A Back to School Prayer for our Kids

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Sometimes I get frustrated that the Bible gives us such little explicit instruction on the task of raising children.  Honestly, there are few things that matter more than raising up the next generation to love the Lord.  I have been a little weepy at the thought of my firstborn starting first grade this week.  His love for life and zeal for God is amazing (and encourages me daily), but there is still so much I feel like we need to teach him.

As I was pondering all of this over the weekend, I began thinking about Jesus and how Mary must have felt when he was growing up.  Obviously Jesus was the perfect Son of God and would never sin even in his youth…but I find comfort in knowing that even so, Mary and Joseph probably discussed the best ways to bring him up just like my husband and I do about our very imperfect children.  The Bible tell us so little about Jesus’s childhood.   But there is one tiny verse that encompasses the monumental years of his youth that I have been dwelling on:

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
-Luke 2:52

As school begins once again, this is the verse I am praying for my children, specifically for my oldest.  It includes three of the most important aspects of a child’s life:  mind, body, and spirit.  Each of these aspects come with their own strengths and weaknesses, with obstacles and challenges to overcome in every facet of life.

 

In Wisdom

Lord, I pray that you will allow Caleb to grow in wisdom this year.  I pray that he will learn everything he is expected to know academically.  I pray that he will be successful in his studies and that he will be a diligent worker in what is asked of him.  Most of all, Lord, I pray that you would allow Him to grow in YOUR wisdom.  Help him to learn more about your character through his interactions with others.  Help the scriptures and stories we have been sharing with him from your Word to be a lamp to his feet and a light to his path.  Give us, his parents, the wisdom to help him discern between right and wrong in the situations he is faced with this year.  Above all else, help him learn to love You more.

 

In Stature

Lord, I thank you for the lives of our children.  I thank you that they are healthy.  I pray that you will protect their bodies and help them to continue to grow strong.  Protect them from illness and harm, Lord.

As school begins, I pray that Caleb will know that he is created in your image.  I pray that he will know that is “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  I pray that he will know that You created him exactly the way that you want him to be.  At times, words from others can be cruel.  Protect his heart and help him to rest in the truth that he is a priceless gift to us and, most importantly, to You…so much so that you sent your son for him.

 

In Favor with God and Man

Lord, I pray that you would allow Caleb to be a light for you.  I pray that he would be obedient to his teachers and kind to his classmates.  I pray that he will show kindness and compassion to everyone, but especially those who are treated poorly by others.  Give him the strength to stand up for the outcasts.  I pray that he will have integrity to do the right thing even when no one is looking.  Help him to surround himself with people who will help him grow closer to you.  I pray that he will be both a leader and a follower– a follower of yours but a leader for his peers.  Help his words and actions to be pleasing to you.

 

All this I ask in the name of your son Jesus.  Amen.

 


 

No matter whether your child will be attending public school, private school, or will be homeschooled, I think this prayer is all-encompassing for what we desire for our kids.  And I fully realize I am asking God for a lot…I certainly don’t expect my children to be perfect.  In fact, I need to pray much of this same prayer for myself.  But this is what I most desire for the lives of my children.

When we place the well being of our children in God’s very capable hands through prayer, we are surrendering control to Him.  I’m not sure there is anything else as equally scary, freeing, and comforting as this.  All I know is that He is certainly more capable than I am!

 

 

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PS- I thought I would create a printable scripture card for those of us who wish to consistently pray this prayer for our kids throughout the year.  Stick it on your bathroom mirror or in the visor on your car…any place that you will see it regularly.  There are 4 identical cards on a page…you can print one for yourself and give the others to friends/neighbors if you would like.

Click on the image below to access the printable file:

 

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Is your child heading off to school soon?  What else would you add to this prayer?  

 

 

 

10 Things Every Teacher Wants You to Know…But Won’t Tell You

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As a former first grade teacher and now a parent, I have seen both sides of the fence when it comes to schooling.  I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again…I would be a much more understanding teacher had I been a parent first!  There are SO MANY emotions that are involved when you hand your beloved child over to the care of a stranger and EVERYTHING said about your child (both positive and negative) is taken to heart.

Likewise, however, I think it’s important that parents recognize the growing demands of teachers and give them the respect that is due.  Teaching is hard work…and it is getting only harder with all of the budget cuts and increasing class sizes.  I’m playing “devil’s advocate” by sharing just a few things that I think parent’s should be aware of  as well as sharing some suggestions from teachers who responded to this question on my Facebook page.

 

 

What Every Teacher Wants You to Know…But Won’t Tell You:

1.  Your respect means the world to me.  I truly care about your child and am trying to do my best to make sure that she is learning!  Please show your child that you respect me by talking positively about me in front of her and backing me up when there are discipline issues at school.

 

2.  We are a TEAM.  We are both working towards the same goal when it comes to your child–helping him learn and be successful!  If there is an issue and I share it with you, it does NOT mean that I don’t like your child…actually, it means that I care enough about your child to help him resolve any things prohibiting him or anyone else in my class from learning.

