A new Institute for Family Studies research brief reaffirms the conclusion that children from stable, married families have a better chance of receiving the guidance and support they need to succeed academically and adapt confidently to the classroom environment than children from non-traditional households. 

This does not mean children from non-traditional families cannot do well in school. Many do, despite the less-than-ideal parenting they may experience. But the odds of school success are more favorable for those from families headed by married dads and moms.

Parents are real difference makers in their child’s academic and overall school experience. Yes, married mothers and fathers give their child an advantage, but any parent can choose to be involved and informed when it comes to their child’s education and make a significant difference.

As children begin going back to school, parents’ involvement is more important than ever. Children attending public schools will more than likely be bombarded with progressive propaganda woven into lesson plans which may be called Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), Critical Race Theory, cultural competency, or other seemingly innocent names. 

Classes may begin with “get-to-know-you” questions that force children to discuss their gender, culture, and identity so that students can “share their stories.” They may even be taught that one’s gender is a choice and that their gender pronouns will be respected at school regardless of what their parents say. 

All of this increases the importance of parents preparing their children for this new school year—and that preparation goes beyond a good backpack! It includes practical actions parents can take to protect themselves and their children. A recent article in The Federalist has some excellent ideas, as does this free resource from Family Policy Alliance, one of our national partners.

A few years ago, Daniel Ryan Day wrote a blog post in which he offered ideas about how parents can intentionally prepare their children spiritually for a school year. The blog post is no longer available online, but the ideas are as timely today as they were in 2016.

While public schools very often present unique challenges for Christian families and their children, the ideas Day gives aren’t just for those whose children attend a local public school. They are for everyone, including those who are in private Christian schools and most of them even for those who home school.

First, parents need to develop a family devotion plan for the school year—and commit to sticking to it. Find the best time of day for your family. Maybe it’s before school, or maybe it’s after family dinner while everyone is together. Whenever or wherever it is, be consistent. And be age appropriate and relevant. Children today are confronted with all types of issues; use devotions to help equip them spiritually to deal with those issues and to strengthen their faith and trust in God.

Next, talk to your children every day about what happened at school. Ask questions—good questions. Don’t accept a single word response such as, “fine,” “good” or “ok.”  Engage your children in conversations. Keep close tabs on what is going on at school, in the classroom, on the playground, with friends. Stay relaxed and informal but be relentless. 

Third, pray every day for your children—specifically and with purpose. Pray with your children before they head out the door each morning- for protection, wisdom, patience, focus, and anything else God lays on your heart for your child. And pray throughout the day specifically for your children. We know prayer reaches the heart of God; He hears and answers. And what an example you will be giving your children!

Fourth, in spite of busy schedules, spend time together as a family. Building strong family bonds is one of the best protections children have. How often have young people been deterred from some dangerous or wrong choice by knowing their mother and father, their family, would be hurt or disappointed?

Lastly, make a point of going to church together as a family. Yes, even during a busy school year. It’s important your children understand at young ages that corporate worship and gathering together as believers for fellowship is essential. Lead by example. In addition, good friendships at church can sometimes help overcome some of the problems of not-so-good friendships at school.

As Mr. Day says, getting children ready for school is about so much more than preparing their backpack. This year Wisconsin Family Action hopes parents will spend quality time preparing the heart and soul of their children so that they know a little more about what loving and following Jesus looks like. We also hope some of the resources we’ve included will help parents know their rights and their options so they can appropriately be informed and involved this school year.

Always and by God’s good design, parents are the difference-makers in their children’s lives, including their success in their formal education. And, as always, God’s plan for marriage—one man and one woman in a lifelong, monogamous relationship—really is what’s best for children.

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