Congratulations to our volleyball and baseball teams! For the first time in Trinitas baseball history, our team won the 2018 Regional Championship. Also breaking records for the volleyball team, the Junior Varsity and Varsity volleyball ladies both won their 2018 Conference Championships! We are exceptionally proud of them and all of their hard work. At long last, Mr. Gilley presented the teams with banners to commemorate these accomplishments. These banners will hang proudly in the Grand Hall and we congratulate our athletes on a job well done!
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I used to think our little house in the country was ideal for raising children, but eventually our children got old enough to leave the comfort of that little country house and go to school. Then I realized that the fifty minutes we spent commuting back and forth to school each day added up to 8,500 minutes (almost 142 hours!) of time spent in an enclosed space with children in the course of just one school year. That realization along with the other stresses of commuting caused me despair…until I learned how to use all that time for the benefit of both children and parents! What follows are three blessings we’ve received from using our school commute wisely.
Less school-related stress
It’s no secret that kids crave consistency. They need to know what to expect as well as what is expected of them. The hour spent getting ready for school in the morning is already challenging enough without adding uncertainty, confusion, and frustration to the mix. Having consistent morning routines that are carried over into the car ride to school helps children be ready to face the challenges of their day ahead. For our family, this means the kids know that we’ll be studying their spelling before the car leaves the driveway every morning. From there, we’ll move on to vocabulary, chronological orders, and even Bible memory passages.
Having a definite and limited amount of time available for our mobile study session seems to add a helpful element of urgency to the activity. In fact, the children have even selected certain stop lights and specific turns in the road as goals by which to mark their progress.
Children need to learn early that one of the keys to successful studying is frequency. By making studying part of our daily commute, our children are learning the habits needed to avoid the cram/pass/forget cycle that not only undermines academic success but, more importantly, prevents true learning. Five minutes of studying every morning of the week will better prepare a student than an hour of cramming the night before a test.
A huge part of our morning routine that I believe contributes to mastery of the subject matter at hand is what I call the “waterfall effect.” For example, I quiz my eldest student on his assigned spelling words, but then he quizzes his younger sister who then extends the same favor to her younger sister, and so on. Not only are the children practicing their grade-level work, but they are also reviewing material from previous years. Such cyclical review helps to refresh and solidify knowledge in their mind that otherwise might be left behind.
Just like us, children need balance in their lives. Though important, school and homework should not occupy an inordinate percentage of our children’s waking hours. By using our morning commute for studying and our afternoon commute for homework, we’ve been able to avoid (with occasional exceptions) doing school work at home in the evenings. After the rigor and structure of the school day, our children love being able to play outside as soon as they get home in the afternoon. This also leaves the evenings open for family activities such as reading, singing, and playing with siblings.
It would be foolish to assume that our children will continue to be able to complete all of their studying and homework in the car on the way to school and back—especially as they grow older and take on more challenging academic disciplines. But we plan to continue to leverage the time it takes to get from our home to school and back home again each day to reduce school-related stress, build habits needful for academic success, and create time in their busy days for healthy play and family activities.
Mr. James Cowart
The Peter Rabbit Tea is just around the corner and our first grade class started preparing by planting vegetables today. With the help of a dedicated room mom, the first graders planted seeds to grow carrots, radishes, and arugula. In three short weeks, these beautiful pots full of veggies will serve as centerpieces for our annual tea party.
As part of their study of medieval culture and history, the fourth and seventh grade classes celebrated Medieval Day last Wednesday. The students dressed as ladies and knights of the period and mimicked life in Old Europe. The cold weather couldn’t subdue the excitement for the many medieval activities such as chopping wood, making bread, candles, and butter. They also enjoyed embroidering, archery, and sword fighting. Highlights of the day included the “knighting” of our young fourth grade boys and a jousting competition. Students feasted with the king and queen on food characteristic of the time, and ended the day with lessons in Gregorian Chants. Thank you to the many hands that made this day a Trinitas favorite!
Trinitas teachers desire to cultivate a love for reading good books in all of their students. Exposing young children to wonderful books is just one of the many ways to foster a love for this meaningful pastime. At Trinitas, we not only expose our junior kindergartners to good books, but we also foster a special bond with the older students that helps to model the love we hope to foster. Periodically, our juniors take time to read books to our youngest students. Both classes report this as a “favorite” in their day and look forward to the next opportunity to share together.
