When I first became a parent of a school-age child, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to do. Now that I’ve been parenting school-age children for some time, I think I’ve got a grasp on it (I may even be an expert). Here are some suggestions for parents that have recently started their own journey.

  1. The first thing you should do when the kids come home is check their backpacks. Many times, kids don’t even think they have homework when they do. They’re not trying to get out of it, although some do try, they simply do not realize they have to turn something in the next day.
  2. Fill out and sign papers right away. Don’t say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll sign it later or turn it in by the deadline.” You might forget. I have. Then you’re scrambling through a giant stack of papers looking for that one small piece of paper.
  3. Don’t turn the TV on till the homework is done. The sooner they get it done the better.
  4. Get involved in the PTA. Someone stepped down from their position during my son’s first year of school and I jumped in to fill the role. It was one of the best things I have ever done. Holding a PTA office helped me get to know the teachers, faculty, and staff in ways that I wouldn’t have normally been able to do. And in return, they got to know me and my kids better.
  5. Go on field trips. I know it is hard for a lot of parents to get out of work, but if you can, you should do it. Watching your children in a school setting with other kids is a lot of fun.
  6. Don’t give your kids a sugary breakfast. On occasion, I break this rule, but if you do it on a consistent basis, you’re setting your kids up to have a huge crash in the second half of their day. And it isn’t healthy.
  7. Let your kids play at the nearest playground after school. Playing at the playground helps enforce the friendships they’re making during the school day. Obviously, you can’t do this every day, but try to do it at least once a week. You’ll also get to know your children’s friends and their parents.
  8. Get the kids to tell you all about their day. Keep talking to them until they open up.  One of my kids tells me everything and the other says only a few words. But pestering them with questions not only shows them you’re interested, but it also helps you identify potential issues like bullies, teacher problems, school difficulties, etc.
  9. Once in a while, splurge for the cool supplies. I understand this can be difficult if you’re strapped for cash. But if you can, those local sports team pencils, or the Barbie eraser, can bring some enjoyment to their stationary positions in the classroom.  And if money isn’t an issue, send a few extra erasers or pencils so that they can spread the joy to their friends.
  10. Try not to get too angry about troubling issues. Yes, they are our children and everything that happens to them puts us on high alert. But take it easy at first and go into meetings with patience and understanding. If things continue, then pursue them with greater intensity.

These are some of the things that I’ve learned. What about you?

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