We’re so excited to be ending our summer break with a trip to Disney with ALL five of our kids! The youngest two, 14 and 12, will drive with us while the other three are coming from Austin, Minneapolis, and Dublin, Ireland! Rare is the moment we’re all under the same roof and to have A WEEK with them is going to be such a gift! In addition to our clan, we’ll be vacationing with my two younger brothers and their families, and my wonderful mom whose dream it is to have all of her children and grandchildren in one place to share family dinner, board games, and of course Disney World.
We’ll be in full-on gear up mode for the start of the school year upon our return. Concentrating on getting one son off to his sophomore year at Texas Tech and first apartment experience, another son ushered into FM9 and the band program, and our daughter will be taking on 7th grade and the middle school tennis program.
I’ve learned a few things in the process of three decades of parenting about getting into the groove of the school year, mainly through making mistakes and learning lessons from personal experiences. I thought I’d share some of my strategies with you in case you are looking for ways to help the school year go more smoothly.
First, I very rarely check my kid’s grades during middle and high school. And once they hit college, not at all. That might sound a bit crazy to some parents, but I made a decision a long time ago that defining our kid’s abilities and potential, or my yardstick as a parent, by the numbers that come from their school work is not an accurate measure of who they are. This makes the year infinitely less stressful because I don’t get “pinged” when they have homework or test grades lower then whatever parameter I may have set up in Skyward. My kids know if they need extra help I am always available and willing to get them to school early for tutoring, or if they need to stay late that’s an option too. I know there is a lot of academic pressure kids sometimes put on themselves and within their peer groups, and I am not going to add to it. So far it’s worked out great.
Second, I set out the lunch supplies every night after we clean up the kitchen…brown sacks, baggies, and napkins all ready to go for them to pack what they want when they get their lunch ready the next morning. We have a fresh fruit rule; otherwise what they choose to feed themselves during the day is up to them.
One last thing that has helped the school year run smoothly and, for me, keeps the running to and from school to a minimum is that I have a “one gimmie” rule; meaning you can call home ONE time to ask me to bring something up to school to you. One and done. So, the one thing you really need must be pretty important to you. This has helped our kids become responsible for making sure they have everything they need before we leave the house in the morning. And yes, there have been years when I haven’t had to bring anything at all for a kiddo.
Oh, I forgot the final school year “rule” I have put into place…the kids choose when they do their homework. For some it works to do it right after a snack in the afternoon, others not until after dinner. Sometimes they do forget to do it, but get up a few minutes early the next morning and get it done. And if they don’t get it done they understand whatever the consequences are, that’s the way life rolls.
When you operate from a place where you assume your kids can handle the job of their school work, but they know they can always come to you for support on any issue that arises; it builds their confidence, their ability to self-regulate, and their independence.
What do you do as a parent to help the school year go more smoothly?
Here’s to an awesome 2017-18 school year ahead!