It is back to school time! The school shopping finished and new back packs and lunch boxes ready! Kids are prepared for class. Here is a question; are they spiritually prepared for school? Take a read of the following article by a member of Providence Church, Sasha Barker, on helping to prepare kids spiritually for their return to the classroom.
6 Ways to Spiritually Prepare for Back to School
I don’t know about you, but when I hear “back to school” I think backpacks, textbooks, school supplies, haircuts, packed lunches, alarm clocks. Nothing peaceful or promising is elicited from the words back to school. Have a look at the circulars in your newspaper and the ads on your browser’s homepage. Society wants us to spend, spend, spend. Keep up with the Jones’ and “head back to school in style.” It makes me wonder what would happen if instead of spending, I took some time this season to invest. So, as I found myself struggling to answer questions such as “How many food groups are covered by an uncrustable PB&J sandwich?” or “How many marking periods could a $6.00 backpack really last?” I began to ask myself what I was doing to prepare my children spiritually for the back to school season. What investments have I made? If you too are pondering how to spiritually prepare your children for school, here are a few ideas I hope you will consider.
1. Find a devotion
I know what you’re thinking. Who has time to add one more thing to the morning schedule when you are already getting up at 5 A.M? Please hear me out. Starting your morning off in the word, with your children, is more than just something that should be included in your routine. It’s more than just another thing to check off your To Do list. Starting the day in God’s word tells your kids where your priorities are. More importantly, consistent morning devotion time gives the Holy Spirit the perfect opportunity to inform the decisions of your child’s day. Someone once said, “The gospel brings man to God; devotions keep him close to God. If you are pressed for time, be creative. Read your devotion during breakfast, or have one of the children read it from the backseat on your drive to school. If your children are too small to read, download an app to your smartphone or tablet. YouVersion is an app that has text-to-voice capabilities and tons of great devotionals that are perfect for children. Simply download the app, select an age-appropriate devotion, and have your phone read it to your family as you drive along.
2. Get plugged into a church
Again, I know it sounds like I’m asking you to miraculously find all of this extra time in your schedule. Actually, I’m not asking you to find time. I’m suggesting that you MAKE time. If your family is anything like mine, before the first pack of loose leaf paper is used up, your calendar will be so full of sports events, club meetings, homework commitments, conferences, sleepovers, and PTA obligations that you have to schedule dinner time. Make a mid-week church service a priority. If Johnny wants to be involved in football, track, and student government, remind him that if the practice schedule, or meeting times conflict with your Wednesday night Bible study, he’ll need to choose a different activity. Consistent involvement in youth group or an age-appropriate Bible study is important for spiritual growth and making this weekly commitment a non-negotiable priority teaches your children that spiritual growth should be a primary concern.
3. Pray with and for your child
If you believe in the power of prayer, be sure that belief is evident to your children. Pray together for their teachers. Pray for their coaches. Pray about difficult decisions that are coming up. Thank God for your child’s education, their school, and their healthy friendships. Ask God to inform the difficult decisions that are made daily by the administration at your child’s school. Ask Him to strengthen your children to stand firm in the face of bullying and peer pressure. The book of 1 Thessalonians reminds us to pray without ceasing. Look for opportunities to pray with your children; not just at meals and bedtime, but throughout the day. If your student tells you about a poor decision that one of her classmates made, rather than say “that’s disappointing,” or ask her how she would have handled that situation differently, take a moment to pray with your child that God would use her to speak into her friend’s life and that He will use her friend’s poor decisions to draw her into a closer relationship with Him. As you make time to pray daily with your child for his teachers, pastors, coaches, and principal, watch in awe as God instills a very healthy sense of admiration and respect in your child for those in authority over him.
4. Talk about modesty
Back to school shopping can be nightmarish, especially if your child’s school does not enforce a modest dress code. As you are shopping for the perfect pair of jeans for Dress Down Friday, take this opportunity to tell your tween or teen why you vetoed the skinny jeans she selected. Encourage her to dress in a way that does not draw attention to herself, but that honors God and is respectful of her male classmates. Don’t fall for Satan’s lie “But daddy, that’s the style.” Now, I’m not advocating you purchase a wardrobe that rivals Laura’s from Little House on the Prairie; I’m simply saying there is something beautiful about a teenage girl who is confident enough to let her beauty shine from inside and leave the rest to the imagination. The apostle Paul says it like this, in 1 Timothy chapter 2, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not adorning themselves with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”
5. Teach your kids about contentment and good stewardship
If your email inbox looks anything like mine, you are sick to death of hearing about backpacks for 40% off, lists of back to school “necessities” or the perfect pair of sunglasses to “turn heads this fall.” Before you load the minivan and spend a small fortune at the mall, inventory your home. Does your 7th grader really need a new backpack, brand new shoes and five new Hollister tees before school starts back up? Of course some of these are occasionally necessary, but buying your child a brand new wardrobe each year, just because it’s August, teaches him to be discontent with what he has. Teach your children good stewardship by re-using and appreciating the gently used things with which God has already blessed your family.
6. Talk to your kids about their day
Lastly, talk to your kids about their school day. I think as parents we sometimes feel guilty for asking our child to answer a bunch of questions after they’ve been quizzed and brain bombed all day. However, asking about your child’s day is a great way to create those teachable moments Moses wrote about Deuteronomy chapter 6. When they rise and when they lie down, start conversations with your children about spiritual things. If you don’t want a dismissive answer such as “my day was fine” or “it was alright,” ask open questions. “What challenged you today?” “What do you see God doing in your school?” “How can I pray for your classmates?” Use the teachable moments you create during these conversations to influence your child in how to respond in a God-honoring way when difficult situations arise.
By incorporating some of these practices into your back to school routine, you are investing in your child. You are giving your child tools that are much more important than new books, supplies, and clothes. You are imparting wisdom which is far more valuable than anything else on your back to school shopping list. Proverbs 16:16 says wisdom is more valuable than gold. How will you invest in your child this school year?