Eric Dishongh, PhD
Connecting others to Jesus and His church as a husband, dad, minister, counselor, professor and friend
Back to Blog
One thing’s for certain: Summer has ended, and school has begun!
Summertime is filled with relaxing, sleeping in, playing video games, watching TV, swimming, playing outside, going on vacations, and a bunch of other fun stuff that has nothing to do with homework, tests, essays, projects, Common Core, or anything else academic!
I’m sure you’ve seen on social media hundreds of smiling faces of kids excited about their first day of school (Don’t worry, Breanna’s first day of kindergarten picture is coming soon!), but it doesn’t take long for those smiles to turn to frowns. And it doesn’t take long for that excitement to turn to stress.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a FINS panel meeting in St. Charles Parish. FINS is an acronym for “Families In Need of Services.” This panel is composed of representatives from the Judges, District Attorney, Sheriff, Public Schools, Department of Children and Family Services, State Probation, and other groups. The big idea is to provide counseling (shameless plug here for Creative Family Solutions: www.cfshope.org), mentoring, and/or other services for children “who have gotten in a little bit of trouble,” as an attempt to help them stay out of the juvenile justice system. As I listened to the children and parents tell their stories, I was reminded (and saddened) about the amount of abuse, abandonment, anxiety, and anger that there is in the world. For those of you in the FINS system, please know that everyone is pulling for you and is working together to help you stay focused and stay out of trouble!
I know, though, that most of you reading this have never appeared before the FINS panel! And, that, of course, is a good thing! But, I know that each family has its unique struggles and challenges, many of which are exasperated during the school year.
Here are five practical suggestions for children (and parents) to make this a great school year:
1. Eat Right: Some children yell at their parents in the morning. Some children can’t stay still at 11am. Some children can’t concentrate at the end of the school day. Some children fuss about doing homework after they get off the bus. What do all of these have in common? It’s possible that each of these situations deal with hunger. Obviously, other issues may be present, but make sure that your children are eating breakfast, lunch, healthy snacks, supper, and a bedtime snack.
2. Exercise Regularly: This will look differently for each child, depending on their age. It may be football, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics, soccer, or simply playing outside in the yard. But, the bottom line is this: kids need to be off the sofa and doing something that requires movement!
3. Enjoy Rest: Some children need naps, others don’t. But, everyone needs rest. There needs to be a set time during the school year for bedtime and waking up. Although weekends will vary slightly, most children function better when they are getting the same amount of sleep each night.
4. Expect Realistically: Let’s face it: All parents have high expectations for their children. However, sometimes our expectations are not all that realistic and need to be adjusted. Children are not perfect and make mistakes- many of them. There needs to be clear expectations and consistent consequences (both positive and negative); however, just make sure that you’re not living vicariously through your children. Love them for who they are, including their unique talents and interests.
5. Everyday Routines: Children function better with schedules. Obviously, flexibility is needed for each day, but as a whole, the school year needs to be filled with daily schedules that include wake-up time, breakfast, getting dressed, going outside for the bus, getting off the bus, homework, play time, supper, bath time, family devotionals, bedtime, etc.
Hopefully, these practical suggestions will be helpful to you and your children! And, hopefully, your children will stay out of trouble and away from FINS!
One last thing: You may not be a Family In Need of Services, but we are all a part of Families In Need of a Savior! In the same way that Jesus has shown us love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, we need to show each of these to our children as well!
“My soul magnifies The Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”—Luke 1:46-47
My life purpose is to connect people to Jesus and His church by providing a Christian example and by reaching out on spiritual, relational, academic, and community levels.