Making the New School Year a Better School Year

back to school

By Rachel Hofstetter

Welcome Back!

We’ve started another year at Liberty! It’s always a busy time—as summer ends and we transition into another new school year. With all the running around, purchasing of school supplies, freshening up of wardrobes, we sometimes get lost in the “Getting it all done” and we forget to really prepare our families for what the days ahead will look like.

If you’re like me, I don't look forward to the early morning rush with tired, even cranky, kids who are somehow sick Monday through Friday but are then miraculously healed every Saturday morning. I find myself feeling behind every morning, wishing I had more time the night before to have better prepared for today. Not every morning plays out like this, but I will admit it happens more often than I want. I get frustrated because I desire a peaceful, calm, well-organized start to the day; one that ends with me waving from my front steps to my children as they walk to the car with smiles on their faces, with excited hearts anticipating their upcoming school day. It’s a great picture, isn't it?

Perhaps you can relate to me, wanting something better for our nights and for our mornings; something more calm and collected. But how do we do it? How in the busyness of all the activity can we maintain peaceful homes and happy moments?

Here’s two things our family is doing this school year to help keep the sanity amidst the pace of practices, homework, youth groups, lessons, events…and the list goes on.

plan to plan calendarPlan to Plan

Having a plan is like a cheat sheet that you can have on hand when busyness starts to creep in. Oftentimes, planning things the night before isn't good enough. We’re too busy to do spontaneous well, but we usually aren’t able to look far enough ahead to plan well. So that’s why we’ve decided to plan our planning. Try putting time on your calendar every week that is designated as your family’s time to plan out the next week. We’ve found that it’s a great way to avoid the “life has gotten crazy this week” feeling. Doing this helps everyone know what to be prepared for and what they are going to have to be responsible for. It’s also a great time to connect with each other and ask questions like, “Is there anything you want to talk about? Do you have anything to add to next week or are there any big events coming up you need some help with?”

These planning times together help us to say “yes” and “no” to the right things. They also seem to enhance a sense of safety in our kids, one where they can know they will be heard and be a part of what their days ahead will look like.

Talk About Daily Expectations

Knowing what your day looks like, because you planned ahead, maintains structure and sanity. Verbalizing the way you want it to play out puts order into the plan.

For example, make it a point to talk to your kids each night before they go to bed about your expectations. Remind them of how you want the morning to look or if there are any differences to the routine that may be happening. Each morning at breakfast or on the drive to school, do it again. Give them the next step coming up and what their part in it will be. Laying out expectations can keep some of the confusion out of the busyness and can reinforce our kids sense of personal responsibility. It’s also another great way to stay connected with each other, enhancing that “We are family” feeling.

So there they are: some things we’ll be doing in our home to make this new school year a better school year for our whole family. Make a plan to plan, stick to it, let your expectations be heard, and remind yourself to encourage your kids in whatever they are doing.