Why do we get nervous? Today we had our first elementary Latin vocabulary bee. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders have been faithfully learning their vocabulary all year and today was they day they got to demonstrate that to their parents. Now, all year we have been quizzing and testing and chanting vocabulary. We have had class bees and have even had official class bees with prizes. So why, today, did they get nervous? Parents were there - but these were the same parents who have worked with them all year to learn vocabulary. The event didn't count on their grades, so that wasn't it... And why, when we are nervous, do we forget what we know so well on any other day? The kids did great. They had fun; they had wonderful attitudes when they missed a word and had to sit down. The students who worked to learn their words well during the year are the ones who did the best and won. Parents were happy to see their kids reciting individually in front of a group. But isn't nervousness a weird human reaction? Even I was nervous. And I all had to do was say "correct" or "incorrect" after reading the word. But a vocabulary bee is more than that for these kids. And it was more than that for me. This was a display for the parents of what I taught the kids this year. It was a reflection on what I spent months of my time doing. For the kids, this was the first time they'd had to stand in front of a group of adults and recite. They were scared! But they did it. And they did well. They had fun. And next year it won't be so scary.
I'm excited for these kids who are learning as 8 year olds to stand and speak confidently in front of a group. Our goal is to prepare kids to do whatever God has planned for them. It's not to make them into politicians, or writers, or teachers, or engineers - it is to help parents turn out well grounded children who are capable and open for whatever God chooses to do with them. As I heard my students express their fears at doing poorly in front of the parents, I was reminded of Moses, who, when God told him to speak said, "I can't, God - send someone else." And I was proud of my students for stepping out on that limb, even though they weren't sure it would hold. They are one step closer to being ready and willing for God's call, whatever it may be.