9 Ways Christian Parents Can Support Their Kids in School

Schools start their year in a couple of weeks here. Whether your kids go to public or private school or you homeschool, they will be much more successful and happier if they feel supported by you throughout the year.

You don’t want to do their homework for them (Trust me. Teachers can tell whether their kindergarten student or his architect dad completed the city model project!), but what are some ways you can truly support your children in their educational journey?

  1. Pray for your children, their friends, teachers, administrators, etc. Remind your kids daily that you are praying for them while they are in school. If you carpool, pray over them in the car as you drop them off (with driver’s eyes open of course!). When checking in about their day, remind them you have been praying about any specific need and ask how they believe God is answering that prayer (remember “wait” and “no” are answers from God, too).
  2. Listen. When your kids want to talk about their day or something in their lives, drop everything and fully engage. Use active listening techniques – like nodding and asking clarifying questions. If your kids don’t feel like they can talk to you, they will turn to whomever will listen to them – and that doesn’t always end well.
  3. Point out God. Sometimes you can do this by pointing out how you see God working in a situation. At other times, you may use God’s Words in scripture to remind them of things God wants them to know and how it applies to that real life incident.
  4. Get to know their friends. There is nothing more annoying to a young person than telling a story about friends and continually being interrupted by a parent asking them to explain who the various friends are. If you have trouble keeping it straight, make yourself a cheat sheet you can refer to if necessary. Don’t stop there though. Be the house where there is always food and fun. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Or be the one who drives the group places. You will really get to know their friends as you spend time with them. Then you can help them navigate tricky relationships and be supportive of their friends as well.
  5. Respect their teachers. I know there are teachers your children may have who are less than ideal. It’s okay to advocate for your child, but you can do it respectfully. Go through the proper channels, in the proper order. Don’t email the principal before you have spoken to the teacher about the problem. Avoid yelling, cursing and name calling. As my grandmother used to say, “You catch more flies with homey than with vinegar.” More importantly, you are modeling Romans 13:1-7 for your children. (I know it doesn’t directly address school teachers and principals, but I think the underlying principle applies.)
  6. Make sure they get lots of sleep, exercise and healthy foods. Behavior issues, lack of stamina, poor moods, etc. can often be improved or eliminated with proper rest, exercise and diet. All kids through age 18 can benefit from 9-12 hours of sleep a day. In fact, teens need more sleep than children do in many cases. A quick run around the yard can actually make it easier for them to sit down and do their homework. (Just be sure to agree upon a set amount of time for outdoor play before they start.) Don’t forget that heavily processed foods will make them sluggish and can create immunity issues from a lack of vitamins and minerals.
  7. Have breakfast and dinner together as a family. One country has an amazingly high score on tests of both childhood happiness and kids having similar beliefs as their parents when they become adults. They credit it to mandatory family breakfasts and dinners. They won’t even invite others to join them for those meals. You don’t necessarily have to go that far, but studies have shown spending time eating meals as a family and talking about everything while eating improves outcomes for children and teens in multiple areas.
  8. Know their rights as Christians. Public school students have more rights to discuss and write about their faith than most teachers and administrators know. At the beginning of every school year, various groups like Focus on the Family publish an updated list of student rights that apply regardless of the school system. They also alert you to ones that may vary from school to school. Familiarize yourself with their rights and educate your children so they can respectfully advocate for themselves. If there have been issues in the past, take time to role play ways of handling similar situations.
  9. Celebrate victories! No, as an educator, I don’t feel there is much long term value in bribing children and teens to do well in school. I do believe that school can feel very overwhelming at times. Any victory – whether it’s good grades or getting some sort of award – should be celebrated. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. The point is to acknowledge the victory in a way the child can hear.

All of these tips require you to be engaged with your children and their school life. They don’t need you to micromanage them or swoop in like a mother hawk to attack and “fix” things. They do desperately need to feel your love and support. That’s what will make them truly resilient in school.

Prayer Tips for the Anxious Child

As a Christian parent, you know prayer can calm jangled nerves, because you have experienced it yourself. Part of that calming though is because you have experienced years of God answering prayers and have developed a trust that God will do what is best for you – even if it means saying “no”. While your children’s faith is strong in its own way, it may struggle from lack of experience when times are really tough.

