Backpacks, notebooks, and number two pencils – all must-haves as your family starts back to school, but what about full hearts, confident spirits, and peaceful minds?
As you make your list for the essentials this fall, consider these three tips as part of your new school year.
- Go off-road – Even if the school assignment doesn’t call for costumes, special food, and gobs of glitter, contemplate making your time at home magical. I’m not proposing living under the stress of creating an “Instagram-worthy” moment every day, but I would encourage taking one night out the week to try something a little different. If your child is asked to do a report on the state bird, then initiate a writing break to go look for one of the winged-creatures in your neighborhood. Finding the bird isn’t the point. Having a few minutes with your child that doesn’t feel stressful is. Turning a not-so-exciting homework assignment into a 3-D experience doesn’t demand a Ph.D. or even tons of creativity. It merely requires intentionality.
Some of our daughters’ favorite elementary-age recollections involve studying the Biblical festivals of the Old Testament. To recreate the “Feast of Tabernacles,” my husband and I pushed back the living room furniture, assembled a small pop-up tent and gave the girls an a-la-Abraham style meal – complete with grapes, olives, honey, and pita bread. The whole thing cost about twenty dollars but is still one of their most treasured memories.
Traveling a little off the beaten path of their school syllabus garners not only better retention of the material, but a lifetime of reminiscing about the time mom and dad went the extra mile and ended up in places like Ancient Israel.
- Involve your children in the process – Collecting school supplies can feel like a chore for most parents, but often, picking out the perfect shoes, pens and calculator is a moment of independence for our kids. At the time, the extra thirty cents we spent on the sparkly cat folder seemed frivolous, but all these years later, we’ve never regretted it. That little splurge gave my girls a sense of their own style, personality, and ownership in the process.
We can’t say yes to everything every time, but permitting little personal touches to their lockers or a Spiderman versus a plain green three-ring-binder fosters confidence. They begin to trust that we see them as independent, unique, “worthy-of-an-opinion” beings.
This fall, be brave and a little generous when it comes to making the ordinary purchases extraordinarily personalized for your child.
- Surround them with scripture and prayer – Every autumn, the reality of new schools, new teachers and new challenges usher in all manner of anxieties for our kids. One tangible way to initiate peace and minimize worry is to post scriptures on their bedroom walls that address their greatest fears or desires. You don’t have to take a course in hand-lettering to display words of encouragement. Black and white – Times New Roman will do.
We even used to put little notes in our children’s lunch boxes to remind them mid-day that they were loved and prayed for even when we were apart. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but we tried to include verses alongside their PB&J sandwiches regularly enough to reinforce the truth that they would never be outside of God’s protective presence.
Cultivating a school year of magical moments can be easy, inexpensive, and deeply meaningful if we think outside the box, say yes to the little things and shower our children with affirmation from the Magic Maker.
Blessings and love,
Denise C. McDowell
You can find me at www.denisemcdowell.com.