Writings from Christine

Ten Tips for Successful Back-to-School

by on August 5, 2016

This school year can be the best one yet for parents and children. Here are ten tips for a successful back-to-school.

  1. Be an active parent. Passive parents don’t engage in their child’s school activities or volunteer at the school. Helicopter parents are too involved with every aspect of their child. Neither approach is healthy. An active parent knows the child’s teachers and volunteers occasionally but doesn’t micromanage either the teacher or the child.
  2. Know the discipline policy. At the beginning of the year, parents are asked to agree to discipline standards set by the school or the district. This is the one paper that should be read and understood by the parent. All too frequently, teachers or administrators over or under react to a discipline matter. It is important for parents to be their child’s biggest advocate.
  3. Allow for growth. Children can change dramatically from one year to the next. Sometimes a change in schools, classroom, peers, or teachers can greatly influence a child’s behavior and performance. Allow a child to perform for the first several weeks before speaking with the teacher about any concerns.
  4. Discuss new routine. Transitioning from summer fun to an academic learning can be difficult. Begin the new routine a full week before school starts. This includes discussing and mapping out transportation, bedtimes, quick breakfasts, easy lunch and snack preparation, best time to complete homework, and any media restrictions.
  5. Review child’s goals. The beginning of the school year is a great time to encourage a child to set personal goals for the year. These are not parent directed objectives; rather the goals should come solely from the child. Parents can then review the goals and help the child to set reasonable monthly and daily steps.
  6. Listen to the anxieties. It is normal for a child to be apprehensive before school starts or during the first several weeks. Changes in schedules, friendships, after-school activities, and teachers can generate anxiety, fear, and panic attacks. A child who works through these emotions, gains self-confidence as opposed to one whose parents attempts to fix the issues. If the condition last longer than a month, seek professional guidance.
  7. Encourage autonomy. One of the essential elements of child rearing is teaching the child to problem solve. Beginning in the tween years, children should be allowed to attempt to solve problems with teachers, peers, grades, discipline, or their schedule alone first. If needed, a parent can assist later. Even if the child fails in their attempt, they gain a sense of autonomy.
  8. Back away from homework. Homework is designed to reinforce what is learned in class. It is not an evaluation of the parent’s knowledge or talents. Beginning in kindergarten, parents should let the child do their own homework without assistance. An imperfect grade signals to the teacher that more instruction is needed.
  9. Focus on child’s strengths. Not every child will achieve academically. Setting the expectation that a child must obtain an arbitrary GPA does not take into account the child’s strengths and weaknesses for each subject matter. Rather, set reasonable expectations that are consistent with a child’s natural abilities. Every child is different, so this is not a “family” standard, but an individual one.
  10. Dream big. Parents already tend to dream big for their kids. But the more important element is a child’s dreams for themselves. These are likely to adjust from one year to the next as talents and passions are revealed. Parents should be flexible in the dramatic shifts and not morn the passing of old dreams.

It’s not a bad idea for parents to re-read these items during the school year. Even better, is allowing their child to grade the parent’s performance on how well these tips were followed.

Posted under: Parenting Writings from Christine

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