This week begin a new series on children schooling. Summer is almost over and kids are back at school. Hopefully everyone is enjoying some sense of routine and predictability at home. Whether they are starting preschool or have gone into high school or have left home to live in college dorm, life transitions can be stressful for children and hence to the parents.
A new school year is a time of stress for all families. For kids, stress accompanies new classes, new teachers, new friends and new academic challenges. There’s even more stress for kids who are changing schools! But, there is also stress for parents as we get our kids back into school year routines, and as we help our kids deal with their stress.
As parents, our goal ought to be to intentionally work to keep the stress levels down in our homes. Lowering the stress levels will not only help your family, but will also do a lot to make sure your kids experience a successful school year. Here are some tips to help you along in the process:
A Peaceful Home Environment – Your kids don’t need a perfect home, but to thrive, they need a peaceful one. Kids are at battle all day long at school. They battle peer pressure, body image, academic pressures, relational issues with peers, and some struggle with being bullied. They need to come home to a place where they can retreat, drop their battle gear at the door and be in a shelter where they can just be themselves. Your home ought to be the one place your kids feel truly safe, where they can be loved and known and cared for.
Safety Net Strong – Within your family, your kids find the important relational connections that will sustain them through the good times, as well as the bad. Strained or broken family relationships affect other areas of your kids’ lives – like their school performance. So, take the lead in your family to make sure your relationships become and stay healthy. Start by evaluating whether or not you are currently “enjoying” or “annoying” your family… then make the changes necessary to strengthen those family ties.
Protect the Balance of Scheduling
Parents will help their kids have a successful school year by protecting a balanced lifestyle, in terms of scheduling. Look at the big picture. School, homework, athletics, hobbies, church activities all add up to a significant amount of your son’s or daughter’s time. Help evaluate the effects that these various activities have on their lives. Don’t be afraid to initiate a cutback in order to protect their most important involvements. Help your kids to learn that no one can do everything! Watch for emerging signs of stress. If your kids are demonstrating stress, be sure to reevaluate their schedules.
Keep an Eye on Academics
There’s no doubt that your kids’ schoolwork is important! It’s wise to take an active role in regularly checking on how your children are doing academically. Don’t just look for the bottom line (grades), but keep an eye on whether or not they are learning disciplined study habits, if they are turning in assignments on time and what areas they might need additional help with. Having said this, let me also say, as parents we need to maintain balance in this area! Too many parents hover over their kids like helicopters, making sure every assignment is completed, on time and done correctly. This actually serves to hinder our kids’ development toward independent adulthood. Kids need to learn to become responsible in this area of their lives. Many parents today wrap their own self-worth in how their kids are doing in school. I’ve known parents who actually do their kids’ homework for them! “Just say no” to this type of behavior!
More next week.