Fall is here and most kids have returned to school or will very soon. A myriad of mixed emotions will consume them—excitement about new school supplies and clothes, the anticipation of the class list, and a nervous feeling about new classes, teachers, and friends. Psychologists say that anxiety increases in kids as they approach a new school year. So, how can the church (and more specifically—kids ministries) help children of all ages as they go back to school? Here are three ways:
- Make church a safe place (meaning, accepting, and peaceful.) Train your volunteers to greet kids by name—immediately welcoming them as they enter. Be sure each child is known by the others in their group. Work to make connections between kids (like who has common interests, who goes to the same school, and who loves dogs or horses!)
- Learn power verses together. Choose Scriptures that can help kids remember that God is in control no matter what and that they are never alone. God’s Word offers many of these promises.
- Pray together. Help your volunteers remember to pray with their groups of kids. Allow kids to offer prayer requests and together lift them up. Of course, severe anxiety may require professional help. Your role may be to alert a parent or caregiver if you sense a child is struggling beyond typical back-to-school anxiety.
Kids who have godly adults from church pouring into their lives are more likely to be spiritually healthy as they grow up. The Church can play a role as kids navigate anxiety going back to school this year.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of LifeWay Kids. She is a Baylor graduate and offers a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and publishing. She is the author of Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith, Kids Ministry that Nourishes: Three Essential Nutrients of a Healthy Kids Ministry, and Life Verse Creative Journal, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children reside in Nashville.