How to Give Your Kids the Best Start to the New School Year

I can hear it from my office chair… the cheers of parents as they are about to send their kids out of the house and back to school.  But the tranquility of a quiet home will only last a minute if you aren’t prepared for the school year to come.  Here are critical things to do and topics to consider as we go in to this new season.

1. Define expectations
Get really clear on what your expectations are of your kid when it comes to this school year.  The expectations should be different than last school year in some ways because they are a year older which means you can raise the bar a bit.  Discuss with them what is a reasonable grade to expect in each class, what daily chore does he need to do around the house regardless of how busy he is, what is the expected attitude toward his teachers and family and if applicable, what are the expectations about social media and dating?

2. Structure the Day
Don’t leave the schedule to chance or assumption.  Decide ahead of time through conversation and common sense what needs to happen and when.  Leave as little wiggle room as possible to avoid misunderstandings.  When is a reasonable time for bed time?  When do phones need to be put away… as in, out of their room?  You may need to buy them an alarm clock since they won’t have their phone and you won’t be waking them up.  What time do they need to be up in the morning and what time do you all need to be out the door in the morning?  When is family time?  How much screen time do they get during the week and weekends?

3. Empower Your Kid Instead of Enabling Them
Ask them what they expect of themselves in regards to school, sports, giving back to the community, being a part of the family unity.  Then ask how you can support them in meeting those goals.  Don’t do the planning or the work for them.  Instead, make sure they have the resources, encouragement and support to do it themselves.

4. Set an Inviting Tone With Teachers
There are a million studies out there that say students do exponentially better in school when the teacher and parent have a good relationship.  Work with the teacher to support your student.  Understand that teachers are just as stressed and overwhelmed as the rest of us.  Appreciate what they are doing and do your best to never talk badly about them in front of your kids.  Reach out to the teachers and give them your contact information so they can connect with you when needed.

5. Don’t Obsess
Be involved without smothering your student.  There’s no need to check online grades every day!  Stop yourself.  Pick one day a week to check out what your kid is up to academically and stick to that day.  The more you pull back the more your student will step up.

6. Leave Last Year in the Last Year
Maybe your kid did a stellar job in school last year.  This year may be the same, it may better or it may be more difficult.  Whatever the case, don’t compare to last year.  Your kid is changing.  Circumstances are changing.  Address what is right in front of you without referring to the good or bad of what happened in the past.

The new school year bring opportunity for growth on many levels… academically, maturity, socially, emotionally.  Be your kid’s biggest fan by encouraging them and also holding them to a standard you know they are capable of and nothing less.

This isn’t always easy.  Keeping yourself in check as well as your student can be challenging.  If you need help, ask us.  You don’t have to do it alone.

Written by Lisa Smith

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