“Thus we may say with confidence, ‘God is my Helper and I will not be afraid; what can mere humans do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6 (The Inclusive Bible)
Many of us are getting ready to send our little ones back to school. Some of us have already sent them back, especially those who live in southern states. The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio do little to ease our minds and calm our fears as we prepare for the new school year. We know that these shootings can happen anywhere, even elementary schools. Sandy Hook is still very much in our recent memories. So, other than hiding and homeschooling, what can we do to get ourselves and our children ready for the new year and ease our minds in the process? Here are five tips from a seasoned mom.
Meet with the school principal and your child’s teacher.
When I moved to a new school district, the first thing I did was reach out to the principal to schedule a meeting. I believe everything starts with leadership. Any institution is a reflection of the head. It was important for me to get to know the principal and his priorities for students. I also wanted him to know me, my children and let him know my objectives for their education. I also shared my safety concerns and my desire for diversity on the staff and in the curriculum. He was very receptive, and I now communicate with him regularly. Get to know your school’s principal and leadership. Let them know you are fully engaged in your child’s education and are concerned about their overall experience in school.
Learn the school’s emergency plans and go over them with your child.
Sadly, elementary school children have to go through “active shooter” drills. Talk to your children about these drills. Help them understand the purpose of them and what can happen. I know some of us have Kindergarteners and First graders; however, this is something we must do unfortunately. You can enlist the help of a child psychologist to help young children understand these realities. You don’t have to do it alone.
Reinsure your child that the school and you are doing your best to keep them safe. My children’s school have locked doors, cameras, and visitors must be buzzed in before entering the school. There are also weather emergencies. My children’s school had two tornado warnings last year, both at dismissal. I had to follow the emergency contingency plan. Learning your child’s school plan and going over it with them will help you feel better prepared for what can happen.
Sign up to volunteer at the school.
Many schools need parents to volunteer to monitor lunchtime and recess. Some will also let parents volunteer for field trips and in the classroom. You can set aside one day a month to volunteer in your child’s school. This will allow you to get to know the teachers, administration and children. It will also communicate to them that you are a concerned parent and ready to help. Your concerns will be taken more seriously, and you will have an inside look into the school’s needs and what they can do to improve.
Equip your child. Teach him/her the Fruit of the Spirit.
Many parents, including myself, are concerned with bullying. This should be going on every day, but teach your child to be compassionate and caring. Teach them to stand up for those who are left out and on the margins. Teach them to be peacemakers. Many of our children would have better experiences in school, if other children were taught the value of people.
Trust God. Put everything in His hands.
Yes, there are many things we can do practically to educate, advocate for and protect our children. However, ultimately, we have to trust God. Nothing is in our control. We can’t live our lives behind locked doors and in fear. Many of us don’t have any other options besides public schools, so we have to pray and put it all in God’s hands. Put your life, your children, the outcomes, your future, everything in God’s hands. We have to know that no matter what, we will be OK because we are in God’s hands. Once we do everything we can practically, and we pray about it and do what we can spiritually – praying over, anointing, equipping, speaking the Word – for our children, we have to leave the rest to God. We have a good Heavenly Father who cares about us and our children. He wants to ease our minds and relieve us of burdens. Cast all of your cares for the new school year on Him. Everything will be OK.
If you need prayer for the new school year, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can connect.