Saturday, July 26, 2014


It is back to school time after the summer vacation break in the Northern Hemisphere.  In some countries like New Zealand and Australia, children begin school the day they turn 5 years old and that, of course,  can be any time of the year.

Our 5 year-old grandson is starting in a new school next week and it will mean finding new friends and having a new teacher.  How can we prepare our little ones for such a new experience in their lives?Here are some suggestions.


1. Prepare yourself.
    a) Think through the scenario of not having little Stefan or Susie at home during any week days.
    b) Decide on some things to look forward to because you have more free time. It could be work, 
        rest, recreational activity, study, a hobby or volunteer work just to name a few ideas.

2. Prepare your child for a new school.
    a) Take him/her shopping for school supplies, a uniform or new clothing.
    b) Explain that he will be in a new class with (probably) all new kids.
    c) Create a structured home routine if you haven't already.  That should include early nights, wind
        down time for after school and time for you to help with school homework and assignments.
    d) If your child will be catching the school bus, then take them to the bus stop some days before
         they start so they can see other kids getting on and off (if it is part way through a semester).
         Assure them that you will be there to pick them up.  If it's the beginning of the school year
         you will have to show them how to board the bus.  Hopefully they may know at least one
         older child at that stop who can look out for them.
    e) If you are driving them to school don't hold up the traffic by feeling that you have to see them
        enter the school's front door before driving off.  There are always staff members out there to
        ensure  that happens and other moms and dads who are eagerly waiting to drop their children off
        might get somewhat agitated!
    f) Ensure they are fully potty trained, that they can tie their own shoe laces and that they
        fully know to use their manners.  

3. Prepare other siblings.
    a) Talk to younger brothers or sisters about their older sibling going to school.  They will no doubt
         wonder where their playmate is.  They may not realize until school starts where big brother/
         sister has gone, but be aware that the younger child/children may feel lonely missing the older
    b) Make sure these preschool children have fun activities to do to take their minds off missing their


    a) Talk with their teacher and let him/her know of any special needs or concerns you have
         about your child.
    b) Ask the teacher if they support parent contact by email and use this to keep up with the
        play.  Remember, too, that the teacher will more than likely have more than 20 other
        parents to communicate with and teachers don't need to be overloaded with emails.  
    c) Learn from the teacher what her/his expectations are of your child AND of you.
    d) As time goes by ask the teacher what your child's strengths are and where they most
        need help.
    e) Be prepared to be as involved with the school as time will allow you.

I know, as parents, we feel our child is too young to be out of our influence and protection,
so there is a tendency to coddle or baby them.  This is the period of time to let go a little and
help them mature.  They now have definitely left the baby stage.

Happy days.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Yesterday I heard our middle-aged tour guide here in France talking about the local education system and how students at around 14 years old are required to take particular exams.  The results dictate their career future from that point on.  Those who pass can go on to higher education in fields rewarded by good salaries.  Those who do not pass are delegated manual tasks such as restoration of old buildings, furniture etc.  Naturally the students become very afraid of these exams because she said there was no opportunity to retake them.
In the process of giving us this information our guide used her own family as an illustration.  She said, "My daughter never did a jot of homework in her whole school life and now there is no hope for her securing a well paid future."  I was astonished for two reasons.  One was that she said there are no second chances offered by the school system for making up for failed examinations and secondly, that she never indicated any parental responsibility for her daughter's lack in fulfilling school requirements, as in doing or handing in any homework!


A child's attitude towards school work is most influenced by parents especially in the early years.  

1.  If your children see how interested you, as a parent, are in learning new things - whether it 
     be taking adult courses, looking up subjects of interest on the computer or at the library,
     and they see your enjoyment in achievement, then they will see the value in continual
2. If you tell a child (in jest) that you only went to school to eat your lunch and play
    with your friends this might well negatively influence your child's view of the importance
    of learning.
3. If you tell your child you only did enough work to scrape through exams and that you
    turned out 'all right', that does not take into consideration the many skilled jobs that are
    now being offered and that those with high grades are going to be chosen first in this work

Up to a point.  Initially a parent is responsible for instilling positive attitudes towards learning and school.  Parents need to gently guide their child's educational growth through positive affirmation and setting effective guidelines for study.  They will need to help their child steadily acquire knowledge and establish firm routines.  Providing a suitable place to complete their homework is necessary.

The transition from parent directed study to the child taking ownership for their own progress and success in education probably will differ according to the child's maturation and how long the parents have held on to controlling this part of their child's life.  Create high but realistic expectations and your child will rise to them.  When they feel like they are a stake holder, and the results are due to their attitude and work habits, the child will be hard to stop.

Does this mean that you can then abdicate from the responsibility for your child's education?  Not at all!  Once all these things above are in place you can then adopt the role of encourager, referee, and guide.  You need to make adjustments according to the results your child attains.  Please remember that your child should always be encouraged to do THEIR best, because they can't always be THE best.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess

Friday, July 4, 2014


I well remember the time that I first found out I was pregnant. I was sooooo excited!  As I passed the 12 week mark that little person inside started fluttering around and it didn't seem long after that there seemed to be a gymnastics class going on in there.  All the while I daydreamed about what motherhood would be like and who and what this little person would grow up to be.  I had no idea whether I was having a girl or boy, but I was sure he/she would be everything we could ever wish for.

Perhaps what we want for our children is not necessarily what they want!  We sometimes try to map out their lives to include the things we didn't achieve.  Of course, we don't realize that we are doing our best to influence them until one day, when they feel brave enough, they say, "No, I don't want to do that!  I want to do this!"  That may come as quite a shock.  We spend all our effort and often quite some money thinking we are doing them a favor when, in fact, they may not be good at that thing, have no interest in that activity or they just plain want to do something else!

How do we resist the temptation of trying to live our lives vicariously through our kids?  
We need to:
  • Understand and appreciate that they are little individuals with their own skills and desires.  
  • Stop and look at what they gravitate towards; what they seem interested in.
  • Encourage them to try something and stick to it for a given period of time and not give up.
  • Set high expectations, but not impossible ones.
  • Let them be kids and just enjoy their early lives.
 "The irony of parenting is that children turn our molds upside down. They come out wired in ways we never anticipated. Our job is to figure out their inherent, God-ordained bent and train them in that direction. Forcing our dreams on them won't work. Only when we see them for who they are can we impact their life powerfully."

Quote supplied by:

Author, columnist, and blogger at