School supplies hit the shelves of our local Wal-Mart en force a few weeks ago and it is taking ALL of my mom self-control not to delve right in and buy every Sharpie marker, Post-It pack, and notebook in every color and pattern.
At least I have a few weeks to work my way through the supply list for my kids’ school because summer doesn’t end until after Labor Day for us. Moms in other parts of the country, however, are on the final countdown to early wake-ups, packed lunches, homework and making it to the bus on time.
So, it’s time to start prepping for back to school season…for all of us really, whether our schools start in August or September…. because it can’t possibly be too early to pray for our kids, their teachers and school staff. To be honest, I’ve been praying about what teacher my kids will have since March.
It’s not just our kids we want to bless as we send them off for a day of learning outside of our homes, though. No matter what kind of school our child attends, there are teachers and leaders who impact their lives. Homeschoolers have Awana, Scouts, and church leaders. Private and public school students have a whole team of educators and administrators who impact their lives, too.
As I drove home from Open House the first year my children attended public school, God cut through my anxiety about teachers, bullies, academics, mean girls, and more to remind me:
This isn’t just for your kids. This is for you, too.
My kids are my mission-field. Their teachers and school staff are part of that ministry. They pour themselves into my children and I want to pour myself out in blessing and encouraging them right back.
Here’s what even crazy busy moms and others can do to bless our teachers and schools.
- Pray for them: While we can’t solicit prayer requests or set up prayer groups in the public schools, moms can still get on their knees for students and teachers. You don’t even have to pray alone. For two years, I’ve prayed with a local group of moms through Moms In Prayer International. We met once a week to pray for our own kids and the schools they attend. Each week, we asked God to give wisdom strength, energy, and joy to the teachers, administrators and other school staff. To find a group for your school or to learn how to start one, please visit Moms In Prayer International.
- Volunteer: This isn’t just for stay-at-home moms! There’s a great deal of flexibility for school volunteers. You could help with the school newsletter, serve on the PTA, man the prize table at a school carnival, shelve books in the school library, listen to children read, walk kids back and forth to testing or pictures on special schedule days, make copies, and more.
- Send Supplies: We all get the lengthy school supply list at the beginning of the year, but keep in mind that supplies need to be replenished over time. Many teachers and teaching assistants buy glue sticks, pencils and other supplies with their own money. Here are some supplies you could send in (depending on grade level):
- Notebook reinforcers
- Dry erase markers
- Clorox wipes
You can also periodically check with your child’s teacher to see if there’s anything he or she needs.
- Show respect: Let’s face it, when we think there’s a problem, we Mama Bears can be pretty tough. Remember that the teacher you are talking to is a person with feelings, too. Be sure to handle concerns appropriately. You’re much more likely to have success that way.
- First of all, don’t believe everything your child says. Give the teacher a chance to tell his or her side of the story, as well.
- Let your child try to handle things on her own if possible.
- Ask questions rather than making assertions and demands. Teachers are professionals who likely have valuable input. Try asking:
- How can we have more success this year?
- What do you think we can do differently at home?
- What can we change in the classroom?
- What behaviors are you noticing in the classroom that we can address?
- How can we work together to solve this problem?
- Never show up at the classroom unexpectedly to talk to a teacher and don’t try to hold an impromptu conference on Back to School Night or during Open House. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to give you their full attention or even remember later what you talk about during those busy times. Always ask for a separate conference time—maybe even over the phone—at their convenience to talk about your child.
- Don’t teach your kids to disrespect teachers by criticizing them at home in front of your children.
- Be an encouragement: If you need some ideas for teacher gifts, consider handmade presents, snacks, chocolate, gift cards to area restaurants or Starbucks, or lotion. I’ve posted my all time favorites on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/roomtobreathe3/cute-gift-ideas/The best gift, though, is a thoughtful, personal thank you note telling just what you appreciate about them as a teacher. That’s something that fits every budget and that they can cherish forever.Teachers probably hear plenty of times through the year what’s wrong. Let’s be sure we take the time to tell them what’s right and to thank them for it.
It’s more than a little scary to entrust our kids to teachers and school administrators that we don’t really know. That’s such a powerful reason to be in prayer for them and to try to make this relationship a successful one. Ultimately, we can be a blessing to teachers by keeping in mind what Paul said: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NLT).
What are your best tips on how to bless our teachers and schools?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King