As I started to write this article, the following ideas of how I want and hope to have a successful school year came to mind – organizing schedules, establishing a routine, and how to pack amazing lunches for my kids (love all the ideas on Pinterest!). Then as I was sitting in the parking lot waiting to pick up my son, I had time to really think about these special times and what this school year will bring. What do I want to focus on to make this an amazing school year?
1. Enjoy this new school year.
As I was creating this list, I considered putting this last, but quickly realized this was the most important. Sure there will be schedules, homework, carpools, and everything else, but underneath it all, is your beautiful child is learning and growing right before your eyes.
A common theme popped up among the beautiful first day of school pictures on Facebook. "Where has the time gone?" "I can't believe they are in ___ grade already." "Look – the oldest is driving to school now!" Cherish this time, this grade, this year, this special day.
2. Ask and listen about his day.
Right when we walk in the door after picking my son up from school, I try to make an effort to sit down with him and go through everything in his backpack. In just these few first days, I have learned so much already about the friends he is meeting, how the lunch line works at school, which days he has art, music, and gym, and what his favorite parts of the day are, while also looking at and hearing all about the fun things he is bringing home that day. Maybe it will be on the car ride home, maybe after dinner, maybe right before bedtime, but whenever it may be, I have a feeling this might become one of my favorite parts of the day!
3. Get Involved
One of the best ways to make this a great year, is to get involved and volunteer at school. It's a great way to meet other parents, and learn more about different aspects of the school. There are usually a variety of opportunities that vary in time and commitment, or can be done at home outside of school hours.
4. Realize that I am going to make mistakes, and so are they, and it's OK.
Yes, I am one that will need to repeat this to myself several times this year. I might be late for drop-off or pick-up, or forget to return a form, or sign a paper, or forget which dress down day it is, or go the wrong way in the parking lot (hmmm, have done that twice already), and that's OK. It is how I handle it, especially when my kids are watching, that matters. I will try my best. And that is what I want for my children. I want them to try their best. Sometimes they will forget their lunch, or homework assignment, or library book, but it is through these mistakes that learning and growth take place.
5. Ask questions.
Sometimes, we are not even sure which questions to ask. I felt completely overwhelmed and lost on the first back to school meeting, but through the wonderful help of all of the parent volunteers, they patiently answered my questions and helped me figure out my way around all of the tables. Now one week into school, I feel like OK, I got this, what's next?
6. Support one another
A super special thank you to the mom that noticed my son was looking for me, and walked with him to the right parking lot on one of the first days of school. I will remember that moment. Let's look out for one another, and support each other. We are all parents trying to do the best for our kids.
7. Express Gratitude
A simple note. A quick email. A 'thank you' while dropping off your child, can go a long way to make a teacher's day. And the staff, and the administration, and the volunteers. What an incredible community we just became a part of. Homemade chocolate chip cookies can say a lot, too.
I am excited for what this school year will bring, what new adventures we will encounter, and most importantly, the amazing opportunity to watch my child grow and learn.