It’s back to school season again! A time when most families are focused on books, clothes, and school supplies. The beginning of the school year can be a joyous time, but it can also become stressful for the student and his or her parent(s).
While working for the Cincinnati Board of Education, I talked with many teachers and principals about back to school time. The consensus among them is that patience, tolerance, and perseverance are essential for a successful start to the school year for everyone. Children learn mostly from their parents, so from a spiritual perspective, what are we teaching them?
There may be behaviors we’re showing our children that they’ll carry with them, not only for the rest of the school year, but for the rest of their lives. Let’s look at some of these spiritual principles.
PLANNING: (Luke 14:28) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills?”
Instead of waiting until the last paycheck before school begins to buy clothes and supplies, try planning ahead and buying supplies as early as possible. I understand that kids grow out of clothes fairly quickly, but waiting until the last-minute puts stress on not only you, but your children also.
PATIENCE: (2 Peter 3:9) ” The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.”
God is patient. And if God shall live in us, we must practice patients too. At the beginning of the school year, your child’s school may not have everything in order. Mistakes will probably be made, but being patient shows your child and the school staff that you understand, and are willing to help. It’s another opportunity to show what kind of parent and person you are. If you remember that the start of the school year is a challenge to all of those involved, and show patience, you’ll develop skills that you’ll benefit from all throughout the school year.
TOLERANCE: (Ephesians 4:2) “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love”
What we believe about God is crucial, but so is the manner in which we treat people. Every school year, there’s always going to be that one “difficult” teacher. But we can’t jump to defend our child based only on our perception of this teacher. Get all the facts first. We must learn to be tolerant with teachers and other parents who irritate us, and be respectful of our differences.
HONESTY: (Proverbs 19:1) “It is better to be poor and honest than be a fool and dishonest”
As parents, we need to be honest about our fears and worries. Ask your child how they’re feeling about the new school year and let them know it’s normal to feel nervous or any form of apprehension. Also, open up to them about your feelings. It will bring you closer to your child and strengthen your relationship, which will benefit you throughout the tough times during the school year. There may be so many strong emotions that we don’t know how to process. We all rationalize or can be in denial. It’s important to face your fears together because honesty relieves fears.
CONSISTENCY: (Matthew 5:37) Just say a simple, “Yes,I will” or “No, I won’t” Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.
Sometimes parents chose the easiest course of action, usually at the cost of the children. That includes volunteering or being fully committed to their child’s learning.
For instance, if we start the school year off by going over their homework with them, we should continue doing so the remainder of the year. When faced with the choice to help them with school work or do something else, we should choose to help our child, thinking of the long term effect it may have on them. Inconsistency in parents usually lead to inconsistency in their children.
As we look forward to the coming school year, let’s be mindful of how we’re acting and reacting to different situations. Our children pay close attention to our responses. If we are sensitive to the needs of our children and those aroung us, there is no need to feel overwhelmed.