The summer days have come to an end and a new school year is once again knocking on the door. These days, time flies by so fast. With each successive year, our children get closer to graduation, and closer to a new beginning in their future careers.
The three months off of school are over and it is time for students to head back to their classrooms. During the summer holidays, some children were sent to stay with grandparents in rural villages, a few were able to attend summer camp, but most just stayed home. Returning to school can be quite a change of pace for kids. It is probably a universal fact that most kids don’t like to go to school. They would much prefer to play and spend time with their friends. They don’t understand the long-term importance of a good education as well as we do. Often, due to the circumstances related to high levels of poverty, many parents want their children to start working as soon as possible.
As parents, we want the best for our kids, but we are often limited as to what we can provide. This is where our faith and trust in God are tested. I can hardly imagine facing the challenges of life without the abiding trust that I know in God. Many Ukrainian and Belarusian parents haven’t yet experienced the salvation and love of God, so they face countless challenges alone.
We honor and admire our dedicated teachers. They don’t get paid very much. Nevertheless, I know that they love and care for the students under their tutelage. Some schools do have better reputations then others. There are some teachers who use harsh words, yell and discipline students in front of the class. As a parent there is generally nothing you can do about it. Our schools are also old and need renovations, classes need equipment and desks etc. We have heard that some countries have a school bus system. We don’t. We must take our children to school before we go to work. In some places, children walk 2 km to get to school. Their safety is in the hands of God!
This week refreshed my memories of my school years as my children were getting ready to for their new school year. The 3rd of September is when our children start the school year. We have a special assembly in front of the school. The teachers and students put on a special program for parents. They read poems, dance and the principle gives a speech. The main purpose of it is to encourage students to study hard and achieve good results. Then every student and their parent go to the classroom where they meet with the teacher. On this day every student brings a bouquet of flowers. This is a tradition that we kept from Soviet times. We give teachers flowers on the first day of school and on Teacher’s day. Unfortunately teachers and medical workers are among the lowest paid occupations.
All schools require uniforms and for parents it is a challenge to provide everything that your children need to be ready for school. During the year we give money to the school for a class fund and also for renovations. Parents provide all the schoolbooks, workbooks, notepads, art supplies and wood for woodworking shop etc. Officially, education in Ukraine is free, but in reality, parents share a great load of financial responsibility.
As Christians we have a privilege to pray for our children and entrust them to God’s protection. The time they spend in school is very valuable and we want our children to be “salt and light”. Many of the children who attend the Children’s Art Centre at Christian Hope Church are non-Christian’s who have been invited by their Christian classmates. For many of these children, reaching them is a matter of now or never. We don’t want our children to be afraid of being Christians in public. We want them to succeed in both spiritual life and education. In most schools, students who are not Christians, who often make fun of them or try to teach them bad things, surround our children. We have to be involved in the educational process if we want our kids to succeed in life as spiritually mature persons. Let’s pray for all our children that they all would pass the most important test this year – remaining faithful to God and keep the faith.
Our youngest son Alex still has one more year before he goes to school. With him, we feel like our youth has been extended and we still have time to invest in his life before he goes to school. Our personal example is the best educational tool, so use your time wisely – you are being watched!