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Back to School with Purpose

Back to school means school clothes shopping, school supplies, lots of excitement and maybe a little anxiety--and I'm not just talking about the kids! Sending our kiddos back to school can be a daunting tasks for parents.

Especially significant are the worries we have for our children's hearts. Will they click with the right social group? Will they be bullied, find themselves alone at lunch or recess, will they be able to keep up with the academic standards?

I want to share with you an activity that we have done several times throughout our kids' school years. I have to admit that I can't take any credit for this idea. It was inspired from a portion of Focus on the Family's book The Spiritual Growth of Children.

In the Old Testament there were several times in which people were given a command by God to set up a sort of "memory marker' as a special way to commemorate something significant that God had done. Joshua did this after he led the Israelite people safely over the Jordan river (while it was flooding) on their way to enter the promised land. After God parted the water and the people walked safely through, they picked up stones from the middle of the river and stacked them up in a special way. Joshua 4:24 says in reference to this miraculous passing through the river, "He (God) did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord Your God". This special activity of piling the stones was done as a sort of memory maker to become both a remembrance and celebration of what God had done as well as an opportunity for those people and their children to remember and focus on God's greatness and purpose for their lives.

We have planned special times together to celebrate significant days in our kids' lives such as their baptisms and going to school for the first time. The night before our twins went to kindergarten we gave them some special gifts with special meanings. My husband and I asked God for guidance on what to say and do. For our daughter Callie we gave her the baby blankets that she and her brother were swaddled in as infants. We told her that God had given her the special gift of bringing comfort and kindness to others and that these blankets (that she would soon play with daily with her baby dolls) were a special reminder to her that she should look for opportunities to be a grace giver and friend to people at school. She should be a soft place for them to land when they are having a hard day. For our son Tyler we gave him a walking stick. We explained the story of Moses and his leadership in the Scriptures. We encouraged him to use his natural leadership abilities for God and for good things--to lead his friends in the right direction. (He ended up walking with the stick to school several days and boy did we get some looks. I mean, "Who is that five year old with the big stick?")

This year as all three of our kids entered a new school (and junior high at that!), we repeated this tradition. This year things are getting real. A lot of the prep and parenting we have done is behind us and they will be faced with some real life choices and decisions as their freedoms are significantly increasing and they are becoming mini-adults. After some time in prayer the Lord led me to three Scriptures to give them. I had Callie help me by preparing some paper with watercolors. I wrote the verses on each card and after reading the passage and explaining it to them we gave them to them to hang in their lockers.

Sending our kids off with Biblical encouragement will always bring peace to them AND to us as parents. It also gives them a purpose beyond thinking about themselves and the worries that come with the first day. And by the way, these (big kids now) started early this year at their new school and all came home with fantastic reports. I pray that yours do the same!

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