Monthly Archives: August 2015

Going to School

The air seems to be saturated with electricity about the upcoming events of that first day of school.  New backpacks, filled to the brim with supplies.  The supplies that were specially picked out.  The smell of new pencils, erasers, and crayons.  Anxiously waiting at the bus stop with friends. Getting on the school bus for the first time.   Walking down the energy packed school hallway that is lined with an array of kids who are overflowing with anticipation for the day before them.  Yeah!!  It is time for school to begin!!!

Well, that is how the majority of the kids feel at the beginning of the school year.  But there are some students who are filled with anxiety about going to school, who are afraid of going to a big new place with a great deal of people that they do not know.  That was me.

I was not ready for first grade.  I was the youngest child in my class and I was not developmentally ready for school.  I was a shy and introverted child who was very frightened about going to school and meeting all of these new people who I did not know.  First and second grade were very difficult for me.  It wasn’t until I got to 3rd grade and had Miss Clement that things began to change.  School started to become exciting.  I began to love reading and social studies. Miss Clement made learning fun.  I started playing school at home, and before long, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  I wanted to be a teacher just like Miss Clement.  A teacher who made learning fun!

I still had some difficult times at school in years to come, but my love of learning persisted and I had a drivenness to be a teacher one day– a teacher who made learning fun– a teacher, just like Miss Clement.

Later on in  life when I had my own sons I wanted to make sure that they were developmentally ready for school.  I was adamant that they not go through the experience that I did at school,  being the youngest child in the class, and not being developmentally ready to learn.  When they were born, I read all of the Ilg and Ames books on children’s development, tracking the boy’s development to see if they were on track with other kids their age.  Ilg and Ames had books published about the developmental growth of pre-school children.  They wrote a book for each specific age group.  Those books were an invaluable resource to me.

As a mother and a teacher, who had taught kindergarten and first grade, I believed that the boys weren’t quite ready for kindergarten.  So, to make sure that I was making the correct diagnosis I took them to be tested.  The testing showed that I was correct.  They were intellectually ready, but not ready in the other areas of their development.  So, I made the decision to have them wait for another year before starting kindergarten.

That was the best decision that I had ever made.  They began kindergarten as one of the oldest students in the class, and they were totally ready to learn and be successful in their learning.  They were also, throughout their learning careers more mature and able to make better decisions than their peers, which I found of paramount importance.

Many times boys are not ready for school at the same time that girls are.  Girls mature earlier than boys do.  Each child is different.  Reading the books on child development were very insightful for me.  Maybe they would be helpful to you, as well, if you are questioning about whether your child is ready for school or not.

God has a path for a hope and a future for each of our children.  He tells us that in Jeremiah 29:13  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  On that path we meet many people who He sends to help us on that journey.  Maybe it is a fellow parent to discuss our parenting issues with.  Maybe it is a grandparent or a friend.  Maybe it is a doctor or a psychologist.  Maybe it is a teacher.  God has many people involved in the lives of our children to help mold them into the persons He created them to be.

Maybe you are wondering about your child; is she or he ready for school yet? Here are some additional resources that you may be interested in reading.

Preparing the Shy Child for Kindergarten

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?

10 Ways to Get My Child Ready For Kindergarten

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

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The First Days of School

A myriad of emotions are experienced by children as they get ready to go to school on the first day.  Excitement, joy, anticipation, hesitation, and fear, are some of the feelings that come to mind.  Last year two of my grandchildren were going to kindergarten. They were up and dressed by 6:00 AM.  They came downstairs fully dressed in the clothes that they had already chosen the night before.  Their backpacks were filled with all of their supplies and their lunches already packed.  My grandson had even added a tie for special affect, since it was such a special occasion! They were ready to head out the door; raring to go!  No holding them back!

As a previous first grade teacher I have seen many other children come to school who were hesitant and fearful the first day.  They had not met the teacher and did not know other students in the class, and that made them afraid.  It is so beneficial to bring your child to school before the first day to meet the teacher at the Open House and have a chance to meet some of the other students in the class.  That will make the first day much less intimidating, especially if you are a new student.  For shy students it is helpful to give them opportunities to meet other kids in the neighborhood, so that there will be familiar faces that they will see at school.  Still, for some shy, and more introverted kids, like myself, leaving mommy on that first day can be challenging and met with resistance.  But, rest assurred that this phase will soon vanish and your child will cheerily be trouncing into school with his or her other classmates.

The first days of school are filled to the brim with activities for your child.  The Baltimore Sun had a great article entitled- “Teachers Tell It” by Kit Waskom Pollard that made some great points about the start of the new school year.

