It seems like the summer ends a few days sooner every year. What happened to all that time when we thought we had on the calendar? No need to worry about school, summer’s only just started! But then there it is: SCHOOL STARTS in bold font and all caps on the calendar. What happened?
So we hit the gas, grab some school supplies, get ready in a rush, and – inevitably it seems – we make a number of mistakes at the beginning of the school year. It doesn’t matter what grade Junior is entering, it always benefits everyone involved when the school year begins as smoothly as possibly. It’s an “initial trajectory” thing, and the direction out of the gate makes a huge difference over the long haul. You only get one chance to make a first impression may be a cliche, but it also happens to be true.
This is where being a dad is a lot like being the coach. New beginnings are like a new game, and it pays to make sure the team is well-prepared. Don’t be caught short. Just a little thinking ahead and your team can avoid these top 5 mistakes parents make at the beginning of the school year.
1. Assume they have all the information:
We have this balance, this tension, between letting our kids take responsibility and then over-parenting from our end. The start of the new school year is not the time to assume Junior is on top of all the info. It’s our job to get all the up-to-date info, then we can help them follow through.
2. Project anxiety on to the kids:
We know it’s hard to make that leap from elementary to middle school, or from middle to high school. Sometimes it breaks our hearts to see them grow up so fast. But it’s our job to guide them, to believe, to ramp up their confidence. Let’s not project our anxiety onto the kids. Instead, let’s project faith and confidence.
3. Fail to have a plan for success:
Most everything worthwhile comes with a game plan for success. Our kids may be competent, motivated, and ready, but all those good traits can be put to work more effectively if we help them show up at school with a game plan ready to go. Clearly articulated goals? Preplanned homework hours? Backup plan if you’re not there to meet the bus? Incentives? There is a lot that can be done. The cliche is that “we don’t plan to fail, we just fail to plan.” It happens to hold water.
4. Sign the kids up for too many activities:
Part of good planning is setting reasonable limits. Many kids run around like crazy trying to keep up with sports, dance, homework, church, friends, family and more. Take a look at the semester. Prioritize. Think about family. Make a reasonable schedule and make it stick.
5. Forget to schedule family time as a top priority:
Family time gets lost all too easily in the mad rush. When we fail to make family time our top priority, then it’s a slippery slope. “Being together will take care of itself…” is the famous last words phrase of too many broken relationships and too many families. All Pro Dads are savvier than that.
Has your family ever started the school year behind before you even got going? How did you right the ship? Share some insight.