Back to School Time is Really Time to Move Forward

Schoolgirl and books

Schoolgirl and books

Ah, the joys of back-to-school time.  As an “older” parent, I reflect back to the feelings of sadness that summer was almost over and wanting to have more time with my kids.  Then, for some reason, about a week before school bells rang, some random mom-switch was flipped and I simply couldn’t wait to get them out of the house and back into a routine.

I know other moms who’ve experienced this mom-switch syndrome, but whether you can relate or not, there’s no denying that back-to-school time is about making transitions.  Schedules, extracurricular activities, homework, new teachers, new friends, carpools, books, supplies, clothes…it’s time to pull up our socks and get moving again!

Transitioning to a new school year presents renewed opportunity to:

Add Age-Appropriate Responsibilities

  • Younger kids might set out their school clothes before bed every night, sort dirty clothes, fold clean ones and put them away, clear dinner dishes, etc.
  • Middle-schoolers can take inventory of their clothes, make a list of needs and wants (they are different), prioritize them and then tackle the shopping on their own.  Same for school supplies; this encourages pre-planning and organization.
  • High schoolers on the cusp of adulthood are ready to begin getting a flavor for the concept of “earning your keep.”  There’s nothing like money earned from a part-time job babysitting, serving burgers, packing groceries, etc. to charge up one’s sense of self sufficiency.
  • For all ages, remember to encourage independence by letting them do as much as possible on their own and giving them lots of congrats when they do.

Stress Achievement by Setting Goals

Get an easy-going chat going with your child on what they want to accomplish during the coming year. Does she want to sign up for a school sports team, does he want improve his reading skills, be in a school play, sign up for debate team?  Does he want to save for a new skateboard; does she want to have extra money for an occasional movie outing?   Have each child prepare a list of their goals, and then…

Get Organized for Success

Goals are no good if you don’t keep track of them and adopt a strategy for success.  Devise a chart, or better yet, set up a FamilyMint account, to get those goals down and keep track of progress.  Talk with your child about what steps need to be taken to make progress toward realizing each one.  If it’s involvement in a new sport, it means getting necessary equipment and regular practice or lessons.  If it’s a new skateboard, investigation into the styles and features will be important, as well as a part-time job or extra chores to earn money to cover the costs.  Within FamilyMint, you can set up a special skateboard savings “account” and visually chart your progress, a nice feature for today’s visual, virtual kids.

Every chance to refresh for success is a good one, so take advantage of the start of a new school year to excite your family’s enthusiasm for all the possibilities that “back-to-school” season offers.