End of Summer, Beginning of School

In just about a week, the school year will start back. I anticipate this to be a good, but busy year. Aric our oldest (6) will be going into first grade, Alex our middle (5) is starting Kindergarten, and I am serving as the Communications Chair for our PTO (Parent Teacher Organization). When I started the blog last year I had planned on posting something every week, but there wasn’t much to post some weeks. I plan on continuing to post this school year on things that will encourage and challenge my fellow Christians to greater heights. Here are some tips for the start of the school year.

1) Go Back-to-School Shopping Early

I know there is the tax free weekend in many states, and I am all for saving a little money, but let’s face it unless you are planning on buying a TON of school supplies, you may only save a few dollars. You will already be stressed enough the week before school starts, why add more stress by going shopping the same time everyone else is doing their school shopping? Many stores start their back-to-school sales at the beginning of July. For our family we try to purchase most of what we need online and then purchase the remaining items toward the middle of July. (For back to school clothes go to the thrift shops, why spend 100’s of dollars on clothes when you can get all you need for 2 children for $50).

2) Let the school know they have your support

You don’t  have to be on a PTO board or school board to let the school know that you support them. Write and email to the principle, tell him/her that you support them as a parent and are available to help with anything that they might need you for. As I have said in past posts, schools really do want you as parents involved. Don’t overstep and over push, but find way to volunteer and help. (Even an hour helping put books on the shelf in the library once a week is a great help to the school)

3) Show up for meet the teacher, reassure the teacher that you support them

Meeting the teacher isn’t a requirement for a child to go to school but you should require yourself to be there. Going to this event gives you a chance to meet both your child’s teacher and some of their classmates. While there ask the teacher what ways you can help them through the school year. Let them know that you are glad they are your child’s teacher and that you support them.

4) Join your PTO

Why should you join your PTO? Because as a member you have the opportunity to show your support for the school and have a collective voice with your fellow members to voice support, concern, questions, and opinions to the leadership of the school. Take time to join them, you aren’t wasting a few dollars for a decal or magnet, you are showing your support for the school.

5) Pray

Certainly you should pray more than just at the start of the school year, but the closer it gets, the more you should pray for your children and the challenges they will face this year. It helps prepare your heart for the school year and helps your children prepare their hearts. Let them tell you things they would like you to pray for, no matter how “small” their request may be, pray for it, God cares about them enough to give an answer.

What type things do you do to get ready for the beginning of a school year?

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Our School Age Child: Tips from School Week #1

So we made it through “Our First Day of School” and can now say that we have successfully made it through Week #1. I don’t know that I will write everything that we learn from every week, because let’s face it, there may not be new tips learned every week. But at least for this first week I can say “Boy were there a few lessons to be learned!”. I can say truthfully that this first week has been a great week, but also a very trying week. So here are just a few things I have learned from week #1 that I hope will be a help to you. (BTW these are tips that are good for any type of schooling, not just Public School)

1. Get your body adjusted before week #1

So I learned the hard way on this one. I am a night owl. I do much of my graphic design work late in the evening and many times am up well past midnight. This doesn’t work well when your child has to be to school by 7:3oam and you need to leave the house by 7:10am. So I decided it would be a good ideal to be in bed by 11pm or earlier each night. That would work great if my body was used to going to bed at that time already, but even when laying down by 11pm I still found myself awake till at least 12am. I really should have started preparing my body a few weeks before school started, but hey now you have no excuse to not learn from this lesson.

2. Give your child time to adjust

Unless your child is highly unusual and knows exactly what to expect from school the first day they walk into a school building, than you need to be prepared that your child will probably get some negative marks in the first few days of school. On day #2 of Aric’s school he came home with a yellow face in his agenda (in his school everyone starts out with a Green happy face, if they do something wrong they get moved to yellow, then to red, and then to blue). Under this colorful face it had a note “talking without permission”. It can be a very tempting thing to immediately decide that the child needs to be punished for that negative mark, but remember it is the first time they have been in a classroom setting, they need time to learn what the rules are at their school.

