Seeking first to understand then to be understood, is an important habit to develop and carry with you. It means to truly listen to what the other person is saying and not to zone out. It also means to not bring the conversation or “spot light” back to yourself, but to give the other person time to finish explaining before you jump in and give advice. It means to listen with empathy not trying to change the subject. It is an act of humility and compassion for the other person.
An example from the Bible is the story the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells of a man traveling to Jerusalem, who was attacked, robbed and left at the side of the road. Three other people went down that road, but only the third helped the man.This good Samaritan sought first to understand the needs of the beaten man instead of focusing on where he wanted to be.
It is important to be like the good Samaritan and to show this habit in our daily lives. In doing this, we will be good ambassadors for Christ and let His light shine through us.
Written by Monica K. a grade 7 student
We can't always worry about ourselves! I mean how would you feel if someone went on about themselves and never let you into the conversation? Rather, we should think, what can I do to please others? Not, what can I do to please myself? If someone tells you that he lost his grandma to cancer yesterday, you don't change the conversation and tell them that you got the new IPhone Xr. You instead show them empathy. You show them that you are there for them and care for them. I think if we seek first to understand instead of wanting to be understood first and foremost, we’ll feel better in the end and we will honour the Lord in our relationships.
An explanation by William E. a grade 8 student
An example of what it is to seek first to understand and then to be understood, by Colton A.
Steve is walking to the park. He sees some boys playing basketball. He wants to play, but he’s not sure how to play. He decides to wait and watch the first game and then play the next one. Steve does the smart thing. Because he sat out and learned to understand the game, he was able to play with knowledge and have much more fun!
The teachers at MCS had the privilege of being able to attend the EDvance teachers conference for Christian School educators back in October. It was a very inspirational time that allowed for some excellent conversation and thinking about the future of education. Knowledge is doubling at an alarming rate. In 1900, knowledge doubled every 100 years. Today, knowledge is doubling every 18 months. With this information, how do we prepare students for the future? Skills that are going to be required to be effective in the 21st century workforce are skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership, agility, adaptability, innovation, entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination. In order to help students be prepared for the future, it is important to create a school culture that engages students behaviourally (body), socially/emotionally/spiritually (heart), and cognitively (mind). Engaged students can then learn to collaborate together to find solutions which will lead to innovation and teams of students working together to find new solutions. Here at Muskoka Christian School, we are excited to partner with students and to help equip them for the future by engaging in active learning through Project Based Learning and through the strategic use of technology. With great excitement we as a staff are looking forward to all that the Lord has ahead for this school and the impact that these students will have in the world around them.
Written by Lisa Spence our grade 1/2 classroom teacher. Lisa loves to engage our young learners in their daily learning!
Read what some of our grade 5 & 6 students wrote about Muskoka Christian School.
I like Muskoka Christians School because it has great teachers and it gives me a great education. It lets me learn about the Bible without getting in trouble or being made fun of. I had been at a public school up till grade 1 and at a Christian school from grade 2 till now and I look back at my old school and see a big change in me, because I have Christian friends here and I can take more time with God. At this school I have learned much and my teachers have helped me with my walk with Christ and I have learned much about him and how to live for him. I have learned that I can trust my teachers and tell them almost anything if I am in pain or am struggling on my work and they always help with a happy heart. My life has changed at this school and I recommend this school to you and I hope to see you and your children at this school very soon. Thank you for reading my thoughts about MCS, Bryden.
Hello my name is Rachel, my favourite thing about MCS is recess. I like recess because I enjoy hanging out with my friends and helping little children on the playground. I am thankful to have friends that are Christians and that we can build each other up when playing together. Recess is an important time to be able to play together and share ideas of what to play. Recess helps me to learn how to be a good friend. I also like that we are able to play and help the SK and JK kids. I really like that we are able to be helpful and caring to one another, this also helps us to be a good role model. I think that by helping the younger kids we can develop how to be gentle and kind. Another thing I like about recess is that we are able be outside exploring in God's creation. There is much so much to see and do like climbing, swinging, running and looking at all the trees and animals around the school. I am thankful to have the fresh air and exercise.
When I first started MCS I loved it right from the start. From JK to grade six I've had some solid school years. I'm so blessed that God put it in his plan to send me to this school. He has blessed me with 8 great years at MCS. Here are just a few things out of many that have made my school years at MCS so memorable. The teachers are amazing and care about you and your education. There are a lot of pluses to being at a Christian school. One of them is the Bible. Unlike public schools, you get taught about the the powerful word of God. This school teaches me so much, not just about God, but about friendship and many many more. Thank you for reading my MCS blog. I hope if you're reading this, you will want to send your child to this wonderful school.