One of my favorite teachers sometimes reminds her class of nine-year-olds that they came into this world with nothing and that they would have nothing still if their kind and benevolent parents hadn’t given them everything they need. She usually issues that reminder to her students in the context of a pep-talk about taking proper care of their clothes, lunchboxes, backpacks, pencils, binders—you get the idea, but it also extends to care of their desks, chairs, books, and other non-consumable items they use at school. She refers to these items under their care as their little kingdoms. If they can take good care of those little kingdoms, they will someday be prepared to rule well over larger kingdoms—households, businesses, churches, and governments, for example.
Stewardship is a good word to describe what the teacher is trying to get those nine-year-olds to understand. It is the idea that people ought to take proper care of the things they’ve been given, and especially so if those things have been entrusted to them for a period of time and then will pass on to someone else. This idea of stewardship is based on the Christian principle that God has given us the world to tend and take care of. There are about as many different plans for how Christians are supposed to care for the world as there are Christian denominations, but many Christians agree on the basic premise that God has made us stewards of the world and everything in it. Those Christians will want to teach and train their children to be good stewards as well—to rule well over kingdoms they will inherit. What follows are a few ideas for doing that.
Have your children make their beds each morning. A good steward will establish order by setting things aright, or putting things in their proper place and proper state. A bed that isn’t being slept in should be made up so it is ready, clean, and inviting when it is time to use it again. Development varies a little by the child, but most three-year-olds have motor skills necessary to begin learning this little chore.
The old adage, a place for everything and everything in its place, is a maxim for good stewards. Keeping good order and organization of all our things not only makes our surroundings more beautiful but also makes life just a little easier, especially when the most important task in that moment of life is finding one’s school shoes at 7 o’clock on Monday morning. Whether it’s school shoes, toys, or the kitchen scissors we used for yesterday’s art project, when each of our things has its own place and gets put back there as soon as we’ve finished using it, the likelihood of its not getting misplaced or damaged is greatly increased. Even toddlers can learn to be responsible for putting things back in their places. My wife’s rule when our boys were little was that they could not move on to the next adventure until they had returned everything from the last adventure to its proper place.
Teach your children the value of what you provide for them by having them pay to replace items they mistreat. This may seem a little harsh at first blush, so let’s establish some parameters. First, growing, happy children are bound to put holes in the knees of their jeans—let’s consider that normal wear; call it the cost of doing business. Not only that, but kids are going to ding the family sedan at least once while they’re learning to ride a bike. Again, that’s something you signed up for—wait until you start teaching them to drive that family sedan. The sort of thing I am talking about is setting off a pack of firecrackers in a lunchbox or using sister’s baby doll as a hammer. If children are taught from the earliest age to use things as they were intended to be used and not to be destructive, the consequences for doing differently should sting. When Billy has to spend some of his birthday money to replace his lunchbox, he will be getting a taste of what it costs Dad and Mom to keep him adequately outfitted for life, and he’ll likely think twice before mistreating other things that have been provided for him.
Have your children pitch in around the house. Children can do so much more than we give them credit for. Even children too young to go to school are able to fold laundry, help wash dishes and set the table, feed pets, take out trash, sweep, scrub, pull weeds, and all sorts of other tasks that allow them to participate in being good stewards of the household. Taking on these sorts of chores alongside their parents and siblings gives them a sense of belonging and responsibility. Nothing teaches and trains good stewards like practicing stewardship.
These are just a few simple things you can begin doing to help train your children to take proper care of the things you give them. With a little thought about your individual situation, you could add dozens of ideas. The lessons they learn will permeate all that they do when they learn them organically by working alongside you and take them in simply as part of who they are rather than as a checklist of jobs they must do.
Whether they are prepared or not, your children will inherit the rule of a lot more than a school locker or a bedroom—they will someday rule God’s world. You want them to be ready for that task, so start now by teaching them to faithfully steward their little kingdoms in preparation to faithfully rule the whole world when they are grown.
Mr. Ron Gilley
Even our four year old students are learning to appreciate the beautiful art here in Pensacola. Our Junior Kindergarteners took a field trip to the Pensacola Museum of Art to see pieces from a wide range of artists and styles. They viewed masterpieces ranging from impressionism to modernism, including art by Mattisse and Chagall. A trip to this museum affirms our goals at Trinitas Christian School of cultivating love for truth, beauty, and goodness.
