Ready or not, school is about to begin.

Ads everywhere are announcing back-to-school sales. Entering stores, we see aisles lined with notebooks, pencils, backpacks and all things necessary to prepare for learning.

Education is important. We plan for it. From the time our children are born, we are encouraged to save for their education. Parents eagerly talk about what schools their infants might attend, and through sports, school paraphernalia and slogans, we encourage our children to be motivated about college. In our area, we often hear about Tiger mania, or chant "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawks," or "Go Cats," depending on which college team we support. Likewise, our children seem to repeat what we ourselves say and chant. It is so cute to hear a little 3-year-old say "Gooooooo Tigers!"

We prepare for education. Parents often will buy books and read to their children, preparing them for preschool or kindergarten. The books help them face their fears about the first day of school, making friends or listening to the teacher. And, as many parents know, those first years of school will set the tone for how their children will think, react and learn in the education system for 12-plus years.

Parents become involved in their children's education. They will volunteer in the classroom, attend meetings, go to conferences and spend time each evening working with their children to ensure they are learning properly.

All this is important to our families and society at large as we prepare our children to go forth independently into the workplace as adults.

But the workplace isn't the end. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, death is. No matter how much education we receive, no matter what our job status, no matter how much money we have, no matter if we are believers or not, we will die of this world. And after death we will face a judgment, and we will go to heaven or hell. This new life is eternal.

Therefore, the best education we can give our children is not simply how to prepare to live in this life, but to prepare for eternal life.

How much time and energy do we put into religious education? How much time do we spend teaching our children Bible stories? How much time do we spend telling our children about the miracles of Jesus? How much time do we spend helping our churches with children's education? How much time do we spend teaching our children how to talk to God through prayer?

How parents live their lives, how much time they spend with God in prayer, the religious paraphernalia in the home, how they treat one another in love, will all have an influence on their children. And just like in rooting for our favorite athletic team, children have a tendency to imitate their parents.

Wouldn't it be nice to hear a 3-year-old chant, "Gooooooo Jesus"?

A parent's ultimate desire is for their children to be happy. After all, each child is created for a purpose.

Education helps our children understand their talents, put them in use and ultimately achieve their purpose in this life. But if they do not have an education in God, their purpose might be misguided.

Teaching our children about God, helping them to establish communication with their creator through prayer, will enable our children to follow God's divine purpose for their lives.

And this relationship will make our children happy both in this life and in the next.

Donetta Robben is a freelance columnist from Hays. Write to her at P.O. Box 614, Hays, KS 67601, or e-mail her at donetta@ soulcommunications.net