Watch for articles about classical Christian education, from the philosophical to the practical. We will include reflections on Scripture, poetry, philosophy, literature, summaries of relevant books and films, articles, podcasts, and “best practice” tips from fellow travelers on this journey toward “lives well-lived”.
The beginning of the school year is a good time to reflect on faith formation. Take a minute to think about just how important this is. If we believe that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), then passing on our faith is really important. In fact, neglecting to teach our children about our faith would be worse than neglecting to teach them to read. Think about that.
Just as we spend time at Trinitas learning how to teach reading well, we also spend time learning how to raise children in lives of faith. In Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations (Oxford University Press), the authors communicate the results of one of the largest studies of religion and family across generations.* Spanning nearly four decades, their research follows more than 3,500 people in over 350 families to determine how faith is passed on, or not. In this and upcoming posts, we’ll reflect on some of the characteristics of families who successfully pass on their faith. According to this research, such families have: 1) high standards combined with warmth, 2) strong intergenerational relationships, and 3) parents who are “all-in.” We’ll explore what these can look like both at Trinitas and at home.
In considering what it means to have high standards combined with warmth in faith formation, we might first ask what it looks like to have one but not the other. If we have only warmth but not high standards for our children, they may initially be quite happy about this. It’s (fallen) human nature to like what is easier and immediately satisfying. It’s also human nature to rise only to the level of the standards that one is given. So, if faith is portrayed as pretty easy, requiring little of us in terms of time and our life choices, e.g., little to no worship or prayer or Bible study, little to no “dying to self” or “becoming a new creation”, it’s unlikely that our children will rise above our expectations. If, on the other hand, we present only high standards and little warmth, our children are likely to see the life of faith as unwelcoming, harsh, and undesirable.
So, what does it look like to have both high standards and warmth? Before answering that question, we should ask: Where do our standards come from? In a Christian home and school, the foundation of those standards is Scripture and Christian tradition, rather than the culture. We need to be deeply familiar with the Bible and the teachings and lives of the saints. We need Christian role models. We also sometimes need to speak with a vocabulary that differs from the world’s. We’ll focus briefly in this post and the next on two un-worldly words: “holiness” and “reverence”. Both words show the intimate connection between high standards and love in the Christian life.
All throughout scripture, God’s people are called to holiness: “[A]s He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (I Peter 1:15-16) Note: we are not told to be “good” or “authentic”. We’re also not told to be “holy some of the time”. We are told to “be holy in all your conduct”. Now that’s a high standard. It could also be pretty off-putting, especially if it is approached without wisdom and love. If holiness is portrayed as a series of “no’s” to a long list of sins, it will be far from attractive to our children. Rebellion may have more of an allure. Of course, holiness involves saying “no” to some things, but those “no’s” should not leave a vacuum. They should be crowded out by “yes’s” to the endless good things of God.
If we attempt to pass our faith on to our children primarily by pointing out and forbidding sin, we miss the opportunity to draw them close to God by his sheer goodness and beauty. In the book of Jeremiah, we hear how God himself draws his people near to him: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Passing on our faith involves teaching our children to obey God’s commands: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It also means showing them that in such obedience they will find joy—the “life more abundant” that Christ came to give (John 10:10).
Practically speaking, it means that there will be times when we tell them they cannot watch a certain movie, listen to that song, read a particular book, or play a popular video game. But the conversation should not end there. As parents and as a school, we need to provide for our children, or join them in searching for, really good God-honoring alternatives. There are so many! It means that we don’t let their grumbling or gossip just slide, but we help them to see that God has called us to more grateful and loving ways of treating people. It means that we guide them in better choices about how to use their time. And in all this, we should help them to see that living this way isn’t being “uptight”, it’s being courageous: sometimes people will make fun of you; sometimes they will admire you; sometimes they will follow you.
And we should help them to see by our own lives that seeking to be more holy isn’t fun-killing, it’s life-giving. Loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and loving “your neighbor as yourself” requires making better choices, sometimes sacrificial choices in response to the One “who first loved us” (I John 4:19). Faithful Christians before us and all around us have made and are making such sacrifices. Our Lord has higher standards for us. He has those standards because he loves us. He loves us so much he gave himself for us.
*Vern Bengston, with Norella M. Putney and Susan Harris
Backpacks, lunch bags, uniforms, folders. It’s time to get everything ready for Tuesday morning! Please note the office will be closed tomorrow and Monday for Labor Day. If you have questions about the first day, call or email by 3:00 p.m. today.
When: Tuesday, September 6
School begins at 8:00 a.m. Students should arrive by 7:50. (See note about arrival and start times below.) Afternoon dismissal is at 3:00 p.m. at the church narthex doors (upper parking lot). Students are to be picked up by 3:15. Read more about arrival and dismissal below.
Who: All students—including kindergarteners, even though Tuesday is not normally a kindergarten day
Parents may accompany their children as they enter the school on Tuesday morning and are welcome to stay for Morning Prayer which will begin at 8:15. Parents are welcome to gather in the gym as they wait for the classes to join them.
What to wear: All students should wear their PE uniforms.
We apologize for an unexpected delay that kept us from distributing apparel store orders at the open house. The orders have arrived and may be picked up today or Tuesday morning. If you wait until Tuesday, your child will be given the opportunity to change into the new PE shirt at the beginning of the day.
