In our neck of the woods. . . .this is back-to-school week. Some of our kids started on Wednesday, some on Thursday, others on Friday. I also work in the Boulder Valley School District and am returning to work on Thursday.
I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But, after having done this a few times, I thought I would offer some thoughts and encouragements for parents at the beginning of this year. I apologize for the "preachy" tone of some of this. These are all areas of freedom for parents, and we can come to different conclusions. Here are some of mine. . . here goes:
1) Relax. You cannot provide the ideal experience for your children this year. Home School, Public School, Private School, . . .it doesn't matter. Your kids will not remember the fine details of their first few days of school this year. Relax. We are spending way too much time as parents worrying about giving our kids "a fun summer" or "a great back-to-school" or "the perfect birthday party". If there's one thing all of our kids need, it's to not think of themselves as the center of attention. Those kids aren't fun to teach, in my experience.
2) Check in and take responsibility for educating your kids. The teachers may teach most of the content. But, as parents, we should help our kids process the content, and process the social events at school. Regardless of our school choice (and I like them all. . . in different seasons) we need to be shaping our kids' thinking during the school years.
3) Spend a lot of time remembering the dumb things you did as a kid. Really, spend some good time. Most of us think we turned out as fairly well-adjusted adults, right? We all have weaknesses and I hope you don't think you're done learning, or are "the finished product". But, we turned out ok, right? Even the things from our childhood that still hurt and effect us are not things we could have foreseen. Guide your kids, help their thinking, and then hold on and pray a lot. You don't determine their future. You can't keep them from everything hurtful anyway.
It's not that we should "check out" as parents when we see our kids making bad decisions. Not at all; sometimes we need to step in forcefully. It's just helpful for us to remember that we also made mistakes, and it is impossible to keep our kids from ALL of those during the school years.
4) Evaluate each kid, each semester regarding classes, school choice, and teacher fit. You may not be able to change things each semester. But, "one size fits all" doesn't work with different kids. We should think about what they need, and what they're experiencing. School teachers and administrators need to know what's happening and our kids, while not being the center of attention, need to know we're listening.
5) Be an advocate for your kids' teachers. Sometimes there are bad teachers. Sometimes your kids are being bad. But, most of the time there is a communication gap from student to teacher and when you get the whole story, we should usually let our kids know that we all recognize the teacher's authority. It will help our kids in the future to realize that even when things aren't fair. . . . you respect the person in charge. In the rare cases where we need to confront an error by a teacher or express a concern, we should do so humbly, not thinking that our kid is the only kid in their classroom.
6) Your kids need structure and energy. You should make them have a reasonable bed time and eat reasonably. Again, others will have to "pick up the pieces" in this area if we don't, as parents. It's not right to give others the responsibility to manage our kids in these areas. We can have different conclusions about these things. But, we need to have some conclusions. Kids need it.
7) These days go fast, they really do. I remember my oldest's first day of Kindergarten. She will be in the 11th grade this year. Enjoy the days of your kids learning so much, having activities they enjoy doing, and growing in wisdom and stature. School is a gift, and let's not ruin the days with our stress, our helicopter parenting, and our fears. God is in control. He knows what our kids need. Let's ask him for help, hang on, and cherish the days.
Stepping off the soapbox. . . . . . . :)