By Rev. Michelle Foster
Children and Family Ministries
Everywhere I turn there is a conversation about the start of school. Some parents are jumping for joy while others are huddled together wiping tears from their eyes. Normally, I am the one jumping for joy and embracing a new routine and the discipline of schedules, family life, and homework.
This year, however, I find myself with one foot in each court. I was grateful my kindergartner is taking to school like a fish takes to water but heartbroken over the anxiety my second grader is experiencing in his new classroom with unknown routine and expectations. I have taken comfort in the wisdom of family, teachers and friends. Now, I share some of this sage advice with you.
What can we do (parents, Sunday school teachers, grandparents, etc) to make back to school a positive experience for all?
• Establish a routine for children — Routines provide structure, known expectations, and guidance for a child as they grow and develop. Routines with known expectations also reduce the frustrations of parents and children alike.
• Encourage family time for conversation, sharing and prayer — Promote school. Children need to know that school is important. Share with them your love for school and the importance of school for future endeavors. Consider recognizing students in your church that make honor roll, have perfect attendance, or excel in a particular area of school.
• Be a part of the solution — Currently, 1 in 4 Mississippi students drops out of school. Students need our help. Be a role model for a child and encourage them in their education. Offer tutoring to children who need more one on one attention in a particular subject. Provide after school care for children so that parents can work and provide adequately for their family. Educate children about the risks of drugs, alcohol and pre-marital sex.
• Support families — Parents need support and encouragement in their roles of parent, provider, teacher, nurturer, disciplinarian, etc. Develop support groups. These groups can be very focused groups around a particular topic or more general. Some of these groups may include a support group for grandparents who are parenting their grandchildren or a support group for parents with children who have physical or emotional disabilities. Offer classes for parents that focus on communication with your child, time management in the family, etc.
• Above it all and through it all – we should pray.
School can and should be a place of nurture, love and growth for all of God’s children. Every child is our child. How will you make a positive difference in the life of a child today?
Foster serves as team leader for Children and Family Ministries in Connectional Ministries for the Mississippi Conference. Contact her at 601-354-0515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.