Lessons Learned about Back-to-School


Featured Picture Book

For today’s post, instead of one “featured book” I am offering a selection of back-to-school books with an idea about what each book has to say. (All available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)

Many kids all over the world will be going back to school this month. I talked a lot about back to school earlier this month knowing many of our readers were getting ready and making plans for that big change in family life. But, I think this is such an important time for kids and parents that I’m going to use this post as a 2nd reminder of ways you can help your child and family have a healthy and happy start back to school.52 Sidebar 3

BACK TO SCHOOL TORTOISE by Lucy M. George

Your child might be worried about going back to school, but with a little bravery and staying on track everything can work out just fine.

MOM, IT’S MY FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN by Hyewon Yum

Both mom and child may be worried those first few days of school, but the worry can come and go, and you can help each other through it.

VERA’S NEW SCHOOL by Vera Rosenberry

You can make new friends in surprising ways at your new school – even if the day starts out looking like you will have trouble making new friends.

ELLA by Carmella and Steven D’Amico

It can be scary to go to a new school, especially if you are a little different than the other students. But, by being kind, helpful, brave, and true to yourself you can convince even bullies that you are a good friend.

HOW DO DINOSAURS GO TO SCHOOL by Jane Yolen

Dinosaurs – always interesting and funny to children – show both good behavior at school and not-so-good behavior at school.

EMILY’S FIRST 100 DAYS OF SCHOOL by Rosemary Wells

Learning numbers can be fun.

Parenting Thoughts

I have summed up my thoughts about back to school with 10 lessons I’ve learned after living through and watching kids and families go back to school over 43 years.

TEN LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT BACK-TO-SCHOOL

  1. It’s OK to be happy.

Back to school time for parents can mean less childcare concerns, more ability to concentrate on housework or office work while kids are occupied at school, and maybe – if you’re lucky – some extra me-time. (See Me-Time for You Is Good for Your Children.)

  1. It’s OK to be sad.

You may miss your kids, especially if they are going to school for the first time. Be sure to tell your kids that you miss them while they are gone. And, be sure to tell them how you deal with missing them too – maybe you plan an after-school snack for them, play some music that you know they like, or just think about that big bear hug you’re going to give them when they get home. If you are super sad find a friend to talk to about it, and be sure you don’t talk about your sadness to your child in a way that may leave him feeling responsible – like he could make you happy if he stayed home. (See Whose Feelings Are They?)

  1. Be prepared for your child’s fears (or at least nerves) about returning to school.Blog13 Sidebar1

Be on the lookout for delayed reactions to these fears or nerves. Your child may suck it up in the first few days or weeks (months for older kids – like college kids), but down the road, he may suddenly start having trouble going to school. Just go back to square one and pretend it is the first few days of school and be and extra good listener and be extra comforting to help him deal with his fears. (See First Days of School.)

  1. Balance your messages – things you say and do.

Kids need to be appreciated for who they are – just because they are special human beings. Kids also need to be appreciated for the many things they can do well. School puts the emphasis on those things your child does well. Make sure you are helping balance his messages by giving him lots of I-love-and-enjoy-you messages at home – regardless of what he can or cannot do. (See And Calm Fell Over the Household and First Days of School.)

  1. Realize that kids miss a lot of things when they go to school.Blog6 Sidebar 1

Kids can miss mom-time, a favorite toy or blanket, TV shows, neighborhood friends, a pet, etc. Be comforting about their feelings of loss. Hug them, fix them their favorite food, plan special time with them, etc. (See First Days of School.) 

  1. Let school be your child’s experience.Blog13 Sidebar 3

Be careful about how many and what kinds of questions you ask. Ask the questions you need to know, but be specific – Did
you have the right supplies? This is much better than a great big question like, “How was school today?”  (See First Days of School.)

  1. Accept “Fine” or “OK” as an answer about school.

If your child doesn’t give details about school, let it go. Just be sure he knows you are available to talk about anything anytime. (See First Days of School.)

  1. Watch for boredom.51 Sidebar 1

Children who are bored at school can get in trouble or just be unhappy at school. Make sure your child’s special talents are being used at school. If you think they are not, talk to a teacher or administrator. Some schools are afraid that zeroing in on a kid’s special talents will hurt the school’s overall scores in reading, writing, and mathematics. Suggest to the school that your child would read better if he was reading something he is interested in. And, he would get excited about science and math if it were connected to his interests. (See Your Child’s Special Talents, Part 3.)

  1. Connect school to your child’s dreams.45 Sidebar 1

Make sure your child has the type of education she will need to follow her dreams. For example, you can’t be an architect without math skills, can’t be a writer without Language Arts skills, and can’t be a scientist without scientific knowledge. When kids realize these school subjects apply to their special interests, school becomes much more important to them. (See Your Child’s Special Talents, Part 2.)

  1. Be careful about birthday celebrations at school.

52 Sidebar 2Make birthday invitations be all or none. Invite everyone in the class or do your inviting away from school (no invitations given out at school). Likewise, if you’re sending birthday treats to school be sure there is enough for everyone in the class. (See Birthday Parties, Part 1.)

 

Read All About It

First Days of School

GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke

CONNECTIONS: THE THREADS THAT STRENGTHEN FAMILIES, Jean Illsley Clarke

 

 Surf the Internet:
  • self esteem
  • developmental tasks
  • overindulgence
  • gifted children
  • first days of school

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