The beginning of a new school year is filled with the energy, excitement and enthusiasm which is a delight to experience. The mystique of the new school year and opportunities for success produce a certain aura. With the fresh start comes responsibility which is not always realized in the excitement of the new beginning. As I look back over my shoulder and the many years of starting a new school year I would like to share some of those experiences.
Creating the proper atmosphere rather than concentrating on structure, will be most important as you make a conscious effort to return to the routine of school. Special effort to praise and to provide positive reinforcement for a job well done can create a sense of pride in accomplishments which, as a child matures, takes a place in the psyche which equals or even surpasses that of a fun event.
The Parent: The child’s first and most important teacher.
When our society was grounded in Judeo-Christian principles your child (student) was taught Biblical principles in school and he/she could easily see those principles lived out in the community. This is no longer true and a ‘war for the mind of your child is raging” This is especially true in the area of mass media, social media and in general, throughout the market place. More so than ever the parent has a special responsibility to off-set this ‘war’ by following the mandate given to us in the scripture.
And these words I command to you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:6
Condemning the evils of the Internet and social media will not help. Suggesting that your child unplug is wrong and unrealistic. It becomes our responsibility as parents to provide our children with biblical and practical ideas on how to use technology and the changing morals in a Christ-honoring fashion . We should prayerfully strive to teach them to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” including thoughts and practices related to the use of social media.
Early Morning and Travel Time:
A stress-free morning before school is essential. If you provide transportation for you child, arrive at school a minimum of five minutes before classes begin with the proper materials and equipment for the day. Make the ride to school pleasant sharing thoughts of positiveness and well being. It is most important that you as the parent say good-bye to your child(ren) in a pleasant, warm and caring way. Be sure the climate is not harsh. Flowers cannot grow in a harsh environment.
If there is one thing I could recommend for “bonding” of parents and children it would be the evening meal. Make it happen. Discuss the day, talk of books that are being read, what happened at school today. I really like what one family does by placing a large bowl in the middle of the table. The bowl is filled with ‘situations’ that occur in every day life. Each child, parents too, if you so desire, takes a slip and reads the situation. Example: “you are at a party and your friends decide to leave to get some alcohol and ask you to go, what do you do.” Obviously you make the situations age appropriate. The purpose is to create real life situations to intellectually rehearse before your child is placed in the situation. Parents this is a golden opportunity to integrate biblical truth in your child’s every day life.
The end of a day, story time, talk time, prayer time. Mom and Dad please take this time with your child to recount the blessings and to place issues aside by conflict analysis or giving it to God.
Two Biblical principles we need to reinforce with today’s young people: Have your children memorize the following verses.
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” Prov 22:1
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Cor. 15:33
Technology has created a entire set of issues that heretofore were not present. As parents you need to establish clear expectations. The difficulty will be as parents you probably have never confronted some of the issues, temptations and situations your child will. It is for this reason you need to communicate clear guidelines:
General Principles to Teach Your Children:
- Don’t ignore real people and those with you.
- Do not text, email, chat, record, or do anything else through social media you would not do in person or you would not say in front of your parents.
- Don’t gossip about others online
- It is the parent’s device it is on loan to the child
- You will always inspect the device(s). It is a parent’s responsibility
- You will always know the password for every device and Internet site and service
- All devices will be left on the table at night. Don’t leave them in your child’s room at night.
- Limit time on all devices.
- If the device is lost or damaged your child shall pay or work to replace it.
Tips for Parents:
- Be a parent-let your child know who the parent in the home is. Life is not a debate.
- Set clear standards
- Be a good example
- Control connected friends just like physical friends
As you and your family attempt to return to normal, to get back into the pattern of family life during the school year, these first weeks are critical in establishing patterns of positive behavior. Remember you are your child’s first and most important teacher.