Summer is ending and another school year approaches. Here are some tips and ideas for preparing your family for the transition into a new school year. (Please respond/comment with things that YOU keep in mind when you're getting your family ready for a new school year!)
1- Sometime on the last week of summer...get a few sheets of poster board or a long sheet of butcher paper. Give your family members some markers on a spread out space on the floor. Have everyone start writing down their favorite moments of the summer or things that they are thankful for. Write as many as possible and encourge creativity/designs/doodling etc. Take a few moments to thank each member of your family for some of the positive ways they contributed to the family having some good memories this summer. Take time to thank Jesus for the things on the list. Ask Jesus to bless this next school year and to help your family find the many reasons to be thankful in the fall. (Consider repeating this activity after the first week of school.)
2- As a family, go to the school property before the school year starts. Walk around the outside of the school. Ask your teen/pre-teen how they feel about school. Tell your teen/pre-teen how you honestly feel about them going to school. (Consider even telling them worries or fears you have.) With your eyes open, as you continue walking around the school, have everyone in your family start saying (aloud) things that they know are true about God. (i.e. God created people. He created the classmates I'll have. (Genesis 1-2) God leads his people. (Jeremiah 29:11) He has chosen the exact places where I live and go to school. (Psalm 139:16) God is everywhere. (Psalm 139:7-12) God leads me to even places that are difficult...but he will be with me. (Psalm 23:4) Etc. At the end of your time on the school property, give your teen/pre-teen a hug. Tell them that you love them and are proud of them. Put your hands on their shoulders and pray that God would bless them and help them and that he would open their eyes to see that God is with them every day wherever they go. (Afterwards...consider taking your family out for ice cream)
3- For an entire week before school starts, and for an entire week after school starts...spend an extra 5-15 minutes a day in a quiet space by yourself. Pray for your teen/pre-teen. Tell God what you feel (even the anxious things you feel). Tell God what you wish for your child(ren). Ask God to share with you what He feels about this new school year. Pray for your child(ren), for their classmates, teachers and administrators.
4- Plan 1 or two out-of-the-norm, special things that you can do with your family to commemorate the end of the summer. (i.e. go to Longwood Gardens. Go have ice cream on the beach at the shore. Take a walk on the trails at the park on Elmer Road in Vineland, NJ. Take a long bike ride. Have a game night together. Make cookies together and share some with your neighbors. Take silly photos at random places around town.)
5- Sometimes the school schedule (including super-early wake up times) can hit you like a brick after a summer of relaxed routines. A week or two ahead of time, start setting target times for bedtimes and wake up times. Help the family ease into the fall schedule.
6- Sit down with your family and write out schedule of what a typical fall week will look like for your family. Have everyone contribute ideas. When will you try to get homework done? When will chores get done? When will you set aside time to just have fun as a family? When will you prioritize having uninterrupted meals together? What evening will be device-free/social-media free night? What is one thing a month you can do to reach out to some neighbors or friends? Refer back to this schedule/list throughout the fall.