 

3.  If your child is five years old or older, please make sure she knows how to tie her shoes…or buy Velcro shoes.  Taking time to tie the shoes of multiple children in my class only takes away time that would otherwise be used for instruction.

 

4.  Please don’t tell me your child is bored.  I try to make learning as interesting and engaging as I can and telling me this makes it seem like you don’t think I am doing my job.  Many times what might appear to be boredom is often a lack of self-control and/or self-regulation (which typically works itself out with maturity).  If we need to work on teaching your child how to cope with down time, what to do if he finishes early, or how he can be challenged, let’s work together and come up with some solutions.

 

5.  I put a lot of work into the parent newsletters that I send home.  There is also lots of important information included, so please take just a few minutes to read it and check your child’s backpack every day.

 

6.  Please bring individually wrapped or pre-cut birthday treats that are ready to serve.  Trying to cut a cake while 26 (or more) hungry mouths are (not-so-patiently) waiting can often lead to complete chaos.  And when you send a snack like applesauce or pudding, don’t forget the spoons!

 

7.  Don’t assume that just because you struggled with a specific subject in school (i.e. math) that your child will as well.  Always encourage your child in every subject, not just those that interest you.

 

8.  Let your child make mistakes and try to do things by himself.  Don’t rescue him whenever he can’t figure something out.  It gives your child a feeling of power and control when he can handle things independently.

 

9.  Make sure your child gets plenty of rest each night.  Elementary-school children need at least 10 hours of sleep every night.  Don’t overdo it when it comes to extracurricular activities–children need down time just like adults!

 

10.  YOU are your child’s first (and most important) teacher.  Trust your instincts.  I have your child for 9 months and you have them for their entire lives–don’t underestimate your importance when it comes to your child’s education!  Make your home a learning oasis and read to her every day!

 

You can read more responses from teachers here.

 

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Edible Peanut Butter Playdough

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This fun peanut butter playdough recipe can double as a snack or dessert.  Not only is it super fun to play with, it really is delicious (believe me, I should know…I ate about half of it)!   I shared this edible playdough recipe a couple years ago when we were learning about butterflies (and used it to demonstrate the phases of a butterfly’s life), but I thought it was worthy of sharing again as we recently made some more to play with.

 

 

Here’s what you’ll need:  Nonfat dry milk, peanut butter, and honey!  

 

 

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 1.  Mix 1 cup of peanut butter, 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk, and 3 tablespoons of honey.

 

 

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2.  Mix until mostly smooth and no longer sticky to touch.  Add more dry milk if it continues to stick to your hands.

 

 

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 3.  Have your kiddos wash their hands and then let them have fun molding the playdough on a clean surface…we broke out our alphabet cookie cutters to make letters as well.

 

 

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Check out more fun snack ideas here.  

 

 

Activities for When Kids Have to Wait (no materials required)

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We have all been there…what was supposed to be a 10-minute oil change or wait at the doctor’s office suddenly becomes more like an hour (or two!).  Worst of all, you weren’t prepared for the wait and didn’t bring any coloring books or toys along with you!  Don’t panic…you have this list FULL of activities for when kids have to wait!

(With that being said, you *might* want to go ahead and pin this post or bookmark it to your phone…just in case.)    :)

This list is divided into two categories:  activities for when others are around and activities for when it is just you and your kids.  Silly activities are great for when it is just you and your kids, but might not be appreciated when there are other patrons waiting in the same room.

 

Just You and Your Kids

These activities are perfect for waiting in exam rooms or when you have the place to yourselves…where others won’t be disrupted.

 

-  Play Simon Says:  This timeless game is the perfect way to keep kids active (i.e. burn a little energy) and occupy their attention all in one!

 

-  Sing a silly song or recite a finger play (the more actions the better):  Hokey Pokey, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Deep and Wide, Father Abraham, London Bridges, Old McDonald Had a Farm, This Little Piggie…just to name a few.

 

Create a piggyback story:  Start telling a story and then pass it along to your child.  Have him/her piggyback off of the start to your story and continue telling it with his/her own flair.  Continue piggybacking off of each other until your wait is over or the story has become too outrageous to continue!  :)

 

-  Have a Thumb War:  Link knuckles with your child and go to war to see which thumb is the strongest!

 

-  Do jumping jacks.  Did I mention that it might be necessary (for everyone’s sanity) that your kiddos to get some energy out while waiting?

 

-  Play the Body Count Game:  I love this idea from Creative Connections for Kids!

 

-  Find Your Funny Bone First:  Have your kids compete to see who can point to their funny bone first.  Continue the race by calling out more body parts.  (Idea from Teach Mama)

 

 

With Other People Around

 

-  I Spy:  A classic game that can be easily reinvented!  “I Spy with my little eye, something ______” (insert color, shape, beginning letter, etc).

 

-  Letter Hunt:  Call out a letter and ask your children to identify objects around the room that begin with that letter.