  1. Routines save the day. There is a need to establish and maintain routines that work.  Morning routines will get the day started correctly.  Create a simple morning checklist to keep young kids on track.  After school help kids create good habits by doing homework at the same time at the same place every day.
  2. Snooze or Lose. Expect your kid to be really exhausted just from being excited, anxious and starting a new school year.  So get as much sleep as possible.  It’s a big thing, getting a good night’s sleep and not being tired.
  3. Enough slacking, it’s time to get back to work. Students should be ready to hit the ground running.
  4. Paperwork stinks. Nobody likes it, but it is necessary for the school to be able to get in touch with you in case of an emergency.
  5. Get a life and good grades.  There are many students who are academically ready for kindergarten, but school is about more than just books and numbers.  Parents have to consider the social and emotional development of kids and how important that is, such as: being able to take turns, opening their own lunch boxes, and tying their shoes.

When the kids come home from school that first week, most parents are dying to find out what happened during their school day.  From personal experience as a mother and a teacher there are a variety of responses.  Generally if you have a very verbal child who likes to talk a lot (these children are usually girls) you will find out every detail about the school day.  You will know the color of the teacher’s dress, the schedule of events, the names of the students, every activity done in class, that Johnny hit Susie, that Susie likes Johnny, that Evan is cute, that the teacher forgot to write the date on the board, etc. If you have a boy who likes actions more than words(that was my case), you will hear “nothing”.  I would ask “What did you do at school today?”  My son would reply, “Nothing.”  Therefore, mothers of boys would often not know much about what happened during the day, unless they could figure it out from their son’s papers, or sometimes bits and pieces of the day might sneak out at bedtime.

Gee-whiz!  That was the most difficult realization for me to cope with.  I was a detail person.  Here I was letting my precious babies go off to school, where they were gone for 7 hours of the day and I had no idea what they were doing, how they were behaving, how they were interacting with others, how they were learning.  So, of course I became a volunteer and I became involved in the PTA, thinking that would help.  I did learn a lot about what was going on in the school and enjoyed participating in the PTA.  My volunteering was with students who needed help with reading, so I never worked with my sons, but I was able to wave to them as I read with students in the hallway.  I loved my work with  students.  I also worked with the guidance counselor with a group of students.  But, I never really got to find out what my sons did during the day.

Nevertheless, through all of my volunteering, my problem was not solved.  My sons continued to come home with the same response of “nothing” about their school day and I was at a loss for the details.   The Lord finally got me to a place where I had to accept the fact that was how life was going to be for me living in a household of all males.  I was going to have to acknowledge that I was not going to get the “details” that I desired.  I was going to have to trust the Lord to take care of my boys and learn to be content with not knowing all that had taken place during the day.  It was more than just praying for the boys as they went to school everyday.  This was a deeper layer of trust this was actually putting them into God’s hands and knowing deep in my heart that He was going to take all that I had taught them and use it in school.  It was knowing that He was going to open their minds to learn.  It was knowing that He was going to help them develop the right kinds of relationships and help them discern what was the right and wrong thing to do.

Proverbs 3:5 states – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”

God’s word is so good and true.  There are times in life when we have to let go of any pre-conceived notions that we have in our own mind, and just trust the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind.  Our own understanding will get us no where, but down a path of self-pity, confusion, and discouragement.  When we admit that we are not in charge, but that God is and put our trust in Him, He will take better care of our children than we can.  For He is with them every moment of every day.  He created them and He loves them with a love that we cannot even comprehend.

Here are some resources that you might find to be helpful.

This website has a plethora of organizers.  You will need to scroll down to find a chart for a morning and evening routine for children.  There are a lot of other charts you may want to use, as well.

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

Getting Ready for School

Excitement is brewing in the air! The store shelves are transforming from beach wear and summer paraphernalia to getting ready for school.  There’s a sale at Target for school supplies.  Got the supply list.  Rushing to Target with the kids to get all of the necessary items.   Crayons- Check .  Pencils –Check.  Markers –Check.  Erasers –Check. Glue Sticks- Check.  Dry Erase Markers –Check.  Folders –Check.  Composition Books –Check.  Pencil boxes –Check. Scissors –Check.  Sticky notes –Check.  Box of tissues- Check Hand sanitizer-Check.  Lunch boxes-Check  Backpacks –Check.  Multiply the cost, times how many kids you have, and even with the sales prices your eyes almost bulge out  of your head when you see your total at the check out!  Going to school is expensive!  Not to mention the new clothes and shoes that you need to buy because Johnny and Susie have outgrown the ones that they have been wearing.  Can you relate?

