Back to School: A Plan for Success with Anna Krafve Pierce
Lots of bottles of children's school glue.Ah, the relief of back to school! A plan for success each day! Suddenly, weekdays fall into place and weekends gain savored freedom. Kids groan. Moms rejoice.

Moms everywhere can all release a collective sigh of relief. Even as we grieve another summer of their childhood spent. (Speaking of learning a ton, I have a really happy personal announcement at the end of today’s blog. We invite you to join our family in rejoicing and celebrating because you are an important part of what’s happening!)

Naturally, we want them to go back to school full of joy and anticipation. To prepare for a successful new year at school, I asked Anna for her best tips as teacher and mom. Whether you taxi your children to school or prepare to homeschool, you’ll love Anna’s back to school plan for success.

Back to School Enthusiasm

Lovingly, Anna starts by honoring her own dad’s enthusiasm for back to school.

“I feel compelled to honor him when we talk about back to school,” laughs Anna, recounting her dad’s enthusiasm for back to school shopping, “He was always thrilled and excited to buy whichever thing he could afford to buy for us.”

It’s true. Even in the worst years financially, David always rounded up back to school treats for our kids. As a small business owner, he believes folks need the right tools to do their jobs. (If you’re curious about David, you can click here for more about our family.)

“He (Dad) really honored the effort we were putting into school by making sure that he was excited to get us what we needed to be equipped. It doesn’t have to be extravagant,” explains Anna. A parent’s enthusiasm is contagious. “It was always a thrill to sharpen that new pencil for the first time.”

As a teacher and mom, Anna can’t wait for school to start. After taking a few years off to be with her babies, each fall in her classroom delights her. With joy, Anna offers a few tips to plan for back to school success.

#1 Be Practical About Fashion

Even though advertisements depict fall leaves and little red school houses with bells, in the south where it’s still hot, fall fashion may not be practical. For instance, new sweaters may torture for several months.

“One year when rain boots came into style, I think every girl in the junior high wore those to school,” laughs Anna, “They were desperate to take them off. The whole room smelled of feet and rubber.”

#2 Keep Lunches Easy

To keep things simple in the morning, Anna likes a container with divisions. “Self-contained and easy,” best describes her attitude about school lunches. Her family likes containers with a built in spork, a spoon with teeth like a fork. According to Anna, the right container doubles as a snack container for after school care or picnics in the park. Plus, the divisions have an unexpected bonus.

“I can look at it and think, ‘Oh, I didn’t put quite enough food in here!’”

#3 Say it in a Note

Additionally, she likes notes in lunchboxes, but nothing too complicated for mom. To keep it easy she suggests a personal note on their napkin or a Bible verse on a 3×5 card.

Even though this was a daily habit from Anna’s childhood, I have to confess, I always looked for the easy way to accomplish goals with my kids. So, I often copied several verses onto 3×5 cards ahead of time, just in case the mornings got away from me. In fact, mornings frequently got away from me!

Due to their cheerful pictures, left over party napkins are a lifesaver. Quick as a wink, one loving sentence and done! Also, jokes put a smile on a child’s face and give them a fun way to talk to new friends at lunch.

“The consistency is what communicated your love to me,” adds Anna, remembering the simple notes in her own lunch box.

#4 Intentional Morning Rituals

Anna suggests a loving habit the kids learn to trust. This pattern serves them well as they make new friends at school.

“I try to say, ‘Good morning’ every morning. I look them in the eye the first time I see them, and my goal is to say their name,” Anna shares, adding, “Mind you, I don’t always do it because they are waking me up at 5:30 right now and I’m groggy!”

It’s important for kids to know they are loved each day, according to Anna.  She can tell the difference when she fails to intentionally greet each child. Beyond the daily greeting, she tries to convey another important truth always.

“Even though mommy is groggy and not in the best mood, that’s not about them,” she adds, “That’s my battle. Whatever stress I’m carrying today, that’s not about them. They are amazing and wonderful and exactly who I want them to be.”

#5 Offset Inevitable Rejection With Initiating Friendship

Of course, Anna knows from experience as a teacher and as a kid that rejection is inevitable. But, she says there are tricks you can try to rejection-proof your children.

