As the sultry days of summer press on and the calendar flips to August, it signifies the beginning of school. The new school year offers a fresh start, new friends, and old connections. But beneath all the excitement lurks uncertainty, even anxiety. If you prepare for the new year, you set your child up for a good chance to achieve success.
Pray. Pray over any and all concerns, trusting and standing on God’s promises. Remind your child of who God is and His character. Recall His promises to be with your daughter, to care for her, to give her courage and wisdom. Ask God to make your son bold in his faith and gracious in his speech.
Read. For younger kids, books give them a glimpse into life at school and some include humor (The Pigeon Has to Go to School). Make sure older kids have completed any summer reading assignments. If so, suggest they read for fun these last few days.
Encourage goals. Challenge your child to set goals for the year. Maybe it’s to make one new friend. Maybe it’s to practice gratitude. Maybe it’s to be brave or be light. Whatever the goal, write it out and post it. Check in on the goals throughout the school year.
Participate. Familiarize your child with the school. Attend the back-to-school bash, introduce your child to the teacher, and walk around the school. Does your neighborhood host a back-to-school gathering? Consider attending. Your child might meet a new friend. Growing up, my mom, my siblings and I drove to the big city for a full day of shopping. She gave us a budget, and we could pick out our own clothes and supplies.
Acknowledge emotions. Ask questions to understand your child’s concerns or worries. What is good about the coming year? What can your child be thankful for? Listen without fixing. Validate any concerns, then remind them of God’s love and presence. Model trusting God and encourage your worried child to practice gratitude and breathing when anxiety surfaces.
Rearrange the routine. Shift the routine gradually back to a school schedule where the child goes to bed earlier and rises earlier. Eat dinner together and share concerns or excitement. Make a list of ideas for lunches and make the first one special while including a personalized note.
Expect great things this year. Make a few more memories by spending family time together the week before school. Go out for ice cream. Play putt-putt golf. Pull out some board games. Guard your precious family time these last few days. Most importantly, speak words of affirmation over your child, asking God to grow courage, peace, wisdom, and hope in them this school year.
Sally Cressman and her husband enjoy an easy rhythm in their empty nest. She’d love to connect with you on Instagram at @sacressman, Facebook, or her blog www.sallycressman.com