Last week, we shared ten practical tips for achieving enduring success and experiencing the wonderful fruit of classical Christian education at Trinitas, This week, we have ten MORE practical tips we've assembled from our teachers which we hope will benefit your family.
11. Get them to bed early...earlier than you think they need to be. They work hard and play hard all day, and it’s not summer anymore. They have to get up earlier than they normally would in the summer. Try to keep similar hours on the weekend as well. The most heavy-duty day in the classroom is Monday when so much new material is introduced. Your teachers are working hard to know your child’s frame and not frustrate him or push him past a point he can bear. You can do the same by making sure he gets to bed early.
12. Feed your children food that helps them learn. They work hard all day, and their brains need something to run on. Give them a protein-rich breakfast and hearty, healthful snacks and lunch. “An army marches on its stomach” (Napoleon Bonaparte). And think twice before feeding your child heavy cards and/or simple sugars before sending them to school leave that for special Saturday mornings at IHOP. Before they even get in the car, their bodies will have metabolized whatever minuscule nutrient there was, and they will have a mean sugar low till lunch. And if that weren’t enough, syrup wreaks havoc on their uniforms. So don’t do it. Save cheap carbs for an afternoon snack. . . if you have to.
13. Have the same or higher standard for your child than his teacher does. Look at how the teachers expect the children to behave in Morning Meeting and follow suit. Trinitas doesn’t have Mensa students. Most of our students are just average kiddos. The teachers in the grammar school accomplish most of what is required of the students through consistent training. Look at the comments and corrections the teacher makes on your child’s work. If the teacher requires a dollar sign on money math answers, you should too, for she knows your child will still struggle to put a dollar sign on money answers five years from now if she winks her eye at it. You don’t want that for your child.
14. Read the Nuntium each week. It’s your child's teacher's main way to communicate with you. Read the Homework Page in the Red Home Binder and see what’s happening in the classroom. Be sure also to have your child correct all of his mistakes. Don't let the teacher's marking of a spelling or grammar mistake be the end of the process - if your child doesn't correct that mistake, he's bound to make it again. Also, when the teacher makes a note on any corrected work, be sure to have your child respond to that note either verbally to you or in writing to his teachers. This is where learning really begins to accelerate and the habit will far surpass anything that can be gained from grades alone. Bottom line: read what the teacher sends home and what the school sends or publishes, especially those occasional white slips.
15. Be honest when you check your child’s work. Your signature on a homework sheet says “I checked my child’s binder and his work and made sure he has done it to the standard.” Don’t just sign off on the homework sheet. No teacher cares about having a signature for the sake of having a signature.
16. Daddies, don’t let those mammas let their boys grow up to be effeminate. We can guarantee you that their teachers are working hard to form these boys into brave men who will stand up for right, defend the defenseless, and slay the dragon. The world is upside down, more so now than when you were young. When you coddle your son, always making sure he doesn’t get hurt, carry something too heavy, or jump off a wall, you might as well paint a bullseye on him. He’ll be a target for a world that has lost its mind about what it means to be a man or woman.
17. Read. Read what your child is reading in and out of class. Read what their teachers are reading. Read what the school requires you to read. Read what the school recommends. Read the Parent Traditio books. Read the book club selections even if you can’t go to one of the many book clubs happening in our Trinitas community. Read the primary sources your child is reading. Read poetry. Read the Iliad, read Song of Roland, Beowulf, Robinson Crusoe, and Boethius. Read fairy tales, fables, myths. Read the classics. Read at the table. Read in bed. In fact, make reading together with your child before bedtime a family tradition.
18. Fill their days with good things...don’t give them too much unscheduled time, but don’t run them in the ground either. (Oh, and you’ll have to work hard to make a convincing case that screen time is good for children. Period.) This is a tough one because, on the one hand, you don’t want to schedule every minute of your kids’ day – doing so will lead to a frenetic life that isn’t conducive to proper leisure; but on the other hand, your child doesn’t need long stretches of unstructured time especially spent by themselves or with a screen. We were created to work six days a week. Your kids should go to bed tired every night. Sports, chores, jobs, etc. are all examples of good things that your kids should be doing.
19. Begin boni-libri (books and cards) early! The Trinitas Boni-libri program is indeed intended to train students to be life-long readers, but it does something else equally important. It gives you fifty-two opportunities to put procrastination to death! (4 quarters x 13 years) If you train your kids to start and finish their boni-libri books early, you will have given them a fundamental essential to life-long success...and maybe even a love of reading!
20. Make time to read Scripture and pray with your kids daily. If you succeed at everything it takes to be successful at Trinitas but fail to inculcate in your children a love for God’s Word and the habit of prayer then you have failed most miserably. C.S. Lewis reminds us that "Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil." We talk a lot about marinating children in the Scripture. Marinade in the pantry works about as well as a Bible that is opened once a week. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar, just take up and read!