Oh, that time of year, when minivans and oversized SUVs stuffed with the younger segment of our population, driven by a squinty-eyed parent with one hand on the wheel and the other firmly grasped around the life-giving cup of joe, hit the roads en masse. The first two weeks or so of the new school year are the most entertaining, I find.
Time out: This means it is all the more important that we pay attention when we drive right now, as children are back on the streets, trying to cross them or at least walk down them, and stressed-out parents are doing their best to safely get little ones to and from school. Do your part: Don’t text or talk on the phone and drive! I have seen too many close calls.
Even without the distractions — “Oh, my gosh, I will not be surprised if I forget and out of the force of habit drive right to the grammar school,” acknowledged a friend of mine who, for the first time in nine or so years, doesn’t have a child attending that site. She is surely not the only parent to try to jump off the impulse train.
I admit that even after all these years since my boys were in school in Cambria, I instinctively think about the class supply list: box of tissues, pencils, paper, binders and odd notebooks. I realize that kids now are issued iPads in many classes, but I hope that doesn’t mean the old No. 2 pencil is going by the wayside for good. No more bubbles to fill in, but surely there is some form or another that needs to be scribbled on.
And then there are the school lunches. Hot lunch or bag lunch? Either way, they usually only get half eaten. What is it about eating during school hours? My guys mowed through groceries while on vacation, but break time in fall and winter seems to be strictly for social interaction. I suppose that’s as it should be. These are important relationships and skills they are building for the rest of their lives, after all.
So, how does one ensure a good school year?
Attitude: Be positive and supportive of your school and your child. Start each day with a helpful affirmation like, “I choose to listen well today and learn all that I can. I am more comfortable and happier for doing so!”
Get enough sleep: This is an issue that many people skirt around. Children ages 7-12 need 10 hours of sleep, and ages 12-18 need 8-9 hours, according to Web MD. Of course, it will affect everyone’s days if you don’t catch enough zzz’s.
Encourage healthy habits: Not only does this mean limiting processed foods and eating plenty of vegetables and fruits and getting enough sleep, but it also means remembering time limits on homework (as family time is extremely important), making time to play together and being sure to read every night.
Read everything: Speaking of, read everything that comes home with your child or in the mail. Dig through those backpacks and look for not only old banana peels but also important notices.
Be responsible: Consider the fact that schools and parent organizations try hard to enrich the lives of all our children, so help out where you can. Call or email teachers or staff ahead of time if you have any questions, and set up a meeting. Don’t expect everybody to just be hanging around waiting for you. If your child is sick, keep him home.
Practice gratitude with your children: It helps with the “attitude!”
For those without kids
The community can also kick off the school year right by not only being careful while driving around, but by:
Paying attention to the newspaper or posters around town about fundraisers and activities that you might attend that would show your support to our kids.
Asking what is needed, whether school supplies or equipment or volunteer hours on the playground, in the classroom or otherwise.
Talking to kids when you get the chance. Parents, set a good example by speaking to kids you may not normally, whom your child may not necessarily hang around with; they are still peers.
For everyone, staying involved with young people. It will help keep you young!