Back to school! A phrase that instantly strikes fear and a simultaneous “AMEN” from all parents—especially moms. I know because we have two boys: one entering first grade and the other starting middle school. This is the first time when classroom preview day means I’ll participate in orientations, visit with teachers, drop off supplies, and hold my emotions together for an ENTIRE day.
The great thing is that I’m also an educator, so I’ve been on both sides of this scenario. Here are a few tips to guide you in preparing for the school year ahead. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a race!
Guard your heart. Pray with your child every morning. It aligns their spirit with the Father’s and models for your young one how to seek first (Matthew 6:33). Also, pray over your child’s teacher(s) and classmates. Share with the teacher that you want to support the class by praying throughout the year. This will make a genuine connection and help guard your heart when your child tells you that her teacher corrected her. The mama bear in you might want to tell that teacher a thing or two, but the sibling in Christ you are to that teacher should prompt you to learn more about the situation. Then you can guide your child in growing through the experience of being disciplined in love.
- Pace yourself! Waiting until the week before school will leave you scrambling to find the exact 10-pack washable Crayola markers listed on the supply list. Online shopping is always a great option if you start early. If your child likes being involved in selecting the items, do this together. Or if you prefer to shop without your student, consider packing all the supplies into their backpack and presenting it to them all ready to go! He’ll likely be SO excited about the goodies inside that he won’t even care he didn’t help pick it out.
- Look straight ahead. Don’t get distracted. Your child grows and learns in a unique way like no other child. Glean wisdom from how others prepare, but rest assured that you know your child best. If wearing a uniform is a new challenge, practice the routine before the first day of school. Label everything because that new lunch box and water bottle is new to your child, too, and she might not remember which one is hers in the lunchroom rush with all the other firsts of this new world!
- Be prepared. There will be things that are outside your control—like the bus being 20 minutes late the first few days. But by having as much organized as possible ahead of time, you will grant yourself the grace and space to deal with the unexpected.
Back to school prep is a given part of parenthood and requires exercising the fruits of the Spirit, but the reward is great. Children who see you investing in the simplest of things—like which pencils have the cool colored erasers—can begin to understand the care and concern of our Father who is so involved in all the details of life and learning!