Kid Talk Tuesday: Preparing for the new school year

Today’s post is by publishing coordinator Linda MacKillop.

Recently we were eating dinner with one of our grown sons in the city where he now lives, we got into a conversation about his former school days and lunch boxes and school lunches. I apologetically mentioned how I thought my same old, same old PB&J sandwiches must’ve bored my sons to death during their youth, having to eat the same thing most days, year after year. But he responded, “I always loved my lunches. I was excited to open them every day.”

As in so many of the experiences we shared as parent and child, he viewed the moment differently than I did. He felt the boring brown paper bag held surprise contents, while I filled the sack up each morning perfunctorily, throwing in whatever I had on hand, trying to include some healthy items, and from time to time, slipping in a surprise note to say I was praying for him, or that his was loved.

It just shows that routines provide meaning and comfort to our kids, even while we feel they need novelty. We don’t have to Pinterest ourselves to death to impress them and keep them happy. A bag lunch with some unsurprising items often does the trick. Forget always wearing ourselves out or twisting ourselves (and our schedules!) into pretzels to make them feel remembered and loved.

Now that summer is waning, you are beginning to prepare your own kids to go back to school with new clothes, lunch boxes, and fresh school supplies. And you’re probably wondering what will be in store for them. New friends? Academic success or challenge? Bullies? A discovered talent? Most young people experience a combination of the good and the bad, and it’s always best to prepare them for both.  Think back to your own school years and remember the terror involved with wearing the wrong outfit, forgetting your locker combination, or feeling left out at lunch when you had to sit alone.

Since you can’t prevent these moments for you kids, at least you can provide some buffers from the home-front to help them manage the good and bad days. Creating some predictable routines provides a sense of safety and stability in the school environment. Sometimes those stable routines, like same-old, same-old lunches, will go a long way to make our kids bask and rest in a touch of home in the middle of their day.

And home routines will add to the safeguarding. Scheduling set times for reading and prayer bring a sense of quiet to an otherwise hectic school schedule. Reading time is a simple way to grow and nurture your kids. Whether they read alone in their rooms, or together with family, whether they read for fun, to complete homework, or read Scripture or devotionals, internalizing life-giving words full of wisdom and direction will help guide them on the bumpy road to adulthood. And modeling reading to your children will show them your own commitment to books.

Of course prayer goes a long way in protecting our young ones, too. Cover them in prayer as they leave for the day, go down for the night, eat at your table, or share a recent heartache with you. Model taking both big and small things to the Father right away. The prayer won’t always prevent the challenges, but you are inviting God into their lives to equip them to handle the rough spots and remember Him when the hard times arrive—and they will arrive. Sometimes prayers even transform the hard stuff, making it work in their favor to build character and turn them to God. We saw this over and over as parents.

And a PB&J sandwich apparently doesn’t hurt either.