Some of my earliest memories as a child centre on books. I remember looking at picture books, going to the library, and listening to my mother read aloud to my siblings and me. Our children’s Bible story books enthralled me with their wonderful illustrations and the colourful language brought the stories of God into my heart. Fast forward several years, and you would find me seated on our sofa, reading aloud to our children – all at various stages, some snuggled up close, others doodling or playing with Lego as I read I started when they were infants and continued for as long as they let me – around Grade 7 or 8.
Reading aloud to your child is perhaps one of the most important activities you can do with your child to start him or her on a path of success in learning. Many of us spend a good deal of time reading to our very young children but stop as soon as our children begin to read for themselves. A strong case can be made for reading aloud to children, even when they are fluent readers. Most children love being read aloud to – it is a time of quiet bonding with parents, and creates a love for the written word, a love for story that can last for a lifetime. When we read aloud, we are exposing our children to ideas, places, times that they would perhaps not experience otherwise. Whereas movies provide ready-made images, books allow children to create their own visual images of what is happening, a skill which transfers into the classroom. When you read aloud, you are able to read material at a higher reading level than the child would himself be able to read – thereby, expanding his vocabulary and exposing him to new materials which in turn better prepares him for more learning. Listening to a story being read also teaches children to pay attention and to hold their focus; this skill develops as they mature and leads to success at school. As Christian parents, we also have the opportunity to choose books which will enrich our children’s spiritual growth. Whether a book is overtly Christian or not, the opportunity to discuss and evaluate presents itself in a natural way.
If you are already reading aloud to your child, continue doing so. And if you are not, can I encourage you to make a start? I realize that some of us are more natural readers than others, but there is much to be gained in this endeavour. Ask friends or teachers or librarians for good book lists. Think back to some of the books you enjoyed as a child – chances are strong that your child will love them too. Start with reading age appropriate versions of the Bible. I promise you will never regret the effort!
Written by Jen Antonides, Muskoka Christian School’s Kindergarten teacher and mother of 5 children.
Learning about the Heart Treasure of compassion, I thought about the times in my life when I worked specifically with those in need. Working with people in need brought much joy to my heart and had lasting effects on my life and the way I choose to live. No matter how busy life gets, serving others remains a priority for me as I seek to follow Jesus with my life. I am overwhelmed by the compassion that I see throughout Jesus’ life here on earth and I can’t help but be compelled to want to imitate that.
I shared with students about how compassion means love in action and how when we see others in need, showing compassion means reaching out to help fill those needs as we are able. It seems like a simple definition, but the ramifications of that can have such lasting effects. It blows my mind to think how God showed the ultimate compassion on humankind when he sent his only son Jesus down to earth to live a perfect life and die in our place to save us from our sin. He saw our need for a saviour and knew that we could not attain freedom from our sins without his help. He graciously looked down on humanity and was so moved by our desperate need of him that he chose to show compassion on us even though it cost him greatly. May we never lose the awe and wonder of our saviour's love for us. I will never be the same because of the compassion that God showed us through sacrificing His only son and my prayer is that out of a heart filled with gratitude I am able to live my life in a way that seeks to show compassion to others.
My prayer for our students is that they too would begin to grasp and embrace this motivation for showing compassion to others, whether in the class, in the community, or with their families.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16
Written by Lisa Spence, a teacher at MCS who taught about the Heart Treasure of compassion during weekly assemblies.
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is past but its truths endure. Here, a grade 8 student discusses its historicity and its relevance for today. The student ends with a searching question that we all must answer.
Not only is October 31st remembered as Halloween, but it is also remembered for the Reformation. Martin Luther, a monk of the middle Ages, boldly pointed out the errors in the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. By briefly looking at these beliefs and what the Bible has to say about them, we will discover the basis of his concerns.
Many of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses concern salvation. In the early Catholic Church, it was taught that to be accepted into heaven, you must have accomplished good works to cover your sin. In addition, to skip a time between death and heaven, it was taught that you must pay money to the church. Also known as penance, to be forgiven from any sin, you were required to perform good works for the church. Only the priests had access to Bibles, so teachings like these were believed true.
