Last Friday my son’s school held an open house just prior to the start of school (which is this morning). Amidst the chaos of finding a parking spot and dodging kids running down sidewalks to see friends they have not seen all summer, the 30 minute visit to find out the name of his homeroom teacher, locate the classroom, and meet the teacher turned out to be kind of a bust.
We found the classroom and went in to meet the teacher. She was standing in a small circle of parents and a few kids in the middle of the room. My son and I inched up to the circle to establish our turn to introduce ourselves to the teacher.
We never introduced ourselves.
One parent chose to suck the oxygen out of the room by asking question after question and sharing far more information about why little Johnny was a special kid in need of special attention because of his special parents.
The teacher could not have been more polite and accommodating.
The other parents seemed irritated.
My son and I decided he would just meet the teacher on the first day of school and we quietly slipped out while this parent continued to talk and talk and talk.
Observing that scene made me think about how I influence my son’s school experience. What kind of parent am I? A tiger parent? A helicopter parent? A jellyfish parent? An elephant parent? A dolphin parent? People use all of these descriptors about parenting styles.
I refuse to label myself, but I will do my best to implement some best parenting practices as it relates to my kid and school.
- Set goals for the school year. Spend some time with your kids discussing and having them write down their goals. They should include items beyond the academic, such as trying a new sport, spending more time with friends, volunteering for a charity, or creating their own business.
- Establish a positive relationship with the teacher. Depending on what grades your kids are in, you may have several teachers to interact with. Each of those teachers has a reputation and our kids pay close attention to what others say. Our job as dads is to train our kids to respect adults and we do that best by acting that way ourselves. Whether the teacher is “good” or “bad” we can let them know we want their input about our kids and will actively participate in their education…but know the teacher runs the classroom. Of course, there are exceptions to this in extreme circumstances, but we all survived less-than-stellar teachers and our kids will too.
- Establish the ground rules for after school early. And enforce the rules! How much video game time? How much TV time? How much friend time? When do chores get done? Sugar snacks or Paleo? I see value in discussing these and taking account of their opinions, but you have the final say. Establish the rules and stick to them. I know from experience, the first time you give a little, the system breaks down.
- Emphasize good food and good sleep. Not much to say on this one…except you may want to do this for yourself as well.
- Establish the morning routine. Even though they may complain, kids need (and like) routines. Let them know your expectations so you do not find yourself rushing around to get them off to school in time to catch the bus, walk, bike or catch a ride with you.
Some parents cannot wait for summer to end and some cannot believe school has already started (that’s me). Whatever the case, let’s set up our kids for a great school year ahead!