By Janelle Sweet
This year I am reaching several milestones in my life. One is that I am nearing my 25th year as an educator. Another is that I am also very close to being an “empty nester” in my home. One thing many years of teaching children in and out of my home has shown me is the value of a Christian education. At NSCS I am able to teach not only for academic growth, but also to help students grow in their biblical knowledge and in the truths of God’s Word. One of the (many) things I love about teaching first grade is that it is a foundation building year. Students in this grade are learning routines and schedules and skills that they will need for the next 12+ years of school. This foundation has as its goal giving students the skills to succeed as unique and caring individuals. It thrills me to be able to wrap God’s truths around that foundation. It is true, our classroom theme is owls. And yes, I may have a few too many owl “things” but that is because our goal is to truly be Outstanding Wise Learners (O.W.L.S) who work hard and play well with the intention of bringing glory to God.
In our first grade classroom, we are very busy learners. Literacy is woven into all the subjects we study: math, social studies, science, Bible, and of course language arts! Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to teach reading and writing. Each fall when I begin with a new class, I consider it a blessing to be able to teach the next generation. Whether we are learning to read, memorizing a new international greeting in the morning, or adding hearts to our heart chart, I am able to weave God’s word into our lessons. For example, when I explain to children each fall that they will grow to be stronger readers during the first grade year, I remind them that this will enable them to read and study God’s word all by themselves! Another example is learning in science the many facets of God’s amazing creation that are woven into all of our KnowAtom science units.
In first grade, we are really excited about our Bible lessons. Galations 5:22 – 23 says, “The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” This year, we are studying the fruit of the spirit. We have been spending two to three weeks on each of these fruit by singing new choruses, adding to our Bible journals and completing activities. It is most rewarding to hear my first graders refer to one of the fruit of the spirit lessons during the course of any given day. Just yesterday, our schedule had an
interruption and I asked my students what heart attitude they thought we needed and a chorus of voices shouted, “Patience!” Today, we talked about the patience God has with us which led into a conversation of repentance and forgiveness and the scripture, “His mercies are new every morning!”
In addition to our Bible lessons, first graders are learning prayers. At the beginning of the school year, the first grade handed out prayer request and service request sheets to each classroom and staff in our school. Every two weeks or so, we choose a name from our cup of fairness sticks. The labels on the sticks include all of the classrooms and staff in our school building. For example, they recently picked a class for whom they prayed for two weeks and washed down the room tables as requested. These children are PRAYER WARRIORS! We have been blessed to hear and see how some of our prayers have been answered.
Finally, First Graders have been faithful in an overseas ministry. They have been praying for Piyush, a young Kindergarten student in India. Recently, they mailed letters to Piyush and he in return made a Christmas card for them! I listen to my friends pray for Piyush every single school day (and they pray for him in the morning, at snack and at lunch)!
As we embark on the year 2018, we in first grade will continue to grow academically and spiritually setting a foundation to be outstanding, wise learners with the goal of bringing glory to God!