Hooray for You! by Donna J. Noble

Looking for a new tradition for the first day of school? Check out this idea submitted by ParentLife writer Donna Noble.

We have a back-to-school tradition in our family. It began the year my nephew Brian was in kindergarten. I am sure that my sister never anticipated on the day of the first-ever “Bus Party!” that the celebration would lead to another and yet another, until the wheels on the bus had gone around and around, carrying us 20 years down the road.

A Bus Party

schoolbus.jpgWhat is a bus party? It is simple. All you have to do is make a few treats and a pitcher of lemonade and, at the end of the school day, park yourself by the bus stop. When the bus comes into sight, you jump up and cheer in celebration of your child completing her first day of the school year

If all of this sounds a little funny, believe me, it is! You should see my sisters, my mom, and me each year! As we shout, “Hooray! It’s the bus party!” we get a few questioning looks from the bus driver. (Come to think of it, our kids have had a new bus driver every year. Is it possible that we scare them off?) Still, these incredulous bus drivers have never turned down the brownies we have offered them through the window.

Every year, our children know to expect this bus party silliness. Though the kids look a little sheepish as they descend the steps of the bus, try as they might, they cannot hold back their laughter. Once again, demonstrative affection triumphs over embarrassment.

The bus pulls away, but we stay and eat goodies. We talk about the day, about new teachers, and about our hopes for the year to come. Best of all, we share a very special bond.

Special Memories
Though every bus party is similar, each one is also unique. Sometimes we sing silly songs, read inspirational verses together, or simply reminisce about past bus parties.

One year, it rained so hard that only my 72-year-old mother and I were brave enough to dance around in the front yard. Everyone else waited under-roof for the guests of honor to arrive. When the bus finally came, the kids dashed straight past poor Grandma to the shelter of the barn where they joined their cousins and the faithful aunts for a great celebration.

Future Bus Parties

Once upon a time there were more little ones waiting on the blanket than riding the bus. Then there were more on the bus than on the blanket. Now our wonderful high schoolers would not miss celebrating their elementary school-aged cousins’ bus party days. The celebration continues for my children: the last two of the bus party of 12!

The Deeper Truth
One thing is for sure: The children in our family have gained the confidence to venture forth on their own because they know how much they are valued at home. And here is the icing on the bus party cake: Together we have experienced a sense of community that some people may never understand. Success calls for celebration … even if it is just an ordinary day, like the first day of school.

Donna J. Noble and her husband, Darrin, are co-founders of PineCross Ministries, LLP (www.pinecrossministries.com), whose focus is hospitality and encouragement to families. She writes from PineCross Acres in Hartville, Ohio, where she and her family love to celebrate ordinary days.

Does your family have any back-to-school traditions? Leave us a comment and tell us about them!


Taking the Stress Out of School

Is your preteen tired of school? Is she feeling the pressure of completing school work, earning good grades, and fitting in with her peers? Help her take the stress out of school.

  1. 28_homework.jpgEncourage excellence but emphasize to your preteen that she does not base her self-worth on grades. There is a balance here. Push her to do her best but assure that her value is grounded in being a child of God. 
  2. Ensure that your preteen has enough time to study and complete homework. Procrastinating or rushing through assignments will catch up to your
    preteen sooner or later. Be proactive in this area. Know what
    assignments are coming up and help your preteen set aside enough time
    to get all of them done.
  3. Celebrate your preteen’s success. Be eager and quick to point out when your preteen does well. When she earns a good grade, praise her! When she writes a paper, ask to read it and give her positive feedback. If the only time you talk about school is when you are critical, your preteen most likely will worry more.

For more help on teaching your preteen to see herself through God’s eyes, be sure to check out ParentLife’s 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt article “Self-Identity” in the March 2009 issue.

What school struggles is your preteen facing? Do you have
stress-reducing suggestions to share with other parents?  Leave a comment and
let us know.