Monthly Archives: September 2012


Homework: Q&A

Homework. It’s something most families live with. For some families homework feels burdensome while for others it is a welcome step in reaching their academic goals. Some children bring home more homework than others. Some parents are far more involved in their children’s homework than others. Every situation is different, but we all need wisdom to think through homework – how to keep it in proper bounds, how to make the most of it, and how to use it to help our children grow academically.

Our friends at the Ambrose School, a fellow-ACCS school in Boise, Idaho, published a series of questions and answers that addresses several homework-related issues. I hope this Q&A provides some food for thought and some clarification.

Q: I’m spending hours with my grammar school student doing homework. I don’t even know how to do some of this stuff! (Latin, for example).
A: Throughout the 3rd, 4th or 5th grade, students should work toward independence. Parents often make students dependent by being too involved in their homework. While this may make one feel needed, depending on the student it can be counterproductive. We encourage parents to gradually but continually put pressure on students to do their own work.

Q: If I don’t check my student’s work, he makes lots of careless mistakes. What do I do?
A: On the contrary, if you continually prevent your children from turning in assignments with careless mistakes, they will not learn to be more careful. Let them make the mistakes and learn from their failures.

Q: My child gets very stressed if he or she doesn’t get high marks on every assignment. We spend hours trying to get everything “just right.”
A: This “perfectionism” is best addressed at a young age. Students develop healthier practices overall when they learn to do work that is less than “perfect.” If not addressed, your student will likely develop difficulties accepting their performance in many areas of life. No one is perfect. Students need to accept B’s and C’s when they have done their best in the allotted homework time. This is resolved best by through strictly limiting homework time. [Recommended reading here: Ending the Homework Hassle by John Rosemond]

Q: My older student spends between 4 and 6 hours every night doing homework. He is really frustrated, even to the point of sneaking time in the middle of the night to do homework. Sometimes he even cries. I’m not sure how long he can keep this up. What can we do?
A: 7th through 12th grade students are expected to do as much as up to 3 hours of homework nightly. [By the way, this number is the homework guideline for the Ambrose School. Regents aims to give no more than 2 hours per night for high school students and less for younger students.] When students exceed this amount on a regular basis, a problem needs to be addressed or they will be overwhelmed. First, speak with the teacher to verify that the student is doing their work in class and is approaching it correctly. The most common reason for this problem is a lack of diligence, even if this does not seem to be the case. Many students are prone to distractions: they take breaks when the work becomes difficult; they rotate between activities (homework, practicing an instrument, eating, drinking, playing, etc.); or they rotate between subjects too frequently (although this can sometimes help when the student is stuck on a problem). Even when it appears that the student is working diligently, his concentration may be scattered. He may be putting a lot of energy in, but accomplishing very little. Diligence requires structure and self-discipline. In our experience, this is a gradual process that takes 2 to 3 months to develop. The key is not to allow the student to spend more than 3 or 3 ½ hours on homework during this adjustment time. The overall time restriction will help them budget their time and move more quickly. The pressure actually makes them more efficient. This prevents the “doldrums” that occur when a student labors without being productive. Students need a time incentive to “run for the prize” rather than just labor, seemingly in vain.

Q: My student seems to be doing well, but I’m not! He’s only in the 4th grade and he’s already asking questions I can’t answer—particularly in Latin, English grammar, Science, and Math.
A: Our curriculum challenges students, and often parents. Our teachers realize this and will gladly help with questions after school or on break. Encourage your student to plan their work so that they have time to ask questions of their teacher.

Q: My student has many activities that keep him from doing homework on certain nights. How can we manage this?
A: Many of our students have busy activities. This provides an opportunity for them to learn how to plan in advance. Teachers publish homework assignments on a weekly basis and in advance by several days (often over a week). These are available on RenWeb, our internet parent information system. Students can also obtain these directly from teachers. Students should be encouraged on Friday or Saturday to plan the upcoming week. For example, if a student has activities on Tuesday and Thursday, they should plan on the previous Friday to get at least one of the assignments for each of those days done over the weekend.


