Summer has drawn to a close. Most parents and children are adjusting to the beginning of a new school year. Hair is freshly cut and styled; shopping for school clothes, shoes and supplies is done. Children are getting familiar with new teachers and/or new schools. With all this accomplished, the children are set for success, right? Not necessarily! This is only the beginning.
The liturgical year of our Church also begins in September. This is the time we begin anew. Can we merely begin our church year with the correct supplies, intentions, and clothing appropriate for Church? Of course not! We need to live the life of the Church, involved in prayer, services, and feast days throughout the entire year. Our church year is not complete if we do not participate all the way though. Similarly, we need to stay involved in our children’s school year all the way through. This is true both for secular school and for church school.
Our society in general seems to think that it is the responsibility of the school system to educate our children. And it seems that many Orthodox parents believe that their children will learn all they need to know about the Church in church school. I propose a change to this way of thinking.
Schools are a tool for us to use in the education of our children. Parents are the orchestrators of the children’s education. School plays a large role, but what the children learn at home is far more important to both their earthly knowledge and to their eternal salvation. We parents need to supplement and enhance what our children are taught at school. We need to set the stage for their learning by nurturing their curiosity. We need to be models – icons – for our children. How? Ask what was discussed in class. Share what you are learning about your faith. Ask what they are curious about. Volunteer to help out.
Be at church with your children. Pray together with your children. And, most importantly, be the kind of Orthodox Christian that you want your child to grow up to be.
Reprinted from Faith and Family (Sept 2001 pg 19). Used by permission of the author.