Squeaky new tennis shoes, alarm clocks sounding, and a backpack full of unsharpened pencils. School buses swinging around the corner, swapping summer stories, and reuniting with friends. These are a student’s happy hallmarks of the first day of school.
The start of school is more of a mixed bag for parents, however. Our heavy tote bag is full of thoughts like, “Will his teacher like him?” “How will this school year prepare her for the future?” “Six hours a day is a long time to be away from home! Will the people at school love my child well?”
It’s hard to face the unknowns of a new year. There’s surely no such thing as a perfect life… or a perfect school year, but there are some sure-fire steps to pave a path to a year that all parties enjoy—students, teachers, and parents.
Start with prayer.
It’s a joyful thing to serve a God who cares about each moment of our lives, including our child’s hours in school. A favorite quote I’ve heard says, “Prayer isn’t just preparation for the work. Prayer is the work.”
We parents can attest to how exhausting the work is to get ready for school—shopping for supplies, adjusting the morning schedules, and restarting the homework routine. But how many times do we forget to pray, laying the foundation for a great school year? Take some quiet time today to pray for a great start.
Help your child be prepared.
To set a positive tone, do all that you can do to prepare your child for life at school. Attending “Meet the Teacher” nights or introductory meetings shows both your child and her teacher that you care about school. Making sure your student has the supplies he needs equips him to do his best. (Most teachers have resources to help you fill this need if your household budget is stretched too thin this year. Don’t be afraid to ask.)
It’s helpful to go over materials that come home in your student’s backpack with your student. Talk about your expectations for behavior and work habits with her to lessen the likelihood of teacher intervention.
If you’re able to volunteer in the classroom, let the teacher know what your availability is. Working moms, don’t despair! Many teachers also appreciate parents that can help at home with projects such as cutting out bulletin board items. Your involvement will speak louder than words to your child about your commitment to their education, and over-worked teachers will appreciate your help.
Remember that teachers are human.
As children, we perceived teachers as the authority figure that’s a little intimidating, and we can carry those perceptions into adulthood. Since I’ve spent time on both sides of the school conference table, I can confidently speak from the teacher’s side as well as the parental side. New teachers are nervous, and all teachers have feelings and make mistakes like the rest of us. Just being kind goes a long, long way in building rapport, and doing it before there’s a problem helps immensely when things do get messy.
If a problem comes up during the year between your student and her teacher, don’t talk about problems with a teacher in front of your child. Although your child needs to know that you are his advocate, you and the teacher want to provide a united front until there is conflict resolution. Our little darlings are prone to “play both ends against the middle,” so wait to pass judgement until you’ve talked to the teacher.
Pray some more.
Bring your student into prayer time as you cover teachers, friendships, school safety, and a myriad of other issues that arise during the year. Carpool commutes, walking to and from school, or the moments before the lights go out are great times to set for daily prayer for school. School is your child’s workplace, so leading them to pray now will establish a lifetime habit of turning to God in every aspect of their lives, not just the crisis moments.
It’s easy to get uneasy when the perfect school year gets a few scratches and dings. Starting things off right by laying a foundation of prayer and support will make the biggest part of your child’s life a pleasure even when imperfection hits.
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC with a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about her speaker coaching services at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org.
Publication date: September 9, 2016