“Can you call Mrs. K and tell her to keep Shega in for recess?” joked Steve after a particularly rough night at our house. Shega was in first grade. Home from Ethiopia for about a year, she was struggling both academically and emotionally in first grade. We received several calls and emails from both her teacher and her principal about behavior concerns that year.
We were not new parents but we were new to dealing with school behavior concerns. Our first four kids learned easily and were compliant at school. We went into first grade thinking we knew what to do. However, we were not used to getting notes like this! Steve and I both thought about what our parents would have done if they had received a note saying we were naughty at school. Even as adults, we shuddered at the thought!
At first, we delivered consequences at home. We took away TV, which was Shega’s favorite thing. We lectured. We punished and we delivered consequences.
The behaviors didn’t change. In fact, she became increasingly difficult at home too.
One day, after a particularly rough stretch at home, my husband jokingly wondered if we should send her teacher a note stating how difficult things were at home and asking her teacher to keep her in for recess.
For me, it was a defining moment. Asking the teacher to dole out consequences for home behavior was absurd. This poor kid was under much stress at school. She was learning a new language, learning to read and learning how the social system worked in this new place. The last thing she needed was for us to give her consequences at home for school behavior.
Shega needed a “do-over” every time she came home from school. She needed love and acceptance at home. She did not need her failures and difficulties at school to follow her home.
We no longer dole out home consequences for school behavior. Does that mean our kid get a pass every time the teacher calls? Well….yes, actually. We talk about school at home, but we do not give our kids consequences at home for school behavior. We express our desire that our kids behave in a way that honors their teacher and their peers at school. However, we give our kids a “do-over” every day at home. We trust the teacher to handle both academics and behavior at school. We want the teachers to trust us to handle what happens at home. I am confident that Mrs K did not want to keep our daughter in for recess because of something that happened at home.
Kids who are adjusting to a new place need lots of do-overs.
In fact….I need a lot of do-overs.
Good thing I serve the God of do-overs!
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,