Sending our kids off to school was once a relatively easy process to look forward to. Discovering a new place to spend the day, new teachers and friends, and exciting opportunities waited to fill the day with endless possibilities and knowledge.
Today, there is much work to do before sending our kids off to school. School protocols can leave many parents feeling confused, frustrated, embarrassed and over-stressed. From pre-entry testing procedures to buying uniforms and getting sports physicals, kids need our help to make the transition into school every year a simpler, happier and more effective experience.
Getting organized long before school starts is a life-saver with so many requirements school systems demand families to adhere to. Thoroughly review school websites. Contact and visit school authorities, teachers and classrooms for clearer guidance surrounding applications, tuition and supplies costs, physicals and immunizations, and school extra-curricular memberships. Plan ahead for before and after school activities by lining up carpools and baby sitters in advance. The more you explore early on, the less stress for both you and your child when school begins.
Emphasize the Positive
For some children, going to school can produce academic and emotional anxiety. For others, school is a place of social and educational camaraderie. For those who need a little more encouragement, talk to your children about what they think will be attractive to them personally. Gently emphasize that learning new things is what our brains love, making friends is what our hearts love and playing new games is what our bodies love. Make going to school an extension of positive family values and a recognizable place to become the best they can be.
Getting to Know Your Child’s Teacher
Getting to know your child’s teacher and how he or she interacts with your child is as important as the child’s education itself. It might even be a good idea to look into what goes into hiring a teacher to get a better idea of what specifications you’ll want to look for in your child’s teacher. While in years past teacher/children relationships were not quite as personalized unless there were special physical, mental or emotional circumstances, times are changing. Preparedness vs. unpreparedness in developing cohesive and appropriate relationships between teacher and student can literally make or break a child’s most effective learning atmosphere.
Parents and teachers should communicate often for the purpose of developing a clearer understanding of the child’s academic and social needs. Look for positive signs of behavior, work acceptance, classroom participation or interaction and motivation. Negative signs of mental or physical withdrawal (i.e. blaming the teacher, stomach aches, fatigue and other excuses which portray emotional distance) should be closely watched, as well.
Hovering – Not a Great Idea
Many parents often feel the stress of their children’s school experience, too. One reactive approach parents may take is to hover like a helicopter over their child’s daily school experiences by over-helping with homework, over-planning activities or spending too much time within school volunteer opportunities in order to be nearer to their child. Remember – it’s THEIR experience. Children need a little more autonomy than a parent’s over-protective or over-ambitious heart may desire. Give them room, moms and dads.
Timing is Important
Teach kids to instill smooth-running, stress-reducing efforts like preparing lunches, outfits and backpacks the night before school. Set alarm clocks early enough to arrive to school at least 10 minutes early. Leaving for school earlier rather than later can douse the flames of unnecessary school jitters. Parents do your kids a favor – teach by example.
There are many things we as parents must consider before sending kids off to school. Being involved in your child’s daily activities will help both you and your child gain the support and direction it takes to provide children with the best personalized educational experience they deserve.