It's school time!
Crayons, notebooks and backpacks have been purchased, homework will soon be making it’s nightly appearance, and kids and parents everywhere are stepping into a new school year with emotions ranging from excitement and anticipation to nervousness and anxiety.
And while the physical aspects of getting your child ready for this school year might have been already met, perhaps you are left wondering how to care for their spiritual needs. How does God play a part in their school career or day-to-day activities? What can WE as parents do to help shepherd our kids through circumstances and environments that we often cannot control?
With this in mind, we’re sharing a few thoughts on how to intentionally launch your kids into a new school year, or even just their day (if they’re not yet in school). Help your child get started this year on the right foot and with the right heart by making Jesus the focal point of their days, their year, and their life. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
PRAY Every Day.
As a Christian, the number one way you should be launching your kids into their new school is through prayer – by praying FOR them and WITH them. Many things relating to school are often outside of our control and can only be touched by the hands of God. Talk to Him and encourage your kids to do the same! You can start planting those seeds at a young age and watch them grow over the years.
Remind your kids that prayer is simply communicating with God. At any point of their day, He is ready and willing to listen. He desires to have conversation with us and know our concerns, thoughts and fears. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
As a parent, an ideal time to pray for your child’s day is first thing in the morning. This could look a variety of different ways:
- Commit to getting up before your kids to spend some time in prayer and in the Bible. Pray over each of your kids: that they would have eyes to see and ears to hear; for hearts to be open to the Holy Spirit’s direction; for intentionality in relationships; for physical and spiritual protection; and for endurance and stamina through their day. And ultimately, pray that God would guide them to opportunities to share the love and hope of Christ with those around them.
- Spend some time praying with them over breakfast. Get into scripture by reading a short devotional or by just opening the Bible and reading together. This is a great way to turn hearts to Jesus at the start of the day. If you’re looking for a helpful tool to get started with this idea, we recommend clicking here and checking out “Jesus Calling for Kids”. We know God’s word is alive and active, and He can use it to speak to us – and our kids – over the course of the day.
- Pray during your commute. Whether you walk with your child to school or you drive together, use this time to talk about their upcoming day. Do they have a test or a big project ahead of them? Is there something that is worrying them? Are there any specific friends/classmates/teachers that need some prayer? Be intentional with your time together and pray as you walk or drive. Let your child see you praying for them, but also encourage them to pray as well. Also, make sure to circle back around at the end of the day and check in with them on these concerns and prayers.
Praying for and with your children every day is an essential part of launching them into their school year with intentionality.
Remind them of their PURPOSE.
It’s safe to say we can all remember some rough patches of our own school career. Perhaps it was elementary school for you, when you encountered playground bullies or worked through some particular insecurities. Maybe it was middle school, when you struggled to fit in with your peers or find your place in the school. Or it could have been high school, when challenging academics partnered with peer pressure made it feel like a battle zone…
Whatever it may be, it’s unfortunately very likely our kids are facing similar issues – just in different ways. School can be hard. It can be scary. It can be overwhelming. And it can be so much more. BUT – here is the good news:
We have Jesus.
This changes EVERYTHING! We can surrender any of our insecurities, fear or loneliness, and cling to the real hope and real love that we have in Him. Who we are – our entire identity – rests on Him. So, in addition to praying, one way to intentionally launch our kids out into the school year is by reminding them of who they are in Christ and what their purpose is.
As you start the school year, spend some time reminding your kids of some important biblical truths: that they are a child of God, created in His image, and loved by Him; that they are of worth, are not a mistake, and have purpose; that they are a new creation in Christ, free from condemnation, and are called to be an ambassador of God.
As a follower of Christ, we are to be a light in this dark world. And at school, your child will definitely be filled with opportunities to show Jesus to those around them. Encourage them to be open to the Holy Spirit’s direction, and to show boldness and courage in sharing their faith. Here is a great article with some helpful advice for parents on raising a faith-sharing child. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
God places each of our kids in the exact classrooms with the exact teachers alongside the exact peers that they are meant to be with. Most likely, these are people they would not normally encounter in other circles. These are people outside our church walls, in the community, and this is a great opportunity to invest in these relationships!
As you send your kids out, pray and encourage them to love like Jesus did: to help those that are hurting, to befriend those that are lonely, to make a difference where there needs to be change… It may take some effort and it might not be easy, but we are called to see people the way God sees them. Remind your kids that kindness and compassion can go a long way in someone’s life. “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-36, 40
Your child is made for something bigger and better than just themselves – for sharing the redemption and grace and LOVE that comes from knowing Christ.
So, you might be wondering where to start. We’ve put together a list of a few creative strategies to help you encourage them to stay focused and centered on Jesus this school year:
- Plan some one-on-one time. As the school year gets under way, it can get harder and harder to connect with your kids amidst school projects, extracurricular activities, and life craziness. Devote some time to connecting with your kids individually and be intentional with your conversation. Ask them about their friends at school. Talk about things they’re learning and processing. Spend some time making sure they know they are loved, both by God and by you. Work hard at keeping these lines of communication open. You might be surprised how much they’re willing to open up and share with you over a scoop of ice cream.
- Nightly Bible reading. Many kids are required to complete a certain amount of reading every night as part of their homework assignment, so why not encourage your child to read the Bible during this time? The Jesus Storybook Bible is a wonderful Bible for kids – and even adults! – of all ages that will point them to Christ in every story they read. This will also start building the habit of spending time in the Word every day.
- Send them notes. If your child brings their lunch to school, slip a little note in there! Some Scripture, a note of encouragement, a funny joke, or even a simple ‘I love you’ can make a huge difference in their day, point them to Christ and remind them that they are loved. Here are some free and cute printable lunchbox note ideas!
- Family Dinners. Sitting down and sharing a meal together at the end of a long, busy day is one of the best ways you can be intentional with your kids. Due to sports practices and extracurricular activities, it’s also one of the easiest things to neglect. Commit to family dinners at least a few nights a week and spend time reconnecting as a family. Have everyone share what God is doing in their lives, how they can be prayed for, and what they are looking forward to over the next few days. You can also check out this list of conversation starters for some fun and engaging topics based on age.
- Scripture everywhere! The most important tool in our parenting toolbox is the Bible. Spend time in it daily and encourage your kids to do the same as well. Remind them that God’s Word will lead and direct them, whatever they may encounter at school, and that we can claim His promises over our life. He is faithful, now and always. “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
Place key verses around your home: in the car, written on bathroom mirrors or in picture frames, or on the inside cover of a school notebook. For little kids, check out Seeds Family Worship for music that is word-for-word scripture. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:7-9
We are praying for all of you currently navigating the trenches of school and parenthood! Know that God sees you and loves you for the work you are doing. It is no small calling. His grace is abundantly poured over you as you walk through this season and He will guide your steps every way. Rest in this and trust Him.