Preparing Your Kids for A New School Year
Shopping for backpacks, school supplies and tennis shoes is the easy part of getting kids ready for school. Preparing them emotionally, mentally & spiritually can be the challenge.
Here are a few ideas to get ready for school:
1. Carry On A Summer Mentality
I always loved the simplicity of summer and hated getting back into the busy routine of school. I began to evaluate what made summer so stress-free and looked for things I could carry into the school year to continue that carefree feeling. Simplify dinner time by planning ahead and finding simpler meals. Finish homework as early as possible so the evening can still include time together playing a game. Find ways to “bend the rules”. For example, having dinner in the family room while watching a movie together or reward the kids with an extra half-hour before bed to play a family game.
2. Ask Questions
Kids experience all kinds of emotions going into a new school year including fear, stress, and excitement. Get creative in asking questions, especially finding ways to ask a question that will spark a conversation rather than allowing a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, instead of “Are you excited about the new school year?”, try “How do you feel about the new school year?” Questions that start with “How do you feel…” or “What do you think…” prompt a more involved, thoughtful answer. If the answer comes back with a simple “Fine”, ask more follow up questions to get real answers. I still ask my kids a lot of questions, and they are in the 20s!
3. Family Devotions
It never really bothered me that prayer was taken out of school because I told my kids they could pray to God anytime by simply talking to God in their head. Teach them how to say a quick prayer from “Help me to remember the answer to this question” during a test to “Help me be a good friend” to a lonely child on the playground. Pick a few verses to memorize together so they will always have God’s Word available to them in their heart and mind. Use this time to talk about spiritual values such as kindness and how to be a good friend. My mom took my kids to school a couple mornings a week while I was at work. Every day when she dropped them off, she would say, “Remember who you are”. Make sure that your kids know who they are. Remind them daily as they leave for school that they are a child of God, loved, and of great worth.
4. Most Importantly, Pray For Your Kids!
My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and we had a “party” every day after school. I loved coming home and having a snack while we talked about my day, even in high school. However, there were some things I never told her. I was too embarrassed to tell her that someone put a dead frog in my purse in biology class or that a couple of boys called me “Moose” because I was overweight. Your kids will face things at school that they may never tell you, no matter how many questions you ask or how available you are. Pray for your kids daily. As long as home is a safe & happy place, they can face anything.
Jennifer has been married to Randy for over 27 years and is the mom of two mostly-grown kids, Kimberly & Nick. She loves Diet Coke, chocolate and the Seahawks. (#GoHawks!)