Lesson Learned Column


“Catching Kids Before They Fall” catches my attention as an important topic for any of us who love our children and grandchildren. The subject is catchy in a creative way besides. I have relished my Grandfather role these past 7 years, as well as serving the last 8 years as a member of the Upshur County Schools Board of Education. I have watched kids fall frequently as they are learning to crawl, walk, and run. Some falls are just a part of learning. However, some falls are very traumatic with lasting consequences. How do we deal with the latter?

Our March 1st conference topic “Catching Kids Before They Fall” as part of a school-wide education emphasis for trauma response training is both appropriate and timely. We are dealing with developing brains of our precious students, who are all too frequently subject to toxic stress. The emphasis on learning how to protect and to advocate for our kids is a “no-brainer.” All staff are asked to go back to school this one day, as we know this is an all-hands-on-deck issue.

I lift up 3 particular concerns out of the 21 commonly recognized measures for healthy childhood growth and development:

* Model Healthy Behavior

* Have Structured Family Time

* Model Forgiveness.

“Model healthy behavior” is a chicken that came home to roost for me when our son Ronce was about 10 years old. He asked me to play basketball with him just as I was beginning my daily 5-mile run. He commented that all I ever did was run. That day I added playing basketball to my daily schedule, and I kept on running, too. Spending time with my son, as well as keeping myself fit, provided a good example. Even now we still play a little H.O.R.S.E. basketball together, and Ronce became a runner himself. Ronce is in his 42nd year, and he continues daily aerobic exercise as I do in my 71st year. Incidentally, aerobic activity gives relief to anxiety and depression, the equivalent of nerve medicine like Prozac.

“Have structured family time” probably is my favorite suggestion to our students and parents or grandparents. As busy as my Doctor Daddy was with his solo practice of Family Medicine, we had a family rule of always having our family supper together. During that half hour from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm, my 4 sisters and I learned much about what makes a healthy family. We heard Mom and Dad wrestle with day-to-day housekeeping measures. We learned more than a bit of human anatomy, including proper names and correct spelling of all the bones. We learned the value of education by reporting in on our daily school activity. We learned quite naturally about the importance of family while never having a formal lesson on family life.

Finally, to “model forgiveness” came as a developmental lesson on the way to growing up. Perhaps I was ganged up on by my 4 sisters. Perhaps I was too big of a tease to my younger sisters. Never mind, we learned to forgive one another as God forgives us. Our family placed value on keeping a friendship going through thick and thin. This has helped me deal with co-workers throughout 48 years of doctoring. Another example of peacemaking came from learning the value of long walks and long talks interspersed with long silences, where differences are worked out with friends. Living in the same community a lifetime would be impossible without forgiveness.

Well, I have lessons to learn from our school-wide conference on “Catching Kids Before They Fall” so I can keep on serving on the BOE, and so our children and grandchildren can have a fulfilling public education.

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