Back to school

September is a really significant time for families with children. The very young may be starting nursery, older ones may be starting school or moving up a class. It’s a great opportunity for the church to stay in touch with families who have had children baptized at the church and show continued support as they grow up.

Schools, nurseries and colleges have a huge impact on local communities. September brings a great opportunity to show the church’s support at a time of new beginnings and transition, often accompanied with anxiety and excitement. Here you’ll find ideas to connect with families and others affected by the start of a new academic year.

Ideas

  • The week before the new school term is an opportunity to host a service dedicated to offering a ‘back-to-school’ blessing. Prayers can include all those affected by the new academic year; parents, teachers, pupils, students, as well as nurseries.
  • This idea helps to remind people that God is always with us: hand out to those present at the service a luggage label with a special blessing on, and which can be tucked into school bags etc for the first day of school. It’s an idea mentioned on churchofenglandchristenings.org which parents (or even godparents) can also do for children at home.
  • If you like the luggage label idea, it could also be used in a school assembly talk too. (For more support with school assemblies, visit the Church of England’s Going for Growth website.)
  • Teachers, support staff and others whose work takes them into a school environment might also like to tuck a blessing card into a pocket/wallet OR find a small heart-shape (e.g. a stone, wooden template, gift card etc), and place it somewhere in their work space/equipment. Every time it is seen it will be a reminder of God’s love and his love for all in the school/college/nursery.
  • This assembly suggestion from the Bible Assemblies website is great for new beginnings and times of transition.
  • Prayer trees have all sorts of uses and could be used as another way to involve all those present at a service to pray for someone they know who is starting or moving up a class at nursery/school/college. See how you can adapt this idea for a school blessing service.
  • For those working in nurseries, schools, colleges, or other educational places this may be a prayer they can use for themselves. It could be given as a small prayer card/slip, or emailed.
    God of wisdom,
    Give me joy as I start work for this schoolyear;
    Give me love for those I meet,
    Give me hope for those whose future I affect,
    Give me strength for each day
    And the knowledge of your presence by my side.
    Amen.
  • By changing the words ‘me’ to ‘them’, ‘I’  to they’, and ‘my’ to ‘their’, the above prayer can be used by you to pray for others, or for teaching professionals to use to pray for their colleagues or students.
  • Prayer idea for those at nursery or working in childcare:
    Prayer Rabbit (in honour of Brer Rabbit!)
    Buy a special rabbit toy, button badge or brooch and name it Prayer Rabbit.  Place it in the car, in a coat pocket or pin to coat. Every time you see the rabbit, ask God’s blessing on the child who you are thinking of  this day in whatever situation they may be.

Free editorial

  • If you would like to publish the luggage label article in your own parish magazine or on your website, Download it here.
  • If your parish has a Church of England school, feel free to offer this article to them too, or simply let them know that their church is praying for them as the new term starts.