How (Not) to Harden Your Children’s Hearts

In a fast-paced world that threatens to keep us in a perpetual state of distraction and superficiality, we need to slow down and focus on what matters.

In Deuteronomy we hear God’s command to place His law in our hearts: the Lord said, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children” (Deut 6:6-7). Then the book of Proverbs reminds us to “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (4:23). We must guard our own hearts so that they remain soft and we remain responsive to the Holy Spirit and receptive to the Word of God. And then we must also guard and tend the hearts of our children so that they, too, remain open to the work of the Heavenly Father in their lives.

Christian parents send their children to a Christian school so that their hearts will be tended and nurtured – softened toward the Lord – rather than be hardened and made brittle by unchecked sin, neglect of the truth, and carelessness toward the things of God. Our friends at discoverchristianschools.com help us to understand how to avoid hardening the hearts of our children with an article titled “Ten Ways to Harden a Child’s Heart Toward God.” Please go to the website and read the entire article – you’ll be glad you did.

But here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite.

The Bible teaches that there is no neutral ground or actions – everything is either for or against Christ (Matthew 12:30), and there are things that soften the heart of a child and things that harden the heart of a child. For example, teaching that God does not exist from the very earliest years of a child’s life will have a hardening effect on the heart of a person and create a thought process that will make it more difficult to believe that there is a God later in life. Conversely, being taught that there is a God from a child’s earliest years will prepare the heart and mind of the child to believe that God exists later in life. This is why God commands parents to immerse their children in His word and how He normally brings a person to saving faith.

Additionally, God tells us that what goes in through the eyes and ears will affect a person (Luke 11:34). He tells us (including the children) what we should be thinking about in Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” […]

A non-Christian school teaches children while excluding the Bible. Education fundamentally is about learning to think and thinking informs a person’s actions. From God’s Word we find that all truth and therefore, all true education, is rooted in the truth of God. By excluding the teachings of Christ in the non Christian school, the child implicitly learns that it is not important to have God as central to how we are to think and live. […]

A non-Christian school teaches without Christ and leads children to conclude that man can effectively learn and grow independent of God. “If God is not needed for everything, He may not be needed for anything.” A Christian school teaches that we can, in fact, do all things, but it is through Christ. Therefore, both the responsibility to achieve a level of independence in society and the blessing of total dependence on God is missed in the non-Christian school.

A non-Christian school teaches that there is no Divine Authority. Without God as the Supreme Authority over all of life and the source of truth, the framework for a pattern of thinking is in place that concludes man is the supreme authority in life. How difficult will it be to believe and submit to God? Even if the gospel is believed, the child may believe that God exists to serve man’s need, not the other way around.

There’s much more at discoverchristianschools.com, and I commend the website to you. And I pray that God will give you wisdom as you seek to guard the hearts of your children – both young and old – and point them toward Christ. We join you in seeking to honor God in everything we do, and leading your children to do so as well.


Safety First

At Regents Academy we take safety seriously. We believe that you invest your trust in us to watch and protect your children during the school day and expect us to take every reasonable precaution against possible harm. Not every dangerous eventuality can be accounted for, but we strive to be diligent and fulfill our responsibility to you and your family. We ask the Lord to be merciful to us and help us to protect children faithfully to the best of our ability.

I thought it would be helpful to let you know some of the safety measures that we have in place at the school.

