Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School Meetings Important to Kids

I am about to have my step-children enter 8th grade (oldest grade in Jr. High), 6th grade (oldest grade in Middle School), and 4th grade (oldest grade of Elementary School). At this point, I have been a part of all of their years of school, starting with the oldest when he entered Kindergarten. I was thinking earlier today that for each child they are all the oldest children of the school they are in.

So, they must be comfortable that they don't have to learn a new school, they won't be joining any other feeder schools with children they haven't met yet, and they are probably mostly familiar with who the next grade's teachers are. Some parents, especially with having three children in school, would choose to skip the "Meet the Teacher", "..." grade orientation, and other activities that start prior to school begining or shortly there after.

I just so happen to be pretty good at picking up little clues from my step-children and it made me stop and think about the negative affects not attending these things have on young children (young as in up to senior year of high school).

Reason #1 for going to these events:
One benefit of attending any type of teacher or school sponsored event is that it gives your child a chance to make a (hopefully good) impression in their new teacher/s. This includes teachers being able to have an impression of the parents too. Teachers always have a better feeling about their students if they have an idea of how involved the parents are with their children's education. Sorry parents, I know that with multiple children and demanding work schedules it can be difficult to make these events. But, that is the #1 sacrifice you need to decide to make for your children-after all they should always come first. ***If you are in a situation that every last penny is going to determine your ability to provide food, shelter etc for your children that is an entirely different story...and teachers and schools will certainly understand!

Reason #2:
Your child is likely still feeling at the very least a little anxiety about the new school year. Things from figuring out where they are going to hang their backpack, to which desk will be theirs, to who they are going to know in their classroom. It is a plus that none of my step-kids need to worry about getting lost navigating an unfamiliar building, but there are still other things that don't seem important to adults that are very important to children-whether they say it or not.

Reason #3:
Important information is shared with parents and students at these events. There might be a heads up that will make your life far easier if you have the information as soon as possible. This could be anything from a specific protocol the teacher wants parents and students to follow or a specific requirement of a school supply the child will need for the class. Teachers will find a way to communicate with all parents and students if you don't make it to the meetings, but you might find yourself in a bind for time or at a slight disadvantage to the other parents and students who were able to plan ahead.

Reason #4:
Time management. Sounds simple enough, but children have to have role models setting good examples for them. Can a parent yell at a child for watching t.v. for hours on end when they watch their own parent do the same thing for hours after coming home from work? No! You must set a good example for your child, and by showing your ability to properly adjust your schedule and manage your time properly to attend these things will show them that it is important to prioritize, manage time, and take meetings seriously.  As your kids or step-kids get older, they will start to be faced with decisions they will need to make. They will have to decide if they should leave their friends house 30 minutes early so they can study for a test the next day they aren't completely prepared for, or they might need to decide if they should go to the school pep rally or go to an extra sports practice. Children shouldn't grow up any sooner than they have to, but their expectations of life should be set up so that they know you can't always do everything and you have to make decisions that will most benefit you.

Reason #5:
Why not. You have a child, they have a meeting scheduled. I can already tell that with my step-son who is entering 8th grade, that it feels like it was way less than 9 grades ago that he started school. He is over half way done with school-where did the time go!!!  I hear that people feel this speed of time even more when it is their child as opposed to their step-child. One day you might regret not participating with your child in all the activities and school events that were scheduled. I have seen schools change things over the last few years, so don't assume you know how everything is set up. Even simple things such as school start times and how many periods in a day the school has can affect the way things work!

Have fun, and help be a partner with your child as they progress through school. Kids worry about peers, and teachers liking them, doing well in school, and having friends they can build friendships with. Parents worry about these things too, but with different perspective. Don't forget, kids are kids and they just can not ever think like adults do. Try to meet them where they are in life, and support all of their needs!!

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