Starting School

school girl with booksIt’s countdown time.  We start school in less than a week.  My plan (and yes, I always have a plan) is to move the boys’ wake-up time 5 minutes earlier each day between now and the first day of school.  I’m preparing their bodies (and mine) to face the day refreshed and ready.

Another conversation I’ve started having with my soon-to-be 2nd grader is all about expectations, behavior choices and routines.  If you have children returning to school, or going for the first time, I think it is really important to talk through all the changes that are coming.  When I was a teacher I could tell within the first three days who was ready for school to be a part of their life and who was still on summer break. 

Some quick tips for making the transition smooth:

1.  Move bedtime earlier, but do it little by little and give them a reason for the change or institution of routine.  If your children’s ages require different bedtimes, start talking about the difference in bedtimes now to save you from the whining later.  Move their wake-up time ealier too.  Be strong – but not mean – and do this thing! :o)

2. If you don’t wake up before your kids, start doing so.  There is something very calming to a child to know that their mom was already up and prepared.  They can simply join your stride and face the day feeling supported.  It’s as though someone was anticipating their arrival and is ready to help them get things started.

3.  Ask open-ended questions.  Let them talk things through and if they reply with “nothing” or “I don’t know” – let it go!  Don’t force this, just stay calm and answer with “interesting – well, if you think of something later I’ll be excited to hear it”.  Here are just a few examples of some open-ended/discussion-based questions that can be asked one-on-one or at the dinner table: (P.S. if you have some really good, embarrassing stories to share with your older students about yourself they will love to hear them – it makes you seem less perfect and helps them feel normal)

*   I wonder if you will have any new kids in your class.  What are some things you could do to help the new student feel accepted and cared for?

*  Where in the house would you like to put your backpack and homework?  I know you want everything prepared the night before so we aren’t running around in the morning.

*  Are you going to pick out your clothes this year or would you like my help?

*  What time do you think you’ll need to wake up in order to be dressed, fed and ready to walk out the door?  Do you want me to wake you or are you going to use an alarm clock?

*  What things can you say and do to help your teacher and your classmates without seeming bossy or fake?

*  We have been playing outside a lot this summer, but soon you’ll be inside most of the day.  Can you show me the difference between your inside and outside voices?

Most importantly I hope I can help my students feel a sense of excited anticipation toward the coming year and all the possibilities awaiting them.  I’m going to miss those boys and our summer schedule, but I’m actually excited to see what God has in store for my kids.

Isaiah 43:18-19 talks about what God has planned.  I love the way “The Message” translates some of the Old Testament verses.  Here are the words from the prophet Isaiah:

Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?

So let’s forget about what last year was like.  This is a new day!  Let’s be alert and presnt – missing nothing!  Burst forth with joy and embrace the coming school year – it’s going to be so exciting!  It will have it’s ups and downs like all years do, but I choose to see the big picture and I hope our children see that confidence, peace and hope in us.  Good luck on that first day – I’m praying for you and your children!

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