8 Steps for Getting Kids Ready for School
Whether you’re reading this before your children start school or
after they have started, it doesn’t matter. Follow these steps to help
set them up for success in their new school year.
Shut Down Summertime Leniencies.
As school approaches or starts, set up a family meeting (whether you
have a significant other or not) to discuss the rules that will change
at home: bedtimes, shutting TVs off, removing entertainment electronics
from bedrooms, having to turn in social media devices and “friend sleep
over rules.” Allow your child to voice his or her concerns over these
changes, adopt the policies, and implement them on a specified date.
It’s also a good idea to document the changes and post them where all
can see them; sometimes children become forgetful of what they agreed
School Supply Shopping.
Sit down with your children and allow them to help you determine what
supplies they are going to need for the coming school year. You are the
parent and have final say over what is on the list, but use that
authority with kindness and respect. Take your children shopping and let
them be in charge as they carry the hand baskets and retrieve all the
items on the list. Give them a set amount of money to spend to
accommodate all that’s on the list. You’re the guide and the coach, so
remain calm if unauthorized items make their way into the basket. Allow
your children to pay for the items at the checkout and carry the bags to
The Work Space at Home.
Collaborate with your children as to where homework will be done. You
can take turns coming up with the ideas and when they suggest
unreasonable locations (such as in front of the TV), allow them to be
placed on the list at first. Go back through to review the list and
eliminate any locations that you’re not OK with. Remember, collaborating
with your children is a way of helping them feel respected, but you’re
still the boss. Set up the space that was decided on and help your
children organize the supplies that were purchased at the store.
The Homework Schedule.
Each child is different when it comes to doing homework, so this next
exercise will require your greatest level of patience. Help each of
your children determine when they feel that they are best able to work
on homework. Some children can do it as soon as they get home and others
need a break before starting it. Coach each child into establishing
their own schedule, make it clear and defined, and then document it.
Your job will be to help reinforce what is decided.
Control of Entertainment and Distractions.
If you’ve never previously done what I’m about to suggest, announcing
it to your children could be a challenge, so remain calm and be patient
(are you seeing a pattern here?). I strongly encourage you to announce a
rule that any and all entertainment electronics and hand-held social
media devices are to remain off or be turned in to the parents, during
the established homework times. This new rule should be in effect on
school days, Monday thru Thursday and even on days when there is no
homework. If you don’t implement this rule, what child would ever choose
to work on a difficult homework assignment when they are free to check
their Facebook pages or cell phone texts whenever they want? I’ve heard
too many stories from parents who did not implement this rule and had
their children come home after school reporting they had no homework,
only to suddenly and mysteriously remember a homework assignment later
that night at bedtime.
The Bedtime Schedule.
I’ll tell you now that it is NOT your responsibility to get your
children to fall asleep. That must happen naturally and your children
are more in charge of that than you are. Your job is to create an
environment and an atmosphere that is conducive to your children getting
sleepy and eventually falling asleep. Your direct role is to define
when bedtime will occur, enforcing it, and removing all distractions
from their bedrooms, such as video games, televisions, cell phones, and
Your Children’s Dietary Needs.
What child would turn down candy bars over broccoli? Not many. This
is where you come in as a parent. You are directly responsible for
ensuring that your children have healthy foods to eat and the foods that
are least healthy are controlled and minimized. This means making sure
that your children have healthy dinners at night and nutritious foods
available to them for breakfast in the morning. I’ve seen too many
families where the family dinner experience is gone and everyone fends
for themselves. The result is that children end up eating whatever they
want and picking from some unhealthy selections.
I’ve heard all the complaints from parents: I’m a single parent and I
have to work long hours, my husband and I work in another city and
neither of us get home before 7 p.m., Our children have multiple after
school activities and it’s hard to be home and enforce a set schedule
for dinner, etc. Keep in mind that you’ve chosen your situation and
regardless of what your family does, you are still responsible for your
children and supervising or looking after them to be sure they follow
through on what you have all decide. Do the best you can to be a parent
who is available to ensure that rules are enforced and more importantly,
that you are available to provide help with homework and assistance
whenever necessary. They can’t do it on their own and need you to coach
and guide them.
Bill Corbett is the author of the award winning book series
“Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative
Kids” in English and in Spanish, and the founder and president of
Cooperative Kids. He has three grown children, three step children, two
grandchildren, and lives with his wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter
Olivia near Hartford, CT. You can visit his Web site
www.CooperativeKids.com for further information and parenting advice.
For a printable copy of this, please click here.