A prayer for the first day of school

Written by Kayla Craig
Published on August 12, 2022

Embarking on a new school year can bring a swirl of emotions for both kids and parents. 

Whether you’re hiding your tears for your little one’s first day of kindergarten or scratching your head at how your baby somehow became a teen, the start of the school year is a big change that can bring big feelings.

As you track down school supplies and your family prepares for the adventure of a new academic year, take some time to reflect and reset. Ask your children what they’re looking forward to – and what they might be anxious or worried about. Consider how you might invite God into the excitement and anxiety you hold as your kids start a new adventure.

As the family calendar fills up, take some time to intentionally pray for the new school year.

In my book To Light Their Way, I’ve written more than 100 modern prayers and liturgies for parents. I talked with parents of toddlers all the way to high school seniors to encompass all the complicated emotions that come with seeing our children off to school.

This prayer for the first day of school is yours to borrow – and make your own.

A Prayer for the First Day of School

O God of new beginnings,
As this child begins this new school year,
We are reminded that they are Yours
And Yours alone.

We have filled their backpack,
And we ask You to fill their heart
With the joy of new friends
And their mind
With the wonder of learning new things.

You are the God of science
And the God of art,
The God of equations
And the God of song.

Be with them,
This piece of my heart,
As they embark on this new adventure,
Becoming more themselves
And needing me less
Every day.

Give them courage
To extend kindness to teachers,
Fellow students,
And even themselves.
May they stand tall in who they are,
And may they find friends to sit with.

Ignite passions in them
For Your world and everything in it.
Spark creativity and stoke the fires of imagination.

Give them a heart to see the hurting
And strength to show love in the hallways.
Give them friends,
But help them not to find their worth in others.
Give them concentration
And a holy kind of mischief
That keeps them asking why.

Be with their teachers,
Who give so much of themselves.
May they have eyes to see each student
In their own challenges and victories.

God, we know each body and soul
Has a different way of learning.
Help [child’s name] find
What helps them learn best
In the ways You’ve uniquely wired them.

Thank You for all that awaits,
And thank You for the tug in my heart
As I wave goodbye
And watch them enter the doors,
For those are the heartstrings of love.

May this child feel Your love
As they walk the halls,
And may You keep them safe
And bring them safely home.

May they rise to the challenges set in front of them,
And may they never be too busy
To bend down and help someone.

Give them focus
And eyes to see someone who could use a friend.
Give them imagination,
And may they know the power that lies within
A pencil or a paintbrush.
May they learn how understanding history
Can change the future.
And may they see how numbers can come together
To make a difference in our world.

God, as they prepare to start the school year,
I wonder if I have taught them enough,
If I have prepared them for this moment.
I care more about their character
Than their academic success.
For what is successful in the eyes of the Lord?

I think, too, of the students
For whom school is a refuge
From the storms of life at home.
May they connect with others who truly see them,
Not as under resourced or troubled or another statistic
But as Your beloved.

We thank You for the gift of education,
For we know it is a privilege
Not all have access to.
Even in our own city,
We know there are inequities
Baked into the bricks of our schools.

In my child’s anxieties,
May they find comfort in Your presence.
In their worries,
May they find peace in Your promises.
In their challenges,
May they find victory in Your power.

May they be curious and compassionate.
May they share their lunch with a friend in need
Or risk being late to help a lost new student find their way.
O God, we give our own worries
And our parental desire for control
To You.

Thank You for the gift of the first day of school
And for all the days to come.
May this child learn and grow,
And may I learn and grow too.
Teach us how to love You
And our neighbor
More every day.


Find more prayers like this on the Liturgies for Parents podcast or at Liturgies for Parents on Instagram. To Light Their Way is available wherever books are sold.

May you keep learning – and growing – more every day.

Consider a few extra resources:

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Kayla Craig

Kayla Craig is the author of To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers & Liturgies for Parents. A former journalist, she is adamant about paying attention and embracing curiosity in her work as a writer and podcast producer. She writes nuanced, nurturing prayers at Liturgies for Parents on Instagram, and professionally, she writes, produces, and edits prayers and podcasts for Christian spiritual formation. Kayla and her pastor-husband, Jonny, live in Iowa, where they’re raising four young kids who joined their family via birth and adoption. When she’s not playing LEGOs with her sons or advocating for her daughter with disabilities, Kayla can be found sipping strong coffee. You can connect with Kayla at kaylacraig.com and on Instagram @kayla_craig and @liturgiesforparents.

Read more about Kayla

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