort. It is not about manipulating people or situations, but rather accurately and consistently reflecting God’s love to people who are often criticized by parents. Also remember, this can be a ministry in and of itself….. where you can point faculty, staff and students to God in perhaps subtle, but entirely legal ways.
The verdict is in. Most children lost ground academically during the pandemic. In fact, some school systems have as few as 20% of their students reading on grade level by third grade. Even students who are on grade level academically can lose some ground over the summer. Reviewing and practicing the skills they will need to use in the coming school year doesn’t have to be dull and boring. In fact, you can even teach your kids the things God wants them to know while you are having fun practicing academic skills.
The Teach One Reach One Ministries website (www.teachonereachone.org) has tons of activities that combine Bible lessons and academic skill practice. Even better is the fact that the activities are not only hands-on, meaningful and memorable, but they are also fun. Although the activities were designed for faith based tutoring, they can easily be adapted for use with one or two children.
Activities are arranged by both Bible stories and category. With activities connected to over 200 Bible stories, your kids will most likely learn a lot of new Bible stories, too. You can find activities for Bible lessons (these specific activities are not tied to other academic skills), application lessons, service projects, ESL (the activities can be used with any second language), basic and advanced elementary language arts and math, science, health/hygiene and even sustenance and survival.
You will find the activity ideas under the “lesson plans” tab on our website. Choose children’s activity ideas and you will have access to hundreds of great ideas for your kids this summer! Best of all, they are free thanks to our generous donors! While you are there, you may also want to check out our free Living the Christian Life curriculum written to help older children and teens learn crucial Christian life skills.
Have fun with your kids this summer teaching them about God and reviewing important academic skills. It’s a great way to spend the summer!
Because of the nature of the ministry at Teach One Reach One Ministries (the parent ministry of Parenting Like Hannah), it is easier for us to see needs not just in a specific congregation, but globally for the church as a whole. In spite of what you may have read, we believe the church will always have a need for people with certain skill sets and gifts to share their knowledge or talents with people in other locations. In addition, there are some people groups who are so unreached by Christianity that the harvest will at least temporarily need workers from other areas to help reap it. (Matthew 9:35-38)
The problem is that often the people most able to help don’t speak the local language(s). Even more challenging, people who are deaf worldwide have only a handful of people who can sign to them about God. In many countries, those who are deaf do not attend school and cannot read or write. It is estimated the deaf is one of the largest unreached (by Christianity) people groups worldwide. Complicating it even more, American Sign Language is just that – American. Often each country and sometimes each village can have a unique sign language which may bear no resemblance to the others.
You probably can guess where this post is headed, but there is one more area to cover. The Bible has yet to be translated into some of the more obscure languages which still have often thousands of speakers. Many times, Christians have to move to and live in these remote areas to learn the obscure language in hopes of aiding in the translation of the Bible. Some have even had to help develop a written language as the local language has only been spoken.
We need more young people to become truly fluent in multiple languages to serve as interpreters. Or to teach in a second or third language. Or to learn an obscure language and help translate the Bible. Or to translate written ministry resources into other languages.
Why do I say truly fluent? The American educational system makes us and our children think we are fluent in a language when most of us are not. When I have had native speakers grade translations by Americans, the average grade is a ”C” and most ministries need that to be an ”A” to be truly helpful. You and your children will have to go beyond the lessons most schools provide, doing extra work to become truly fluent. Consider mastering a more obscure spoken language or a sign language in addition to ASL. You may want to do a little research and find which languages would be most helpful. Surprisingly, Spanish is one of those languages, as it is almost impossible to find someone who will translate ministry resources on a volunteer basis. (The cost is prohibitive.)
Preparing your children for ministry may include giving them the opportunities to master additional languages. Not every child will be able to (or want to) do it, but for those who are, it will make them more equipped to help reap the spiritual harvest in areas that are underserved.
As someone who homeschooled our child from 5th through 12th grade I understand the many reasons and benefits of homeschooling. I also remember how many resources are available for homeschoolers now and how quickly the expenses can add up. Which is why as we developed Teach One Reach One Ministries, we kept our homeschooling friends in mind. We have tons of free, quality resources developed by trained educators that you can use in your homeschool as well as ministries serving children and teens.
Here are some of the free resources you can find on our website.
