How to Ensure Back to School Success

We made it through summer and the school year is upon us!  For some this is a welcomed change but for others it brings up new challenges.  Here are a few helpful tips to get you started on the right path and to help you stay on it.

First, have a discussion (a two way conversation) about what you and your child want for this school year.  What things do you want repeated and what things would you like to see change?  The best way to approach this is for you to ask that question and let your child answer, uninterrupted.  Then you can share your thoughts in response.  Write these things down… not as a list of rules to be governed by but as a way to solidify the conversation.

Next, talk about expectations.  The following topics seem to be the biggest challenges and areas of conflict so address them up front.

Grades: ask your child what they think is a reasonable grade or mark for each subject.  They may think they can ace Spanish class but feel that math will be more of a challenge.  Write down the grade or mark you both agree on for each subject.

Electronics: with the school year starting will their be different expectations for screen time, games and electronics than there was for the summer?  Have a discussion about what seems reasonable regarding how much screen time they can have on a week day, weekend, what time screens need to be turned off and turned in at night and how you will monitor this.  Hint: the simpler the better.

Curfew/Social Events: it is important that kids at any age learn how to manage their time, their stress and their work load.  With school starting there are often sports and other extracurricular activities that are demanding on everyone’s schedule.  Some families limit the amount of sleep overs in a month (as these tend to exhaust kids because they get little sleep but spend so much energy socializing).  Some families require a set amount of “down time” for their child meaning they have to be home resting, vegging, connecting with the family on a relaxed level and taking care of their overall mental health.  Curfews are necessary and need to be clearly articulated ahead of time.

Remember, this is a discussion.  You can not lay out all the expectations and walk away.  Invite them in to the conversation and encourage their participation.  Make compromises where possible.  Most importantly, keep this as simple as possible and absolutely be sure you can enforce any agreed about terms.  Without enforcement or monitoring there is no point in doing this.

To maintain success and build communication, revisit this conversation on a monthly bases.  What is working, what isn’t?  Be flexible if necessary.  Ask your kids how you can support them and what they need from you to succeed.  It’s a new year… let’s start off with clarity and hope.

Written by Lisa Smith

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