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What 3 patron saints of teachers and students are teaching me about preparing for back-to-school


By Evgeny Atamanenko | Shutterstock

Cecilia Pigg - published on 08/10/21

Here's how to avoid common traps when you're preparing your children for their new academic year.

Have you finished your school shopping? Did you get the right color folders or the ugly ones that left both you and your child crying in the Target parking lot? Don’t worry, the tears are probably more about summer being over and the change of routine than they are about the getting the folders right.

Yes, it’s that crazy time of the year when, as a kid, I remember trying to cram every possible summer vacation-y type moment into my days because I was dreading the change of pace that school brings. That meant making last minute trips to the library, finding a cool, quiet place to read for as long as possible, and eating as much ice cream outside as I could get away with after my 30th time running through the sprinkler.

Now that I have to prepare for my own child to go to school, the last few days of summer are spent in a frenzy of preparation rather than a frenzy of summertime activities. And when I need a little extra help in my back-to-school preparations, here are a few saints I turn to.

St. Frances de Sales — for when I forget the importance of patience and the big picture in my rush to prepare

St. Francis de Sales helped so many people understand the faith with his simple and clear explanations, but above all by his gentleness. Instead of preparing long homilies that showed off his knowledge and theological insight, he kept his talks short and focused on one practical goal. He also got creative when he needed to help others, learning sign language when he discovered there were deaf people in his community.

St. John Bosco — for when I am tempted to take shortcuts or don’t want to get too involved in my child’s education

St. John Bosco was so moved by the difficulties boys faced in his time that he did whatever it took to help them. He did magic tricks for them to get their attention and entertain them, then he gave them an education. He would find them a place to live and help them get jobs. He didn’t even stop there — he would advocate for them at their jobs so that they were treated fairly. If John Bosco was able to be an educator and father figure to so many young men in his life, the least I can do is make sure I am fully invested in my own children’s education. 

St. Cassian — for when I think my own example is not important, or that I can say one thing and do another and my children won’t notice

St. Cassian taught children writing at a school in Rome, and then when he refused to worship Roman gods, was martyred with the stylus he used for teaching. I always need the reminder that my child is watching my every move, and how I speak, treat the people around me, and even in the little things like how I prepare them for school or talk about school, all of my actions are teaching them. Personal integrity is so important for all of us, especially those who are front and foremost in the lives of children. 

In the hustle and bustle of the change from summer mode to school mode, stay focused on the most important things. The transition to a new schedule and the pain of saying goodbye to summer break will be over soon. But the patience that you have during these days (despite buying the wrong color folders), the time and attention you give to your child’s education, and the integrity that you have through it all will make all the difference as your child grows and matures. 

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