Although the priests read the Bible, their teachings did not reflect biblical truths. Scripture is clear that we are saved through Jesus, and Jesus alone. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If we are required to pay for our salvation, then Jesus died for nothing! Isn’t that a disheartening thought? Our salvation was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ and is given to us as a free gift. Let us not throw that gift way!
Considering such foundational errors, it is understandable why Martin Luther contradicted the Catholic Church. The church leaders taught many false doctrines regarding salvation, which revealed their lack of understanding of the Scriptures. God calls us to read the Bible in order to store it up in our hearts. Only in this way can we stand up against the devil and false teachings. Martin Luther stood up to what was false. How will you stand up against the false teachings of this world?
Written by McKinley
It is hard to believe that another group of graduates are ready to finish their time here at MCS. We truly delight is witnessing each of our graduates grow and mature in so many ways over the course of the years as students at MCS. We wish them God's blessings in high school and beyond, knowing that God goes with them and has prepared them for every situation and journey life offers.
Here are their thoughts on their time as students at MCS.
I think my time at M.C.S has prepared me for high school in a way most schools couldn’t. This is most likely because it is a Christian school. I don’t know why, but some of the most vivid memories of MCS are of pain, physical or mental. Grade 5 and 6 were probably the hardest years for me because I wasn’t as confident as I am now. I kept comparing myself to others and I always got angry when I lost. I thank the Lord I am more mature and confident in myself now. I believe MCS is a fun and wonderful place full of learning and I hope I will also have as much fun at high school. - Angus C.
As a grade eight graduate, I have many things to say about MCS. Mainly, I am very happy with how much this school has prepared me for high school. I feel as though I will be able to handle the change from a Christian school to a secular high school much better than I would have without having so much Christian influence in my life.
Everything I have learned since kindergarten and specifically in grades seven and eight has helped me grow in my faith and my wisdom about God. And having fun doing it! I have had many great years at MCS and am grateful to have had the opportunity to come here. - Carlie M.
I made friends and I made memories. This community helped to change me and turned me into the young woman I am today. This school gave me confidence, and I’ve learned to love myself. In the past, I’ve made some mistakes. I was lonely and now I have God. Ahead, I see a bright future. My name is Hailey and I’m proud to say MCS is my school. Muskoka Christian School is my home and my family and I’ll never forget that! - Hailey S.
I’ve been coming to MCS for ten years now and it’s great! People ask me if I’m excited for high school and my answer is, “I have mixed feelings about it.” MCS is such a small school and BMLSS is such a big school, the change will be a hard and trying one for me in many ways. I know though, that the teachers here have prepared me for almost everything about what’s waiting for me at high school. They’ve also helped me to realise that my faith and trust in Jesus is important through both the good times and bad. I’m very thankful to my parents for sending me to MCS and I know that I’ll remember my years here for a long time. - Erin V.
I came to MCS when I was in grade 7. I now finish my second and last year here. Grade 9 doesn’t seem very intimidating, mostly because I have other siblings that go to high school and tell me what’s going on. Overall, I think I had a good time at this school. We had many jokes, and I had a little group of friends called “The Crew.” I created many memories here, and most of them were good! We made small jokes in class, and we talked about random stuff. This school may be small, but there are many nice people here. It’s a great school to go to! As a person who has experienced many different schools, this is definitely one of the most exciting. I look to the LORD to continue to guide me to make good and godly choices in the future. As the Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) - Mike V.
Your child might be asking for the latest of toys, a small hand held spinner. These are fascinating to operate and to watch, but does your child need one to keep their hands busy while learning in the classroom. Here is an article written by an occupational therapist who encounters thousands of children and adults with varying levels of needs. Please read as you will be enlightened on the effects of allowing spinners for fidgety fingers.
Here at MCS, most students do not need anything to occupy their hands while learning. We do allow stress balls for those that a teacher has identified as requiring fidgets. We want our students focused on their learning as we develop their intellect, self-regulation and creativity.
Buddies bring tremendous joy to our students. Students at Muskoka Christian School have a wonderful opportunity to be partnered with an older or younger student for a time called Buddies. Buddies meet each Friday afternoon for a time of reading and partnering for fun activities. Buddies develop a sense of community among students, leadership skills being developed in our older buddies and mentorships for younger students to look up to the older ones. The connection and love that the older students show is an amazing testament to their character and the lights they are becoming of sharing God’s love!