What to bring: School supplies (if you didn’t bring them to the open house), food for snack and lunch, and a water bottle—always bring a water bottle to school!
Please label your child’s belongings, including school supplies and clothing items.
What the day will look like: Students should go to their classrooms when they first arrive. At 8:15, their teachers will lead them to Morning Prayer. The rest of the morning will include some class time as well as an introduction to the routines of the school day (procedures, expectations, etc.). In the afternoon, students will participate in games and team-building activities, both in their classrooms and outside with the entire school.
What the staff would like you to know: We have been planning and preparing and praying for this year! Thank you for entrusting your children to us. It is our desire to see them flourish at Trinitas and to help them develop a deeper love of God and neighbor in all they do, from the classroom to the lunchroom to the playground.
Donuts with Dad is a favorite fall tradition at Trinitas! We hope dads (or VIPs) can join us on the morning of Wednesday, September 28, from 7:45-–8:15 a.m. for drinks, donuts, and fellowship. If your child is a big breakfast eater, think like a hobbit and treat this as “second breakfast.”
Morning drop-off will be upstairs (dismissal lot) for all students. K–2 students should leave their belongings by the narthex coat room. All others may go to their classrooms first, if they arrive early enough to do so. Following donut time, Dads and VIPs are welcome to stay for Morning Prayer at 8:15 a.m. Morning Prayer will conclude around 8:30.
Attendance at parent orientation (September 7) is required for at least one parent, though we encourage both parents to participate, if possible. The evening will include introductory comments from the head of school, board president, and Parent Service Fellowship (PSF) chair. There will also be teacher presentations and Q&A time in the classrooms. Please note this is for parents only. Childcare will not be available.
A social hour hosted by PSF will follow the orientation. Please stay and enjoy some good food and good conversation!
Many private schools have volunteer hour requirements for their parents; Trinitas is proposing an educational alternative to volunteer hours: Classical Parent Partners. As part of this program, we hope to host educational events throughout the year like Protect Young Eyes and book, article, or video discussions. We will also continue to regularly post our Classical Christian Education pieces and provide a variety of resources you can use at home in connection with our Virtue of the Quarter. We are exploring other ideas as well. You will hear more about this program at parent orientation on September 7.
If you haven’t filled out the PSF volunteer survey yet, please take a moment to do so. There are many ways you can help at school this year! Filling out this form is not a commitment, but it helps the Parent Service Fellowship (PSF) plan for future events and activities. And don’t forget, those who complete the survey prior to parent orientation will be entered in a raffle for a small prize!
If you want to learn more about PSF, please plan to attend an informational meeting on Monday, September 12, at 1:00 p.m. PSF is also hosting a “Stay & Play” on Friday, September 9, after dismissal. It will be a great way to celebrate our first week of school!
Please review the following information carefully so traffic can flow smoothly during our morning arrival and afternoon dismissal! Click here or on the image above for a helpful map.
To expedite our drop-off/pick-up process, we have three unloading/loading zones. Drive between the cones and the sidewalk and pull ahead to the farthest open spot (even if no one is behind you).
Arrival – Lower Lot
At drop-off, do not unload unless you are in one of the dedicated zones or a parking spot. Families with kindergarten or preschool children may park in the spots by the office and classroom windows and use the sidewalk, if they prefer. If your car will take a little longer to unload on a given morning, we ask that you park in a designated parking space and walk your child(ren) to the doors when they are ready. Our morning drop-off zones are for prompt unloading and leaving. Please drive carefully!
Dismissal – Upper Lot
Students are dismissed upstairs in the parking lot accessible from Maple Creek Ave. Please do not enter the lower lot unless 1) you have called the office and arranged to pick up your child early, or 2) you arrive after the dismissal window of 3:00-3:15. If your family wants to play on the playground after school, you may drive to the lower lot after picking up your child. Please drive carefully and watch for preschool students as they are being picked up too!
Please have your family name card clearly visible to the teacher supervising dismissal. One simple solution is to attach your family name card to the passenger side visor and pull the visor down so the name is visible through the windshield. If your child is not ready by the time you arrive, we will ask you to pull ahead to a waiting zone so the line can keep moving. If you did not pick up your family name card at the open house, you may stop by the school during office hours.
They’ll Be Dressed to the Nines in Blazers and Ties: Every year, we have a number of formal school events. All boys and 5th–8th girls will need a blazer and tie as part of their dress uniform. These items may be rented from the school. The fee is $25 for a blazer and $5 for a tie. Fittings will take place at school within the first two weeks.
Have the Right (and Left) Shoes at the Right Time: Students should bring a pair of PE shoes every day—not just PE days—as they might spend time in the gym during free time or if weather forces recess inside. (They could also keep a pair of shoes in their lockers at all times, if they have a spare pair.) This also helps prolong the life of their “everyday” or dress uniform school shoes if they wear PE shoes outside to recess.
Khaki and Fleece at a Price You Can’t Beat: The Uniform Closet is always open for business when the office is open. Items are gently used and only $2 each!
Teacher welcome letters were distributed at this week’s open house, but you may also find them on our website. Click on Current Students and then Helpful Resources. You can also find words of wisdom for parents of incoming 5th graders, as well as those who enter Trinitas in 6th–8th grade.