Bible lessons. You will find over 200 free Bible lessons on our website. They include links to the scriptures, learning objectives, interesting facts and activity ideas. They are designed to be worked in through out the school day for elementary children.
Bible lesson activity ideas. While designed for classes of children, most activities are easily adapted for one or two children. The activities help children explore details of the story or learn about its application principles. The activities are hands on, experiential, meaningful ones to help engage your kids in learning about God.
Service project ideas with meaningful ties to Bible stories. Service learning is great for helping your kids practice things they are learning while serving others and sharing their faith. Our website has 149 service project ideas.
Living the Christian Life Christian life skills lessons. Developed for teens, these lessons can also be adapted for older children. Each includes a Bible lesson, skills activity and application challenge. They will help you explore Christian life skills with your children like conflict resolution, handling money and much more.
Elementary academic skills activities tied to Bible stories . Originally developed for faith based tutoring, these activities can help your kids practice elementary level language arts, math, science and health and hygiene skills in the context of a Bible story. We hope to add a scope and sequence soon to make it easier for you to find specific skill sets. (Currently, the are grouped by category and Bible story.)
Activities for learning a new language tied to Bible stories. Originally designed to be used in ESL classes, these engaging activities have meaningful ties to Bible stories and the words for any language could be substituted for English.
Sustenance and survival activities with ties to Bible stories. Originally created to help children growing up in places without adequate resources or for scout troops, these activities can be used to teach your kids skills that aren’t usually taught to young people, but could prove helpful in ministry or real life emergencies. Skills include things like finding fresh water, various types of gardening, navigating by stars, predicting weather without instruments and more.
Educational best practices books. Concerned because you don’t have a degree in education? These free ebooks were designed for ministry purposes, but parents and homeschoolers will find lots of helpful information in Effective Children’s MinistryandEffective Teen Ministry.
Baptism study. Want to study baptism with your child, but not sure where to begin? This free ebook gives you the framework you need to feel confident.
Family devotionals. Search our parenting blog for lots of free family devotional ideas.
All of our resources are free, thanks to the generous donations of our supporters. Please feel free to share this post and links with other homeschoolers. May God bless you as you educate your children.
Gone are the days when snow, water outages or pandemics meant children stayed home with no academic responsibilities. Virtual learning means school continues – no matter what. There are several hidden gifts in those virtual days, however. Cutting out travel time and extra curricular activities means your kids have extra free time in their days. Why not claim some of that for God?
There are lots of great ways to add activities that encourage your kids to spend time with God and learn more about Him. Here are a few of our favorites.
Take a snow stroll. The Bible tells us God’s creation points us to Him. Snow changes how the world looks, sounds and even smells. Take your kids for a stroll, asking them to point out the things that are different from a regular non-snow day. Older kids may enjoy taking photos that show the beauty of God’s blessing of snow. Over a cup of hot cocoa after your walk, ask your kids why they think the things they saw could point people to God.
Practice academic skills with a biblical framework. Our website has tons of activity ideas tied to Bible stories and academic skills like language arts, math, second languages, science, health and even survival skills. Look around for some skills your kids need to practice. Have fun teaching them the connected Bible story and doing the activity. (http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/)
Have a family devotional. What better time to start that family devotional habit? Our website can be searched for family devotional ideas or use some of the activity ideas on our ministry website.
Serve one of your neighbors. Make some soup or homemade bread for a neighbor. Offer to shovel their sidewalk. Find ways for your family to serve others around you with some of your extra time.
Teach your kids a Christian life skill. Our free teen curriculum can be adapted for older children, too. In addition to the Bible lesson, you will find activities teaching your kids important Christian life skills like godly conflict resolution. They also give your kids guided practice, so they will know how to do what God wants them to do.
Encourage your kids to discover, develop and/or use the talents God gave them to serve Him. Your kids probably have things they have wanted to try, but never seem to have the time to do. Encourage them to take some time to try or read about a possible new talent. Or let them work on developing a talent they’ve already discovered or help them find a way to serve someone using one of their talents.
The next time your kids have a virtual learning day, use some of that redeemed time to teach them something God wants them to know or encourage them to use some of that time spending time with God and serving Him. It’s a great way to help your kids build a strong faith foundation and reach their godly potential.