Focal verse

“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (Proverbs 22:6).

Reflection

Next to bookshelves in our living room lies a pile of items: a pink and white backpack, sunglasses, a unicorn lunchbox and a headband. “For kindergarten,” my 5-year-old daughter tells me. Since mid-June her kindergarten pile has been growing each week. “I go to kindergarten next week?” she asks, with eyes wide and a smile filling her face.

“Not yet, you still have some time,” I tell her, wishing the days would slow down. Like many children across the country, my daughter hasn’t been in a school setting since mid-March when her preschool closed due to the pandemic. She is eager to return.

When summer began, we started talking about kindergarten and our hopes for the year ahead. Every time we pass her new school she cheers and reminds me she’ll eat lunch there and play at the playground once school begins.  

This will be the first year my daughter will attend school all day, a big adjustment for our family. I trust the teachers and staff will welcome my daughter and others with open arms and, similarly, I plan to offer my support and prayers to the school. After the abrupt end to the last school year, I’m grateful for all who moved forward with flexibility and grace to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Time will tell what this school year will look like for our children, but for now we’re praying for all staff, teachers, students and their families. At bedtime, I invite my daughter to pray for the friends she’ll meet and the lessons she’ll learn. Later I pray that her school year will be filled with learning, curiosity and love. 

There’s never a time not to pray for our schools. As we anticipate and experience our children’s first days—whatever they may look like—I keep turning to God and offering prayers for the growth to come.

Practices

  • Request a list of teachers’ names from your school and, with your family, pray for each teacher. On the first day of school, bring a handwritten note with words of encouragement for your children’s teachers. 
  • On a day when your children’s school is closed, take a walk around the building and lift up prayers aloud for the school year. 
  • Before school each morning, pray together as a family. Prayers for Faithful Families (Beaming Books, 2020) is a great book that includes prayers for everyday life.

Prayers

We pray for schools and communities navigating new ways of learning.
We pray for nurses and all health care workers.
We pray for the changing seasons and God’s beautiful creation.
We give thanks for books, libraries and the gift of learning.
We give thanks for songs and hymns that teach faith.
We give thanks for connecting with friends through phone calls, visits and letters.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Service opportunity 

Contact your school’s administration and see how you can share your support with teachers and support staff. Maybe you could organize free coffee and doughnuts one morning or band together with fellow families to write and send notes of encouragement to all staff.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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