Parenting Expert Alyson Schafer: Tips for Back to School
September always feels a bit like the “New Year” to me. It’s the natural turning of a page, the start of a new season and a new school year. My daughters are entering grades 10 and 11. Seems like just yesterday I was walking them to kindergarten, and now they are talking about course selections in preparation for university.
Here are a few tips to help you get back into the swing of the school year smoothly:
1. Meet the Teacher
The first few weeks of school are crazy, but before October is over, you should set up a “meet and greet” appointment with your child’s teacher. Don’t ambush them at the door, schedule this visit. Bring your child with you, have them show you their room and their cubby or desk, and meet their teacher over a nice friendly cup of tea. It’s just about being social, putting names to faces and establishing a positive relationship. Your child needs to feel a warmth between home and school. Set the tone of collaboration and enthusiasm in this meeting. If you have to discuss some concerns, that’s fine too, just keep it positive.
2. The Back Pack
Your child is learning to be responsible for their school work. They need to establish some rituals about their back pack and its contents. The more you manage their back pack, the less they will feel it’s their responsibility. Instead, train them to carry it (always) and have a set location it should go when they get home. A basket or hook in the front hall is perfect. Next, ask: “Have you got any papers for me?” Don’t dig in their bag! Instead, have them search for the papers the school sends home before they drop their bag in the basket. If they learn to do this little ritual each day, it will become automatic. I suggest you have an “inbox” somewhere in the kitchen for your child to put their permission forms and other school-to-parent correspondence in. If you really want to help the school, get those papers signed and back ASAP. The teachers will love you!
Work together with your child to create a list of the five lunches a week your child likes. If they stop liking something during the school year, they can remove it from the list but they must replace it with something else so the total stays at five! Depending on their age, they can help prepare the lunch with you, or tackle it on their own.
Help your child get out the door or to the bus on time by using a timer to indicate when it’s five minutes until they need to leave the house. When it’s time to leave, you should say, “It’s time for school, I’ll be waiting for you outside,” and then leave the house. Wait in the car or on the driveway. They may be late a few (dozen) times in the early weeks and months, but they will learn you are not going to fight or force and eventually will become more mindful of the time.
Remember that it takes pretty much till December until the entire family gets into the flow of the new school year so build lots of room in your schedules to avoid being stressed — it’s probably not a good time to undertake a kitchen renovation, for example.
Alyson Schafer is an internationally acclaimed parenting expert, family counsellor, and bestselling author. Audiences can count on Alyson to inspire and transform lives. Armed with years of research, clinical, and field experience, Alyson provides a fresh and positive understanding of family dynamics along with actionable solutions that will give parents the skills and confidence needed to face modern life challenges. The end goal is to raise resilient, caring, and capable kids.
Interested in learning more about Alyson and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].