3. Ask your child’s teacher what you need to work on with your child

Aric is a daydreamer. I knew that before we sent him to school. After his negative mark I thought it would be best for me to ask his teacher, “What do you need us to work on with our child?”. She told us that he has a tendency to not pay attention. He was still out on the playground when the rest of the children were lining up. Why? He didn’t pay attention. He was walking the opposite direction of his class in the halls. Why? He wasn’t paying attention. So each morning on the way to school and each afternoon on the way home, we took time to remind Aric that he needs to “Pay attention”. Your child may make some mistakes, take time to ask the teacher what needs to be worked on, so 1) You make their job easier, 2) You help your child learn, and 3) You let the child’s teacher know you care about them and you let your child know you care about them and how they behave.

4. Learn to adjust your schedule

You probably think I have covered this already, but I haven’t. Yes you need to get your body used to the time adjustment, but you will also have to learn to adjust your schedule some. The first day of school we walked our child to class, but by the end of the week, we were simply letting him out of the car and he was walking to class himself. It took us a couple of days to figure out what time we needed to leave the house so that we were getting Aric to school at 7:30, because the last thing we want to do is get him to school late (even though he doesn’t have to be there till 8am, we get him there early because he gets to have breakfast in the classroom).
We also had to figure out what time was best to get to the school to pick him up. Pick up time is 2:45, but if you wait to arrive at 2:45, you have to get in line behind a mile of parents, waiting to pick up their child from school. So you have to decide would it be better for you to get there 25 minutes early to pick up your child and wait for them to be dismissed, or get there right on time and wait for 25 minutes after they have been dismissed (We opted for the 25 minutes before they are dismissed. I bring my kindle to read during my 25 minute wait.).

I am sure there probably are a few other tips that could be given about the first week of school. What are some tips that you have for adjusting to that first week?

Our First Day of School

DSC_0502Boy, today was a hard day. Today we saw our oldest child start school! We are going to be able to walk him to his classroom for the first week, but after that he will have to learn to find the classroom himself. The rest of the week should be a lot easier that the first day though. But let me give you 4 practical tips for helping cope with your first child starting school (outside of the home).

1. It’s okay to cry

Am I talking about you crying or your child crying? YES! Both, it’s okay. Now I was surprised that Aric didn’t put up much of a fuss when he got to his classroom. He went straight to his chair, sat down and started coloring and didn’t even seem to care that we were gone. But as I passed by other classrooms I could hear kids crying all over the place. After we left the school and got into the car, I saw that Renee was clearly upset that our baby boy started school. But hey it is okay to cry, you will eventually feel better about them going to school.

2. Keep yourself busy

After hopping into the car, comforting the wife, and looking over the items the school could use as donations for the classroom, it was time to keep ourselves busy. We treated ourselves out to breakfast at McDonald’s and then drove on over to Wal-mart and Dollar Tree to get some of the items on the donation list. After picking up those items, we swung back by the school and dropped them off to an ecstatic office staff, as most of the time it takes them weeks to get any donations. This made us feel good about our child being there.

3. Plan on being involved at the school

One of the things we have already been talking about for weeks, was the fact that we wanted to be heavily involved in our sons school. We talked about ways we can get involved, so that teachers can get to know us, we can get to know them, and we can see how our child interacts with their teacher and classmates. Contrary to popular belief, public schools DO want you as parents involved! So start planning on getting involved and it will help ease that realization that this was the first day of school.

4. Think about what questions you are going to ask your child when you pick him/her up

Start thinking about the questions you want to ask your child when you go to pick him/her up. Grant it, most of the time a kindergartener isn’t really going to have a whole lot to tell you from the first day of class. But here are some good questions to think about: What did you eat? What did you learn? Do you remember the name of your teacher? Did you have fun? Did you play on the playground? What did you play on the playground? Do you remember the name of the children who sit beside you? ECT.

What tips do you have for making the first day easier?