“I’m just thinking about all the times I’ve been rejected,” sighs Anna, “I have so many friends and people I love, people who are dear to me. Yet, still in the course of a lifetime there’s always rejection.” (If your child experiences bullying at school, click here to find our blog and podcast with the amazing Tina Meier, one of the nation’s leading experts on how to handle a bullying situation or go to their website here.)

Naturally, as children learn to be thankful for others, they grow more confident because they understand their own value, according to Anna. With intentionality, wise parents can accomplish this understanding between siblings, cousins, and neighborhood friends, long before a child arrives at their first day of school. As an example, she refers to her friendship with her own sister.

“Ellen is like the friend God chose for me because we share DNA. She’s the friend that’s so different from me. If we’d only been in a classroom, we might not ever have found the footing of deep friendship. But because we had to share a room….,” she laughs, adding that learning to respect and value differences prepared her to value friendships with people of all varieties. (For tips from our friend SharRon Jamison on how to build lasting friendships, click here, or go to her website here.)

Teach Your Kids to Initiate

“You can’t stop someone from rejecting your child,” says Anna, “So, when they run into kids who are ready to be friends, they must know how to initiate. Initiation communicates a great basis for friendship.” (For insight about dealing with difficult people, click here to look for our interview with Learning Styles Guru Cynthia Tobias or go to her website here.)

For instance, Anna suggests talking out loud at dinner or in the car about how to initiate friendships. Begin by teaching your kids to ask good questions. For example, ask your child, “What did you like about that new friend?” By doing so, you’ll prime their brains to go back to school, thinking about what they like about the other kids.

“A big one is learning the new person’s name,” Anna says. In the junior high where she teaches, she loves to hear friends shouting each others’ names down the hall. She suggests coaching your child to pay attention on the first few days when the teacher calls roll. (For more great ideas about the etiquette of friendships, watch for next week’s blog called Tea Time: Raising Confident Girls or find all our blogs here.)

Honoring Their Hard Work

Along with her tips, we also talked about those first glorious days before the homework starts. Possibly, I may have shared a few pet peeves about homework. Perhaps, Anna may have reminded me of one family story, ahem, about my bad attitude about homework. (To listen in click above or find the podcast here.)

She sums up back to school success this way: “Honoring the effort your kids put into school is important. The beginning of the year is a great time to start honoring their effort.” Together Anna and I want to thank all the teachers who are going back to school, celebrating our kids in their hearts.

“I love school! I’m so thankful to be a teacher. Having people entrust their kids to you, it’s such an honor to get to be a part of educating kiddos.”

We are thankful for teachers! To teachers and parents, we wish you every blessing as you guide our children and grandchildren!

May I pray for you?

Father, You are the Parent who loves us unconditionally with unfailing tender love. Oh, how we want to be like You, filled with Your Spirit as we guide our children and grandchildren! Thank you for the parents who ensure a great education for their children, all the while working hard to provide for them and making sacrifices for their child’s well-being. Thank You for the teachers who receive them with joy!Please strengthen them now, as they send their kids back to school and plan for success. Please show them the plans You have for each one; for each family, each parent, each child, each teacher, each administrator. We love You, good Father. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

We love to hear from you!

What plans do you have for your child’s success at school? In what ways does your morning routine function well? Where could you use some fresh ideas? Which experts would you love to hear from when it comes to helping your child succeed at school?

More Good News!

Aspiring author Cathy Krafve in front of a painting of her great grandfather, another author.Me with my great grandfather, Sylvester Primer, the last author in the family (unless my cousins send me a correction about that!)

I’m thrilled to announce that Karen Neumair of Credo Communications agreed to be my agent! If you hope to write a book and wonder how to get an agent, my best advice is beg! Seriously, Karen’s experience and natural ability to build relationships showed immediately as she answered all my myriad of questions. I’m so grateful to have her working behind the scenes on behalf of all of us who love books!

(Please click here to check out my very own author page!)

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

Most of all, thank you for sharing this moment together. Without you, it would be no fun at all!!

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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