Just following up on our last blog with another hands-on, practical approach for families as you prepare for coming back to school. There are so many other things we can do, than just worry about purchasing back-to-school supplies. We thought it would be a good idea to provide some great ideas we have seen, heard and read about that can help prepare yourselves and your children for the first day of school - which, by the way, is Tuesday, September 3rd - only 25 days away. (Sorry if that caused you to have a moment of panic!)
Summer is a great time to relax, enjoy family time and get out of the routines of the everyday hustle and bustle. However, waiting until the Labour Day Weekend to try and get yourselves ready and back into the school routine is pretty hard on the system. Here is a list of things to consider or try as you prepare:
- Get back into your sleep routine - We have all been there. Trying to get up earlier. Going to bed earlier. Your child’s sleep routines have been thrown off over the summer - maybe going to bed later than during the school year and sleeping in when they want to. Just switching gears will be difficult. Start working on those earlier bedtimes and earlier wake ups as you get closer to the first day back. There are some studies out there that suggest it takes about three weeks to change someone’s regular schedule.
- Shop for school supplies together - Having your children involved in this process can be fun. Have them start by creating a list of what they think they will need. Compare it to the school supply list afterwards and suggest the things they’ve missed and maybe ask for a reason for the things they added. For older students, have them look through the “Back-to-School” flyers and price out what they need. Maybe add a budget component to the task.
- Connect with friends - This may be one of the more enjoyable parts of getting back into school mode. For some students, it has been a while since they have seen some of their school friends. Maybe plan some play dates. Or, one suggestion I saw was a “Back-to-School” “End of Summer” party. This works great for connecting with other parents as well.
- Start cutting back on screen time - Not everyone has had a summer filled with camps or cottages. Some students have spent a lot of time consuming media of all sorts on screens - TV, video games, YouTube, Netflix, etc, etc. Similar to the sleep routines, if you limit your child’s use of screen time during school, you may want to begin implementing the limits gradually over the coming weeks in preparation.
- Review last year’s results / Set goals - A report card is a funny thing. I remember being so worried about my report card and, after a couple of days, all would be back to normal and we would never talk about that report card again, until the next one came out. One suggestion is to use the report card as a review of what went well and what needs work. Having a conversation and using the results to try and set some reasonable goals for the upcoming year will help to understand expectations, as well as set priorities and develop an important step towards ownership of the results.
- Get organized - The week before school starts, make sure all of your supplies are ready to go. Lunch box and new backpack? Pack everything together and add things as you pick them up. Waiting until the night before adds more stress than anyone needs.
- Make an after-school plan with your kids - Discussions beforehand about expectations or plans is always helpful going into a change of season. Making sure everyone is on the same page allows things to go smoothly. Have conversations about after-school plans, such as homework time, snacks, media time and limits. Who is taking care of lunches? Is there a specific space for homework? What about phones or Chromebook use? These are all items that should be discussed and expectations set and agreed upon, before you are back in the thick of things.
- Update/review all your contact information on PCS ParentsWeb - Be sure to head online and verify, or enter all the pertinent contact info for your family. Phone numbers, addresses, email, emergency contact information, any updated medical information and approved alternate pick-up drivers. All this information is important to making sure we start the year off right and needs to be verified as soon as possible. (See the document from the Friday Facts for instructions)
- Pray for the upcoming year - Lastly, and most importantly, take time as a family to pray for the upcoming school year. Pray for all the planning and goal setting you have put into getting ready. Pray for the teachers, the other students and their families. Pray for the presence of God and His Holy Spirit to fill the hallways of the school. When difficulties or challenges arise through the school year, pray that each student will seek wisdom and confidence through the Word and learn to stand firm on the foundation Christ has provided for us. Pray for protection over the school and that PCS will continue to impact the lives of past, present and future students and their families.
There are probably lots of other great tips you currently do or have heard from others. Feel free to share them here in the comment section, and we will possibly add them to our Facebook page as well for others to consider. We strongly believe that through preparation and organization, we can help our children to have a smooth transition back into the new school year. We also know that some things don’t always go the way we plan, but that is the journey. As staff, we are praying for all of our families as you prepare to come back. We look forward to what God has in store for us all this year.
Here is a quick prayer video for you to consider as we move closer to that first day back.
I have heard it many times over the years. Sometimes in my own house, when our children were younger. Other times in friends or families’ homes. I can even remember times where I’m sure I asked the same question to my mom during those long hazy hot days of summer vacation. “What are we going to do today?”
A simple enough question to be sure, but probably one that, after the first couple of weeks of summer vacation, starts to grate on your nerves a little. I mean, did you really agree to be the summer fun coordinator for every day? Does everyday have to be something more, or bigger, or better than the last day’s activities? When do you get a break? The unfortunate part is that, over time, if we are the ones always making the decision about what we are going to do each day, then very easily we become the social director, excursion planner or concierge for our children’s summer. Feeling like this probably leads to thoughts of, “When do they start school again?” :) (I can see and hear that Staples commercial about it “being the most wonderful time of the year!”)
