Check out Dan’s Video on starting a new school year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1B4K9vkex8
Hello parents. How are you? I am going to share some great back to school tips with you. September is the back to school month for many of us, so I would like to talk to you about our children re-acclimating themselves to the new school year ahead of them, the importance of knowing their schedule ahead of time, and that dreaded ‘B’ word, bullying.
So, let’s start with re-acclimating our children to the new school year. I am sure it’s been a great summer with many nights packed with summer activities like roasting marshmallows over a campfire, late nights out, and late nights of television for most of us. During these dog days of summer it’s easy for our circadian rhythm to feel like it is slowly shifting, and thus causing us to feel more awake later at night and wanting to sleep later in the morning.
Now, smack dab, right in the middle of all of our summer fun, all of a sudden we have to start setting our alarm clocks again for the start of the new school year. Dang… This transition of getting up early again is difficult on all of us, isn’t it? And it’s especially rough on our children, whom hate that early morning alarm clock sound, right? So, how do we avoid having our children exhausted and trying to nap in their classes during that first week of school?
The secret is to re-acclimate our kids slowly back to what their school schedule is going to be before school actually starts. About a week out, we need to move our children’s bedtime back about a half hour earlier each night. Two nights before the start of school our kids should be pretty close to their normal sleeping routine so going to bed early the night before the first day of school shouldn’t be a shocker to their system. Furthermore, getting up for that first day of school and staying up, will be doable.
If your kids still complain of being tired that first week of school don’t worry about it as long as they have a decent amount of scheduled sleep. It’s always tough at first to get back into the swing of things. Their tiredness is just their bodies making those final adjustments in re-acclimating themselves back to the school year routine. They’ll be fine.
The next thing we parents need to be vigilant about in getting our kids off to a good start for the new school year is their schedule(s). Every year, as a teacher, I see kids in the wrong classes. I also see long lines at the guidance counselors’ office with kids requesting a class change. Let’s try to get our children’s schedule before the first day of school so we can check them for any errors, or any changes we may want to make, ahead of time. Getting the schedule(s) will help our children know exactly what classes they are taking and were they are going before the school year begins. Having this schedule in hand and a little less uncertainty will help relieve some of those new school year nerves.
Also, if our children are playing sports, and especially if they are just entering the high school, we need to be sure to check their fall sports practice schedule, dates of physicals, concussion training if needed, and anything else related to our kids sports, like strength training, or captain’s practice. Sometimes when 9th graders are first entering high school they aren’t aware of all that is taking place in their sport before the first day of school.
If our kids wait to check in on their sport until the first day of school they may have unknowingly already missed several important dates and team practices. Starting behind most of the team on the first day of school adds unnecessary stress to a child’s life, and a family’s life as well.
Lastly, I want to talk about bullying. Today, it seems like this term bullying is everywhere. Everybody is using it. Thus, too many people are claiming to be victims of bullying. Bullying is not a single incident of another kid saying something negative to our child or bumping them in line. Bullying is a pattern of aggressive behaviors towards our child. It is repeated offenses of aggression. And while no one should let even a single incident of a negative comment or a bump in line go by without calmly and firmly bringing it to notice, let’s be careful that we are not calling these minor annoying behaviors bullying unless they really are bullying.
So, what if our kid really is being bullied? Well, then we need to let them know that it is imperative that they firmly and calmly stand up for themselves against the bully in a non-physical way by voicing to the bully that what he or she did isn’t cool and isn’t acceptable behavior. Most of the time the other child will stop what they are doing when confronted. If they don’t, then our child should tell an adult at the school. If the school is not effective at immediately shutting down the bullying, then our kids should be instructed to come to us, so we can contact the school, set up a meeting with school staff if needed, and even bring the other kid’s parents in for a meeting if necessary.
In addition, we parents need to take the time at our family dinner table to teach our children the skills and courage to be a real leaders and to stand up for other kids being bullied. After all, there are a lot more of us non-bulliers than bulliers. If we all stand up to the small faction of bullies, they won’t have any other option but to stop the nonsense and change their behaviors or they will be outcasts rather than the cool ones that they are trying to be through the bullying.
In closing, I would like to wish all parents a smooth transition into the new school year. Hopefully my advice on helping our children re-acclimate, getting our kids’ schedule(s) ahead of time if possible, and what bullying is and how to deal with it makes the start of the school year a good one for all of us.
Dan Blanchard is a father of five children, a public educator of hundreds, and an author, speaker, and certified life-coach to all.
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