Tuesday, September 1, 2015

8 Back-to-School Basics for Parents, Students, Teachers, and Families Plus One Prayer to Get Started on the Right Foot

Prints of Grace © Trisha Niermeyer Potter
1. Be gentle with yourself and others.  A new school year means you will be meeting lots of new people, getting to know others better, finding out about new rules, new ways of fitting in and being involved.  Change can be exciting and fun, but it can also be stressful and tiring.  Try to be gentle with yourself and others during this time of transition.  Most people are feeling a bit frazzled and trying to get into a new groove.  Do your best to be patient as everyone figures things out. 

2. Get organized.  Make a space for school papers, homework, assignments to be graded, etc. that has easily accessible office supplies, reference books, so once the year gets in swing, there’s somewhere to place every blessed thing that’s sent home or to go out.  Have something to put recycling in, even just a paper grocery bag, and put  fliers and things that you don’t want or need in there right away.

3. Keep a calendar.  It can be difficult trying to keep up with people’s school, work, sports, ministry, and such schedules, so if you have a big calendar where everyone can write on it what they’ve got going on and what’s coming up, then it will be easier for you to know what the week looks like for you and your family. 

4. Establish routines to cut down on chaos and stress.  The greater number of things you and those for whom you are responsible have to remember and do, the more vital it is to have a set order in which to do things. 

5. Say No when you need to.  A slew of sign-up sheets will be going around.  It’s great to be involved at work, school, church, etc., but it’s also important to have some down time as a family and to yourself.  Pick and choose wisely, so each week doesn’t begin with a heavy sigh and a sincere “what the heck was I thinking?!”

6. Look forward to learning. Many of the most surprising and best life lessons come to us when we aren’t expecting them.  We can be open to learning from people in all areas of our lives.  Find mentors who are strong in areas in which you'd like to grow. 

7. Welcome the new kids on the block.  Whether there are new families, new teachers, or new students, it is always a wonderful gesture to welcome them.  Our family moved so many times when I was growing up that I felt like the perpetual new kid on the block.  Reach out to teachers alone in the break room or kids alone at lunch or on the playground.  It could make your day, their month, and lead to a lasting friendship.

8. Have Fun. This is a new beginning.  Consider adding some music, dancing, laughter to the mix, so the long list of assignments and activities doesn’t become a boring burden keeping you busy until you can finally go back to bed.  Playing, unwinding, and relaxing ought to be on the menu, too.

My Prayer for this New Beginning: Lord, thank You for the gift of another school year to learn, teach, grow, expand our minds and our hearts to include more of Your love, compassion, joy, peace, hope, and Truth.  Guide us to be gentle with ourselves and others during this time of transition.  Plant Your will in our hearts and make it our deepest desire and most fervent longing. Amen.
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