 

-  Play “How Many?”:  Call out a shape, color, etc. and ask your child how many objects he/she can find.  (idea from This Reading Mama)

 

-  Read the Room:  Have your child walk around the room and identify words (or shapes, colors, letters and numbers for non-readers).

 

-  Round Robin Game:  Start with a topic (colors, types of fruit, animals, etc) and go back and forth with your child(ren) naming a color until no one can think of any more (idea from Making Time for Mommy).  Try it with other topics too (four-legged animals, types of fruit, etc.).

 

-  See how high you can count:  Quietly count aloud with your child and see how high you can go (idea from Nothing If Not Intentional).  Another idea is to guess how many seconds (counts) until the doctor comes in, your food arrives, your car is ready, etc.  Then count together and, whoever comes closest to the actual number of counts it takes, wins (idea from The Chaos and the Clutter)

 

-  Recite Memory Verses:  A great suggestion from Meaningful Mama!  (Or you could keep these ABC Scripture Cards in your purse at all times).   :)

 

-  Imaginary Traveler:  Take turns asking your kids to imagine where they might go and what they object want to take along on their trip, beginning with the letter “a”  and continuing consecutively through the alphabet.  For example, “I’m going to Australia and I’m taking my Angry Birds.” “I’m going to Brad’s and I’m taking my Batman shirt.” Encourage participants to be as silly as possible.” (see this and other great “thinking games” at What Do We Do All Day?)

 

-  Play the “What’s missing?” Game:  This idea from Craftulate is brilliant when you have a purse or diaper bag with you.  You could even play with items you find around the room.

 

-  Guess Which Hand?:   Put an item in your hand and put your hands behind your back.  Have your child guess which hand the item is in.  (idea from Your Modern Family)

 

-  Play “I’m Thinking of a Number”:  Think of a number and keep it in your mind.   Begin giving your child clues.  This classic game is great for kids who are familiar with the concepts greater than and less than.

 

-  Ask “Would you Rather?” Questions:  Would you rather be in a pool or marshmallows or in a pool of M&M’s?  Would you rather have bright blue hair or bright blue feet?  Find  more questions like this (along with printable cards) from the Measured Mom.

 

-  Play the Verbal Memory Game:  Give your child a short list of items (3-6 depending on the age of your child).  Then have them recite the items in order.   (idea from There’s Just One Mommy)

 

 

Have a piece of paper and a pen?  Try this fun waiting room idea from Mama Smiles or these no-talking games from Teach Mama.  

 

 

Also, I loved this reminder from Study at Home Mama:

I love playing the games like I Spy, but I also find that these boredom times are great to encourage children to either (1) talk, or (2) find their own entertainment.  I think when kids are expected to entertain themselves, and they aren’t always given the answers, they learn to rise to the occasion. I think it takes practice — don’t always give entertainment during car rides, leave some free play time at home every day, etc. Engage your children in conversation and teach them how to start conversations — with you, or other kids. When you do this, your child is more apt to strike up a conversation (asking a question or sharing a story) than start whining about how they are bored.

 

Finally, as a last resort (i.e. deaf-con meltdown), you can always give them your phone.  I am personally trying to be more engaged with my kids and less reliant on technology because I don’t want to miss out on interactions with them!  But there are times when everyone has had enough (including me…just keepin’ it real).  In these dire situations, I might break out the phone and let them play an educational app for toddlers, preschoolers, or beginning readers.

 

 

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What are some of YOUR best tips for when kids have to wait?

 

 

Homemade Banana Pudding

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This homemade banana pudding recipe is from my Oma.  She makes the most amazing desserts and this recipe is certainly no exception.  Trying her homemade banana pudding might make you gag at the thought of ever having the boxed stuff again.  :)  The title is a bit deceiving, however.  The more accurate description of this recipe is actually “homemade vanilla pudding with bananas.”  There isn’t any fake banana flavoring in this pudding (thank goodness…we don’t want pudding that tastes like a banana Runt, do we?).   :)

You can, of course, make this in a large bowl and layer it (Nilla wafers, bananas, pudding, repeat), but I thought it would be fun to use these small Ball jars for individual portions.

 

Homemade Banana Pudding Recipe:

4 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2/3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
Dash of salt
Mini Nilla Wafers
Sliced Bananas
Ball Half Pint Wide-Mouth Jars

 

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1.  Mix all of the ingredients (except the Nilla wafers and bananas) together in a pot and cook over medium heat until thickened.  Stir continuously.  I mixed my eggs in a small bowl to make it easier to stir within the mixture.

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2.  Once the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, remove from heat.  Fill your sink with water, add some ice, and let it cool before layer it in your bowl/jar.

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3.  If using the jars to layer your pudding, put your mini Nilla wafers on the outside of the jar (they fit perfectly on the edges of this size jar).  Then add bananas and pudding.

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This recipe can also be used as the base of coconut cream pie.  Half the recipe, then mix in 1 cup of coconut at the end for your coconut filling.  Top with whipped cream and a little baked coconut.  :)

Yum!  Be sure to check out more of our family’s favorite recipes!