Back to School


By Ron Hindbaugh M.A.


When it is time for your children to go back to school parents will hear the normal complaints from their children that accompany going back to school. Some survival skills for parents are given here in hopes that this time of transition, even though traumatic for your kids, will be one that can be pleasant for you, the parent.

1.    Do not get caught in the trap of trying to convince the children that school is a good thing for them and therefore they should be happy and glad that they are going back. Don't try to convince them that because the tax payers are paying a lot of money each day for them to have this "mind expanding" experience, that they should be "highly enthused." It won't work. Children will have to decide for themselves, somewhere in their educational career, that school is of value. Your "highly informed recitations" will not be the great influence that you would like them to be.

2.    Let the teachers be the teachers. When you go to work you are held responsible for your work by your supervisor.  You would not appreciate it if your wife or husband tried to intervene with the boss on your behalf.  You would not like it if you were disciplined at work and your spouse met you at the door saying, "So you're in trouble again at work. When will you learn to listen to me. You wouldn't be in so much trouble if you would just listen. Now get to your room and think about it." When you child is in school the teacher is the person who is responsible for designing the course of study for your child. Your child is responsible for utilizing this experience. Let the two of them work their relationship out. Only intervene as a partner with the teacher. If you do not agree with the teacher set up an appointment with him/her to find out how both of you can be a team to help your child.

3.    Take an interest in what your child is doing in school. Be the best fan club that your child could have. When your child recognizes that you have an interest in what they are doing they gain an audience to play to. An audience is not necessary but it is kinda nice to know that what you are doing is noticed and appreciated by the special people in your life. The best way to do this is not asking the age old question, "How did school go today?" If you ask this question you will get the age old answer of, "OK." Instead share what you did at work or during the day. When you share with your child they will feel more like sharing with you. You could say something like, "Today I was able to work on a real creative project at work. I found it fascinating. Hope you enjoyed your day also."

4.    Understand that going back to school is and adjustment and give your child time and space to adjust to the school routine in their own way. Your child will probably have a hard time getting up in the morning at an earlier time than usual. If your child is older, don't wake them up. Let them learn how to get themselves up. Being late to school a few times won't hurt them. After all learning how to get to school on time by themselves is good practice for the real world of work. It is better for them to learn how to get themselves around now then later when you won't be there to wake them up. If your child is younger let them know what is expected of them in the morning and then wake them with time to complete the routine you have helped them develop. You may have to take them to school a few times with tasks not completed until they learn how to manage their time. Above all give your child the gift of responsibility. Help them but do not try to force the adjustment to a new routine.

5.    Become a good observer of your child. Learn how to sit back and watch as your child participates in the school experience. You as a parent need data if you are going to be the support your child.  When you are a good observer you are prepared to help your child when they need help and to stand back when they need to struggle.  By observing you also learn to be patient with yourself and your child. Once you have gained data and you wish to share information, that you feel will would be valuable for your child. Be sure to ask permission from your child to share. If you do not ask permission your child will not hear you and the information will be of no value to him/her. You could say something like this, "I notice some things that I feel you need to improve on. Is now a good time to share this information with you? If it is not when would be a good time?"

Going back to school is a big change for your child. Be there to help your child with this adjustment. Have faith in their ability to make this adjustment. Enjoy watching them learn from school and all this great experience has to offer them.