September's bright blue weather is again with us, with its fields of goldenrod and purple asters. The sounding of the school bell suggests to young and old that they can no longer revel in relaxation—more important tasks await them. There is something exhilarating about the changing seasons. The carefree teen-ager may now enjoy his novel pencil box, new brief case, or beckoning lunch kit. Yes, September provides her own thrills.
Now the family's youngest, Robert James, proudly marches away from home to face a school program, entirely unconscious of the prolonged epoch of education he has begun. He has longed for the day to come, and this morning he was dressed an hour ahead of time. As mother sees him skipping along she wonders about her baby son. It is good that mothers still wonder, for like Mary's pondering the future of her young son, Jesus, this is a matter of the heart. And what do mothers wonder about when the school bell rings? Let's see.
Has little "half-past-six Bobby" been well prepared for his school career? Is he ready for its gregarious way of life? Has he learned lessons about organized play with other children? Has he been weaned from mother's attention so freely bestowed since he first opened his inquisitive eyes? Is he prepared to accept his teacher in mother's stead, at least during school hours? Has he been instructed at home that he cannot always expect to be at the head of his class? Does he realize the value of property—desks, books, and pencils? Will he take care of his clothes, especially of the coat he will not be needing indoors? Has he had some practice in eating his lunch away from home? And does he know how to eat so that he will be properly nourished?
Next let us discuss the attitude of children toward school and schooling. Because of his favored heritage, the minister's lad, born of cultured, educated stock, would be expected to have a wholesome attitude toward school. Are parents assuming that their child's attitude is cooperative? Perhaps young Joan is hiding behind her mother's lack of interest in reading, or Edgar is allergic to his father's poor penmanship. Only a few months ago Marilyn had built up a decided dislike for one of her classmates. Her teacher, too, had fallen from grace because of "unfair grades." Fortunately the summer months brought new interests; children forget more readily than their elders do. But these are all home problems to be handled with care. Parents and teachers should work together in character building, and happy the teacher whose pupils' parents sense their responsibility.
The Minister's Child
And what about the children who are ministers' sons and daughters? They are not museum curios nor "out-of-this-world" winged creatures. Indeed they are human, and take their place with other husky democrats. You have trained them not to expect special favors at home—or at school! Parents have to guard the appellation "minister's boy" as well as the proverbial "don't." It may be upsetting to Jimmy when some expressive playmate taunts him with this title, even though it is not meant unkindly. After all, he is only a primary boy. There are always well-meaning folks in the church who lavish gifts on the ministerial family, setting its children apart in a special bracket. Your boy's material blessings may exceed those of the laymen's children. Just help him to take a few taunts in his stride; they will help to develop his character. And this will not be difficult if you do not allow yourself to become upset.
Incidentally, it does help our workers' children when their parents dress them sensibly for school. Little girls are very conscious of the fancy frock of some "cute" little schoolmate.
The school should be the most democratic institution in the land, and parents of good judgment will plan their children's clothes for comfort and utility. What mother with seamstress ability would not enjoy "dolling up" her charming little daughter? Here young ministerial mothers must use Christian restraint—or face trouble. Medical people and "mothers in Israel" keep parents and teachers aware of the need of protecting little legs in cold weather. Yes, shepherdesses, it is all a part of our health message.
Now let us consider the homework problem, which is hardly an unreasonable assignment in American education today. One asset of church school training is the fact that even young children learn to apply themselves to their desk work while the teacher hears the recitations of another class. Where children are cooperative with their teachers, very few will complain about a homework problem. When the children come home from school they should be free to play outdoors for a time. After supper the older children should help with the dishwashing, caring for the refuse, and other chores. It is a part of their home education and will help to make them practical citizens.
Before the hour of family worship, mother may wish to take her turn with father in having an intimate visit with one of the children. While she is chatting happily with Ruthie, father may be showing Johnny some new experiment in household science. Being a minister, father's time at home in the evening may be limited; but mother will take over and steer the older children to a short period of homework while she tucks the younger members of the family into bed. The rest hours of the child must be guarded conscientiously, as well as the routine rising hour.
Lingering Warm Weather
During September, while summer still lingers, the family will be taking advantage of outdoor life. Woods and field are never lacking in subjects for nature study, and participating in junior plans ties the family group together. The Sabbath vesper hour by the lakeside provides an inspiring setting for memory-verse drills. And if you invite another family or two to join you in this Sabbath delight, the children will not quickly forget the event, especially if they have had a part in preparing the vesper scripture and song. The ministerial family is God's teaching unit for the other children of the church, and a good example is a most eloquent sermon. In such an atmosphere pleasant contact may be provided with some unhappy, surly child, and Heaven marks these noble deeds of missionary endeavor.
After some of the foregoing suggestions have been presented, impressions will be deepened by discussion. Select from the following points those you know will be most profitable to your shepherdesses.
A. Preparing the first grader for school.
- The lunch box and its contents.
- Family "allergies" and their cures.
- Suitable school clothes for the minister's child.
- The homework problem.
An excellent help for ministerial mothers is that book by Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home. Here is a gem from this work:
"In His wisdom the Lord has decreed that the family shall be the greatest of all educational agencies. It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school. Here, with his parents as instructors, he is to learn the lessons that are to guide him throughout life—lessons of respect, obedience, reverence, self-control. The educational influences of the home are a decided power for good or for evil. They are in many respects silent and gradual, but if exerted on the right side, they become a far-reaching power for truth and righteousness. If the child is not instructed aright here, Satan will educate him through agencies of his choosing."—Page 182.