Topic Tuesday Back to School

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

There is no denying it we are in full swing of the Back to School season! If your like me back to school is always met with mixed feelings of excitement and nerves and this year even more so. You see this year Clinton will be starting at a new school, White Oak – here in Westfield,MA. White Oak School offers a variety of educational services for students with various disabilities. The school serves children in grades 2 through 12. It enrolls students suffering from dyslexia and other language-based learning problems.  The journey to get Clinton transferred to White Oak will be of topic next week. Now just because Clinton will be in a more appropriate educational setting does not mean I am without nerves, anxiety or worry. You see parents like myself who suffer from what I call “Educatioal PTSD” after being put through wars for their childrens education find it very difficult to trust the process and educators.

I would like to talk a little bit about ways to help your child and you adjust to back to school no matter your childs ability. Every child matters and every parent matters. It is easy to get caught up in back to school shopping for clothes, shoes and supplies, and yes those things matter but what if we focused a little bit on mental and emotional back to school prep? What do I mean by that? I mean talk to your children ask them what are they excited for this year, what do they look forward to learning, how are they feeling, what after school activities do they want to do, what are they struggling with. If expressing themselves verbally is hard ask them to draw it, sing it, dance it the delievery does not matter, just the message. I like to do this because I want to make sure my son and I are on the same page, I want him to enjoy not just school, but learning in general. I have always considered being a parent more like that of a tour guide then a boss – I always want him to feel heard like what he wants and needs matters, because it does.

I like lists it helps keep me somewhat organized and somewhat on track so I put a list together I hope can be of some benefit to you and your family.

  1. Establish a set “family time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed
  2. Visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environments.
  3. Arrange playdates with two or three of your kids’ friends to rebuild existing social ties.
  4. Have your kids set realistic goals for the new year, such as reading 30 books.
  5. Create an after-school schedule that allows time for snack, relaxation, play and study.
  6. Model good behavior by doing your own work/projects while your kids do homework.
  7. Inventory your kids’ wardrobes and toss/donate things they’ve outgrown.
  8. Schedule at least one 30-minute block in your calendar each day for self-care.
  9. Create a rewards system for when kids meet goals, like helping around the house.
  10.  Do something fun to diffuse this stressful time of year for all of you!
  11. Talk openly with your kids about their feelings about returning to school.
  12. Visit cultural attractions like museums to shift their brains into “scholar” mode.
  13.  Refresh your rules about screen time for the school year. What’s allowed and when?
  14. Give kids a specific day to when they can choose all the activities you do together.
  15. Help your kids develop a filing system for organizing their documents for each class.
  16. Touch base with teachers early on to troubleshoot any issues your kids may be having.
  17. Have your kids pack their school bags before they go to sleep that night.
  18. Discuss the different pros and cons of bringing versus buying school lunches.
  19. Use sticky notes to flag important items that kids should pay attention to.
  20. Use positive phrasing, such as, “You can go outside after your homework is done,” rather than, “You’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  21. Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  22. Establish a specific space like the family office as an official “homework station.”
  23. Create a list of fun after-school activities and games to keep your kids entertained.
  24. Map out a bathroom schedule to avoid family fights for bathroom time.
  25. Take a breath! – You got this! every school year will have its challenges, its ups and downs, goods and bads so enjoy the ups and be kind to yourself on the downs. Sending you good vibes for a good year 🙂

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