Written by Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School

The last few weeks of the school year can be terribly busy and often chaotic. Through the years Tricia and I have always worked to creatively schedule our weeks during the spring so we can maintain a measure of peace in our family.

Recently Grayson Merritt, our Preschool Principal, was sharing lessons she has found helpful in navigating the many activities of her own family while also taking care of our littlest Royals at The Preschool. We decided to collaborate and share a few ideas as we head into one of the busiest times of the year for families with school-age children.

Take Care of Yourself First
There is an old saying, “You can’t get water from an empty well.” The saying is true for parents as well. If you do not take care of yourself physically, spiritually, or emotionally, you are not going to have anything left to give your family. The best illustration of this is when you board a plane. The stewardess demonstrates how to apply the oxygen mask, but listen closely to what she says. “Place the oxygen mask on yourself first and then assist those traveling with you.” If we are not being fed spiritually and taking care of our physical needs then our “well” will not be filled and we won’t have enough to give to our family. Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” We need to enter this busy season with hearts full of faith, hope, and joy.

Create a Consistent Daily Routine
Research tells us that the brain is pattern-seeking. In order for a child to feel safe, they must be able to anticipate what is coming next. The more a child can predict what is happening in his or her world and what the day consists of, the more at ease and willing the child is going to be while participating in their daily routine. A child that feels safe in their environment is much more willing and cooperative, therefore less willing to melt down. The same can be said for adults here. If we know what is ahead and have a basic plan for our day, we are less likely to lose control when something unexpected pops up that may need to be dealt with.

Managing Emotions
Students will inevitably face frustration at school and home. It’s vitally important that we find ways to help our children deal with frustration, anger, sadness, and disappointment. Our emotional state often dictates how those we love respond.

When we are frustrated or scared, our children pick up on those emotions. In turn, our children will become stressed and scared as well. If we take a deep breath, and regulate ourselves first and approach our children with a sense of calmness, they will likely reciprocate. It’s not a perfect art form, but it sure beats the alternative.

Becky Bailey suggests we follow the STAR Method. Smile, Take a deep breath, And Relax before you engage others in a potentially difficult conversation. The more we model this for our family, the more it becomes a natural response for us when we encounter feelings of frustration or fear.

It’s Not Personal
Lastly – and this is the more important step – No matter how we plan our days, no matter how many visual routines and structures we put into place, the world is not always going to go our way. It’s not personal – that’s just the way life is sometimes. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us what to do in these moments: “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” Your Father in Heaven is inviting you to bring Him all your problems and leave them at His feet.

Let’s make this a great finish to the school year. Philippians 4:8 gives us the recipe. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Avoid carline gossip. Steer clear of negative people who pull you down. Believe the best about others and think about good things.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the calm summer breezes are almost here. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve your family at The First Academy.