Former teacher offers back to school tips

By Joan Clayton: Local columnist

It’s back to school. Where did the summer go? When I pass by a school and see teachers getting ready, I wish I could do it all again. I become nostalgic when I see a school bus go by.

My students have grown up and still remember me, and that makes my day. They have children and even grandchildren getting ready for school. Looking back upon my 31 years of teaching, I have suggestions for your child’s success in school.

Pray together. One of the most important principles comes directly from God’s Word: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6 (KJV). Nurture and admonition of the Lord make strong families. Send your child off for the day in secure love. It makes a difference in his or her life … and in yours.

Make it safe to communicate. The relationship with your child is so important.

Make a relationship that allows your child to confide in you without fear of reprisal. You will be building self-esteem early in your child’s life.

Understand first, rather than seek to be understood. Try to see the world through a young child’s eyes. Understand the child’s fears, worries and hurts. Remember you are molding a young human being into a successful adult who will contribute to society.

Listen without interruption. We teach our children to not interrupt adult conversations. Allow your child time to speak his or her viewpoint. That provides his or her importance in the family. If the viewpoint is wrong, guide the child in a loving way.

Nagging is the pits! Nagging is not welcome anywhere, especially to children. They are defenseless, and they finally simply tune it all out anyway. Alter your comments to positives, using creativity and love to change behavior.

It’s okay to disagree, but not to disrespect. Parents are the authorities, and of course they know what is best for their children, and they must override the child’s wishes many times for their well-being. However, do it in a loving way. Children need to know they are important. This is a good self-esteem builder.

Focus on the present … not in the past. Bringing up the wrong things the child has done before is counterproductive. Administer discipline if necessary in love, and then the offense is over, never to be brought up again. To do otherwise discourages the child. Build on your child’s strengths. Find things that he or she does well. That will encourage and support the child’s activities.

Appreciate the child’s uniqueness. No person in the world is exactly like your child. Allow him or her to be an individual and blossom on his or her own. Allow your child to be what God created him or her to be. You love your children for who they are, not for what they can do. This opens the way for them to be happy and productive.

Love your child unconditionally. Withholding love is the cruelest form of punishment. The thief of self-esteem in children is love based upon conditions to be met.

Loving discipline. It takes real wisdom to administer loving discipline. Whatever punishment is employed needs to be meted out with love, understanding and patience.

It is my prayer for the students and teachers to have a wonderful school year. I hope some of my suggestions help you to promote health and learning to that most wonderful person in the world … the child.

May all of us remember, “Children are an heritage of the LORD …” (Psalm 127:3).

Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is: