Atlantic Caribbean Union

Are You Ready For School?

By Lynn C. Smith
Education Director,
Turks & Caicos Islands Mission

September is right around the corner. The shoes and socks are purchased. The new backpack is hanging in the closet. Notebooks and pencils are lying on the table. And the uniforms are clean and ready to be worn. Everything seems to be ready for the opening of school. The kids are excited and ready; but parents are you mentally ready for another school year?
Whether you are willing to admit it or not, parents need to be just as ready for a new school year as the children. You’ve enjoyed the lazy days of summer – no homework to check, no bed times to enforce, no lunches to prepare before heading out the door. No need to stress yourself out, parents. A little organization and forward planning can alleviate much of the stressful days of school.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for the new school year:

• Make sure your children get enough sleep. Children who do not get enough sleep are difficult to wake up in the mornings and do not concentrate well in school. While on vacation in the Unites States of America last week, I was picking up a few items in a popular department store late one evening. I was amazed to see how many small children were shopping with their parents at that hour of the night – and schools have already opened in the US. Children need between 10 – 12 hours of sleep per night. Begin putting your children to bed a ½ hr. earlier each night during the week before school opens to ease them back into their regular bedtime schedule.

• Children need a healthy breakfast. Many studies have been done which prove that breakfast is essential for school children. A good breakfast helps in knowledge retention, test scores, and overall learning. This is not an easy tip for most mothers, because it means getting up earlier to fix breakfast. But it is worth it knowing that your children will be able to concentrate on their lessons and not on their stomachs growling. Sweet cereals and donuts are not considered a healthy breakfast. Children need protein and calcium that you find in eggs, meat, and toast, or oatmeal, muffins, and juice or milk.

• Help your children develop good work and study habits. Children who develop good study habits are the ones who sail through school without major problems. Help them plan after-school time doing constructive tasks (such as washing the dishes, tidying their rooms, or getting started with homework) that they will be held accountable for. Reward them with small treats when they complete these tasks.

• Turn off the TV. This is a controversial subject, but I firmly believe that TV viewing should be limited or eliminated during school times. Homework and studying should be priority on school nights. Children tend to rush through their work when they are anxious to watch a TV show. Besides, there are very few shows which are appropriate for school-age children to watch at night time.

• Teach your children to follow rules. Schools cannot operate without rules. Society cannot operate without rules. A part of a child’s training is to learn how to follow rules. Your child must first obey you then he/she will find it easy to obey teachers and other adults in their lives. Your child must know that you have a “no tolerance” philosophy regarding disobedience. I observe in amazement when parents call their children 3 or more times before they answer or respond. Children should be taught to respond immediately when an adult speaks to them.

• Get to know your child’s teacher. Again, studies have shown that children do better in school when their parents get involved in the school and its activities. Each year your child gets a new teacher. Introduce yourself to his teacher early in the year and let the teacher know you want to be kept abreast of your child’s progress. Teachers embrace this opportunity to know their parents and will gladly share information with you, whether good or bad.

September is back to school, not just for kids but for parents too. Use this opportunity not only to be physically and mentally ready for the reopening of school, but to be spiritually ready to place your children under the Spirit’s protection every day. Pray for your children every day that they will be protected from evil influences and surrounded daily by heavenly angels.