One suggestion to combat this planning fatigue and expectation heaped upon only your shoulders, is to pass on a little bit of the work. Maybe call it “Summer Homework”. This “Homework” allows your children the opportunity to grow in their ability to take ownership and gain some learning experience at the same time. Here is the suggestion:
Each week allow your child to plan a day’s activities. If you have multiple children, give each of them one day of one week and spread it out over the summer. You can give them parameters such as cost, timing, and distance, but ultimately they get to plan the day. They need to work through all the details such as meals, costs, and what needs to be taken with you, but they plan it all out. If your children are younger, maybe you can help them make a choice between two options that you pre-pick, leaving as many details as possible up to them, and allow them the ability to think through why one option is better than the other. The learning comes from seeing them consider options and talking through pros and cons with you or their siblings. Give them a deadline for when the decision needs to be made by and their reasoning behind the final decision. Added learning can come from spending time afterwards discussing what they thought and evaluating their decisions. Would they have done something different?
Taking ownership and working through choices are just some of the learning skills we focus on here at PCS and our Profound Learning approach. Continuing to do this at home, during the summer, just enhances their ability to grow in these areas.
For an even more in-depth look at the process of decision making, take a look at this summer’s blog that our friend Doreen Grey, from Master’s Academy and the Profound Learning team in Calgary, AB, wrote about using a specific format to help make the decisions.
Happy planning! Love to hear about any trips your kids plan using this approach. If you are on Facebook, maybe share a couple of pictures on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PickeringCS) and use the hashtag #PCSSummer. We will draw a prize at the end of summer for any families that share their stories. God bless!
It has been worn as a badge of honour.
Being busy, keeping busy, and telling people you are really busy are all indications of a well-spent life. Or are they?
We are all aware of the phrase “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”, but does that mean we need to be panting and running around doing life? Now, to all this, add children. I can sense some grins and smirks from those parents who take their children to a plethora of activities and events, including every birthday party for every child that has been in their classes at school. Now that’s busy. But is it healthy? Is it the right thing to be doing? How can we be busy, but not be extended beyond reason? Without a plan to not be busy, we will fail.
For most of us, we usually have every minute of our 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 workday planned or designated to our schedule. For some, that may include a 12-hour shift, or just work as long as possible to get the job done. Once that clock strikes “finish time”, we drift into a realm of unplanned, unstructured, plop in front of the TV, time. Leave me alone. I’m done for the day. If you have a spouse and family, this really isn’t working for you.
My suggestion is a planning session every Sunday - God’s day to plan God’s way for the following week. Extend the day planner through the supper hour to bed time. Plan the quiet time for all, plan the family time, plan the personal time, plan the time with God. The following Sunday allows you, as a family, to reflect on how the last week went and how this new week should look. This is an amazing time to speak into your children about what is important in life.
It’s the best “homework” your child can do - planning their day so it’s balanced between work, relaxation and entertainment. The purpose of homework is to figure out how to set aside additional time after school that will occupy their life in transferable skills throughout their life. Planning does this. Time to read. Time to research an interest. Time to memorize. Time to play, not just alone but with the family. A time to share passions. A time to spend with God.
A planned life is a productive life. The Bible speaks to our nature when it says that we wander (Psa. 119:10), we drift (Heb. 2:1), and we go astray (Isa. 53:6). In our pursuit of living a life with eternal value, we must plan.
Have I used the word enough times to get my point across?
Why not use this summer to begin a family routine that will instill life values and redeem the short time we have on earth.
Survival is a desire in all of us.
The TV series that is going into its 40th season of pitting individuals against each other is a phenomenon that excites the viewers to peer into people’s lives and watch them trying not to be voted off the island. I am intrigued by it. What does it take to win?
As a parent you might sometimes feel you are trying to survive not just in the world but in your home. What a tragedy it is to think that raising children is something to “survive” and endure. The intentionality of the child rearing days are the backbone of the family unit. These young lives are a gift and as such are not to just be tolerated for a season but rather we should see it as joining God in the redemptive work of salvation. We are partners in this glorious activity and as such our attitude should reflect it.
Then life hits.
The whole realm of child behaviour and time-consuming effort starts to exhaust us and the joy of this labor is somewhat tainted.
Maybe it’s time we regroup, rethink, refuel and refocus our energies into being the Godly parents the Bible calls us to be. Summer is soon upon us and it will offer a bit more time to relax and possibly allow some books to move from the shelf to our lap where we can have some fresh insight into our roles as parents.
One such book I would highly recommend is Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp. Targeted to teenagers but practical advice for all ages. One of my favourite authors in the area of parenting, this book is a wealth of practical, biblical advice on helping parents to be encouraged and equipped to do their job joyfully. Sound impossible? Pick up a copy and give it your summer time to bring back the purpose and passion of your parenting. You will be changed and your children will thank you.
If you are more into digital/video series, through our partnership with RightNow Media you can also access a couple of other resources.
Another resource from Paul Tripp in book/video series called Parenting - https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/303205