School has begun again, and with it comes a new level of challenges for your kids and you. In a Christian household, these challenges are not things to be avoided, but opportunities to practice our faith and godliness. Even more, they're opportunities to teach our child -- by words and example -- how to grow as a follower of Christ.
Consider these concrete, practical things you can do to help your family take on this new school year the Christian way.
1. Let your kids work.
It's tough for a parent to watch their child struggle with homework and school projects. But this is not a cue for Mom or Dad to just take over all the work. The purpose of these academic exercises is to help children learn for themselves -- it's why you're sending them to school!
More importantly, each child should go through the process of trying, failing, and trying again. This builds character, fortitude, and wisdom. Let your child experience the dilemmas that are designed for their age. Provide help when the going gets too tough, but don't take the process away from them.
2. Offer help carefully.
When it's time to provide help, do it as a kind of sharing instead of a rigid "Do this" rule. For example, kids interpret math in many different ways. Some do fractions by imagining visuals in their heads, others prefer to follow the textbook's step-by-step process. When you help out with such a homework, understand how your child learns best, instead of forcing them to adhere to just one approach.
This applies to teens as well. Open and patient communication is crucial when guiding them. We have some specific tips for you when parenting your teenage child, here.
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3. Be supportive of school activities.
Attending PTA meetings is only a minimum for school-age parenting. You'll want to be more supportive or even involved with your child's education. Start by talking to your child about the extra-curriculars or sports they're excited about. See if you can help them participate. If possible, you can even volunteer to help teachers out with their after-school tasks.
This is not to say you should hover around the school every chance you get. It is simply a way of showing your child that you support what they do, and also a way to get a better sense of how their education is progressing.
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4. Avoid projecting your stress to your child.
It is absolutely normal for parents to get frazzled during their child's school year. Between schedules, finances, after-school care, and the early morning grind, there is barely enough room to breathe!
If you can handle stress well, good for you! But many parents unfortunately end up projecting their negativity to their kids. Have you noticed yourself snapping quickly at your child or being annoyed with their academic needs? It may be time to take a step back, reflect with the Lord, and regain a sense of peace. To start with, read our tips on how to maintain calm Christianity amid stress.
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5. Pray together.
Praying is a powerful act for all ages. It serves not only as communication with God but also as a way of realigning ourselves towards gratitude and peace.
Pray with your little ones every day. In their prayer, guide them to remember the things and people to be thankful for, the areas in their life they should prioritize, and the God-given strength they have within them. Put in some appropriate Bible verses to help them know and appreciate the Word of God. (We also have more age-appropriate suggestions to nurture your child's Christian faith here.)
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These are only a few top tips for Christian parents with school-age kids. Do you have a school-time tip that works? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!
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Looking forward to your ideas, and have a happy school year!