It’s that time of year again. School buses are on the roads, traffic is worse, the alarm clock is going off early, the calendar is getting filled with homework, tests, projects, school meetings and after school activities. Calgon take us away! Or we can face the reality and do all we can to make this school year successful – not just for our kids, but for us parents too!
Assess your family routines. What works well and what causes frustration on a regular basis? Can you do more to set things out the night before? Do you need to instill a technology bedtime? Do you have a good dumping ground and launching pad area for backpacks and other items that need to go back and forth? Where do all the school papers go? Give thought to all of these questions and see where routines can be streamlined and automated.
Take the stress out of homework – at least as much as you can. Consider what each child needs to be productive. One child may do well in peace and quiet in his/her room. Another might need more supervision. One might need frequent breaks while others prefer to plow through. As easy as it would be to put all kids around the table at the same time and follow the same homework routine, the reality is that it may not be what is best for each child individually. Talk with each child and agree on the best routine for each of them.
Encourage your child to use a planner. In this technological era, many kids think they do not need one. Yet the reality is they do! Kids must learn the skill set on paper first and see for themselves the benefit of having all of their assignments, test and project dates all in one place. Spending 15 minutes going from one teacher blog to another when they get home is a huge waste of time nor does it allow them to also see their soccer practices and games, family commitments and the like.
Schedule regular family meetings. Once a week, review calendars and planners as a family. What’s coming up? Who needs to be where and when? Clean out backpacks, purses and briefcases. Sunday nights are great time so everyone starts the week fresh, organized and ready to go.
It does takes a village. Teachers, coaches, tutors, learning specialists, therapists, and yes, organizational coaches exist for a reason. Don’t go this alone. If your child is struggling, communicate with the teachers and encourage a team approach of working together. Call for help, if needed.
Consider a holistic/whole child approach. Going to school today is a vastly different experience than it was for most of us and is increasingly more stressful. Watch your child, be available to him/her, take a mental health day if needed and try not to focus on the grade. If your child follows good routines, uses a planner, has good study habits, and can turn in his/her homework in a timely manner, then the grades should follow. Don’t force your child into AP classes if he/she is not up to the task. There are plenty of great schools out there and your child’s mental health is important. Don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep, good nutrition, exercise and stress reducing techniques. Have all your tools in your toolbox to use when needed.
The bottom line is that school can be hard on the whole family. Be there for each other. Keep the lines of communication open. Be in the know. And most of all, love your child no matter how they do on tomorrow’s test! Good luck to you all and may this be a great year for all!