By now you’ve probably settled into your “back at school” routine. Your kids have met their new teachers, got their timetables, and have probably started to bring home piles of homework. There’s a long year ahead of you and your children, though, so if you can adopt a positive attitude, it’s likely to rub off on them. Here are 10 school resolutions that you can make that will ensure an easier ride for you and your kids.
1. “I will help my child to feel positive about school.”
try to focus on problem solving or working through
You are your child’s leading role model and they will take on what you express. You might feel negative about schedules, homework or unreasonable comments from teachers, but it’s not a good idea to share these feelings with your child. Rather than having a good gripe, or even agreeing with their complaints, try to focus on problem solving or working through.
“Wow, that does look like a lot of homework to get through this week. Let’s look at your schedule and see how we can help you to get on top of it,” will help your child far more than telling them that their workload is outrageous and their teacher is unreasonable.
2. “I will not participate in any ‘at the gate’ gossip.”It’s important to know what’s going on in your child’s school, but remember that there are two sides to every story and that gossip very often tells only one side. If the matter affects you directly, try to get to the truth of the matter by talking to the people involved. If it doesn’t affect you directly, then don’t participate – and certainly don’t be the one to share the juicy details with the next person you see.
Gossip is harmful and hurtful, and your best approach is to rise above it.
3. “I will speak to the teacher about any issues that arise.”Hand in hand with the previous point is the fact that open and appropriate communication with your child’s teacher is vitally important. Attend the parents’ evenings, find out early on in the year what the best way to make contact is and let the teacher know if your child is facing any specific challenges at home and school.
This is not to say that you should appear at school every morning demanding face-to-face time with your child’s teacher, just that you should keep the channel of communication open, and use it when necessary.
4. “I will diarise all dates as soon as I receive notification.”The moment your child comes home with a notice or project deadline or your school communicator app bleeps with a date, put it in your diary. You may think you’ll remember, or that there will be another communication closer to the time, but there might not be. Put it in your diary straight away and you’ll always be on top of the school calendar.
Top tip: If there’s an event that you need to prepare for, put it in your diary for one or two days before, so that you get a notification in advance, and not at 8am on the morning of “Simon’s cake and candy day”.
5. “I will label all my child’s school clothes.”Do this. You KNOW why.
6. “I will establish a healthy homework routine.”Homework is meant to encourage good self-learning habits, and to practise and reinforce key skills. It should be done regularly, in a space that puts your child’s brain in “study mode” and at a time that allows your child to give it their full attention.
Read more: Practical advice for parents on beating homework blues
7. “I will help my child prepare their kit the night before.”There’s nothing worse for your peace of mind (or your child’s) than running around in the morning trying to find a missing swimming cap, tennis racquet, piano book or leotard. These activities aren’t weekly surprises, so you and your child can definitely prepare for them in advance.
Make a note of the weekly schedule and stick it somewhere visible like on a pin-up board or on the fridge, and every night after dinner, make sure that all the necessary bits and pieces are packed into a tog bag – as your child gets older, they should do this without your help.
Your system should also include making sure that the items are put back where they should be - in a particular drawer or on a hook - so they are there when they’re needed.
8. “I will let my child do their own projects and homework.”School projects have become a competitive arena for parents who want their children to excel. Unfortunately, schools often further this problem by setting projects with components that no child could achieve on their own. If your child is given a project, let them guide your input by researching online and asking for input or materials. If they ask for more help than that, gently encourage them to do it on their own. And if you feel that your child can’t possibly meet the requirements without your intervention, it might be time to have a word with their teacher.
As for their day-to-day homework, it’s not a good idea to be too involved, because you’re robbing them of the opportunity to learn to go it alone.
9. “I will accept my child for who they are, not for what they achieve.”Remember that the world needs people with different ideas and skills. Your child may not be the leading academic boffin in their school, but they are special in their own unique way, and as a parent, you should celebrate whatever that is.
If your child is not working hard enough or is struggling with a particular subject, it’s fine to get help or support, but remember that your child is about so much more than their report card.
10. “I will allow myself to say no.”As a parent, it is your job to make sure that your child’s needs are met. But that doesn’t mean you have to meet their every desire, every time. And it’s not just about teaching them a valuable life lesson in disappointment or self-sufficiency. It’s also about preserving your own sanity. Sometimes, “I just don’t feel like it right now,” is reason enough to refuse your child occasionally, just so that you can have a little bit of time and space for yourself.
Good luck for 2018There’s no denying that life is hard, and managing school children is even harder. While these resolutions may be tough to stick to, they will improve your parenting experience, and will get your child to the end of the year with good humour and academic focus.