You may have had a conversation when your child expresses anxiety about something. Perhaps you counseled your child to “pray about it”, and your child responded he/she had been praying, but was still worried. Thankfully, there are things you can do that will help your child more quickly gain the trust in prayer that often comes after years of experience.

Here are some of our favorite ideas.

  1. Prayer worry box. Have your child decorate a small container. Whenever a worry arises, have him/her write or draw it on a slip of paper. After praying to God about the concern, place the paper in the container and seal it. Remind your child that worry has been turned over to God to handle and the child can release it fully to God. (Note: Some children may have to do this multiple times at first.)
  2. Praying scripture. Teach your kids how to find Bible verses that express what they want to say to God. Many will be found in Psalms, but they are scattered throughout scripture. Then encourage them to pray these verses as long as they remain applicable to their current situation. This has the added value of helping them memorize scripture and place it in their long term memories for the future.
  3. Prayer journal. Have your kids decorate a journal for the family or a personal one (school notebooks make inexpensive journals). Then have them record their prayer requests and God’s answers as they become clear. Periodically review past requests to see how God worked – especially in situations when God answered “no” and it later became clear that it really was the best answer.
  4. Prayer walks. Two stress reducers in one. Take a long walk with your child, praying out loud or silently as you walk. Encourage your child to have a real conversation with God instead of just listing requests.
  5. Gratitude prayers. Anxiety can be heightened by focusing on the negative – or potentially negative – things that can happen in life. Making an intentional effort to spend time in prayer thanking God for His many blessings can be an important reminder of God’s love and care.
  6. Asking grandparents and trusted Christian adults to pray for them. When our daughter was little, she was convinced that one of my friends from church was an effective prayer warrior. Whenever something was really concerning her, she would make sure “Miss Suzy” was praying about it. Suzy was also great about letting her know she was praying about it and asking her for regular updates until she was convinced the need had passed for that particular request.
  7. Share your prayer stories. Tell your kids about the times you were anxious and prayed to God about it. Explain how it comforted you. Tell them how God answered the prayer – especially if you were initially disappointed with a “no” and then realized God had been protecting you from the answer you wanted. Your kids will catch your faith – or lack of faith – in the power of prayer, so be intentional about setting a good example.

Prayer is a lifelong tool for helping your kids stay close to God. Helping them develop a string prayer life when they are young, will make it much more likely they will turn to prayer rather than less healthy coping techniques when anxious.

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Serving Others

When adults try to teach kids about serving others, they try really hard to make it fun. They believe the element of fun will encourage them to serve again – hopefully making it a lifelong habit.

Unfortunately, serving others is not always fun. It can be hard, uncomfortable and exhausting. So you may have pointed out people in the Bible who served God in difficult ways. Your kids may believe that life in Bible times is a lot like life today. Which means watering a bunch of camels or making some widows a few pieces of clothing wasn’t that difficult, right?

Find an empty one or three gallon jug and fill it with water. Tell your children the story of Rebekah watering the camels of Abraham’s servant found in Genesis 24. Ask them how long it might have taken Rebekah to water the four or more camels the servant would have had with him.

Your children will honestly have no idea. They may think Rebekah turned on a hose and watered them. Show them a picture of a well. Explain that Rebekah had to pull up a three gallon jug of water by a rope/chain. Let them feel the weight of one to three gallons of water. Explain that Rebekah then had to carry that heavy jug of water and pour it into a trough for the camel.

Camels drink about 25 gallons of water at a time.That meant she had to make multiple trips with the water jug just to feed one camel. Of courage the servant probably had at least four camels, so that’s lots of more trips! Your kids might want to try and make that many trips with a gallon jug of water (a three gallon jar is probably too heavy for them to handle safely). If you have plants that need watering, they can substitute for the camels!

Afterwards discuss what sort of heart Rebekah must have had to work so hard for a stranger. What other people in the Bible can think of that served others in such selfless ways? How can they serve others when it is hard with the same pleasant attitude Rebekah seemed to have possessed. Have fun with it, but make sure they understand God wants us to serve others – even when it is hard.

