Parent Night Remarks

January 8th, 2015

One major goal of parenting is to work ourselves out of the job.  We provide love and support, wisdom, experience and advice.  We model good decision-making and problem solving.  Over time, we give our kids more and more responsibility, cede decision-making to them at appropriate milestones, and finally send them out into the world to be responsible, caring adults.   Self-reliant and independent. 

This summer, our faculty/staff reading assignment focused on this very process.   We read Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People by Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson.

We recommend the book to all parents as there are practical applications for each of these seven building blocks.  There are numerous examples of strategies or approaches to parenting that develop independence, character, and problem-solving in our kids.  As a faculty and staff, we read the book and considered ways that we develop these seven building blocks as part of our program.

So what are the seven building blocks?

The first three building blocks are beliefs.  The next four are basic life skills.

  1. I am a capable person who can learn, change, and find my own direction when I need to.
  2. I am important and make valuable contributions.  I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.
  3. I can solve problems and affect what happens to me.  I have influence over my life and can make a difference in the world around me.
  4. I have self-discipline.   I understand my personal emotions and I use that understanding to develop self-discipline and self-control and to learn from experiences.
  5. I know how to communicate and interact positively with others.  I have the ability to work with others and develop friendships through communicating, cooperating, negotiating, sharing, empathizing, and listening.
  6. I am responsible.  I have the ability to respond to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, adaptability, flexibility and integrity.
  7. I can make appropriate judgments.  I have the ability to use wisdom and to evaluate situations according to appropriate values.

It’s important to recognize that developing these building blocks is a process and takes time.  All students will not display every one of these qualities at every moment of every day, in all decisions that they make.  It’s really more of a peaks and valleys type of growth, sometimes one step forward and two steps back.  Over time, as parents and teachers, we hope to see forward movement with increased consistency.

Growth also requires discipline on the part of parents and teachers to not rescue the kids or protect them from their own mistakes, because without those mistakes, there would be no successes.  That’s why we’re in partnership, sharing common goals and supporting each other.

At St. Nicholas, so many of our classroom routines and practices help develop these building blocks.  They are also reinforced in chapel and throughout the day.  Our Expectations and Objectives for students certainly focus on these building blocks, and more. 

Expectations of a St. Nicholas Student

  • Responsibility for self, both as an individual and as a part of the group; responsibility for property and environment.
  • Commitment to work for excellence.
  • Sensitivity, sympathy, and empathy for others.
  • Respect for self, teachers, other races, religions, and socio-economic groups, situations, rules and environment.
  • Awareness of and tending to situations, rules and social environment.
  • Trustworthiness, integrity, and honesty.
  • Spiritual awareness.
  • Zest for learning.
  • Independence in learning which is age-appropriate


  • St. Nicholas students will become self-initiating learners who are independent, self-motivated, and creative.
  • St. Nicholas students will be served by an individual continuous-progress curriculum, utilizing age mixing practices within a warm, nurturing atmosphere.
  • St. Nicholas students will strive for individual excellence in reading, written and oral communication skills, mathematics, social studies, science, art, movement, and music.
  • St. Nicholas students will be enriched through the arts, foreign language, technology skills, and a multi-disciplinary approach to subject matter.
  • St. Nicholas students will develop an expanded perspective of the world through exposure to a variety of people, customs, family traditions, and ideologies.
  • St. Nicholas students will become environmentally responsible.
  • St. Nicholas students will be encouraged in spiritual growth and strengthened in their religious beliefs.
  • St. Nicholas students will develop respect for the individual while learning to function as a responsible member of a larger group.

The process starts in Level 1 and grows over time, often in imperceptible ways.  By the time students graduate from Level 7, they have made great progress in expectations and objectives.

Granted, there will still be much growth ahead, especially through the middle and high school years, but their experience at St. Nicholas will prepare them not just academically, but socially and spiritually as well, and give them a wonderful foundation for continued success.

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St Nicholas School 7525 Min Tom Drive - Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
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