This school year will be different than any other for our family. After four years of homeschooling, our older two boys will be entering fourth and second grade at a local school. I feel both joy and sorrow over this transition, but the kids have latched on to the joy part and I am going with it full speed ahead.
As an elementary music teacher, I loved everything about back-to-school time. Remember the movie You’ve Got Mail? I’ve always loved and identified with this quote, even though I’ve never been to New York:
Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.
The school supply aisles are my favorite. The thrill of a new group of students, a new teacher, a new blank canvas of a year was always invigorating for me. Lesson plans, bulletin boards, new dry erase markers – yes, these are the things I got excited about.
As we approach our first year of actually going out of the house “back-to-school,” I want these same good feelings to envelop my kiddos. While it may be the end of summer fun, there is much good to be found in the start of a school year, both for parents and for kids. This is a time worth celebrating!
The process of celebrating the return of school has to start with us as parents. It’s not about rejoicing that our children won’t be saying “I’m bored” a million times a day anymore, although (I’m not going to lie) that can be a benefit. We set the tone by celebrating the joys of school and sharing in them with our children.
However you choose to celebrate, here are some themes you can focus on and pray over with your kids:
The Joy of Learning
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. -Proverbs 2:6
Find out ahead of time some key things your student will be learning in the new school year that they might be interested in. Celebrate the progress they made in the past year and encourage them to think about all they will have learned a year from now. Focus on the source of knowledge and wisdom and pray for your kids to lean on Him to help them learn throughout the school year.
The Joy of Friendships
A friend loves at all times. -Proverbs 17:17
I have very social children. Surprise, surprise. They are so excited to make new friends at school and I’m keeping that excitement alive with them. But I’m also praying for them as I know all children will experience heartache at the hand of a friend at some point. This is no reason to put a damper on the possibility of wonderful friendships, but I love this verse to send my kids off to school with because they can only control how they act when a friend hurts them. Your child may have already been hurt by a friend and is therefore dreading the start of this school year. Pray with them to discover the joy of new friends who do love at all times. Ask for God to heal their hearts and move them forward into community. Remind them God is a God of hope and restoration and He has good plans for them, including friendship!
The Joy of Perseverance
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9
Perseverance doesn’t sound like something to rejoice in, but when our kids face something hard and don’t give up, they come through it as new people. School will provide lots of opportunities for perseverance – learning a new concept, working on a challenging project, trying out for a sports team or music ensemble. Not all of these opportunities will end in sunshine and roses, but the joy is in the never giving up. I want my kids to go into the new school year not seeing a bunch of obstacles, but rather lots of opportunities to lean on the Lord and push through to other side, gaining wisdom along the way. This is an important topic to touch on as the school year starts and this approach puts the challenges to come in a positive light. Celebrate that things might get hard, but that we have Jesus on our side to guide us and strengthen us!
Oh yes, I will be making a special breakfast of chocolate chip scones on that first day of school and there may be some balloons when they return home, but all of that will take a back seat to these celebrations rooted in the Lord. He is the source of all joy, after all! I’m clinging to this verse as I send my boys off to school and praying they will as well:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13