No one ever said parenting was easy. And while starting a new school year can be exciting for kids, it can also be a time of worry and concern for parents.
Here are some tips for making the new school year a successful one.
- Use the energy of a new year to commit to organization. Give each kid a folder for things that you need to see or sign. Have an accessible place for school supplies, book bags, coats and lunch boxes. Decide on what clothes are going to be worn the night before. If you have more than one child, figure out shower/bathroom scheduling (coming from a family with four girls, I know how important this one is!) Do what you can the night before to make mornings smoother.
- Divide up responsibilities. Who will make lunches- mom, dad, or child? Who will look over homework each night? Who will make sure each kid is keeping up with their school work? How will your child wake up in the morning – alarm clock or mom/dad?
- Provide a positive start to the school year. Does your family have a ritual to celebrate the start of the year? If not, create one! Rituals are important ways to encourage community and connection. Some families go out to breakfast or dinner, some go to the pool one last time, or make t-shirts to remember the summer by. Tell funny stories about when you were in school, and talk about your child’s previous teachers and friends. Ask them what they are excited about, afraid of, and hopeful for.
- If there were problems or difficulties last year, talk about how things can be better. If a child is shy, role play ways to introduce himself. If a certain subject was tricky, encourage your child to check in with you at the first sign of trouble. If behavior is an issue, try and identify the root cause, and ways to prevent the behavior from occurring again.
- Keep the doors to communication open with your child and your child’s teacher. Let your son or daughter know that you understand that sometimes school can be tough, and you want to help. Ask them about their classes, their friends, their teachers. Know what is going on in their lives. They may just grunt when you cheerfully ask “how was your day?” but it lets them know that you care and are interested. Call or email their teacher if you are confused or concerned about the workload, or have a question or compliment. Be informed, and advocate for your child if you need to.
As kids get older, the pressures of school increase.
While kindergarteners may worry about making friends or forgetting their lunch money, older kids deal with bullying, test anxiety, peer pressure, worries about getting into college, and the ever-present raging hormones. They’re also less likely to be open about what is stressing them.
Don’t wait for your child to come to you with their problems – take initiative.
- If you notice your kid spending more time alone, mention it to them.
- If their grades slip, talk about it in a non-judgmental way.
- Ask about their friends, what pressures they have, what makes them happy.
- Be aware of the signs of depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and self-injury. You may never think it could happen to your kid, but it could.
All children and young adults need their parents to be involved in their school life. What this means changes throughout the years, but by being open, curious, positive and engaging, your relationship with your child will grow and thrive.
photo from Shutterstock
Last reviewed: 3 Sep 2013
Harmon, J. (2012). 5 Tips for a Successful School Year. Psych Central.
Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-life/2012/08/5-tips-for-a-successful-school-year/