Continuing with our guest posts from parents, Here’s one from friend Kenny Bodanis. Wondering if back to school is any different in Canada? Read on!
What has historically been your biggest challenge with getting your children ready for the school year?
Organization is a big part of it. Each year the school sends out a loooong list of supplies. It’s always a question of “Do they need all of it? Can’t we reuse some things from last year?”
Inevitably, we end up making our live easier by simply following the list. Booking after school activities also gets away from us.
We tend to only start thinking of that once the kids have been back in classes for a week or two.
By that point we experience a lot of “Registration? Oh, that was last week.” Oops.
What one or two things did you discover that made that challenge easier?
Believe it or not, we painted one of our kitchen walls with chalkboard paint. We keep a bucket of chalk right below it on the kitchen floor.
Any regularly scheduled activities or appointments get written at the top of the wall, as a quick reference.
What are you most dreading about this school year?
Homework battles. Our kids are in school from 8am until 2:20. Though we try to keep after school activities to a reasonable minimum, fatigue is definitely a factor.
Last year, we had a one-page paper printout of a monthly calendar on our fridge. We let out 9-year-old write down which days he wanted to do which parts of his homework.
That really cut down on the stress. It also allowed him to have some flexibility to say “I know today is a math day, but can I move it to Saturday?”
It would get written on the calendar, and that made it easier to follow through on.
What about this school year are you most excited about?
Watching my kids grow, both intellectually and socially. I get a real kick out of watching them relive experiences I can remember having in elementary school.
There is also something timeless and charming about walking them to school in the morning with their backpacks and lunch boxes.
Of course, the fact that they are really looking forward to the school year sure helps.
What do you think is the most overblown aspect of back to school — what gets more press than it deserves?
Performance…both academic and athletic. Our kids are going into grades 4 and 2.
Yes, of course we want them to do well, but I think stress from parents has started to take over too much.
What’s the one thing you’d caution all parents to avoid doing?
Don’t compare your kids to others. If you have real concerns over some aspect of your child’s life, talk to your pediatrician.
Parents too often use other kids as a benchmark for performance. Children (and parents) are way too unique from one another to do that.
I use my ‘Life Jackets and Diapers’ rule: Even if your child is slow to stop wetting the bed, or slow learning how to swim, they are not going to attend their high school prom in a life jacket and a diaper, so, relax!
What’s the one thing you’d suggest every parent do?
Listen to your child. Listen to yourself.
Encourage their interests. Manage your own schedule. Give yourself a weekly break (date night, go for a walk, etc…). Give your kids some down time, too…the school year is loooong!
What is your biggest accomplishment around back to school you want to brag about?
Brag? Hmmm. I guess just that my kids are happy; had a good summer; got to spend time with their parents and extended family, and are happily going back to school!
For more back to school tips, tools and strategies, check out these posts:
Kenny Bodanis is radio & television parenting columnist and author of the book “Men Get Pregnant, Too (despite never pushing a watermelon through a pigeonhole.)” He lives with his wife and two children outside Montreal, Canada. www.MenGetPregnantToo.com.