The Kindergarten students get so excited….I mean THRILLED when it’s Friday and their buddies are about to join them in class. Sometimes they hide to be found. Sometimes they wait and peak out of our classroom door. They enjoy reading to their older buddy as well as listening to the stories they have read to them. After a time of reading, older and younger buddies in the Kindergarten room look through discovery bins, work on puzzles, create crafts, build train tracks, play in the kitchen and create letters in the post office dramatic play area.
In the Kindergarten classroom, we end the day with a time of prayer. Buddies have joined us a few times for this wonderful time of prayer together. Some prayer requests were:
- “Thank you God for my buddy. Thank you that he can come and play with me and teach me.” -Myles
- “I love my buddy.” - Lukas
- “I pray for my buddy. I wish he could come everyday to read to me!” -Hunter
Proverbs 22:6 states, “ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The excitement these children have in spending quality, God-honouring time together is a constant reminder for me as a teacher that these moments and memories they are making will stay with them for a lifetime.
I asked the parents of the Kindergarten students if there were stories that their children came home telling about an older buddy and these are a few of the responses I received:
- “Buddies are so fun because they are big kids and they read to me and they have playtime with us too.”
- “ Hiding on my buddy is so fun. When my buddy finds me I jump out and give him a big bear hug.”
- “My favourite thing to do with my buddy is to build Lego creations.”
- “I like building with blocks when my buddy is here.”
It is a pleasure, as a first year teacher here at Muskoka Christian School, to be part of the staff community and see students come together as a community of their own. I love every moment at the school so far and I am excited to see what God has in store for the future of the school!
Written by the newest member of the MCS teaching staff, Mrs. Alyxandra Brown.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you one part of the computer technology curriculum that I have been teaching for many years and I feel is becoming more and more important as technology becomes increasingly prevalent. Coding (or programming) is a vital skill for students to learn. In fact, so much so, that there are concerted efforts to aid in the promotion of coding to students, parents and teachers. One such initiative is the “Hour of Code” (https://code.org/learn) aimed to develop interest in a fun and collaborative way.
Why should kids learn to code? There are many reasons. It is becoming a much-needed skill in the current job market today. Currently, there is a demand for skilled programmers in many companies. They are offering a sizeable income to employees along with meal, fitness and recreational facilities – quite an offering for a young, hard-working person. However, this is not the only reason, after all God has made us all unique and not all will be led in this way. Computers are so prevalent in our world that it only makes sense for students to learn the basics in order to use them in their daily lives. As an article published on CBC parents explains, “If grade-schoolers are taught biology and mathematics in order to understand the world around them, then knowing the basics of how computers communicate—and how to engage with them—should be a given.” (found at http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/why-kids-should-learn-to-code-and-how-to-get-them-started)
Additionally, coding is a great way to develop skills in problem solving and logical thinking. Students who learn programming skills increase proficiencies in Math and Science. Let us also not forget that coding is fun! Making a computer perform the tasks you want it to is quite rewarding. As a teacher, many times I have seen the thrill of a student watching the computer execute their first program.
What ages should students be? Any age! I have taught students from grade 1 to grade 8 and all have been able to grasp fundamental concepts. A great introduction to coding is using “block” stacking. Students build programs by stacking together short blocks of code by dragging and dropping. At MCS we use a technology called Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu) which uses this technique. Younger students can build programs to make a character move around the screen and respond to simple events. Older students can use Scratch to make full-fledged programs using variables and sophisticated logic.
For the grade 6-8 students, they are ready to begin looking at more traditional forms of coding. At MCS we look at creating web pages with HTML and CSS and this year we are going to look at a prevalent language often used to teach beginners to code, Python.
What can parents do to help supplement the learning in the classroom? There are many books and websites dedicated to helping the student learn to code. The Huntsville Public Library has quite a few books written, for students ages 10 and up, to learn in a fun and exciting way. A great list can be found at the end of the CBC article (http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/why-kids-should-learn-to-code-and-how-to-get-them-started) including some aimed at girls using the “Frozen” characters (http://studio.code.org/s/frozen/stage/1/puzzle/1).
Written by Roger King who teaches technology to many of our students and who oversees our technology department at MCS.
Basic Training or Boot Camp is an intense time for new army recruits to learn the basic procedures and behaviours required to be good soldiers. Your child may have come home these past couple of days with a similar comment like, “school feels like Boot Camp.” While the first few weeks of school are tenderly coined “Boot Camp” by teachers as they teach routines and appropriate behaviours at the start of the new school year, the past few days may also seem like “Boot Camp” to your child as teachers reflect back to re-establish routines and behaviours that were taught at the beginning of the school year. As educators, we desire that our students know and display the appropriate behaviours to be good students and respectful citizens of God’s kingdom.
