New Beginnings: New School Years

(Simple Tips for Parents of Young Children)

There is nothing quite like a new school year.

The smell of a new lunch box…

The feel of a new outfit…

The look of those shiny new pencils…

The sound of the alarm clock going off, but certainly not waking you up, as you’ve been up for hours nervously waiting, as you feel both excitement and trepidation.

This is the same nervousness that prevents you from even taking one bite of your breakfast…

And then there’s the sound of the school bus as it makes its slow descent down your street.

OK, I know I am dating myself – but I loved (and still love) the first day of school.  Yes, I am one of those strange people that cry on the last day of school and rejoice on the first.

I think it has more to do with new beginnings and new beginnings give us hope… hope for a fresh start, a clean slate, a do-over… and who doesn’t want a do-over especially after last year’s unpredictability surrounding schools?  Schools have traditionally provided stability, and it surely seems that schools are ready to do just that this year. 

Therefore, what are some things that parents can do to make it a successful year for their children? 

  • Join the team!  I have always maintained, as an educator, that working with parents ensured a child’s success. It makes all of the difference in the world.  Make sure your child’s teacher knows that you want to work together. 
  • Establish a routine for doing homework and for bedtime.  According to Hemmeter, Ostrosky, and Fox (2020), routines are important for children as they help them feel safe, secure, and in control.  Knowing what to expect keeps them engaged and makes them more confident.   
  • With the help of your child, prepare a special place to study at home. Allow your child to organize the area any way he/she would like. More specifically, your child might like to include special pens, pencils, notepads, post-its, etc.  Make sure it has an outlet for a chrome book or laptop. Perhaps most importantly, try to find a space that brings him/her peace, is away from distractions, and is relaxing and calming.
  • Try to make some family time on the weekends to do something that your child enjoys. Children’s Educational Services (CES) recommends the importance of creating “family time” each day either at dinner or at bedtime. Reconnecting with the family is important and reassures children if they are feeling anxious about the start of school. 
  • Encourage your child to run his/her own race and try not to compare him/herself to others. Karen Dubeus from Simply Living for HIM encourages us to remember that “someone else’s success or failure has nothing to do with us.” If your child did not do well in a particular subject last year, establish some simple goals each month, preferably with your child’s teacher. Make sure the goals are attainable, as not to frustrate your child.
  • Show your excitement and speak positively. Explain to your child how each new school year is filled with new adventures and experiences!  Remind your child that teachers are eager to see their new students and most likely spent a good part, if not all, of their summer preparing just for them. 

Breathe and enjoy the process.  As parents we must also delight in this new beginning – this season of fresh slates and great hope.  Before my students leave at the end of every school year, I tell them that “the best is yet to come.” I want them to know that no matter how good or bad the year has been before – there is always the opportunity for something even better on the horizon.  

There is nothing quite like a new beginning.