August is perhaps the most difficult month of the entire year for both children and parents. For the kids, this is the end of summer vacation. These remaining few weeks are the last opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, sleep late, goof off, and not have anyone tell you to get back to work. Knowing that school is just around the corner can be a bit depressing, even for the most conscientious students.
For the parents, the month of August brings the normal elements of panic, as we wonder if our kids will get the best teacher, what will the work be like, will we have to hire tutors, and of course the carpool factor that every parent dreads.
While this month certainly brings a great deal of pressure and worry, there are some things that we as parents can do to ensure that both us and our kids have a smooth transition to the new school year…
- Get your kids back on schedule — Over the next few weeks, start slowly bringing back those bed times that may have been a bit lax over the summer months. No need to go “cold turkey” but a few minutes earlier every night can lead to an easier transition between vacation and school.
- Start reading! — For some kids, the first day of summer means no more reading. While this is problematic for a number of reasons, if your kids have abandoned their books in favor of their iPads, now is the time to get them back on track. Encourage your kids to read a few minutes every night before bed. It does not need to be a school book, but something like Harry Potter would be perfect. They may actually enjoy it…
- Get those supplies early — As a child, I remember being dragged to the store every year to sort through the discount bins for the cheapest school supplies. My mother’s thinking was (and she was usually right) that I was going to lose or break everything anyway so why invest in the expensive stuff? While there was some logic to her thinking, the truth is you don’t want your kids to be the “nerds” in school with the off-brand backpacks and last year’s fads. If you start the school supply shopping process early enough, you can usually find some good deals, and if you make your children part of the process, they may actually cooperate more.
- Set up some play-dates — For students going into a new school or who are living in a new place, starting a new year can be especially frightening. Now is a good time to try to help your children make some friends. Check with your neighbors and social groups to see if there is anyone else going to your child’s school. In August, almost every parent is looking for things to do with their kids, as many camps have already closed. Inviting a friend over for a play-date will be a favor not just to your child, but to the friend’s parents as well. Who knows? They may even return the favor.
- Go with the Flow — Every parent wants their child to be with the best teacher and with a specific group of friends. The fact is however that someone is always going to be unhappy. It is virtually impossible for a school to grant all of the placement requests. So, if you find yourself unhappy with the class assignment or with your child’s social group, take a deep breath and think about whether there is a way you can make it work. Children are often much more flexible than we think. Your child will most likely make new friends in his class, even if his best friend is down the hall. Not every teacher has the best reputation. I can tell you personally that an inexperienced teacher can present more difficult situations. At the end of the day though, you as the parent are going to have to figure out a way to work with that teacher through June. It is in your child’s best interest to make this happen.
- Ask for help when it is needed — If you know at this stage that your child is going to need extra academic help or tutoring to make it through the year, start making those arrangements now. Between traditional in-person tutors and online teachers, there are definitely plenty of options available, but you want to be able to choose the ideal solution for your child. The earlier you begin this process the more choices you will have. Speak to your school’s guidance counselor or learning specialist for recommendations for academic support options. Often, schools have relationships with outside teachers and tutors who are already familiar with the school’s standards. No reason to wait until there is a bad grade.
The new school year will be full of ups and downs for both you and your child. Remember that our job as parents is to support our kids and to give them the tools they need to succeed. If there is a problem that you are facing, chances are someone else has dealt with the same issue. So, be pro-active and use the next few weeks to make sure that you and your family are ready to embrace the new school year.