January 20, 2022

Kids in the Canyon—Attention P.A.R.E.N.T.S!


Summer and its school-free, long, lazy days is wending its way back to school days. The hot weather will stick around for a while longer and weekends will lure us into believing that we are on summer vacation but, yes, school is starting up again. Kids are dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon and, while it brings a little relief to haggard parents, the job of parenting a school-aged child is still a full-time job.

To prepare for the new school year, here are some tips for P.A.R.E.N.T.S. to help Moms and Dads ease into the school groove.

Participate—in your child's activities (school, sports, lessons). Get the bonus of interacting with other parents, getting to know the children in the class or team, and watching their children learn, evolve and grow. The years of childhood fly by quickly and before you know it, these opportunities will be gone. Make the time and spend it with your child whether you coach the team or just sit on the bleechers cheering. There is always a need for volunteers to help with costumes and sets, or gathering supplies or donations. Let your child know you are interested in the things they are interested in.

Active—Take an active role in your child's classroom, school and homework.

Most teachers are grateful for classroom help though not all teachers want it in the same way. Some teachers want actual classroom volunteers (especially in the younger grades) to work with children one-on-one, play learning games and work with small groups of children. Others are happy to send home materials to prepare for art projects.

Parents play a vital role in helping with classroom needs such as planning field trips, class parties and organizing class parents for various school activities such as Halloween Carnivals. Being an active, visible school parent not only is great for the school but your involvement makes your child feel proud.

When the school day is done, and the homework begins, act as a guiding force, giving more independence as your child gains confidence and competence. Provide the materials your child needs to complete homework and establish a clean, quiet space for your child to work.

Check over homework to be sure your child has done her best and, if you see mistakes, take the time to help your child correct them. Homework is a review of the daily lessons, but some children need a little extra support.

Respect—Expect respect from your child and give your child the respect they deserve. Children learn respect from the people around them. Parents, older siblings and friends who treat each other respectfully, model this for young children. Talk to your children in an age-appropriate manner that is respectful and allows your child to learn respectful language that they, in turn, can use with their friends and teachers. If your child has challenges responding in a respectful manner to those around him/her, reinforce the correct language and provide opportunities for your child to learn from their mistakes.

If a child “talks back” or uses inappropriate language, screaming or physical actions such as hitting, use consequences established beforehand to reinforce the desired behavior.

Establish—routines with your child and stick to them once they’re in place. Provide a little practice time a few days before the first day of school and give your child reminders. It is important for children to have routines and to have consistency in their day-to-day schedule so they can anticipate the expected behavior. Have a set dinnertime, homework time, bath time and bedtime and a time to wake up for school. Your child will be well rested and feel more in control of him/herself and have a much better day learning and playing at school.

Nutrition—Children who eat a healthy diet function better at school.

Provide nutritious snacks and lunch. This may seem obvious, but children who have limited sugar and carbohydrates and more vegetables, fruits and proteins are able to pay attention for longer periods in class. Be aware of hidden sugars in seemingly healthy foods such as fruit juice and many of the colorfully packaged snacks aimed at children. Giving your child a healthy, balanced snack of a fruit and a small amount of carbohydrates or vegetables will help carry them until lunchtime. Provide balanced lunches with a variety of foods that are easy to eat and, most importantly, foods that your child likes! Try not to give in to packaged processed foods.

Teach—Your child needs to know what behaviors he needs to be successful both socially and in school. You are your child’s first teacher. An investment in teaching social skills will have an enormous impact on your child’s school success. A child with good social skills is more easily accepted by peers and more ready to access knowledge. Teaching manners such as how to eat politely, to say “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me,”and to take turns to allow others to enjoy the spotlight will help your child to be a successful student and a good friend.

Set boundaries—As a parent, while challenging, providing limits gives kids the structure they secretly crave and need to be able to succeed in school. While having fun and being your child’s “friend” are tempting options, it is important for your child to have the security and comfort of knowing just how far they can push the limit before you will take a hard line.

Children are creative, impulsive, curious and spontaneous. Providing rules, structure and teaching them manners will not inhibit these natural childlike qualities.

Now, get ready! It’s going to be a great year! n

For questions or comments, please send e-mail at amweisberg@completeteach.com, with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. I would love both feedback and questions!