Everyday my kids go to school for 8 hours.

That is 8 hours where most of the time I have no idea what they’re doing, how they’re behaving, or who they’re interacting with. It’s 8 hours where I sometimes feel utterly out of control. Someone else is helping them grow into the person they eventually become someday. When your kids go off to school it can sometimes feel like there isn’t much you can do to have an affect on their day. You are literally trusting a stranger with a large part of helping them develop as a human being. That thought scares me.

At this time in our lives, our family has chosen to send our children to public school. This decision was made after much deliberation, prayer, and careful thought. It is what is best for our family as a whole right now. However, the idea of not being able to impact their learning still didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to think of something I could do that would follow them throughout their learning day and encourage them to make good choices even if I couldn’t physically be there to help them along the way.

I actually sat down one day and dreamed about the future my children would have. What did I hope for them to become? Where did I envision them living? Who did I think they would surround themselves with? There was so much I wanted them to accomplish and be able to experience! I know that my children will follow their own path and dream their own dreams, but I realized that I wanted to encourage them to encapsulate three key traits while they lived their life.

1. Have the courage to try new scary things.

Being afraid or having fear is something not many people talk about with their children, but it is so important! Our children need to know that life is scary sometimes and it is normal for everyone to fear something. Even though the feeling is normal to have, it is not okay to give into that fear. We should not let it dictate what we can or can’t accomplish. If we let fear be the limiting factor in our life, we will never truly know what we are capable of. It takes courage and bravery to try new things and step into places you’ve never been. I want my children to know that fear does not control their life. If they have courage they will accomplish so many wonderful and amazing things, whatever that may be.

2. Be kind to those they meet along the way.

Our world can be mean and cruel; because of that a kind word or gesture can move mountains. We have all experienced a time when someone has complimented us or done something out of the kindness of their heart and we all know how amazing it made us feel. Being kind is a trait that we need more of in this world. We don’t know where people have come from, what they’ve been through, or where they are going. We truly don’t know the impact that one simple gesture or compliment, whether good or bad, could have on the trajectory of their lives. Bullying is also a very real thing in public school and if we can teach our children the power of a compliment or kindness, we can positively impact thousands of lives.

3. Always do their best at whatever it is they decide to do.

In a world of shortcuts and easy steps, we are surrounded by techniques and tricks to make life easier. While this isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, it can create a mindset of where you are always looking for the easy way out of something or just doing the bare minimum requirement to get by. I know this is true, because this use to be me. I wouldn’t always try my best at school because I knew that I could get good enough grades just by doing the bare minimum work. I spent years thinking there had to be a 5 step plan out there somewhere that would get me into shape. I desire to encourage my children to always try their best at everything they do. To give their full effort in all that they attempt in order to reach their full potential. I want them to try their best to be respectful and courteous of the time and talents of those around them. I want them to try their best to know how far they can truly soar.

I know that regardless of where my children go to school, who their teachers are, or who they are friends with, what I tell them and what I encourage them to value will change they way they view life and their interactions with others. It will influence every single decision they make and every step they take. As parents, we have an important mission to direct our children in the way they should go. That’s why I started giving them as much wisdom as I could in a compact little phrase that they can easily remember each time they leave my care.

Every morning I look them in the eye and I say:

“Have courage, be kind, and always do your best.”

Then I hug them, kiss them, and send them out into the world.