It was the consensus of our teaching staff that the expectation of respect for others was not evident in our students’ behaviours within the school and on the playground, thus a focus back on re-establishing this expectation can be witnessed throughout the school.
The expectation of demonstrating respect to others is a command from God. 1 Peter 2:17 tells us to show proper respect to everyone; Luke 6:31 says we are to do to others what we would have them do to us; Romans 13:7 states we are to give everyone what is owed to them, including respect and honour, and finally; Philippians 2:3 explains that we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition, rather to consider others better than oneself. These verses clearly implore us to conduct ourselves in ways that put others first. We do this by showing respect in word, deed and comportment.
What does respect look like at MCS? Respect must be shown to the other learners and people in the school. Showing proper respect means being quiet and courteous so others can learn and work. Precisely, the expectations during specific times are described below:
Sitting in one spot on bottom
Participating in activity
Looking at speaker
Following protocol for asking questions i.e.: raise hand
Empty hands except for what is needed for learning
Sitting on floor if class is on floor
Immediate silence when signal given
No side conversations
No eye conversations
Sustained focus on quality work
Whispered voices if asking for help
Stay in designated area
Follow time set for “give it a try”
Grit, Grapple, Persevere
Follow protocols for what to do when finished
Follow protocols for getting materials during work time
Small Group Work
Participating in activity
Looking at speaker
Follow protocol for listening and asking questions
Empty hands except for what is needed for learning
Sitting on floor if class is on floor
Immediate silence when signal given
No side conversations
No eye conversations
Teachers and students use 12-inch voices
Large Group Work
All engaged/involved on task/on topic
Follow assigned roles
Stay in designated area
One voice at a time
Transitions in Classroom
Timely/efficient i.e.: on spot by end of signal
Stay in personal space
Transitions Out of Classroom
Quiet talking during morning arrival and dismissal periods
Silence during all other movements in halls
Single file/stay on the right
One step at a time on the stairs
Push quietly on doors
Hold door for the person behind you
Hands to yourself
Sit in your spot
Sing and participate in activities
No bathroom usage
No side conversations
Can talk quietly using 12-inch voices until opening
Immediate silence when signal given
Yes, before class begins, during recess, lunch and assigned times
Yes during independent work
Never during direct instruction
Not during Assembly, musical rehearsal, and special presentations etc.
Stay in your spot
Converse with others near you
No trading food
Appropriately compost and recycle when possible
Take uneaten food home
We respectfully ask our school families support these expectations for the benefit of all learners. We look to our Lord for strength as we strive toward our calling to be respectful citizens within God’s world.
Written by the Principal/COO of Muskoka Christian School, Mrs. Lauralynn Mercer
Recently our senior students began using a technology called "Google Docs". What is it and why is it important for Muskoka Christian School?
Google Docs (and Google Drive) is one of many ways to access a relatively new technology called "The Cloud". Whenever technology writers have wanted to show an illustration involving the Internet, a cloud was used, hence the name "The Cloud". Instead of storing our documents and media on CDs, thumb-drives or memory cards, it is now possible to store them on the Internet, i.e. cloud. This allows us access to our documents from any device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) that is connected to the Internet.
There are many benefits to anyone using this technology, but some specific to education and us at Muskoka Christian School. One obvious benefit is that is it no longer necessary to carry around any physical media to store our files, eliminating the student nightmare of "I forgot my thumbdrive with my project at home!” Students can begin a document at school and continue at home needing nothing more than a web browser.
In the classroom, other benefits present themselves that were not possible prior to using the Internet. Students can collaborate on a document at the same time - even in different physical locations! Documents can be shared (with other students and the teacher) and printed. A revision history is kept for each document to monitor student progress. Writing and reference tools are integrated into the environment and files are compatible with most major office software such as Microsoft or LibreOffice. Documents can be freed from the traditional 2D paper environment and include media (such as sound or video) and can become truly interactive if desired.
There are many other benefits, but even with this short list, it is clear to see why this is a technology we are embracing at MCS and guiding students in the use of these helpful tools. Below are links to articles detailing more information about using this technology for education.
This article is written by our resident computer technologist, Roger King. Among teaching technology, Roger teaches many subjects and grade levels at MCS.