It’s just around the corner: “the most wonderful time of the year”…back to school. Sports, youth group, Awana, Sunday School, curriculum nights, small groups, scouts, and many other activities are also starting up. All that empty space on the calendar seems to fill up too quickly. Summer – that welcome break from routines, homework and staying up late – has once more suddenly come to an end and it seems that everything begins at once!
This change isn’t always wonderful, of course. For many of our children the anxiety, busyness, stress, and structure of the school year can leave them feeling exhausted, cranky, and unsure of themselves.
How do we help our kids through these transitions?
Some say it just takes patience, calm, and planning. Our kids model what they see. Do they see you relaxed and excited to start this new year? As a parent and educator I have always loved the beginning of a new school year. I especially like the word “new.” We get to start over: new classmates, new teacher, new clothes, new shoes, new school supplies, and very likely, new friends. What could be more exciting than a new beginning? We get to try to make this year better than the last.
But how do we get our kids and ourselves in the right frame of mind to fully embrace this new beginning? A quick internet search reveals an abundance of practical suggestions for how to start the school year:
- Start the bedtime routine before the first night of school.
- Set up a homework station.
- Don’t over-schedule your kids.
- Read together.
- Plan healthy meals.
- Communicate with your child’s teacher.
As a teacher I would add:
- Fill out your paperwok on time.
- Make sure your child knows his/her after-school routine.
- Teach them some independent skills such as zipping up their coat and tying shoes.
- Get them to school on time.
- Let teachers know when they’ve had a difficult morning.
- Don’t remind your kids of previous failures, but let them know you expect great things to come.
The teachers I know are there because they love kids and they love teaching. They really do want the best for your child and appreciate knowing things that will help them teach your children more effectively.
But what if we don’t live up?
All these strategies are good to follow, but we can so quickly get discouraged, because we fall short of being perfect parents. Even when we try to plan ahead, life can sometimes disrupt our plans. We forget a form. Our child doesn’t like the book we choose to read. The bedtime routine turns into a battle for who’s in charge. In those times, we must recognize that God has called us as parents to be stewards of His children. We can do our best to prepare, but we are limited in what we can do to form our children. There is a work that only God can do in the lives of our kids.
We are not perfect, but we can point our children to the one who is. We can remind them that their identity is in Christ and that Jesus is the one who gives them courage and wisdom and patience.
And these are lessons we as parents often need to be reminded about also.
As a Christian parent and educator I know the most important thing you can do to get your kids started off well in school this year is pray! Pray for child, pray with your child, pray for their friends, their teachers, the school principal. Let your child know that it is okay to pray in school too; they can always pray silently.
As Christians we have unique perspective on the world. We know who is in control and we can teach our kids to rely on God as their source each day.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” —Colossians 3:17
Today’s post was written by a member of NSCBC who is a parent to two grown children and a teacher. She loves investing in the lives of students.