Back to school time is a short season of great excitement, anxiety, and potential. Even if you haven’t been in a classroom for a long time, you still feel it whenever fall piques over the summer horizon. As soon as the stores start to carry notebooks, crayons, trendy clothes, and new lunch boxes, the excitement is tangible.
Sending a child back to school can be even more exciting, although perhaps a little more stressful than being the student one’s self. There are supplies to procure, schedules to arrange, and meetings to attend. In all the hustle and bustle of the physical things that need to happen, there is another aspect of going back to school that is in danger of being overlooked, and this is the most important aspect.
The spiritual side of going back to school is something that doesn’t usually come to the forefront of our minds, but it is equally (if not more) important than any other kind of preparation we can do. Your children may be anxious about starting at a new school with new peers and new teachers. Given the tumultuous school year we collectively had last year in America, some children could even be concerned about their physical safety. Whether or not a child gets bullied could change from year to year as well. With cyberbullying on the rise, too, your kids might be more anxious than they let on about the upcoming school year.
So this year, as you pack those lunches and iron those first-day-of-school outfits, consider doing the following things to prepare your kids spiritually for going back to school.
Keep the Communication Lines Open
Not a lot of kids handle surprises well. Speak to your kids about what to expect when the school year starts. Keep speaking to them once it starts (this is very important!). Use the first couple weeks of school to establish a rhythm of asking about and talking through your child’s day at school. Besides the obligatory “How was your day?” there are several questions and practices that can help a youngster or teen to open up.
Concerning not feeling safe at school (whether that’s physical or emotional), this is a subject you should broach (especially with your older kids). According to Tulane University, while 1 in 3 students will be cyberbullied this year, only 15 percent will admit they are being bullied. What this means is parents will need to be diligent to know what is happening in their kids’ world. When all else fails (or before things fail!), a heartfelt note of encouragement slipped in a lunchbox or backpack can do a world of good.
Older Kids: The Back to School Conversations You Need to Have With Your Kids
In Their Own Words: Christian Teens on School Shootings
Pay Attention to What Your Teenager Is Trying to Communicate—Not What They’re Saying
The Most Important Thing: Back to School Prayer
This is probably going to sound completely obvious, but here it is: The best thing you can do is pray for your child who is heading back to school. But don’t just pray by yourself for your kiddo. Praying with your child for him or her as you tuck them in the night before the new school day or in the car on the way to school can be a great source of comfort to a nervous (or not nervous) kid. Pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional safety. Pray for growth and learning. Pray that God would use the school year to help your child know and love him more.
Don’t forget to pray for the teachers, too! They have a difficult, often thankless job. The vast majority of them teach because they love kids and they feel a calling to equip the next generation (very similar to a children’s minister or youth pastor). A lot of teachers are Christians, and a lot of them would be thrilled to know someone is praying for them.
Here are some back to school prayer resources to help you get started:
Bonus: This is a great video to share with the parents in your midst:
The bottom line in sending your kids back to school: They need to feel they are supported spiritually, emotionally, physically. May God bless you and your children as you prepare to go back to school this year.