Through What Are Your Children Filtering the Things They Are Taught?

Let’s say your children are told a new bit of information…. “Dogs prefer green jello.” Your kids need to decide whether or not this information is accurate, true, important and worth storing in their brains long term. Since most of us are bombarded with a flood of new information all day, they need to find a way to make the process faster.

This is where the idea of filters enters the picture. Filters can include previous knowledge – like perhaps your family has owned three dogs – none of whom would even eat jello. One major filter is someone’s worldview. A worldview is a philosophy of life through which everything is filtered. So, for example, if I have a Christian worldview and I read somewhere that something happened because of a prayer to an idol, I will automatically classify that information as false because a Christian’s worldview holds that idols have no power.

Worldviews can be tricky – especially for young people. A teen might honestly believe he or she has a Christian worldview while actually having a different one entirely. So what are some popular worldviews? Christian, Deism, Naturalism, Nihilism, New Age, Postmodern, Humanism, Islamic and many more are the worldviews your children may be adopting.

So how do you know if your children have a Christian – or as some call it – a biblical worldview? Definitions vary slightly, but most would agree that someone who truly has a Christian or biblical worldview has the following beliefs:

  1. Absolute moral truths exist
  2. Moral truths are defined by God in the Bible
  3. Jesus is the son of God and lived a sinless life
  4. God is the Creator, all powerful and all knowing and is still active in the world today
  5. Christians are commanded to share their faith with others
  6. The Bible is true, reliable and accurate in its teachings
  7. Salvation cannot be earned, but is a gift from God
  8. Baptism by immersion is necessary for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
  9. Satan is real

Do you know whether or not your children believe these statements? If they don’t, you have a short amount of time to teach them and mentor them. Most scholars believe a person’s worldview is set before adolescence and is pretty difficult to change after the early adult years. Make sure your kids aren’t accepting a worldview that isn’t Christian or biblical. If all the philosophical conversations they are having are at school or with peers, they may be developing a worldview that will ultimately destroy their faith.

Can Arts and Crafts Make Christian Parenting Easier?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Christian parenting were easy? If you could just snap your fingers and rest assured that your children would be faithful, productive Christians as adults? Life would be so much better! Unfortunately, living in a fallen world means nothing is easy. There are things you can do, however, that will make your Christian parenting more effective and thereby, a bit easier.

Effective Christian parenting requires spending a lot of quality time with your kids. If you are all just looking at your phones and IPads though, not much of consequence is happening. You don’t want to lecture your kids, so what are some things you can do with them that help teach them some important Christian life skills and work on Christian character traits?

Surprisingly, one of the best choices is rather old school. Arts and crafts provide lots of benefits for you and your children. Crafting has been found to reduce tension, edginess and anxiety by 50%. What family couldn’t use something that made everyone a bit calmer?!

Even better, doing arts and crafts projects can help your kids work on their patience and perseverance. If you and your children are working on a project that takes a lot of effort or multiple sessions to complete, it can also help them develop a strong, biblical work ethic.

One study found that happiness results from feelings of being able to do things independently, becoming competent at something and doing things with others. Family arts and crafts projects can provide those elements. Yes, Christianity focuses on the joy that is found in Christ regardless of our circumstances, but it’s okay to have a little healthy happiness in your home, too.

Want to really up your Christian parenting game? Find arts and crafts projects that can also be used to serve others. Find ways to share your faith and encourage those who receive your finished projects. Your kids will find meaning and purpose as they grow to better understand the mission and ministry God has planned for them.

Don’t have a lot of money for supplies? Check out coupons for craft stores and yard sales. Find someone who already participates in the art or craft in which you are interested and see if they have some extra supplies they would be willing to give your kids. (Word to the wise. Don’t spend a ton of money on supplies for any one art or craft category until you are sure your kids are definitely going to pursue it long term! There are lots of ways to try a new craft without purchasing every possible supply. Kits are often a good way to experiment without a huge investment.)

Have fun with it. Set aside special times where everyone works on projects together or does a family project. Who knows? It really may make your Christian parenting job a bit easier!