Honestly, I’m a sad mama. I’ve been trying to write an inspirational post about school starting to get everyone enthused. Just thinking about the great opportunities for educational development, the excitement for new experiences, and all things amazing about a fresh beginning is exciting to ponder. BUT this year I am stuck! I’m just plain sad that my children are going back to school. I’m an educator and love the structure that comes with a new school year. Crazy, huh? Why is this year so hard? I think I finally figured it out.
My family and I spend a lot of time at a cabin a few hours away from the Twin Cities. Every summer since the kids were toddlers we’ve lived there for a couple of months. My husband joins us for weekends and even pops in for dinner and sleepover mid-week from time to time. Heavenly! This year, because of conflicting kids schedules, we were not able to keep with tradition. The kids are older now and have opportunities and commitments. As a mom, I feel like I missed special time with my children. This is why I am not ready for school. Crazy? Not really. Many parents go through the same angst when children begin to become more independent.
My kids, like yours, are growing up fast. No matter how quickly children mature, intentional time to connect is imperative. Not only during the summer months, but during the school year. And not merely a “Here is what you have to do today!” or “What homework do you have to get done?” but really connect with them on a personal level.
As you and your kids are getting ready for school, filling out health forms, buying school supplies, and organizing schedules, make a point to set aside time to connect. One of the methods I use with my own children and coach parents to use is a once a week homework meeting typically run by the child. The child reports to you, the parent, how he/she is doing in school. The meeting time is used to discuss grades, upcoming projects and assignments. This is a wonderful one-on-one time to talk about social issues and personal matters too. Keep it a neutral time without hidden agendas. It’s a time to listen and offer guidance. It’s also an opportunity to, relate, empathize, and encourage.
With summer coming to a close make a point to connect with your kids individually and often. I learned I do not need a month at a cabin to connect at a deeper level with my own kids. It just needs to be a priority. Keeping the lines of communication open about school, friends, and all aspects of kids’ lives is important.
Many blessings for a great start to the school year for your family!
by Megan Stone, M.Ed. Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.