At the start of summer, it seems like summer stretches out long. Children spend their days sleeping in and staying up late. They attend camp, swim at the pool, and play with friends. They enjoy the annual family vacation, visiting new places and having new experiences. But then all of a sudden, summer comes to an end, and it’s time to return to school once again.
That transition from summer to the start of school is an adjustment—for children and adults. How can we prepare for the return to all that the school year holds?
Created for Work
It’s helpful to remember that summer break is just that—a break. We then return to the normal work of life. Genesis 1 teaches us that God created us as His image bearers. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’ ” (Gen. 1:26). We are tasked with ruling over the created world, tending and keeping it as God’s vice-regents. And just as God worked six days and rested on the seventh, we also spend our weekdays working and then rest on the Lord’s Day.
Our children’s work is to attend school. As we prepare them for its return, we can use the creation account to teach them what it means to be an image bearer. In order to fulfill their callings in life, they need to learn about the world God has made. What they learn in school each day prepares them for the work God created beforehand for them to do. While it can be an adjustment to return to the work of reading, writing, and math, our children image and glorify God as they do so.
Establish a Routine
Our God is a consistent God; He does not change. Because of this, we know what to expect from Him. Not only is consistency part of His character, it’s also how He acts. He is a God of order. He established rhythms and patterns for life, including the sun which rises and sets each day, the weekly cycles of work and rest, and the yearly seasons of growth, harvest, death, and new life. All of creation lives according to the rules and laws He established. It’s why we know that birds make their nests in the spring and that water runs downhill.
Our Father values consistency and as His image bearers, we reflect Him when we establish routines for our family. It’s likely your children may have switched up their schedule for the summer. Perhaps they’ve grown used to sleeping in late. Or they’ve set aside reading for more passive entertainment. Whatever summer rhythm they’ve developed, they will need your help to develop a routine suitable for the school year. This includes regular waking and sleeping times, study and play times, activity and rest times. Spiritually, this includes patterns of time together to pray and learn from God’s Word.
As you develop these routines, talk about them with your child. Teach them how God is consistent in this world and in their life. Work together to create schedules and routines that help everyone accomplish what God calls them to. Discuss together what extra activities to include in the week, whether they will help or inhibit the family’s routines, and whether the additional activities bring glory to God.
Ground Your Family in God’s Word
As Moses prepared God’s people to enter the promised land, he exhorted them to remember God’s Word: “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life. . .” (Deut. 32:46–47). As Christians, we know that God’s Word is the source of life and truth, yet in the craziness of daily life it’s often neglected for the sake of pressing things like getting out the door on time or finishing homework before bed. Yet our children cannot learn about the world God created apart from knowing Him. Math, science, and history unrooted from the God who created all things holds little value. We need to fill our children’s minds and hearts with the truth of who God is and what He has done. This equips them to separate truth from falsehood. It helps them develop a biblical worldview through which to filter all that they hear and see. It feeds their souls, helping them grow in their knowledge of the One who created them.
As you start a new school year, incorporate Bible reading and memorization into your day. Mealtimes or evenings before bed are ideal. Use these times to talk about your children’s day, what they learned, and the interactions they had with others. Help them think through and consider how God’s Word intersects with their daily lives. What might the gospel say to how they respond to another child being mean? Or to something a teacher said that is untrue? Or to a situation that seems unfair? As you have these conversations, they will learn that God’s Word is the source of truth for all of life.
The transition from summer to the return to school creates opportunities to teach our children about the God who made them. As we get back into the fall routine, may we seek to image God in our work and rest, in our schedules and routines, and in our dependence upon His Word.