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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Back to School = Back to Basics

By Kristen Feola
Aug. 28, 2011

When it’s time for your child to go back to school after summer vacation, you have to think outside the box — or should I say, backpack. Purchasing school supplies is only the first step in preparing to return to the classroom. After all, your child will need much more than #2 pencils, notebooks and glue sticks to be well equipped for school. The following is a list of ways you can have a positive impact on your child’s education, help him have a successful experience and make this year the best one yet.

Pray. Start praying for your child several weeks before school resumes. Pray for any specific needs or fears he has, such as attending a new school or riding the bus for the first time. Also pray for his teachers and friends. Better yet, pray with him about these issues.

If your school has a weekly prayer group, such as Moms in Touch, make the commitment to attend as frequently as possible. If you are homeschooling, block out time each day during school hours to pray with your children.

Enforce structured sleep patterns. Children perform at a higher level, both academically and physically, if they get adequate rest on a consistent basis. After not having a structured schedule for the summer, your child’s sleep patterns will need to be retrained. However, it’s best to make this process gradual.

For example, if your child has been getting up at 9:30 each morning during the summer, don’t make the mistake of waiting until school begins to wake her up at 6:30. Two weeks before school starts, set her alarm clock gradually closer to the time she’ll need to get up each day. If you ease her into an earlier wake time, she’ll be more rested when it’s time to return to the classroom, and you’ll experience less stress in the mornings.

The same principle applies for her evening routine. Begin establishing an earlier bedtime two weeks before school starts. Since it will likely still be fairly light outside, allow your child to read for 30 minutes to give her a chance to unwind before settling down for the night.

Serve nutritious meals and snacks. Your child’s growing mind and body need a variety of foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy oils should form the foundation of your child’s diet.

One of the best ways to give your child a head start for school each day is to serve a nutritious breakfast. According to the American Dietetic Association, when children skip this essential meal their brains and bodies suffer all day long. Since mornings tend to be rushed, be sure to stock your refrigerator and pantry ahead of time.

After-school snacks should be healthy as well. Ideas include an apple with peanut butter, yogurt topped with granola, whole-grain crackers with cheese or a fruit smoothie. Avoid the temptation to buy processed foods containing a lot of sugar, which give your child a quick dose of energy that doesn’t last.

Feed your children the Word. As parents, we must recognize and take advantage of teachable moments with our children. I find that my daughters, ages 7 and 5, are especially quiet and teachable when their mouths are full! For example, while they’re eating breakfast, I often share a Bible verse with them. I don’t preach a mini-sermon or anything. I simply give them a nugget of truth for the day, and then we discuss it briefly.

Another way to get the Word in your children is to have a weekly memory verse challenge. Have your child recite the verse at breakfast or dinner. Do your best to incorporate God’s Word into your family’s daily activities, and God will honor your diligent efforts to train your children in righteousness.

Get to know your child’s teacher. Most public and private schools offer a meet-and-greet time with the teacher near the end of summer vacation. Be sure to attend, as it will help your child feel more confident in returning to the classroom. It will also allow you to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. If this time conflicts with your work schedule, arrange for a grandparent or other relative to go in your place.

Continue to stay in contact with your child’s teacher throughout the year. Write notes of encouragement. Find out when to send a birthday card. Ask if there are needs you can pray about.

If you are homeschooling, then you can plan your own meet-and-greet with your child and make it a fun day. Plan a special outing with each of your children to celebrate going back to school. During this one-on-one time, talk to your child about what to expect in the upcoming year.

Have lunch dates with your child. If your schedule is flexible and your school allows it, join your child for lunch on a regular basis. My daughter always looks forward to the days I come to the school to eat with her because it makes her feel special.

If you are homeschooling, you have the freedom to get creative on this one. Take a sack lunch to the park. Have a picnic in the backyard. Make it fun!

View school as a mission field. Talk with your children about how God wants to use them at school. Impress upon them the importance of sharing Christ’s love wherever they are. For example, I challenge my daughters to keep their eyes open at school for anyone who seems sad or is playing alone at recess. Many times my girls have come home excited to let me know how they helped someone that day.

If your child knows the Lord, encourage him to tell his friends about Jesus or to invite them to church. If you are homeschooling, you can schedule missions trip activities throughout the year, such as purchasing school supplies for foster children or taking food items to a local food pantry.

Your children can look forward to a wonderful year of personal and spiritual growth as you partner with them. These seven tips are only a start. You’ll come up with other resources and tactics as the school year progresses. But keep prayer at the top of your growing list.

KRISTEN FEOLA lives in Springfield, Mo., and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast.

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