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Back to School can be an exciting season for families. Kids look forward to new classes, seeing friends, and getting involved in sports and clubs. Parents are equally happy to get back into a rhythm and enjoy watching their kids grow and learn new things. Overall, families have a lot to look forward to when a new school year rolls around. However, something that often accompanies all of that excitement is stress. “Am I going to make friends in a new school?” “What are my teachers like?” “Where is my lunch box I haven’t used since May?” The list of questions going through a kid’s head goes on and on, and it’s the same for parents. It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness and forget to take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and prepare yourself before jumping into a new season. Even so, it’s important to start the new school year strong in order to set the tone for a successful year.

This past year was my first year of teaching, and it was definitely filled with its fair share of great times and hard times. I have wanted to be a teacher and have enjoyed working with students for most of my life, and building relationships with the students is by far my favorite part of the job. That being said, it can also be the hardest part when you have forty different students, all with varying needs, desires, and goals, not to mention all of the other every-day responsibilities of the job. This past year taught me many things, both about myself and about the kids I was teaching. I want to share some of the things I noticed that helped students have a great school year, while also sharing some words of encouragement from a teacher’s perspective.  With that said, here are four tips to help equip your children for a successful school year:

1. Set goals with your children.

Before the school year starts, have a conversation with your children and set a goal or two for the upcoming year. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to make time to take a breath before walking into a new season. It’s also a great opportunity to empower your children and encourage them to set a goal they want to work towards. As a teacher, I have noticed that when students have a goal they want to achieve, they are going to work hard to achieve it. Once those goals are established, write them out and put them in a place where you can see them regularly, and hold your children accountable for the goals they set. Also, when your kids achieve their goals, celebrate those moments! Encourage them and show them how proud you are of them and how they are growing and bettering themselves.

Remember: Academics and Grades are not the only areas children can set goals. Yes, it’s very important for kids to do their best in school, but it’s also important for kids to realize that growth doesn’t just come from a high score on a test. Growth for some kids may look like branching out and making new friends, finding opportunities to serve classmates, or sharing Jesus with the people in the hallways. Encourage your child to set
spiritual goals, emotional goals, or mental goals that they can work towards along with academic goals. From a teacher’s perspective, spiritual, emotional, and mental growth is just as important, if not more important, than academic growth in children.

Bonus tip: If you want your teacher to be in on the goal-setting conversation, encourage your child to share his or her goals with their teacher(s) at the beginning of the year. This way, the teacher can help equip your child as well and help him or her achieve their goal. Plus, we like celebrating achievements with them too.

2. Remind your child who they are in Christ.

It’s no secret that tests and grades are a big emphasis in schools in this day and age. While these can be great tools to measure student knowledge, it’s easy for kids to see the numbers on a piece of paper or a computer screen and associate those numbers with their worth. Growing up, I struggled with this more than I would like to admit. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well in school, and I often felt like I had to achieve perfection when it came to grades. However, this way of thinking is far from the truth, and once I started following Jesus, I realized that perfection is a very overrated word. The Bible states time and time again that our worth comes from Christ alone, who sees us as His sons and daughters and worth dying on a cross for. Every child is more than a number or test score, and my hope and prayer as a teacher is that kids can walk confidently knowing that truth.

3. Encourage and equip your child to set the example.

Parents, if you have any friends who are teachers, you have probably heard them talk about how the amount of respect that students have for both other students and for adults is declining every year. While this is not the case for every student (in fact, it’s not for most students), I have to agree that many students are becoming less aware of how their words and actions affect the people around them. There are a lot of worldly things
that can, and probably have, led to this decline. However, rather than focusing on the negative, I think it’s important as adults that we encourage today’s kids to set a Christ-like example for the people around them and set a positive tone as they are going into their mission field: their classes. Little things like being a good listener, understanding other people’s perspectives, and communicating thoughts in a respectful manner can go a long way.

Probably the biggest way parents can teach this is by setting the example themselves and then setting high expectations with their kids. Whether it’s at home, at church, or anywhere else, parents can set the tone for how to treat others the way Christ would treat them. Then, have conversations with your child about how to respect others, and ask them what they are seeing in the classroom, good or bad. If they bring up something that doesn’t meet the expectations you have set, then ask them how they can set a positive example in that situation. In addition, encourage your child as they are going through their school year. It’s not easy being a child in our world today, so find opportunities to bless them and encourage them whenever possible.

4. Pray with your child for the school year.

Lastly, pray with your child for the upcoming school year. Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 6 to “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request,” (CSB). As a teacher, I pray for my students constantly (even my future students that I will have in just a few weeks!). I encourage you to pray together for all aspects of school. Pray for your child, that he or she may look to Christ for wisdom and guidance and would be a great example on his or her campus. Pray for your child’s classmates, that they would become a great community for your child and a great group of friends to do life with. Pray for your child’s teachers as they are gearing up for the new school year. Pray for other school and district leaders and the decisions they will be making every day that will be impacting your child. Finally, pray that God will use this school year to bring glory to His name.

Elizabeth Wilson
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