It’s coming. Supply lists abound. Backpacks are ready. New shoes are bought. A brand-new school year is upon us. What effect does this have on the children in your home? Are they excited? Anxious? Filled with dread?
When I speak on education, I often find myself in conversation with parents who are struggling with the fact that their children hate school. As they come to me with questions and concerns, there is a hopelessness about it all that plagues them. They feel stuck in a place where “hating school” is the norm. But is it?
Does it have to be? Proverbs 1:7 says," The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." How can we move our children to value wisdom and instruction?
Teaching kids to love school can reduce stress and lead them to a lifestyle that offers more opportunities for success. So much of what our children think and feel comes directly from what we say and show them. So how can we, as parents, foster a love of learning and a love for school this year? Here are a few ideas:
Pray together, as a family, for those who teach your children. Pray for the students in the class, for the material that will be taught, for anything and everything that your children relate to school. Help your children to see that school is something we can entrust to God.
Be careful about the messages you send about school. If there is a hint of negativity in your tone or words, this can be magnified in the mind of your child. Speak positively. Talk about school as a privilege. Share your excitement about the amazing lessons your child will learn this year. School is not something to be endured. It is something to be celebrated and embraced. You can help your children to see school in a more positive light by being more positive yourself.
Familiarize yourself with what is happening at school--what lessons are being taught, what units are being explored. Incorporate these topics at home, at the dinner table, in conversation. Encourage your child to use what they are learning, to remember the information, and to share it with the family. School is meant to impact our lives. It is meant to deepen our understanding of the world around us. Make this connection clear to your children by connecting home to school.
Having been an educator, I remember how quickly parents can send a note of complaint. These notes are important but so are notes of encouragement. When your child comes home excited about something that happened, send a quick email to let the teacher know. Building your relationship with your child’s teacher can help your children to see that you are working together to build a successful year.
Handle problems quickly and with grace. Maybe your child’s school is not the positive place you had hoped it would be. Get involved. Volunteer, when possible. Communicate to those who need to hear your concerns. No school situation is beyond hope. Never underestimate the impact your voice and your time can make in an educational setting.
Help your children to understand that their teacher can be an ally. Treating teachers with respect and showing effort in daily work can assist in building a good rapport. Teach your children the importance of good eye contact, the positive impact smiling can have and the value of speaking respectfully to others. Teachers love to see the faces of children who are engaged during their teaching times, and children who are engaged retain more of what is being taught.
Learning to love school is an important lesson for every child. As with all things in their young lives, we have the ability to impact how our children perceive the year ahead. We can help to build their enthusiasm for learning, their approach to class time and their attitude toward the year ahead. If we can help them to see the wonder of it all, they can find greater success and greater joy in school this year.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster