Gearing up for a successful school year

Supply lists.  Reading lists.  Backpack shopping.  School uniforms or new school clothes.  Online shopping.  Mall shopping.  Stuff Mart shopping.

Yes, Moms and Dads, another school year begins in just a few mornings.  Time to usher out the summertime schedule and get back to the structure of being in school.  Here are a few simple suggestions for helping your child, teen, or household gear up for success.

1. Set media curfews to promote good rest.  It is important to establish healthy rhythms for your kids that they would not likely do for themselves.  Such as going to bed at a reasonable hour.  Perhaps even more important for some is having a clearly established time when the screens go OFF for the night.  Screens means everything with a digital display – yes, even that cell phone.  Late night texting has clearly become a significant source of sleep deprivation for many teens.

2. Get your family in a routine of eating a healthy breakfast that includes some substantial protein.  I know.  I know.  This has been a no-fly zone in my home for a long time, too.  But the times, they are a changin.  You will not only guide your kids toward better physical fitness in this effort, but you will also help them to stay more mentally sharp and focused during their day at school.  Young kids, elementary, middle school, or high school – make a healthy, protein-rich breakfast the foundation of your new morning ritual this school year.  It is worth the time and effort!

3. Discuss daily and weekly school year routines before the school year begins.  Have a series of family discussions that are parent-led, but democratic enough to include a genuine consideration of the perspectives of your kids.  Start week one with a basic plan for what days and weeks will look like for your family.  Of course you will need to have some flexibility along the way.  But better to go in with a game plan and then make necessary adjustments than to just hope you find a good flow along the way.  Much better.

4. Discuss expectations, rewards, and consequences regarding academic effort BEFORE school begins.  Same idea as the previous point.  Be clear. Be reasonable.  Allow for genuine discussion.  And be prepared to back it up.

5. Let your child/teen take responsibility for his/her work.  With younger children, there may be some fine lines here.  But the point is this: SCHOOLWORK IS YOUR CHILD’S WORK (read RESPONSIBILITY) – NOT YOURS.  If you have done a solid job thinking through, discussing, and establishing the points from number 4, there will be life consequences aplenty to correct your kids if they veer off the academic path from where they reasonably should be.  Don’t take it upon yourself to make sure they never veer off that path.  Just be ready to help them fully experience the full rewards of diligent responsibility and the full pain of slackness or irresponsibility.

Let me know how it goes!

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