School supplies? Check. Fall sports fundraiser? Done. School clothes? Purchased.
Utah County families are gearing up for back to school next week, which means that never-ending to-do list might actually be shrinking. But there are a few important things LDS families can do for their kids to help them make good decisions as they begin spending more time outside the home. Here are a few more items to check off your list before back-to-school night.
1. Draft a new daily schedule
Life with kids in the home is always busy, but without a daily commute to and from school and with a break from regularly scheduled activities, most families find themselves with more spare time during the summer months. Making the adjustment to a more structured daily routine may be a welcome relief, but it can also mean less time for spiritually significant things.
Look ahead to the school year and determine when your family will have family prayer, scripture study and Family Home Evening. Will Mondays work, or should you consider having Family Night on Sundays until things calm down? Is early in the morning the best time for scripture study or will it become part of family dinner? You might have to be creative to find time for these important patterns, but thinking it out sooner rather than later will help.
2. Set priorities (and make sure everyone agrees on them)
As you and your family set a new plan for family togetherness, communicate with each family member to make sure everyone is on the same page. Find out when your kids have scheduled activities and make sure they feel their time is valued.
Determine as a family what things are most important and what things you can do without. This might also be a good time to reevaluate use of technology and determine which activities are good, which are better and which are best.
3. Consider giving Father’s Blessings
Priesthood blessings can be a great strength to children during times of change and transition, like the beginning of a new school year. While certainly not mandatory, Father’s Blessings are a great tradition for some families.
Handbook 2: Administering the Church states: “A father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may give father’s blessings to his children. These blessings may be especially helpful when children go to school, go on missions, get married, enter military service, or face special challenges. A family may record a father’s blessing for family records, but these blessings are not preserved in Church records. Parents should encourage their children to seek father’s blessings in times of need.”
4. Schedule time for Seminary and youth activities
Teenagers who plan on taking Seminary should have registered months ago, but now is an excellent time to make sure your child’s schedule includes Seminary. Youth activities will also help your teenagers grow spiritually during the school year as they learn gospel truths and associate with the other young people in your ward.
5. Talk to your kids individually
Some families call them interviews; some call them daddy-daughter dates. Whatever your family’s style, take a few minutes alone with each of your children sometime between now and the first day of school. Talk to them about their classes, their friends, their extra-curricular activities and even their siblings and parents. Listen to their thoughts and take them seriously. As you get to know your kids and their concerns better, you can better minister to them during the school year.