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School Blog

A Checklist for the Mind   

Posted by Laurie O'Toole on with 3 Comments

Check out this checklist... it may work better than any photo filter app you already have!


Each summer, around the first week of July, we begin to get calls from parents. Each is asking when the classroom assignments will be out and when they can get their Classroom Supplies List.  (The latter question is probably because it seems that as soon as school is out for the summer, local department stores begin their “Back to School Sales”. UGH!) But for whatever reason, parents love to get their checklists.

Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about checklists.  Not so much about checklists for the classroom, but really checklists for the mind. 

As both a school administrator and a mom of a teenager, I have been thinking a lot about what our kids see and hear. It used to be (here’s me aging myself, I know!) that we watched TV on one of two televisions in the house, with a lot fewer channel choices.  My parents could see what we were watching and often told us to “Turn that off!”  The radio was the same way - what we listened to was out loud for everyone to hear (especially on my big boom box!)  My song choices were often met with “Turn that down!” or “Turn that off!”  While my choices were fewer, my parents still had some say in what we watched or listened to because most of it was all out in the open for everyone to see. 

Today, however, it’s a lot more complicated. So complicated, in fact, that it may seem easier to just give up and give in.  Parents today are battling seemingly insurmountable obstacles to supervision of their children’s “input”.  Home televisions now have thousands of channels, including uncensored adult channels.  Music geared for teens, that use to be filled with innuendo, can now be considered blatantly obscene. Even more frightening is the fact that most teens (even preteens or younger) have hand-held devices containing personalized music choices, game choices, and video choices, as well as literally the entire World Wide Web at their fingertips. Children can instantly access images, sounds, and videos that parents may never know.  That kind of power is an amazing example of technological advancement. But that kind of power should also be terrifying.

Moms and dads, grandparents, I am deeply burdened by what is bombarding our babies these days!  I am urging you to carefully take stock of what input you are allowing in your child’s mind.  A generation ago, it would be unthinkable that our children would be exposed to such damaging images.  Yet this is the new world in which we are living.  So what do we do??

Parents, we are called by God to “train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6) It is our responsibility to monitor what our children hear and see.  It is also our responsibility to teach them how to learn to monitor that for themselves.  Now back to checklists… wouldn’t it be great if there was a checklist for the mind?!?

Actually, there is.  God gave us a very clear checklist to use to determine what we are putting into our minds.  It sounds like this…  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) That’s a pretty clear checklist. 

  • True
  • Right
  • Noble
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Admirable
  • Excellent
  • Praiseworthy

In the Instagram App, photos can be filtered. As a mom, I wish I could make this checklist a filter for anything our children see or hear.  Think about it for a minute.  What would it look like if our kids used this lens through which to watch TV? Watch a half hour sitcom on cable channels intended for 'tweens. Would it stand up to the Philippians 4 filter?  What about that latest superhero movie? What about the YouTube video searches? What about the newest teen heartthrob musician?  Do we have the guts, as parents, to filter those things that the world says are ok, but we know God says are harmful? That's hard!

An even harder question is, have we also considered our own entertainment habits? What are we unintentionally passing along to our kids?  What TV show are they seeing us watch? What DVDs or magazines do they find around the house? What music (no matter the genre) what lyrics are they hearing on our car radios?

As an educator, I have to be blunt.  These issues are having a serious effect on your children.  We hear about it here at school on a regular basis.  It’s seeping into their drawings, their conversations, their actions on the playground.  Worse yet, it’s permeating their hearts... permanently. 

The benefit of Christian education is NOT that our students will be perfect nor that they will come from perfect homes.  The benefit of Christian education is our ability to point students and families back to the truth of God’s Word. 

Moms. Dads. Grandparents...

We’ve got to train our kids to protect their hearts and mind from the influences of a dark world. 

We’ve got to model for our kids what that looks like.

And, finally, we need to pray for the protection of our families and our precious children’s hearts and minds.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

 Mrs. Laurie O’Toole is a wife, mom, and assistant administrator at Bethany School in Long Beach.

Tags: parenting, technology


Ali O'Brien (Lola's mom) April 21, 2016 7:02pm

Laurie, I feel blessed to know you and I found this blog to be very powerful. I pray everyday for courage to stand between what is socially acceptable and what I know in my heart to be the right thing for my first grader. It is the hardest battle I've ever fought and I am forever appreciative of the guidance we (not just her) get from Bethany. Let's keep up the good fight and thank you for sharing!!! It takes a village...

Donna Morici April 22, 2016 8:47am

All so true! As a teacher of technology I couldn't agree more with everything you said. More than any other time teaching integrity is imperative. I love the checklist, and I love the reminder that we also have to monitor what we do because we show more by what we do and what we say. Great first blog Laurie

Pamela Hale-Burns April 22, 2016 11:36am

Awesome read! Great first blog and excellent Scripture reference on what we are to think about and be accountable for what we do in front of our children!