Ready to go back to school?
As the school year quickly approaches, I find myself going over endless mental checklists. Do I have the right math workbook for the 6 year old? Does my 6 year old remember the math facts we learned last year? What about my middle school child? Will they be able to stand against the pressures of their peer group? What about gym shoes? Does everyone have clothes that fit?
The list goes on and on, yet in the midst of all the planning and schedule, there are a handful of key things I feel sometimes get overlooked when we start to plan our school years. Really important things – things that can “make it or break it” for our kids.
- It’s not just about academics – We go through so much turmoil trying to figure out the proper academic course for our kids. But fast forward twenty years from now, and let’s say your son is married, has 2 children, and a dog. His marriage hits the rocks. You know, the fact that he aced chemistry is not going to be what saves his marriage. What is going to save the marriage are the principles you taught him about conflict resolution in relationships. It is going to be all the character building you poured into him that is going to help him the most right now.1 Is that to say academics are not important – no, not at all. But we need to remember that character training principles are just as important as the strictly academic stuff, and we need to make room for character training in our curriculum.
- New year, new peer influences – With a new year comes the opportunity for new friends. Mom and Dad, do your part to check out the new friends. Give opportunity for the new friends to hang out with your family. Make your house the place to hang out. Do what you can to check out the new friend’s family, too. The friend may be a perfectly great kid, but what does the friend’s brother get into on the computer while your child is at their house? And parents, don’t be afraid to say no to things like slumber parties or other activities that make you feel uncomfortable, especially if you haven’t had a chance to get to know the new friend better. And if you have to say no to a certain activity, give opportunity for an alternative that can be done under your supervision.
- Practice your faith at home – your family’s faith is what is going to ground your child. Whether your children go to public school, private school, or are homeschooled, they are going to need some grounding. There are so many influences poised to derail our children’s faith. The things you do as a family to regularly spend time with God and show a living, dynamic relationship with Him are going to help your children realize that not everything they see out in the culture is true. If nothing else, pray for your kids before they climb onto the school bus or head out the door to their violin lesson.
- Have a plan – Raising our kids to be pure in the midst of our culture is going to take some proactive planning. Your approach needs to be age-appropriate and intentional. This is the reason I wrote Against the Tide, a curriculum guide for parents that gives you a grade-by-grade approach to training your children in godly sexuality, Christ-like character, and healthy relationships. My team and I spend a lot of time reviewing the latest and greatest resources that come out on the subjects of sex education, character development, and parenting. Our very top recommendations make it into our curriculum guide, which we update every year. Check it out here.
May the Lord bless you as you prepare for the upcoming school year. Remember to pray and commit the time to Him – He certainly knows what our kids need better than we do!
1. This is a paraphrase of a concept I wrote about in my book, Guardians of Purity.