Trinitas second grade students participated in our annual Egyptian Day this week. Students wove baskets from reeds, crafted cartouches from clay, and modeled for personal Tutankhamen masks. Parents were on hand to mold the plaster of paris creations and serve the authentic Egyptian feast which included dates and raisins, Ful medames and eggs, caramelized fish, and chicken stew with meloukhia. All enjoyed the finale, an original skit of “Moses and the Plagues of Egypt”. Thank you to Mrs. Robson and all of our parents who helped make this day a fantastic time together!
In last week’s post, I discussed the hallmarks of a child ready for kindergarten. If your child isn’t ready, relax, August is still several months away. Or maybe you have a two year old, and you wonder how to begin preparing him so he will be ready for kindergarten. One of you has more time than the other but otherwise the path is the same.
First, let’s talk principles. We should begin with the end in mind. What do you want your children to look like at age five, thirteen, eighteen, and beyond? What kind of people do you want them to become? What do you want them to love? That’s important. You want to get from point A to point B, but you can’t accomplish that if you don’t know where point B is. Take Olympic training for example. If you want to be a champion gymnast, you begin with tumbling, you might lift weights, or even build power with sprints—those are steps along the path to becoming a champion gymnast. But dribbling a basketball might not be helpful at all—that step puts you on a path that ends elsewhere. Know where you’re headed with your children before you begin.
The goal for children in classical, Christ-centered schools is that they become life-long learners who not only think, but also act, righteously (Hicks, Norms and Nobility). While you’re preparing your preschool-aged children for their first days in school, stay focused on that. Creating a love of learning “isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon” to quote a favorite teacher and mentor, Mrs. Phillips. It requires planning and practice just like a marathon, and it won’t end when you take his picture for the first day of school. Take pleasure in this time with your child; think about ways to make the process enjoyable for you both.
So now for the list. This is merely meant to spark ideas for activities to make learning fun while you cover the basics in preparation for kindergarten. Remember, it’s not an exhaustible to-do-list but something to get you started.
- Play games—a lot! This is a big one. Games teach many skills and virtue as well. Memory matching is one of my favorites, and it’s not only useful to train memory, but also to teach upper and lower case letters by matching them or to match a number with a representative number of items, to name a couple. The card game War can help children order numbers, Candyland can help teach colors, and … you get the idea. Whatever you do, don’t always allow your children to win the game. Children need to learn to lose gracefully. Even that takes practice.
- Color, cut, and paste! Sure, this might make a mess, but if children are to imitate our Creator, they also need to create. Coloring and cutting in the lines and making something beautiful builds fine motor skills and attention span. It can also be relaxing (haven’t you seen the rise in availability of adult coloring books?).
- Play outside! According to a study reported in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics, researchers found a positive correlation between early TV watching and attention issues in children. Swings, ladders, balls, and other equipment help develop gross motor skills, but so do skipping, jumping, and hopping around the back yard.
- Read lots of good books. (Ditto my note on number 3 regarding screen time.) Reading just for the great story is reason enough to read, but you also get the positive effects of building attention span. That means that sometimes you need to read longer books, or chapters from longer books. Good examples would be the Little House on the Prairie or The Chronicles of Narnia series. You can add the exercise of searching for letters in the text every once in a while to integrate alphabet recognition skills. Set aside a special time to read (like before bed), or build a fort together to read in. If part of your vision is for your adult child to love reading, you’ll have that in mind while you’re thinking of ways to make it an enjoyable experience.
- Have them help around the house. Even little ones can match socks, fold napkins and washcloths, and set the table. All these activities teach responsibility, following directions, ordering, and independence—things important to a child beginning school.
- Teach them to obey the first time even when they don’t feel like obeying. Matt Whitling, a classical school assistant principal and frequent conference speaker, has a helpful saying, “We obey right away, all the way, with a good attitude, every day.” Think more about your vision here. If your child doesn’t obey the first time when you tell him to stop at the crosswalk, his life could be in danger; likewise, God desires our obedience to live the life He has called us to. Practice and use fun games to teach listening for your voice and obeying the first time.
I hope these suggestions prove fruitful for you. Remember, begin with the end in mind: you want to spark wonder and a love for learning that will last a lifetime. Practice these ideas in your home and add your own creative ways of accomplishing the same objectives to give your child the foundation he needs for kindergarten and beyond.
The eighth grade U.S. History and Citizenship class held a simulated congressional hearing. The students gave four-minute presentations, each followed by a six-minute question/answer time. The format was similar to a thesis presentation and defense. American government topics were discussed, as well the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation. It was a robust discussion and an excellent learning experience for our students studying American history and government.