When August rolls around, there are two kinds of parents: 1) those who grieve the end of summer, wondering how the weeks got away from them, and 2) those who delight in the pending promise of structure and routine. Whether you’re in the first group or the second, if you’re sending your kid to school this year, we all have one thing in common: we all want to give our kids a solid start to the new school year. Here are a few ways you can set your child up for success with a toolbox of confidence.
Visit your school before the first day
In our family, we always make a short visit to the school in the days before a new year. It puts everyone’s mind at ease when my child can walk the halls, find his new classroom, and be assured of where to put his lunchbox and his jacket before the stresses of the first day.
Take a gift to your new teacher
I believe so strongly in the intentional value of loving the ones who love my kids. We begin the new year on a high note when I can thank her in advance for what she will do with and for my child in the months to come. Show the teacher that you’re in her corner and you’re on the same team.
Prepare in advance for a first-day-of-school picture
Lay out a complete outfit the night before, so everything is ready – including shoes and socks. Pro Tip: Have your child make the sign the night before. The last thing you need on The-Morning-Of is any stress to find the paper and markers! Give yourself margin to capture those smiles with genuine joy and anticipation.
Stock up for school lunches!
For a good many years, school lunches were my demise. It wasn’t until I learned how to put them in charge of their packing, cleanup, and menu, that I began to enjoy the freedom of their independence and satisfaction. Stock up a few days in advance, and consider organizing your pantry so that one shelf is for school lunch items. Teach your child to choose something from each food group, and maybe even post a checklist of items that make a good lunch. Set them up for success, and let them delight in planning their meals.
Free some space on your calendar to make room for margin and rest
I am always shocked by how tired we all are at the end of the first week! Exhaustion is real, and the demands of the new schedule can be very taxing. Leave your first weekend open, and prepare for any emotional landmines that happen with transition. Guard your calendar and their hearts.
Create a homework station
Set up a space in your home where your child can work on homework. Include all the supplies they need, including pencils and a sharpener. Let it be a place set apart from distractions like TV or video games, but not separate from family. You can help your child to know they’re not on their own when it comes to schoolwork, that homework doesn’t mean isolation.
Celebrate with new friends
Look for ways to help your children develop the new friendships they’ve made in the classroom. You could bring popsicles to pickup and let your child be the hero with a fun snack to share. Think of inviting a friend to come home with you for an afternoon. This gives children a chance to practice hospitality, build bonds outside the classroom, and feel confident in their new relationships.
Pray together the night before school starts
A new school year is the beginning of a new journey together. Pray together, with your spouse and your child. Invite God to be present in all your concerns, and ask him to shepherd your child into this new year. Ask him to show you any gaps that need filled, to give you grace for yourself and each other in the transition, and to open your child’s mind for so much learning. Thank Him for your new teachers, and praise Him for going before your child to pave the way for all things new.
Tricia Lott Williford is a remarried widow, a writer, teacher, reader, and thinker, and the author of three books. Her newest book is You Can Do This: Seizing the Confidence God Offers. Thousands of readers join her each morning for a cup of coffee as they sign online to read today’s funny, poignant stories that capture the fleeting moments of life. She collects words, quotes, and bracelets, and she lives in Denver with her husband and two sons. You can get to know Tricia through her regular posts at tricialottwilliford.com.