It’s that time of year that parents embrace, and children love to hate. That’s right – back to school time!
Being back in school gives mommies and daddies alike the extra time they need to catch up on household chores, work that has been piling up, and some of that elusive “me” time. Although there are some parents who aren’t visibly thrilled to see their kids getting back on the bus in the morning, the fact is, parents are usually more excited about a new school year starting than their kids are.
Why Do Kids Worry about School?
Many kids look forward to the beginning of a new school year, while others may fear the social pressure that school represents; children who are shy may feel apprehensive about what the new school year has in store. Who will be in their class? Will they make new friends? Will they like their teachers?
All of these concerns can weigh heavily on a child, particularly one who is going to be starting at a new school, whether due to a family move or beginning high school. For some children, starting a new school year can be among the most stressful events in a child’s life.
The good news is that your child has a loving father there to help. Sometimes the best ways to help your child ease into a new school year may not be clear. Here we offer five back-to-school tips for dads (and moms.)
Top 5 School Tips
- Ask questions. At dinner time, before bedtime, driving in the car –take advantage of any peaceful moments you have with your son or daughter and ask plenty of questions. Ask about their favorite aspects of school. Ask about their most embarrassing moments. Ask about their best friends, their favorite field trips, their favorite classes, and ask about their proudest accomplishments.
- Listen, listen, listen! Parents are often distracted with bills, work, chores and other consuming “adult” activities. It can be easy to tune out your child’s voice on topics that seem less important than your current focus. Remember, you need to pay attention and have a keen ear, especially at the beginning of a school year. Ask questions, and then listen to their answers in order to open the door to your child’s life. Give them an opportunity to provide you with clues into what you may need to look out for in the days, weeks and months ahead. Listen carefully and they’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.
- Keep priorities in check. Boys and girls in middle and high school may be focusing more on their image than on classwork. Make sure they have all of the tools they need to succeed in school, buy them some clothing that can boost their confidence (without getting caught up in name brands or over-priced gadgets.) Set an example by keeping up with non-superficial interests such as volunteering, reading books, playing games and sports.
- Meet your child’s teachers. They are going to be spending a lot of time with your youngsters in the coming year. Every parent is busy, and “Open House” days at school are not always scheduled at the most convenient times. You have two options – make time on an open house day, or find time to meet with your child’s teachers on a one-on-one basis. There simply isn’t an excuse to put off meeting the teacher.
- Meet your child’s friends. This will happen progressively, throughout the course of the school year. There will be drama, sadness, happiness, delight, success, disappointment, funny stories and plenty of lessons learned. Let your child choose their own friends and be supportive in those decisions, while also providing the guidance your child craves. Tell stories about yourself when you were in school. Offer up some humility and some advice. Ultimately, understand that your child will find ways to do what he or she wants, with whomever he or she wishes to do it. Give your child the final say in social and extracurricular activities.