Thirteen Years at CAIS, a Place I Call Home

Thirteen Years at CAIS, a Place I Call Home

December 2022


Planting Seeds of Kindness in the Butterfly Garden

Planting Seeds of Kindness in the Butterfly Garden

December 2022


“Father Forgets”

“Father Forgets”

November 18, 2022


As a father of four children (youngest is now 24!), I think I can say with experience, that we don’t always get parenting right. We do get it right more often than not, but parenting is hard work. It is not a hand’s off role. The Bible speaks a lot about parenting and there are some beautiful passages in Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” We are called to “train” our children, to correct them and instruct them. There is a careful balance not to “nag” at every little mistake they make.

What follows is a lovely story, “Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned, I came across recently. It was written in the early/ mid 1900’s so it is a little “old school” in terms of language.

Listen, son; I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast, I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road, I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterward that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

I enjoyed this story as a reminder to encourage my children, even now as adults, and while it is important to continue to correct and instruct, I pray that overwhelmingly my words are of blessing.

Praise God that we have a Father in heaven who also “forgets” the sins of his children. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

Blessings,
Mr. Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School


“Goldilocks and the 3 Bears”

“Goldilocks and the 3 Bears”

October 7, 2022


I am sure we all know the story, “Goldilocks and the 3 bears”. It is a lovely story that has an excellent parenting and teaching technique hidden within it. In the three situations Goldilocks faced, it was either too high or too low (the chair); too hot or too cold (porridge), and too hard or too soft (bed). However, in each of these situations she found a “just right”: a chair at just the right height, porridge at just the right temperature, and a bed at just the right softness.

As parents and teachers, we can set goals, tasks or expectations for children at either end of the continuum, either very comfortable or very challenging. Neither is good. We need to set goals, tasks and expectations that are “just right”. If the expectations or goals we set for our children are so comfortable, easy to attain, then we do not extend or push them to work hard. They can become lazy or settle for less than their best work.

If on the other hand, we set our expectations or tasks and goals so high that they are impossible for our children to achieve, this can cause anxiety for our children as they experience failure each time or know that whatever they do achieve is still not good enough.

The best form of teaching and parenting when it comes to tasks, goals or expectations is to set them at the “Goldilocks level” – just right! Setting expectations and tasks that will stretch your child but not break them. Goldilocks tasks that require hard work but can be achieved with that hard work. Setting goals that motivate your child to persevere not perspire (unless it’s on the sports field!).

An example at home might be setting a task where your child is to cook dinner for the family. You could say to your child “cook a 5-course banquet with appropriate wine pairings” – I imagine that would be an impossible challenge for your child, at least it would be for me! You could also say “just fill the pot with water and that is all, I will do the rest”.

The first task is an impossible challenge and sets your child up to fail, but the other task is so easy that the child will know they have not cooked dinner. Far better would be to have the child do tasks such as filling the pot with water, peeling vegetables, timing how long the rice needs to cook for, plating the food and setting the table for dinner.

At CAIS, your child’s teachers will extend your child in their learning at an appropriate yet challenging level. A level that requires hard work and perseverance but is achievable. For some students, this will be a little uncomfortable at first, but as they develop knowledge and skills, they will be able to complete the task with ease. Then onto the next challenge.

Can I challenge CAIS parents to set “goldilocks goals and tasks”. Tasks that are not too comfortable nor far too challenging, but just right! Let your children read books which extends their vocabulary and comprehension without needing a dictionary for every second word 😊. Give them a goldilocks book at just the right level for enjoyment and growth.

Blessings,
Mr. Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School


“Good Literacy Floats on a Sea of Talk”

“Good Literacy Floats on a Sea of Talk”

September 9, 2022


Good literacy floats on a sea of talk
James Britton

Earlier this week the English Language Learning (ELL) Department shared with staff their expertise in working with students for whom English is a second language. The above quote was shared, and it resonated with me. It prompted me to think: “Who or what has the loudest voice in your home? What is the most dominant voice in your home?”

For some, the loudest and most dominant voice is the TV, YouTube or Netflix. For some children, the only or most conversation happening in a home is watched by them, rather than participated in by them. They listen to talking on the screen but do not engage in it themselves.

Research shows that children who participate in conversation at home from an early age, tend to perform better socially and academically. The more important question to be asked however is, “what is the nature of conversation they are watching?” versus “the nature of conversation they could engage with in the home?”

I strongly encourage parents to actively engage in conversation as a family to build resilience, creativity, spiritual life and a deeper understanding of life in their children. Through conversation you will find out how they are feeling about life and school; through conversation you can talk about social, political and economic events happening in the world; through conversation you can build confidence in their ability to speak up in the classroom; and through conversation you can shape their hearts and minds.

