2015 | Week of August 17 – #1111
The advertising hype on TV and in the stores tells me the start of another school year is looming. I hope if you’re a parent, you’re doing everything you can to prepare your child for the upcoming academic year.
I’m reasonably sure most parents take care to begin adjusting times kids are getting to bed and getting up in anticipation of a school year schedule. I’m pretty sure moms and dads see to it that their children have the “stuff” that makes for a full and well prepared backpack. What I’m not so sure about is whether parents are preparing their children spiritually for this coming school year.
While public schools very often present unique challenges for Christian families and their children, the ideas you’ll hear aren’t just for those whose kids attend a local public school. They are for everyone, including those who are in private Christian schools and most of them even for those who home school.
As full disclosure these ideas come from a blog post by Daniel Day. They are practical, thoughtful; and I believe well worth sharing and elaborating on as we count down the days to a new school year.
First, parents need to develop a family devotion plan for the school year—and determine to stick to it. Find the best time of day for your family. Maybe it’s before school, or maybe it’s after family dinner while everyone is together. Whenever or wherever it is, be consistent. And be age appropriate and relevant. Children today are confronted with all types of issues; use devotions to help equip them spiritually to deal with those issues and to strengthen their faith and trust in God.
Next, talk to your children every day about what happened at school. Ask questions—good questions. Don’t accept a single word response such as, “fine,” “good” or “ok.” Engage your children in conversations. Keep close tabs on what is going on at school, in the classroom, on the playground, with friends. Stay relaxed and informal, but be relentless. You don’t need to be the Gestapo, but you do need to be the parent!
Third, pray every day for your children—specifically and with purpose. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to pray quickly with your children before they head out the door each morning. Remind them that God loves them—and so do you. Pray for protection, wisdom, patience, focus, and anything else God lays on your heart for your child. Prayer reaches the heart of God; He hears and answers. And what an example you will be giving your children!
Fourth, in spite of busy schedules, spend time together as a family. Building strong family bonds is one of the best protections children have. How often have young people been deterred from some dangerous or wrong choice by knowing their mother and father, their family, would be hurt or disappointed. That’s not bad; that’s healthy.
Fifth, make a point of going to church together as a family. Yes, even during a busy school year. It’s important that your children understand at young ages that corporate worship and gathering together as fellow believers for fellowship is essential. Lead by example. In addition, good friendships at church can sometimes help overcome some of the problems of not-so-good friendships at school.
And finally, teach your children about stewardship and contentment. As Daniel Day says, don’t go out and spend lavishly at the beginning of school to buy backpacks, shoes, clothes, tech devices, and sports equipment that your children don’t really need. Of course, you get them the essentials. But use getting ready for school as a time to teach them about tithing, good shopping habits, saving, being content with what they have, and taking care of what they already have and what new things they get. With older kids, perhaps it’s time to talk about getting a job to buy the extra things they want but don’t really need.
As Mr. Day says, getting children ready for school is about so much more than preparing their backpack. This year I hope parents will spend quality time preparing the heart and soul of their children so that they know a little more about what loving and following Jesus looks like.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”