• Raising a valedictorian



    As you read this, I am either at the graduation ceremony of my daughter and in tears listening to her deliver her acceptance speech for her Highest Honors award; or we are en route to Singapore for the annual convention of Johnson’s Asia Baby Circle, which already doubles as a graduation gift to her. Talk about perfect timing and God’s favor.

    The call came a month ago. In the calmest tone and the slowest pace (or so it appeared to me) Gummy’s adviser, Teacher Joanna Barotilla informed, “Hi Mummy, congratulations po. Gummy po is the class and overall valedictorian for Kinder.”

    With goosebumps all over and with eyes welling, I responded, “Praise God! Really, teacher?” The news only dawned on me after I hung up: I have a valedictorian. Wow!

    You see, I am more than happy to know that my child is happy in school.

    I know she is performing well and I gauge it on how excited she is to go to class everyday, her endless stories about what she learned that day, her spiritual growth—increasing knowledge about God and the Bible—, her maturity in dealing with small tampuhans within her circle, and her excellent academic performance as manifested in her grades (though this numeric measure to me is, truthfully, of least importance and is merely a bonus).

    I have taught my child that schooling is not about getting high grades or a perfect score. What is of primary importance to me is that she gives her best in her tasks. I praise her progress, not her perfect scores.

    But how did I seem to create an achiever in my 6-year-old? I don’t teach her everyday, only when there are scheduled quizzes and long exams. I do not even teach her Chinese. Neither did I hire her a tutor.

    When her Chinese grades went down, I just asked her to listen and focus more because I heard she frequently talks to her best friend Hannah, who happens to be her seatmate in Mandarin. I also spoke to the teacher and just asked her to guide her more since she is Filipino.

    Finally, I just prayed. Praying over, not teaching, was the only thing I constantly and daily did for my child.

    Bear in mind Ephesians 6:4 where parents are instructed to not exasperate their children

    If I can contribute my child’s recognition to anything, it would be to prayer. Everyday when I bring her to school, before I leave her in the classroom, I pull her in the corner and we pray together. I pray out loud that God will guide, protect and bless her time in class.

    In return, Gummy prays and asks Jesus to help her focus on the lessons, especially to help her remember when there are exams. She asks that she will not be distracted by the toy in her bag, or chitchatting with her classmate. All we really did that I know made a difference was to pray.

    I bear in mind Ephesians 6:4 where parents are instructed to not exasperate (or provoke or stress or pressure) their children. I never pressure Gummy to get a perfect score, instead I ask her to make sure she gives her best so she will have no regrets (this is applicable to any area in her life).

    When some grades go down, I ask the teacher why only so that I am aware of the points to improve on as well as areas of opportunity. But never did I tell Gummy that her performance is based on the red encircled numbers. It has always been “Give your best and let God be honored in your test.”

    I remember a time when Gummy’s teacher returned the compliment to me when I thanked her for patiently teaching Gummy. She unexpectedly commended me instead saying that the achievers in school are the happiest, well-loved and most-secured children in their homes—short comment that presented itself as an insight to me.

    With that, parents:
    1. Do not infuriate, anger, stress or annoy your children. Children’s emotional maturity is as young as their age and they do not respond well to negative pressure. It’s not yet time to pull out the constructive-criticism-card.

    2. Praise your children for their progress. Do not wait for a perfect score before affirming them.

    3. Love them. Spend time with them. There is so much more to life than schooling and working to earn much. Lavish on it while your children still choose you to be their companion.

    4. Motivate your children the right way. Teach them that their goal in anything they need to do is to please the Lord (yes, not even us) through giving their best, regardless of the outcome. What is of utmost importance is that their heart is set with a God-ward orientation.

    5. Reward, but never bribe. A bribe is disclosing a material prize before they even set to do something. It is a wrong form of motivation. On the other hand, a reward is an unexpected token that symbolizes your appreciation and gratitude that they gave their best.

    Seek first His Kingdom, and all His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. – Matthew 6:33

    We praise you Jesus and give you back all the glory honor and praise for giving us this recognition. We only went to You, and this is what you have given us in return. Thank you!


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