In Deuteronomy 6, parents are called to teach their children through conversation, the beautiful truth that “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (v4). In verse 7, we read, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” That is how natural our conversation about God and life should be in the home! It is not easy, but as the Bible says, “You reap what you sow”. If you sow into your child’s heart and mind, the importance of conversation, especially on the matters of life, then you will reap the benefit of children who in their older years will converse freely and often with you!

Good literacy floats on a sea of talking – I encourage you to have an “ocean” of talking in your home!

Blessings,
Mr. Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School


You are Special!

You are Special!

September 2, 2022


This week I have enjoyed reading to all the Preparatory children, Max Lucado’s book “You are Special”. This storytelling has become a tradition at CAIS where every Preparatory child is gifted a copy of the book.

In Psalm 139:13-14 we read,

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

It may sound boastful to say “I am special” but when we know that it is only because God has made us, then we can rightly say, “I am special”. We are ‘special’ in so many ways. We only need to consider how our brain works, or how our immune system attacks infection, that we are in awe of how God has made us.

However, we know we are truly special when we comprehend just how much God loves us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is how special we are to God. He was willing to send his Son whom he loved so much to earth for us. We must however accept this love by acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Teachers at CAIS see your children as special in the sight of God. That is why we desire the very best for them. It is our prayer and hope that they will grow academically, emotionally and spiritually over the coming year. Each student has giftings and talents that make them uniquely special. What a special community we have at CAIS when all the students use their giftings to bless God and their friends and family.

Blessings,
Mr. Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School


Clock Builders

Clock Builders

August 26, 2022


Recently I was listening to an audiobook from one of my favourite authors, Jim Collins, who wrote “Good to Great” and “Built to Last”. Jim Collins spoke about the importance of visionary organisations not just aiming for quick gains, but building on organisational culture that will last the test of time. As I reflected on what he said, I could see some applications to CAIS and education.

We have all heard the saying, “if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” I think an improvement on that saying would be “if you teach a man to fish, you feed him and others for a lifetime.” The heart of this saying is that it is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves and others) than to do it for them. Jim Collins gives an analogy of “time telling compared to building clocks”. We would be amazed and delighted with people who could just look at the sun or stars and tell us the exact time of day. But how much more beneficial it would be for us if those talented people built a clock that could continuously tell the time, even after they were long gone.

It struck me that education is like that too. One approach to education is just to “spoon feed” students, tell them what they need to know, even without them necessarily understanding what they were learning. That approach is not only deficient, but it creates “dependent” students, students who depend on their teacher for knowledge or who depend on parents to do their homework. The focus of that educational philosophy is only to tell students “WHAT” they need to know.

At CAIS, our teachers know “what” students must learn, but their approach is to teach students the “why and how”. Why this knowledge or skill is important, and how they can learn and understand it. Teachers are not “time-tellers” but “clock builders.” They are building and cultivating your children to grow into independent learners with a thirst for learning.

In Proverbs 22:6 we read “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Here we see a focus on “training” which implies on-going instruction and work. While the parent is the coach, it is the child doing the work! As parents, we can like teachers, quickly defaulting to telling our children “what” they need to know or do. We say, “look both ways before you cross the road” or “you must always speak the truth”. This approach is quick and easy but it creates dependency, your child waits to be told what to do. A better way is to take the time to explain to your child “why” looking both ways before crossing the street is important, and “how” they do this before watching your child try it on their own. Explaining to your child why telling the truth is important and how to do it, especially if there might be a consequence to telling the truth, is a far better way to build character that lasts for a lifetime. This approach gives parents confidence that when they are not present, their child still knows what to do.

May I encourage parents to be clock builders not time tellers!

Blessings,
Mr. Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School


SOARING BEYOND THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN

SOARING BEYOND THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN

September 2022


A RISING YOUNG CELLIST

A RISING YOUNG CELLIST

September 2022


Bethany Hall

Where did you grow up/study?
I grew up in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, and spent my student years in the splendid city of Cape Town.

What attracted you to teach at CAIS?
From my very first interview with CAIS, I knew it was the right place for me. The staff and ethos of the school exude Christ’s love for His children alongside a standard of excellence and diligence.

Biggest challenge and rewarding moment working in education?
The biggest challenge for me as a teacher is endeavouring to remain a lifelong learner. It helps me understand and empathise with my students if I can put myself in their shoes. My current learning goal is to master some basic Cantonese!

What do you miss most about your home when you are overseas?
I find great joy and reward when I simply have fun with my students, whether through dance, play, or silly stories. When I am abroad, I miss my dogs the most! I try to video call with them but they have not yet learnt how to answer the phone.

Can you share one of your favourite bible verses with us?
One of my favourite scriptures and one that I pray over my students is Psalm 16:11. “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”