Leaders of tomorrow are children of today

By Joan Clayton: Guest Columist

This time of year is “bittersweet” for me. I see “Back to School” reminders everywhere. I feel a “tinge” of fall in the air and I remember those first days of school.

New lunch boxes and crayons held in little hands walked into my classroom with eager expectations. Being a new teacher, I had no idea what high heel shoes did to your feet. At the end of the first week I found out. The first time I wore flat shoes to school, a disappointed little student remarked, “Teacher, how come you don’t look pretty today?”

I had a lot of surprises that first year of teaching. When one of my students sharpened his pencil I noticed a peculiar odor. When he returned to his seat I saw mustard smeared on the back of his clothes. I whispered in his ear about it and he said, “Me and my brother went to the show last night and we tried to see who could put the most mustard packs in our back pockets and every time I sit down, one of them things pop! Don’t they smell good?”

One morning a student sat in his chair and pounded his fists on his desk, stomped his feet on the floor and screamed, “I’m sick! I’m sick! I’m sick!”

I could tell he wasn’t sick and said, “You’ll be all right.”

“What would you do if I really was sick?”

I love the honesty and innocence of children and I still miss them. A career of teaching little ones brought many blessings. Children have within them the secret of life … unconditional love, forgiveness and complete trust. They renew hope and promise for our lives. The children of today are our leaders of tomorrow.

Many factors determine a child’s success in life. To be loved is the chief factor.

A child who is genuinely loved can soar to amazing heights. I have read many stories of successful people whose parents or parent instilled into their offspring right from wrong. They believed in their sons or daughters and never gave up. Their cheerleading section became the child’s security.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 gives valuable advice about children:

“Remember my words with your whole being. Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign; tie them on your foreheads to remind you. Teach them well to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NCV)

The support and love of a strong family builds successful children, not only in school, but also eventually in life. Spending quality time with children means much more than material things. “Things” will never replace the love and quality time of a parent.

Being involved in your child’s school activities gives reinforcement for him or her. Keeping good communication with your child’s teacher lays groundwork for cooperation. Volunteering to help with field trips, parties and other activities helps so much. Sending needed materials for class projects are always appreciated.

I still have notes from parents in my “Treasure Book.” Many times these notes came after a long, hard day, restoring my enthusiasm for teaching. Receiving a note of appreciation from a parent makes a teacher’s day.

To build self-esteem in your child praise your child for efforts, improvement and the smallest accomplishment. Let your child know you are on his/her team and that you are there, whatever the need. Make it safe to communicate without fear or reprisal.
Lastly, pray together. No other single activity will have as profound an effect on your child’s life.

“Children are a gift from the Lord …” (Psalm 127:3 NCV).

Let us all remember, our leaders of tomorrow are the children of today.
Have a wonderful school year!