With September quickly, many of us are finding ourselves concerned with the first day of school. My son has been asked time and again, “Are you ready for school?” Yet whether we are ready or not, Labor Day will come and go and school will most definately start.
So to prepare my son and the rest of my family for the 2011-2012 school year, I have been making shopping lists for school clothes and school supplies, adjusting routines and schedules, and fine-tuning various details of our lives to make the transition as smooth as possible. Now and then, I stop and think about what this time of year must feel like for my son. As I think about this, I usually ask him “Are you excited for school to start?” His typical reply? “Kinda”.
Perhaps it is just me, but it seems that as parents, we often get so caught up in the preparations, the planning, and the details of the first day of school that we forget to check in with our kids and ask them how they are feeling about the impending school year. It is easy to assume that because they have a backpack full of supplies, new clothes in their closets, and shiny shoes on their feet, they have everything needed to start the school year. We like to consider them prepared and ready to navigate the halls of their schools because they have attended the open house, found their lockers, met their teachers, and memorized their schedules.
Yet, in truth, school readiness is so much more than these material things and basic skills. Of course, such gear is essential in the life of a student, but there is so much more to success as a student than writing utensils, paper, and style. To succeed as students, our children must also feel supported by their parents and their teachers. They must feel a sense of security and belonging amongst their peers. They must have a sense of self, or an identity. Similarly, they must be equipped with coping skills, stress management techniques, and resilience.
Unfortunately, though, it is all too easy to forget about these survival skills. Because we cannot write them down on our shopping lists, or check them off as complete, these intangible assets often fall lower on our list of priorities than they really should. And while it is admittedly difficult for parents to instill such traits in our children and feel confident in their ability to do so, it is paramount to their well-being, happiness, and success.
This year, parents, I encourage you to take extra care as you prepare your children for the 2011-2012 school year. As you tend to the preparations and details of school readiness, ensure that you also tend to the full spectrum of your child’s needs. Check in with them regularly, encourage them to express their concerns, remain involved in their lives, and support them as they embark on this year’s journey.