Heading back to school can be a time of mixed emotions for children as well as parents. There may be a sense of excitement and anticipation coupled with anxiety, fear, and worry about beginning a new school year. Will I like my teacher? What will I wear on the first day of school? Will my friends be in my class? Will I be able to open my locker? Will I find my class before the bell rings? Who will I sit with at the lunch table? Will they make fun of braces? Will I make Varsity this year? Should I try out for cheerleading? Am I cool enough?
With all of the challenges our children face in school today, preparing to go back to school is also an opportunity for parents to demonstrate their support and care for their children. As parents, we are able to let our children know that we are their number one encouragers, and that it is our desire to see that they succeed and thrive in every area of their lives.
Here are some suggestions to help you and your children begin a stellar school year!
1. Pray We can never underestimate the power of prayer. Pray for your child's safety and protection. Pray for wisdom in parenting and guiding your child. Pray for those around your child--peers, teachers, coacher, bus drivers, etc.
2. Check-in Ask questions. Talk to your child and be interested and engaged in what they are saying. (It may be third grade, but it is their world and vitally important to them!) Ask about bullying and peer pressure. "How are things going at school?" "Is anyone bothering you?" "Are you bothering anybody?" "Who do you sit with at lunch?" These questions open the door to conversation and give you insight into your child's world, what they are thinking about, and how they are feeling. Don't be deterred by resistance or short answers. Keep pursuing.
3. Get Involved Know who you child's friends are. Get to know your child's teacher(s). Communicate and partner with them. Let them know that you are committed to your child's success. Attend "Back to School Night" and Parent/Teacher conferences. Make your presence known in the school--chaperone class trips and school dances, be a part of the PTA, participate in school activities.
4. Be Social Media Savvy YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram--can all be positive, but as it relates to our children, we must be cautious. If your child has social media accounts, check them regularly. Who are their Facebook friends? Who are they tweeting? Who's tweeting them? What pictures are they posting on Instagram? The internet is a playground for bullying, peer pressure, and predators. As parents we must be vigilant and regularly check-in.
Also, know the different texting codes and abbreviations that kids use on cell phones. Many of them are designed to keep parents in the dark and out of the loop. Don't know what LMHO means? Ask your child. They probably do!
5. Get it out! Let your child know that you are open to communication. Let them know that there is nothing off limits--that they can talk to you about anything. Be ready to listen and hear whatever may be on their minds. Focus on what they are saying. Make eye contact...Turn off the TV... Let the phone ring...Turn the burner to simmer. Your gestures and efforts to attune to what your son/daughter is saying lets him/her know that nothing is more important to you than what he/she has to say right now.
6. Invest Children are gifts from God (Psalm 127:3). As parents, we have the privilege to train, teach, nurture, love, and guide them. Life is hectic and busy and challenging and stressful...but the time we take to be there for our children is priceless. Redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16)! Take full advantage of pouring into your child. It will be your greatest legacy.