As a former Kindergarten teacher, school is close to my heart. I pray parents and teachers have an exciting new academic year filled with opportunities.
New uniforms? Check.
New backpack? Check.
New lunchbox? Check.
But, have you spent time preparing your child emotionally for school?
5 Conversations you should have with your children at the beginning of the school year:
1. Instill the love of learning:
"You're already such a smart kid, but in Mrs. Brown's class you're going to get even smarter! You already count to 10, but she's going to teach you how to count to 100. I can't wait to see all you're going to learn this year!"
Make it clear that school is a place to learn and that learning is COOL! Constantly point out things they have learned and things they have yet to learn to give them something to look forward to. Feel free to talk about your own learning experiences with them.
2. Encourage meaningful relationships:
"Today you're going to meet lots of new friends. If you see someone you don't know, smile at them and invite them to play with you." At the end of the day say, "Who did you play with today? Who shared with you today? Were you happy to see Sam today?"
An integral part of school success is how well your child gets along with others. Encourage your child to learn his or her classmates' names quickly. Get a list of those names and learn them yourself.
3. Establish expectations:
"Your teacher is going to love having you in her class because you are such a smart and obedient student. You listen, follow directions the first time, and you always do your best. I can't wait to hear from Ms. West what a great day you had!"
Talk to your children about completing their work and doing their best. Constantly remind your children about the importance of being respectful to all adults. When you get home, encourage them to be responsible with their homework as well. Model how to stay on top of things by being one step ahead yourself.
4. Describe your code of conduct:
"The school has rules to remind you of good behavior but, you already know good behavior because it's what we teach you at home."
A personal code of conduct goes above and beyond school rules and it will vary from home to home, depending on your family's values. School rules, don't encompass every single behavior. In most instances it will be up to your children's personal moral code to decide on how to act. Drive home a sense of self-discipline in your children.
5. Foster a team-work attitude:
"I've made you a healthy breakfast so your brain can be ready to work hard today. Grab your backpack and I'll get your lunchbox."
Make the beginning of school a "WE" event. When children feel like the whole family cares about what they're involved in, they're more likely to work hard and do their best. Display the school calendar in your home and be aware of what is happening at the school. Volunteer as often as you can!
When you prepare your children in advance, you set them up for success. By having these conversations ahead of time, you empower your children to make good decisions.
Every morning, you can have some of these conversations on your way to school in a light and positive way as a reminder to your children of what their roles are. Try not to sound preachy or threatening, but encouraging.
Wishing you a terrific year!