It's hard to believe that back-to-school time is just around the corner again! If you're like me, that thought is met with mixed emotions. I love the routine and predictability the school year brings, but I also love the time-is-ours aspect of the lazy days of summer. Ever since our kids have started school, I've been working and tweaking to find ways to get ready more efficiently, and to make the transition as smooth as possible. Not only do we want the school year to be a time of academic growth, but we want to make sure we are redeeming the times and using life itself as a classroom for learning service, love, and responsibility. To that end, I've come up with an Action Plan for Encouragement - both for my own family as well as their teachers and the staff at their school. These few basic steps can make a huge difference in the tone and atmosphere of the school year.
1. Pray. Pray for your children as they prepare to start the new year of studies; and pray with them for this new year, too! Pray for your children's teachers by name. Pray for health, wisdom, energy and protection. Pray for their classmates, for good friendships, for the classroom dynamic and emotional atmosphere. Pray for the school staff and administration. Do this if you homeschool, too! Pray for yourself, for friends in your homeschool co-op, for the creators of your curricula. Pray for yourself and your spouse that you would be the parents you need to be, and that you would be instruments of encouragement in your school, community and workplace.
2. Make a plan for encouraging your teacher. Teachers have a tough, tough job, y'all. They are expected to do it all and then some...kinda like moms, eh? Get to know your teacher, what he/she likes, so you can better encourage them during the year. Decide how often you want to encourage them - verbally, tangibly, etc - and in what ways. Will you send little notes once a month? A yummy treat every other week? Make use of this free printable to help get to know your child's teacher better! Then, let your kids get in on the action! Let them draw a picture on the front of the card, or help you bake that banana bread you're so famous for. For older kids, have them keep a running list of things they love about their teacher and/or that their teacher has really helped them with and include those things in your notes/cards.
3. Make a plan for encouraging your staff/administration. As a family we decided to try to do something to bless and encourage the entire staff about twice a month. We've placed yummy home-baked goodies in their staff room, we've written notes and sent cards. We always thank them for the job they do, and offer to help in anyway needed. Decide what works for you family, and make a plan to bless all the staff at the school, not just your child's teacher. You could place fresh flowers in the staff room, bake fresh cookies, or even make a large thank-you card or poster and place it in the school office. You could even circulate a prayer-request sheet once a term.
4. Get Involved. We all have crazy busy schedules, but make it a priority to get involved with your child's school. Serve on the parent-teacher committee, volunteer in your child's classroom, be extra hands on field trips. Let your teacher and administration know at the beginning of the year that you are willing and able to help out, and let them know how. Maybe you can't be at the all day school fair, but could you fill paper bags for the grab bags? Or type up a newsletter? You'd be surprised at the myriad of ways you can get involved - and how much you are needed!
If you homeschool, please don't discount these tips! Tweak them to fit your schooling style! Instead of planning to regularly encourage your child's teacher and staff, perhaps plan to regularly encourage the staff and Sunday School teachers at your church. Is there a senior care center or hospital nearby? How about the local fire or police station? You can regularly visit, send cards and make treats for the workers there to encourage them! The greatest part about making a point to bless others, is that you in turn are blessed in the process. The point here is to not only love on someone else in the name of Jesus, but to teach our kiddos to be generous with our praise and encouragement for those who work so tirelessly to serve and help.
Do you have a plan for encouraging those around you who serve? What do you do to encourage your teachers?
Blessings, Jen Deibel