  • Regents Academy has developed a comprehensive Safety Plan with detailed instructions for preventing dangerous situations and also for handling a variety of emergencies that might come up. Each year during Teacher Development before the start of the school year, teachers review the Safety Plan.
  • There is a red safety bag in each classroom that contains a copy of the Safety Plan, a few basic first aid supplies, and (for rooms with no windows) a flashlight.
  • We follow a regular drill schedule. Fire drills are conducted once per month, and the students and teachers are quite practiced at getting out of the building in the quickest and most orderly manner possible.
  • During drop off and pick up, the driveway and front of the building are monitored for safety hazards, and young children are escorted to their vehicles by a staff member or parent.
  • This summer the board invested several thousand dollars in improving our front entrance, widening it by 4 feet and repairing the surface. We have attempted repeatedly to have a school zone installed on the loop in front of our campus, but have been denied. However, we will keep trying, in the hope that as the school grows persistence will be rewarded.
  • Most of our teachers have been certified in Heartsaver CPR training sponsored by the American Red Cross and will soon be re-certified.
  • All entrances to the school remain locked during the school day, except for the front entrance, which is monitored at all times by a staff member.
  • The school employs a visitor name badge system that enables staff members to quickly identify a potential intruder who has not checked in at the front desk.
  • All staff members undergo a criminal background check at the time of employment. The school uses a service called Secure Search, which you can learn more about at securesearchpro.com. Beginning this school year, this service will also be used for parent volunteers who work with children.
  • Teachers complete mandatory sexual abuse identification and prevention training. This training is facilitated through MinistrySafe.com and is renewed every two years.

All of these efforts are in addition to our school’s first and foremost safety feature – loving and attentive teachers who supervise and monitor students in the classroom, in the hall, at lunch, on the playground, and on the field. Teachers are trained and expected to be on the lookout for potential hazards or problems. If you have safety concerns, I am happy to hear them. Our goal is to have the safest campus that we can possibly have.


Two Central Truths

Recently WORLD magazine’s WORLD on Campus website published excerpts from a speech by former education secretary William Bennett at Patrick Henry College.

His remarks are quite incisive:

How can American education improve? Education gets better locally. The single most important adult in a child’s life is the parent. The single most important thing about the education of the child needs to be the parent, and the parent’s attitude toward education: Not how much he or she knows, but attitude. The parent can be illiterate, not able to do any of the homework with the kid, but still saying, “This is important. You turn off the TV. You do your work. You listen to the teacher.”

And does that teacher need to be good? The research on this is fascinating: There’s a ton. It’s not class size. It’s certainly not facilities. It’s not technology. It’s the quality of the adult in front of the classroom. The research is clear: You are much better off in a bad school with a good teacher than a supposedly really good school with a bad teacher. If you take kids from the 50th percentile in the third grade, and you give them a teacher everyone regards as excellent, in two years they’ll be at the 85 percentile. You give them a teacher everyone regards as not very good, in two years they’ll be in the 35th percentile. What more do you need to know about evaluating teachers and rewarding excellence?

Mr. Bennett is affirming two truths that are central to a classical Christian education.

First, it is parents who have the primary responsibility to educate their children. It is not the state, not the county, not the Department of Education, but parents who are instructed by the Lord God to educate their children for Him. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and Ephesians 6:4 are quite clear in this regard. It is parents who are the essential component of a quality education, and to be faithful to God parents must seek out the best and most godly education possible for their children. Do you embrace this responsibility? Do you embrace it with more than a tuition check but with daily conversation with your child about what she is learning? Do you read with and to your children? Do you engage with them and challenge them and encourage them? God has placed you in this crucial role and loves your children through you as you care for them.

Second, Mr. Bennett affirms that skilled teachers are the essential piece of the education puzzle. Our Lord taught us that “A disciple [or student] is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Teachers model, inspire, train, encourage, correct, and embody the traits and knowledge they are striving to inculcate in their students. Please pray for your children’s teachers and ask the Lord to give them strength, courage, and consistency in this high calling. I am always so heartened when a parent speaks of his or her faithful prayers for our teachers. And then I am even more encouraged to see parents getting to know and lifting up teachers. What a blessing Regents parents are to our school’s teachers, as they strive to bless our students daily.

God is indeed blessing the work of Regents Academy, and He is doing it through people, who are among God’s greatest gifts. Let’s keep trusting Him to do His work through us. And let’s keep trusting one another and getting to know one another better as we, together, seek to fulfill our great mission at Regents.