It’s that time of year again – back to school. It’s time for new shoes and backpacks filled with sharpened pencils and glue sticks. Sports are starting back up and routines set the pace for the day. Some families are dreading the month of August. For others, it feels like this truly is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

For our family, back to school really means back to the basics. Summer is great with its laid back schedule and unending supply of popsicles. But we can’t live on kool-aid alone. So as our family prepares for a new school year, we try to keep a few simple things in mind as we head back into structured routines.

HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE THINGS WE DO AS WE HEAD INTO THE FALL SEMESTER –

  1. Family is always first // Before we commit to a new activity, we try to evaluate each person’s activities. We ask the question – can the entire family commit to the activity and support each other? We want to be each other’s biggest fans, so we try to make sure we aren’t too maxed out with activities. We don’t want those good ideas and new activities to become heavy burdens. We look at the overarching schedule and include family fun times, date nights for mom and dad and activities for the kids. Then we choose our commitments wisely. We try to do this altogether and, as a family, decide what things we can do and what we can’t. If everyone agrees on the schedule in the beginning, it’s easier to push through later on in the year.
  2. Devotionals are a priority // Our family devotionals aren’t fancy. We sit around the table and they look different each day. Usually we share what we’re thankful for between gulps of orange juice and bites of cereal. Sometimes we share how we can pray for each other. Other days we read certain passages from the Bible. For us, devotionals are about getting a little focused time as a family where we commit our day to the Lord before we go our separate ways. We declare that we will follow Jesus and support one another. We don’t shoot for perfection, but consistency. This helps us stay unified and reminds us who we are as a family unit.
  3. Nightly check-ins are important // This often happens around the dinner table. We share the best and worst parts of our day, or we share something that we think no one else knows yet. Sometimes check-ins happen in the car on the way to an activity. We ask questions like, “who’d you sit by at lunch?” or “Who did you play with on the playground?” We then ask what they talked about or what game they played. We also make sure to go into each kid’s room at bedtime and chat for a second, looking for an open window into their hearts where they feel safe to share. We try to prioritize this as we’re often tired, but we never regret taking those few moments to ask focused questions that give us insight into their private world.
  4. Pray together // We try to make sure we have a set time during our day to pray together for our kids. It’s not often a very long prayer time, but it’s focused solely on our kids and family. If you’re a single parent, look for a friend that will pray with you for your kids. Praying with someone else really gives us courage to believe the best and helps us trust God with our children’s lives.

No matter how you feel about the start of school, doing a few simple things to prepare will help you start off on the right foot!

By Shawn and Connie Dunn

Shawn serves with our Kids Ministry as one of our pastors. He and Connie have three kids.