As I see my grandchildren getting ready for school, it brings back memories of getting my sons ready.  We would purchase all of the supplies, their favorite folders and backpacks, along with the lunch boxes that they had chosen.  Then we would go over the list twice to make sure that we didn’t leave anything off.   Finally,  we would label all of their supplies with their first and last names and place them in their fresh, clean backpacks.  Our next order of business was to look over their clothes and chose the specific outfit that they would wear for the first day of school.

Another part of our school preparation was trekking up to the school and walking the halls to locate where the boys classrooms might be, and where the lunchroom and special’s classes were.  We would find out what bus that they would be riding.  Now it was the waiting game to discover who their teacher was going to be.  This was a laborious wait, filled to the brim with gossip about all of the teachers.  In fact it was excruciating.   Everyone wanted Teacher A and Teacher B, but no one wanted Teacher C.  Well, you know what happened, don’t you?  One of my sons was assigned to Teacher C.  I was horrified!  The teacher no one wanted their child to have.  I knew what a good teacher was supposed to be, since I had taught for 5 years before I gave birth to my children.   What was I to do?  March up to the office and demand that he be switched to another class?  No. I didn’t feel quite right about that.   I knew that the only thing that I could do was pray.  That was the best choice.

So, I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed some more.  I believed that God was telling me to keep my son in Teacher C’s class.  That was where he belonged.  So, I did.  What ended up happening was amazing.  The teacher didn’t have as many posters on her walls as the other teachers did. This was good for my son, because he seemed to be able to pay attention better without all of the colorful distractions around the room. Teacher C and my son hit it off the first day.  They were the perfect match as student and teacher.  He loved his teacher.  It was the most wonderful year for him.

God taught me something very important through this experience.  It was the importance of prayer, and praying for our kids as they go to school.  Praying for them in class with their teachers.  Praying for their classmates and for their schools.  What the boys and I began doing each morning was having a devotion before going to school.  We would pray that as they would go into the school, that God would be with them, and with their friends, in their classrooms, and as they did their work.  I also felt that God was leading me to begin a Mom’s prayer group that met on Tuesday mornings.  We would meet and pray for our kids and the school every Tuesday.

Isn’t it interesting?  If things had gone the way I had wanted them to, with my son getting the “best” teacher, I wouldn’t have felt such an inclination to bathe my son’s school year in prayer.  Nevertheless, God worked a Romans 8:28 out for my son .  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”   I learned the power of prayer in my sons’ lives, and how important it was to pray for them.  Oh, as they grew older they would have other teachers who they would definitely not call their favorites, but God had them in that specific class for His purposes.  I had learned to pray for them in each class that they were enrolled in.  It was my job to help them see the positives in each class and to learn from the mistakes that they might make, and help them in any way that I could.

So- what about you?  Have you made all of your school preparations yet?  Have you thought about prayer preparation?  Having devotions with your kids before sending them off to school?   Here are some helps that you might enjoy.

Praying for Your Children Before They go to School
Teaching Your Child How To Pray 
Truth For Kids

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand!

Debra Smith

P.S. Please become a “follower” by clicking “follow” in the top left corner!

Welcome To My Blog!

Go back a few years in your mind to your childhood and picture yourself in school.  Try to remember how you felt when you had been striving to understand a concept and you finally got it.  Goosebumps!  That lightbulb going off in your head!  Ecstatic joy!  You got it!  Nothing felt so good!  Well, I wanted to start a blog for parents and for grandparents about parenting, where you and your child could feel like “You’ve got it!” in this difficult world of parenting.  Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs that we are called to do.  When the baby is born he or she does not come with a parenting manual.  We have to learn how to parent from how we were parented, what we have seen modeled, and what we learn on our own.  What makes it even more challenging is that once we think we have it all figured out for one child, the next child comes along, and none of our strategies work for him or her.  It is so easy to throw up our hands in despair when dealing with issues such as sibling rivalry, defiance, and bedtime issues. Thank goodness that we have the Lord to help us in our parenting.  He is always present, giving us guidance, encouragement, and strength.  He tells us in Proverbs 22:6  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.”  We don’t have all of the answers, but the Lord does, for He has a plan for a hope and a future for all of our children.  My purpose for this blog is to share some of my own personal anecdotes about parenting and then share additional resources that may be helpful to you in your parenting journey, so that you can experience the “I’ve got it!” sensation and have a good night’s rest feeling that all is right in your tiny corner of the world.

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith